What is lucid dreaming?
A lucid dream is when you consciously wake up inside a dream. The word "lucid" means "clear" so it literally means "clear dreaming". It is a result of heightened consciousness in the dream state, initiated by the realization that you are dreaming and self-aware.
Most people will have one or two conscious dreams in their lifetime by accident. But with practice, you can learn how to have lucid dreams regularly and act out your greatest fantasies and use it for personal development. While some children can program their dreams naturally, for most adults it requires some knowledge of lucid dreaming techniques and a dedication to the concept of waking up in your dreams.
The reason so many people are drawn to lucidity is because it sets them free and allows them to do impossible things in the dream world. Once you learn to induce conscious dreams, you can control your actions, manipulate the scenery, and drive the plot as you see fit. This enables you to explore the depths of the oceans or the edge of the universe. You can travel forward in time, fly to the moon, or run like a cheetah. There are no limits in the world of lucid dreaming.
How long does it take to have your first lucid dream?
One study showed a group of committed students were able to have their first lucid dream within 3-21 days on average. They were equipped with the right tutorials and practiced mindfully every day. You should aim to take a similar approach.
This is a guide only. A minority may already possess the key skills and have their first lucid dream the same night they discover the concept. A different minority may take months to learn the skills, especially if they don't make a solid commitment.
If you are struggling to have your first lucid dream, ask yourself:
- Are you dream journaling every morning?
- Are you spending at least 20 minutes a day on mindful meditation?
- Are you raising your self-awareness during waking life?
- Are you practicing your reality checks frequently and mindfully?
- Have you planned out what you'll do in your first lucid dream?
- Are you subconsciously incubating the desire to lucid dream?
- Have you mastered any in-depth lucid dreaming techniques?
If you feel you have been practicing for a long time with no results, your technique may be letting you down. Brush up on lucidity tutorials found on websites, books, courses and these forums.
How will I know when I'm lucid?
In Dream Initiated Lucid Dreams, the moment you become lucid is the moment you suddenly realize you are dreaming.
In the movies, fictional characters often realize they're dreaming and make funny comments about it but otherwise allow the dream to continue of it's own accord and nothing changes. Lucid dreaming is nothing like this
In real life, the effect is quite different. Saying (and knowing) "This is a dream!" results in a rush of clarity of thought. Your surroundings will zoom into focus and become much more vivid. You will have far greater awareness of your body and it is more like a waking experience, seeing the dream through your own eyes and having the opportunity to move freely and take in much more sensory information.
The features of conscious dreams can spontaneously change just like a normal dream. For instance, you may manifest a group of bear cubs which later change into a pile of boxes. Of course, you can easily call the bear cubs back again. But don't be surprised if you notice these subtle changes which seem beyond your control. Remember, it is a co-created experience and your subconscious mind is still playing a key role.
How can I stay lucid for longer?
Beginners often get frustrated because their lucid dreams end prematurely. Sometimes, the sheer excitement causes you to wake up. Other times, you may simply forget you are dreaming and the subconscious mind regains full control. In this case, the dream loses its intensity and become just like a regular dream again.
To prevent this from happening, cultivate a calm and focused mind set in the dream world. Remind yourself that you are dreaming often stay mentally grounded. I explain more about this in the article How To Stay Lucid (http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/how-to-stay-lucid.html). These techniques have helped me experience lucid dreams as long as an hour (estimated in real-time).
A very simple way to enhance your lucidity and ground yourself in the dream is to rub your hands together while saying "I'm dreaming". This kinetic sensation stimulates the conscious brain, while drawing awareness to your dream body and away from your physical body lying asleep in bed.
How can I change the scenery?
Making the dream scene morph in front of your eyes can sometimes difficult - mainly because you simply don't expect it to happen. This is typical of the results beginners complain about because they lack the anticipated control of the dreamworld.
If you are having problems with dream control (and I should stress that not everyone does have such issues) the best way to change things is to work WITH your subconscious dream logic. For instance, to change the scenery:
- Locate a dream door (a door that stands inappropriately in the middle of any landscape) and step through to another world.
- Pass through a mirror portal (a liquid-like mirror that leads to another dimension) and emerge in any scene you choose.
- Change the channel on a TV, then jump into the screen and allow the image to become 3-dimensional around you.
- Turn away from the scene, imagine a new and exciting location emerging behind you. When you turn back - lo and behold - it is there!
- Spin around and imagine a new scene appearing when you stop spinning.
As you can see, there are many creative solutions to issues of dream control. The most important thing to remember is that your conscious expectation plays a major role. If you question your own ability to manifest new scenes, then your abilities will falter. But if you remain confidence and learn from your experiences, you'll soon find that absolutely anything is possible inside a conscious dream.
How can I have flying dreams?
Learning how to fly in lucid dreams is something we all want to master first.
However, it's not like you've had any practice in real life, so the concept can be a little difficult on the lucid dreaming mind. While some people take to the sky like Superman, others can get stuck in power lines, bump into buildings, or waver as if gravity is acting against them (which of course it isn't!)
Think of the movie The Matrix, when Morpheus asks Neo how he beat him in a virtual reality fight. Was it because he was stronger, faster, or fitter in this simulated world? No. It was because he truly believed he was better.
It's the same in lucid dreams. See my article How to Have Lucid Flying Dreams (http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/how-to-have-lucid-flying-dreams.html)which explains the expectation principle and a three-step flight training program.
Are lucid dreams tiring?
