About five years ago, I had my first Calea Zacatechichi experience. It produced a night of highly meaningful and vivid dreams that left me waking up thinking WOW. They were like no other dreams I'd had before. (And I'm a lucid dreamer.)
Though it can certainly open the gateway to lucid dreaming, the really meaningful aspect of Calea Z is its ability to take you on an incredible inner journey. I'm talking about the kind of dreams that change you - even more, perhaps, than many of your memorable waking experiences.
I've had lucid and non-lucid dreams with Calea Zacatechichi. No nightmares to report to date. Nightmares may, of course, be possible: any night of dreaming may be exposed to unpleasant or traumatic content. But I don't think this herb creates nightmares intrinsically. Our emotions do that.
I can still remember how I felt to live in a world of the future - it was reminiscent of Iain Banks' Culture lore - and that feeling still runs through me like I have lived another life. Just thinking about that dream now makes me want to write a novel about it, to do whatever I can to fully re-enter that world in my imagination and try to capture it for others. It was simply awesome.
And in that dream, time seemed to stretch, and I perceived a great deal in what must have been 30-60 minutes of dreaming. It was like watching an epic 3-hour movie that spans centuries. That's about as close as I can explain it. Flashing through someone's life while instantly understanding all that they had felt and experienced during the course of many years via implanted memories.
When I woke up, I was mildly stunned to be in this reality. My normal life - without flying cars, or skyscrapers that ran into the clouds, or alien people, or the sense of adventure - seemed quite boring in comparison.
But I was euphoric at the memory and wanted to write it all down before it drained away. Now, many details of the dream are lost, even after writing it down and developing it into a short story. But the emotional content stays with me always.
This herb is for any intrepid dream explorer who wants to experience a richer dream life.
Quite amazingly, that includes people who don't normally remember any dreams at all. That's how powerful this herb can be. So in my view, Calea Z is something to consider if you have real problems with your dream recall, and are looking for a way to get closer to your dream world.
Other Calea Z users have reported incredibly realistic dreams, sometimes with complex plots and gripping drama, others with totally trivial content but profound intensity nonetheless. So remember, this is no "instant lucid dream pill" but rather a super dream intensifier.
If you practice lucid dream techniques already, you know the effect that can have on your lucid dreams. The two go together hand-in-hand. But if you're a non-lucid dreamer, don't expect this to be a silver bullet.
As dream herbs go, I believe Calea Z is a good one to start off with because:
Aim to take Calea Zacatechichi in capsule or tincture form after about 4-6 hours of sleep. This is the ideal time to practice lucid dreaming, too, because your REM sleep is extended in the early morning, so you make maximum use of your dreamiest sleep cycles.
There are a limited number of places where you can buy Calea Z, and their supply fluctuates. Below I've listed some of the best online sources at the time of writing:
Here's my advice on how to take it in its various forms:
Capsules: Pack the dry leaf extract into empty gel capsules and take 1-2 capsules after 4-6 hours sleep. This gives you sufficient deep sleep before embarking on longer REM cycles.
Tincture: The liquid tincture is made from the dried material and reduced down. Add this to a hot drink and consume either before bed, or better, after 4-6 hours of sleep then go back to sleep. Start with a small dose and work up each night to find your personal sweet spot (10-15ml is usually effective).
Tea: Make dream tea from the dry leaf extract, add plenty of honey and drink it slowly.
Smoke: Smoke the dry leaf before returning to sleep. You may feel a little buzzy but the majority of effects occur in dreamland.
DISCLAIMER. Before taking any herb or supplement, you are strongly advised to consult a qualified physician. I don't know what medication you're already on and how it might interact, for example. What you do with this herb is entirely your responsibility.
Allergic reactions are rare, but possible. You are advised to try a very small dose first and check for any unusual effects. Dose sizes should start small and scaled up if needed. There are no known cases of overdose.
For a lucid dreamer, it really helps if you incubate your desired dream as you fall asleep, having ingested your dose of Calea Z.
This means visualizing your desired dreamscape and directing your awareness into that scenario, engaging all the senses. Silently repeat the affirmation in your mind: the next scene will be a dream. Breathe it in and out, like ocean waves gently lapping at the shore.
Try not to lie in bed awake and excited about the possibilities of your Calea Z dreams. Relax and enjoy the experience, putting no pressure on yourself to achieve a life-changing dream. Whatever happens, happens. There will be plenty of time to analyze and reflect on your experience in the morning...
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So here's a quirky little nighttime oddity that can strike terror into your soul. Sleep paralysis. It's the mechanism that stops you from acting out your dreams. It happens to you every single time you go to sleep, and you've probably never even been aware of it. There's a lot to say about sleep paralysis. One the one hand, it's a very normal bodily process. One the other, it can be a terrifying sleep disorder. And on the third hand (yes, that's three hands now) it's the gateway to the lucid dream world. It covers quite the spectrum of emotions.
Want to get your hands on some futuristic technology? Then why not use your lucid dreams to explore new scientific concepts and developments? In fact, it's thought that numerous well-known scientists including Nikola Tesla exploited their dreams to simulate theories and prototypes in action. Here are five futuristic concepts to get your dream cogs in motion.
So you want a real challenge for your next lucid dream? Check out these thought experiments. They have no right or wrong answers, at least as far as we can prove in 2015. If you undertake any of these - please add a comment below. The beauty is that everyone's experience will be different and I'm eager to read your results.
So you want to know the easiest way to start lucid dreaming? You found it. I've been lucid dreaming since I was 14 years old. Over the years, I've researched a lot about lucid dream induction. I have practiced many different exercises and developed my own ways to become lucid and stay conscious in the dream state for longer. The following is a snapshot of all that work. It's my big picture take on lucid dreaming for beginners, whittled down into 5 sensible steps to prime your mind for lucid dreams.
Everyone knows that horror movies beget nightmares. But did you know that peak nightmare experiences are a common trigger of lucidity? It's like the terror of realizing you're about to be ripped to pieces by the knife monster shocks you into realizing you're dreaming. So next time you're writhing about in a nightmare scenario, or screaming at yourself to wake up, take a second to focus your energy on declaring the dream for what it is: a harmless rendering of your innermost thoughts and fears. Lucidity is then yours.
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?