One of the most interesting methods of working with dreams and very popular in recent years is lucid dreaming. This phenomenon has been known for thousands of years thanks to the spiritual traditions of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sufism (dream yoga, yoga Nidra). Aristotle also dealt with it.
However, modern interest in the subject began in the 1970s with groundbreaking work by scientists Keith Hearne in England and Stephen LaBerge in the US. Both independently realized in the course of their research that the dreamer could be lucid during sleep, and signaled this by moving his eyes from left to right a specified number of times to provide evidence of this.
In this article you will learn:
- what lucid dreams are,
- lucid dreams advantages and stages,
- methods for staying awake while you sleep.
Usually, when you dream, you are convinced that this inner movie that is showing in your head is your reality, only when you wake up you realize that it was just a dream.
Lucid dreaming is the opposite. It is a dream during which the dreamer is aware, which simply means that they knows that they is dreaming and can therefore consciously influence the content of their dream. This means that you are a writer, producer, director, and leading actor in your movie at the same time.
This is the state in which the conscious mind can meet the unconscious mind directly. You can do whatever you want in your dream. The most common, of course, is flying and sex. Such a dream happens to each of us spontaneously at least once in our life, most often in childhood. However, you can learn this skill through exercise. Lucid dreams are associated with a phase of sleep called REM sleep. During this type of dream, the brain works on gamma waves.
Benefits of lucid dreaming:
- A sense of inner freedom and joy.
- Creative solutions, you can use your inner creativity in this way when you learn to manipulate your dream, or rather your mind through sleep. For example, you can learn to use sleep to learn to play the piano or to solve math problems, or create poems.
- The ability to heal your own body.
- The ability to solve emotional problems, heal emotional wounds, remove traumas, fears, or phobias.
- You can reprogram your ego by working with your beliefs by manipulating your mind.
- Personal development – they are a source of self-knowledge and wisdom.
- Spiritual development and transcendence – during a lucid dream you can use spiritual practices, e.g. meditation, you can enter higher states of consciousness, and also experience union with God.
- Of course, being able to see the nature of your mind is the most interesting possibility of lucid dreaming.
How to learn lucid dreaming?
The first step is just to learn how to remember your dreams, the best way to do this is to keep a dream journal. This can be done by keeping a dream journal or simply by remembering the details of your dreams. You can also use the dream incubation process, i.e. fall asleep with the intention of remembering your dream.
The second stage is learning how to wake up in your sleep. For this purpose, a number of different types of methods are used, for example:
- Self-suggestion – it consists of sending an intention to the Universe with a request for a lucid dream, just before going to sleep. You can check how to do this in the article on how to manifest.
- Perform reality tests or brain training. It will improve your metacognition and cause you to start seeing your own awareness in a dream. During the day, ask yourself when you will be reminded “am I dreaming?” Check your surroundings for signs of sleep. For example, check that your reflection in the mirror looks normal. Check if your hands look normal. Check what time it is and make sure the clock looks normal. Pinch yourself. Choose only one of the given examples not all.
- MILD (Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams) – a method developed by Dr. LaBerge. Before falling asleep, think about your last dream and try to identify some dream symbol, such as the possibility of flying. Imagine going back to that dream, remembering that flying is only possible in a dream. In your mind, tell yourself that the next time you are dreaming, you would like to remember that you are dreaming.
- WBTB (Wake Back To Bed) – Set the alarm clock 5 hours after you go to bed, go to bed, when the alarm rings, get up and stay awake for 30 minutes. During this time you can, for example, read a book. Then go back to bed and go to sleep.
- WILD (Wake Initiated Lucid Dream) – this method involves directly entering sleep from the waking state. This is one of the most difficult methods. Lie down and wait for hypnagogic sleep in order to consciously fall asleep.
- VILD (Visual Induction by Lucid Dream) – before falling asleep, visualize a dream in which you do a reality test.
- DILD (Dream Induced Lucid Dreams) – is a method in which you start to be aware spontaneously in a dream, most often due to some unreal nature of this dream, e.g. you dream that you are talking to animals.
- Shamanic techniques – they consist of performing appropriate rituals before going to bed, and usually drinking appropriate mixtures of herbs.
- Dream yoga.
- You can also use specially designed devices, sleep masks, or phone applications. And also try out binaural beats or even herbs.
- You can also try to combine different techniques.
The next step is to train your mind in a dream. Developing your awareness and being present.
The last step is learning how to stay awake in sleepless sleep, which is how to wake up in your real-life experience. As you learn how to wake up from the illusion of sleep in a dream, you will also learn how to wake up from the illusion of physical reality.
Sometimes when you are trying to wake up from a lucid dream, you may need help. All you have to do is shout something aloud in your sleep, then you should wake up, or you decide to go to sleep in your sleep or start reading a book in your sleep, you activate the parts of the brain that are not active in REM sleep and wake you up.
Once you learn to dream consciously, you will be able to use your dreams as therapy for example to get rid of a phobia or trauma, or to heal some diseases, or to surf on other levels of consciousness.