Many lucid dreamers use dream signs to recognize when they're dreaming and become spontaneously lucid. Dream signs provide handy cues to lucidity, sparking your rational brain to chip in with the realization: "Hang on - I must be dreaming!"
The more attention you pay to spotting dream signs, the more you'll notice them and the more lucid dreams you'll have, night after night. In this article we'll look at the four types of dream signs and how to familiarize yourself with them.
What exactly is a dream sign? Talking animals, deceased loved ones, time travel, and even oddly shaped door handles can all be types of dream signs. In short, they are ANY cue which suggests that your dream reality isn't real.
Dream signs can be very personal to you - and sometimes only you can spot them. For instance, a vivid dream about your house might reveal odd details out of place, such as a missing window. Other times, the dream sign would obvious to anyone, such as flying on a cow that jumps over the moon...
Dr Stephen LaBerge, author of Exploring The World of Lucid Dreaming, identified four categories of dream signs to help us log and look out for them:
If you keep a dream journal, you may already be aware of some recurring dream signs. This makes them much easier to detect. For instance:
Here are two simple waking exercises that will help you pick up on these valuable lucid dream triggers next time you're dreaming...
Every day, your goal is to recognize when things seem out of place and question their nature. Practice reality checking real events when you're watching the sci-fi channel, talking about something surreal, or day dreaming about the past.
Be on the lookout for oddities and question their existence. The dreaming mind can quickly confabulate answers too, but deeper reflection will show them to be unrealistic. Entrain a questioning mind set to get to the root of cause and effect.
In your dream journal, underline all dream signs and categorize them: IA (inner awareness), A (action), F (form), or C (context). Once you've recorded several dreams this way, identify the most common type of dream sign you're experiencing.
If your most common dream sign is form, study the way things look in waking life. A form-based dream sign can be as subtle as a different hair color, or as obvious as having seven fingers on one hand. Tune yourself in to these potential differences in waking life and you will find they become much more noticeable in dreams...
Here's a good question. If a lucid dream is any dream in which you know you're dreaming, then why aren't we always lucid in dreams? Why doesn't it just become the default state of dreaming? Why do we accept our dreams of flying pigs and dinosaurs as an extension of waking life? What is the mechanism for defaulting to non-lucid dreams? Intriguingly, scientists have approached this question from three different angles./p>
What do blind people dream about? Can they "see" in their dreams? Take a look at scientific studies into the dreams of the blind, colorblind, and black-and-white dreamers. In 1999, dream researchers at the University of Hartford analyzed 372 dreams of 15 blind people. They found that both the congenitally blind and those who went blind before five years old did not have any visual dreams at all. That's because our dreams are made up of real world experiences and our innermost thoughts, anxieties and desires. So for someone who has never perceived images or light (or can't remember any) their dreams simply can't manifest visually.
Not long ago, scientists at Frankfurt University discovered how to produce lucid dreams with electronic stimulation. It was a world first. And - astonishingly - it worked in non-lucid dreamers 77% of the time. Now you can buy the same technology for yourself. The foc.us V2 - which delivers the proven optimum 40 Hz transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) - was originally developed to increase working memory in video gamers and improve sleep.
As technology continues to move us towards more immersive dreamlike experiences, one can only wonder what digital wonders lay just beyond the horizon of tomorrow. We may also question just how the future of virtual reality will impact the study and practice of lucid dreaming. Are we, perhaps, the last generation to whom lucid dreaming will maintain an appeal?
Jeremiah Morelli is a whimsical fantasy artist and visual storyteller. He places conceptual fairytale creatures in vivid dreamscapes to capture the imagination. He's also a school teacher, and amazingly finds the time and motivation to create this huge gallery of artwork. Such light and dark fairytale paintings make beautiful places to visit in your lucid dreams.
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?