In Are You Dreaming? Exploring Lucid Dreams: A Comprehensive Guide the lifelong oneironaut, Daniel Love, treats us to a modern and fully comprehensive analysis of the lucid dreaming landscape.
This is no fly-by-night book on the subject (of which there are an increasing number). Love is a committed dreamer and a thorough communicator, and presents here one of the most finely researched books designed for both beginners and intermediate lucid dreamers alike. Even as an advanced lucid dreamer myself I had things to learn from this thoughtful and fascinating read.
If you're investing in a book on lucid dreaming, the first thing you want to check is the author's credibility. There are a slew of lucid dream related books written by amateurs cashing in on the new wave of interest. Be warned.
Without a doubt, Daniel Love is not one of them. A long-time lucid dreamer since the age of five, he has developed his own lucidity techniques (including some personalized variations on the classics) and taught these in lucid dream workshops around the UK for years.
Now in his 30s, it is Love's mission to share his passion for lucid dreaming with the world, by introducing it in a thoughtful and scientific manner. We truly need more lucid dreaming advocates like this.
To get a feel for his approach to lucidity and the clarity of his writing, read my interview with Daniel Love.
In many lucid dreaming books, the bulk of the material is dedicated to lucid dreaming techniques, for this is where most people struggle to get ahead.
Perhaps it's because Love is a self-taught lucid dreamer (developing, as a wee five-year-old boy, his own Catching The Butterfly Technique to induce lucidity - detailed in the book) that he doesn't overly dwell on this aspect. He has much more to say.
Don't get me wrong, some 67 pages (around one-quarter of the book) describe lucid dream techniques in detail; and not just the usual suspects either. Love introduces us to the classic Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams (MILD) and Wake Induced Lucid Dreams (WILD) techniques and then some of his own methods, such as the first ever print version of the complete Cycle Adjustment Technique (CAT).
He also focuses in on a false awakening based technique and familiar scene visualization: aligning with practices I have been using instinctively myself, without actually having a name for them.
Indeed, there were several 'aha!' moments in this book where Love put into words personal idiosyncratic habits which I never even realized I was doing. Are these the natural habits of frequent lucid dreamers? I think perhaps so.
Beyond the task of inducing lucidity on a regular basis, Love philosophizes on the relationship we have with our dream figures, as well as personal growth applications such as living as a future version of yourself. And of course he writes, in his own elaborately comprehensive style, on the subjects of lucid dream sex, flying, wish fulfilment, rewriting history, solving problems, inspiring creativity, exploring the dreamworld and all the other classic uses.
Fans of Supplement Induced Lucid Dreams (SILD) will revel in the brain chemistry explained in the book. Indeed, this is one of Love's three pillars for lucid dreaming and it's critical that we understand how the brain's chemistry influences our dream lives.
Crucially, he's not saying you need to pop pills in order to lucid dream; many lucid dreamers have never taken a dream supplement in their lives. But it is important to acknowledge the natural fluctuations of Acetylcholine (Ach), for example, in your brain at different times of the night in order to target the best times for lucidity.
Love goes on to acknowledge which supplements will further boost your lucid dreaming efforts, as well as the effects of everyday substances like caffeine and nicotine on your dream life. Important stuff.
All of this is preceded by a detailed history of lucid dreaming, with references to the major figures that contributed to research (and subsequently influenced its rise in popularity). Love is determined to give credit where credit is due; highlighting such facts that it was not Frederick van Eeden who first coined the term "lucid dream" (as is often cited in the media) but rather Marquis d'Hervey de Saint-Denys (1822-1892) - almost undoubtedly the father of modern lucid dream research.
A further tip of the hat goes to Dr Keith Hearne, the first to scientifically verify the existence of lucid dreaming in the lab in 1975. Though his research was published in the UK, it wasn't quite public enough, and today it is Dr Stephen LaBerge (who performed a similar eye-movement experiment a few years later at Stanford University Sleep Center) who is credited with the landmark discovery today.
This compulsive attention to detail is what makes Are You Dreaming? such a profoundly interesting read. Few other authors go to the extraordinary lengths of reading centuries-old books and speaking with researchers on decades-old research, in order to set the record straight.
On his journey, however, Love discovered fascinating tid bits of information which he shares here. Tempted as I am to drop a few such scraps of such history in this review, it wouldn't be fair to steal those moments from the book. As a follower of dream research I urge you to check it out yourself.
A brief word on mnemonics: systems to significantly enhance your memory (both while awake and dreaming).
Daniel Love is a former mentalist and has picked up some astounding mental tricks along his path. He describes one of his workshop techniques, The Dream Peg System, in great depth here. You can use this memory technique to easily summon waking memories (like a specific dream intention) while lucid dreaming, as well as to recall your dreams in greater detail upon waking.
I won't reveal the technique here as again it would be an injustice to Love's narrative, but suffice to say it is linked to the classic memory technique of using "pegs" to mentally twin two imaginary items together. The Dream Peg System takes this principle a leap further by applying it to the lucid dream world.
Dr Stephen LaBerge's classic Exploring The World of Lucid Dreaming is often cited as the most comprehensive guide for new oneironauts. Yet that book, published in 1991, is now 22 years old. No wonder Daniel Love felt the need to modernize the genre with this next-generation take on the science of lucid dreaming.
If you are seeking a thorough introductory book that takes you in deep - from the many varied applications for lucidity to its impact on your waking life - that is both modernized in its approach and up-to-date in its research, then check out Daniel Love's Are You Dreaming?: Exploring Lucid Dreams: A Comprehensive Guide. It makes superb bed-time reading for the smart lucid dreamer.
If we're completely honest, lucid dreaming isn't really known for being the most social of interests. In fact, often it's a lone pursuit - just you, your dream journal and the landscape of your mind. But this technique called PAL (or Partner Assisted Lucidity) breaks down that wall and turns lucid dream exploration into a social event.
Members of our lucid dream forum have been asking how to create dream characters in lucid dreams. The most common problem is having characters who look nothing like they should. Or they seem disinterested in your company. Or they fail to show up on command altogether. So, how to combat this? It's a matter of finding creative solutions that bypass logical expectations.
To lucid dream, I recommend being able to remember at least one vivid dream per night. That will boost your self awareness in dreams (making lucidity more likely) and also means you can actually remember your lucid dreams. Which is nice. Here are four detailed tips on how to remember your dreams more frequently. And if you don't think you dream at all - trust me, you almost certainly do. It takes an extraordinarily rare sleep disorder to deprive someone of dream sleep.
It is estimated that these wise and wily Indians have been using mugwort in their healing and ritual practices for 13,000 years, where it is known as the ‘dream sage’. They use the herb to promote good dreams, which they consider an essential aspect of normal human functioning! But that’s not all...
Silene Capensis has been used for millennia by the Xhosa shaman of the river valleys in the eastern cape of South Africa, where it is known as Undela Ziimhlophe or 'white paths'. It's fragrant white flowers open only at night, when they emit a fragrant and almost hypnotising aroma. Also known as African Dream Herb or Ubulawu, Silene Capensis induces spectacularly vivid dreams - yet has never entered the mainstream and remains a fringe taste within western culture.
Experts agree that everyone is capable of having lucid dreams. Dreaming itself is a normal function of the mind. We all dream every night, even if we don't remember. And we all achieve conscious awareness while awake every single day. So what does it mean to combine these states? Why, the amazing ability to have conscious - or lucid - dreams. Sounds simple, doesn't it? So why do I keep hearing from people who say they can't achieve their first lucid dream?