A dream pillow is a comforting device that helps relax you at night. Certain scents may even induce vivid, more imaginative and possibly even lucid dreams (especially if you link these scents to reality checks).
The idea is that you fill your pillow with specific herbs and essential oils which you naturally inhale during your sleep. According to historic experiments by Marquis d'Hervey de Saint-Denys (1822-1892) aromas can have powerful effects on your dreams. One summer, he took a bottle of an unfamiliar scent on his travels to France. He whiffed his scent-laden handkerchief by day and, on returning home, put the bottle away. When a servant sprinkled a few drops of this scent on his pillow at night, he dreamed again of visiting the mountains of Ardeche...
What causes this to happen? Smells are processed in the brain's limbic system, an area closely associated with memory and emotion. So even though smell is not a primary sense for humans, a little whiff can invoke powerful emotions. We also know that our dreams are emotional realms: a place where we can express unresolved emotions from the waking day before. So anything that shapes our emotions, shapes our dreams.
Put these two together, and a dream pillow can make for a surprisingly effective way to program your dreams...
Anyone with a sense of smell can use a dream pillow. Though the concept may sound a little fluffy, dream pillows are based on a scientific understanding of how smells and emotions are processed and expressed in the brain. Think right now: what smell from your childhood throws you back in time? Is there any way you could obtain that smell for your dream pillow?
For me, a powerful scent is that of the acrylic paint we used in my first primary school. It reminds me of being in class again at five years old, wearing those giant plastic aprons and using special pots of water with a hole in the lid. If I close my eyes I can "see" the classroom, my classmates, and the giant teacher (remember how grown-ups were identifiable by their legs at that age?) It's a powerful memory for me, all generated by a smell.
Dream pillows have numerous applications. Shamans believed that scent pillows carried messages from the gods, so there is a spiritual history in dream pillows. In medicine, nurses give "comfort pillows" to patients in hospitals to help cover up the smell of medicines (which can cause stress and lead to psychosomatic symptoms). You are probably aware of negative emotions that hit you on walking into a hospital or doctor's surgery - this is likely a scent-based reaction.
Dream pillows are also handy for healthy folk, too, and here I've researched some of the best scents to improve your dream awareness, which can lead to highly vivid dreams and perhaps even lucid dreams. Some of these relaxing aromatherapy scents may also help deter nightmares, night terrors, and other stress-related sleep disorders.
You can buy a scented dream pillow online or make your own. It's pretty easy to do. Here's what you'll need:
Step #1 - Choose a small pillow case or find some silk material and cut it into two rectangles about 6 by 11 inches (to form the top and bottom of your scented pillow).
Step #2 - With the two pieces of fabric back to back, stitch three sides together. Then turn the pocket inside out so the silky side is now outside. All the stitching is now neat and tidy on the inside of the cushion.
Step #3 - Now grab your mesh bag and fill it with dried aromatherapy herbs and flowers. I've written some suggested combinations below. For lucid dreams, add a few drops of aromatherapy essential oils (see below).
Step #4 - Add two teaspoons of orris root to your mesh bag as a fixative to make the scents last longer. Then tie the bag off with string.
Step #5 - Slide the herb mesh bag into your pillow and pack the stuffing around it. Be careful not to over-pack the pillow case so the scents can still "breathe". Stitch up the open edge or attach Velcro so that you can replace the herbs and scents over time (this also makes your dream pillow easily washable).
Of course, you can create any scent combination of your own making, to evoke memories that are personal to you. Perhaps it's a particular perfume or aftershave that gets you going. Even food smells can be contained in a dream pillow: the very pages of a book I'm reading smell distinctly like McDonald's packaging... and I wonder why I get hungry whenever I read it...
This dream pillow is designed to induce sleep, help reduce stress and induce relaxation. It uses the herbal scents of lavender, chamomile, mugwort, calendula and peppermint.
The smaller pillow is for headache relief: place it over your eyes, forehead and temples. The headache relief pillow contains eucalyptus, peppermint and flax seed which creates gentle pressure over your sinus passages.
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?