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...
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For centuries, Tibetan Buddhists have been working on waking up in their dreams, so that they can "wake up" at the moment of their death. They also believe that whatever cultural assumptions you have during life will become true upon death. Can lucid dreaming prepare us for the dying process? What might happen at the actual moment of death? Why are we scared of death and how might bodiless lucid experiences help to reduce our fear? In this interview, Dr Clare Johnson and Dr Keith Hearne dive into the lucid void, Tibetan Buddhism, and lucid dreaming as an emotional and spiritual preparation for death.
Does this face look familiar? It should. This is the result of image averaging - a technique in which multiple headshots are averaged out into a single face. In this case, our composite guy was generated by psychology student and photography enthusiast, Bill Lytton. Lytton averaged out 32 attractive male celebrity faces. To avoid personal bias, he referred to Maxim's Hot 100 and other opinion polls. He also averaged out a bunch of unattractive male faces for comparison.
It's a myth that you could exhaust yourself having a great big run in a lucid dream. After all, your real muscles are paralyzed during sleep. Your body isn't really running or burning up energy. So why would you feel depleted? So, in terms of physical energy depletion, there's really no logic to this argument. But what about dreams being mentally or emotionally tiring? The best way to test this is to survey lucid dreamers themselves. Go ahead, take our poll. My intuitive response is no - and that's based on my 17 years of personal experience. Lucid dreams aren't tiring for me at all.
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?