The short answer for 99% of people is no.
You dream for around 100 minutes every night, broken down into multiple different dreams occurring in different phases of sleep. The average proficient lucid dreamer can expect to do it maybe 2-4 times a week, with each session lasting 10-40 minutes. Most people don't miss that sleep - even if it were deemed to be worthless (which it isn't). Indeed, a lucid dream can often leave you on a natural high for the rest of the day, which gives you more mental and physical energy.
For a very small fraction of people, lucid dreaming occurs every night. They can feel engulfed by their conscious dreams and unable to sleep deeply and properly the whole night. This can leave them feeling sleep deprived and is a very real sleep disorder once it begins to impact on their normal daily life. That's not to say lucid dreaming is a sleep disorder - anything in excess can have profound effects on the mind and body. People who complain of this condition have usually been lucid dreaming their whole lives and should seek expert advice from a sleep specialist.
Can I get stuck in a lucid dream?
If you are imagining getting stuck in a lucid dream that way a child gets stuck in a painting in a horror movie, then no, that's science fiction. Welcome to the real world!
You can no more get stuck in a lucid dream than you can get stuck in a regular dream or nightmare. What's more, dream limbo was a made-up plot device for Inception.
Indeed, lucidity afford you the opportunity to wake up on demand. A number of people learn to start lucid dreaming naturally by using it to wake up from nightmares. Just open and shut your dream eyes firmly while saying "WAKE UP!" In time, you can use the same moment of clarity to transform your nightmare into a guided dream.
While it is possible to become engrossed in a lucid nightmare or false awakening, this is not the same as being "trapped" in a dream for any significant amount of time. Though frustrating (and sometimes enlightening) they are no different in length from typical periods of REM sleep, which max out after a certain period of time.
Are my dreams psychic?
I'm sure you want them to be, but wanting something doesn't make it real. Otherwise we'd all win the lottery, look like A-list celebrities and solve world hunger.
To date, there is no good scientific evidence for psychic dreams. Everyone has heard of a friend-of-a-friend who "had this amazing psychic dream, so it has to be real" but please bear in mind that such stories are often embellished, and coincidences do happen.
Also, consider this:
1) Nobody has identified a mechanism for psychic information to travel from the future into your dreaming mind. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist, but it's a tad premature to believe in something we can neither perceive nor explain.
2) It's far more likely that so-called psychic dreams are caused by coincidence. How many deaths and accidents have you dreamed about that didn't come true? Though it may seem unbelievable at the time, mathematically it is commonplace.
3) It's also quite likely that "psychic" information is received subconsciously. In other words, if you know your friend is a risk-taker behind the wheel, it's not psychic to dream of him having a car accident which later happens.
There is a scientific principle known as Occam's Razor, where the observed minimalist solution is always better than calling upon additional unknown factors. In other words, lose the wild unproven theories and accept the simple proven explanation.
I'm not 100% dismissive of alternative theories. If solid evidence emerged for psychic dreams, I would accept that they do exist. Lucid dreamers are best poised to take on this task, as explained in my article on Precognitive Dreams (http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/precognitive-dreams.html) . Until such time, I'm going to base my beliefs on observation and calculated reasoning.
Can I talk to my subconscious in a lucid dream?
As the lucid dream is a co-created experience, you can find subconscious communication arising from many different places - via dream characters, dream events, or even the fabric of the dream itself. The easiest way is to start a dialogue with the dream; just talk out loud. See the article 10 Things to Ask Your Lucid Self (http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/10-things-to-ask-your-lucid-dream-self.html) for specific questions to pose to your dreaming self.
If I die in a dream will I die in reality?
Who ever died and came back to tell that tall tale!?
This is a myth. What's more, I have not found any action in a lucid dream to have a negative physical impact on my body.
I once died in a dream of epic proportions. I was standing on the roof of one of the Twin Towers in New York. I watched in the distance as a tsunami wave headed towards the city. I was soon immersed in water, knocked off the building and drowned as I fell.
I then "woke up" in the dream to find myself on an alien planet, being watched by a group of my alien peers. They had big heads and slender limbs, and waited for me while my memory of them returned. Apparently my whole time on Earth was just part of a larger lifecycle. It was a great dream. And it certainly didn't kill me in real life.
What are false awakenings?
In false awakenings, you believe you have woken up but are in fact still asleep. It's a very vivid experience and shares some intriguing characteristics with lucid dreams.
Some people get dressed, have breakfast and leave the house in their false awakenings. Most of these actions are performed on auto-pilot so it's not really a fun or controllable dream experience. However the realism can be shocking in hindsight - which is why people don't often recognize false awakenings while they occur.
Lucid dreamers tend to have more false awakenings than other people, because this is a state in which consciousness clashes with the dream world. It is an odd side effect but not at all dangerous and can actually lead to the creation of more conscious dreams. This occurrence is often used in movies to reveal their character's fears coming true - and was used to the extreme in the comedy movie Groundhog Day.
The best way to work with false awakenings is to check your reality every time you wake up and if your impossible action comes true... it means you're still dreaming
Do lucid dream machines work?
Lucid dream machines like the NovaDreamer, REM Dreamer or DreamMask provide external lucidity triggers which are incorporated into your dream. It is up to you to recognize the cue and in doing so, realize that you are dreaming.
They do not guarantee effortless conscious dreams - nothing can, unless you are a natural - but used correctly they can certainly increase your self-awareness in dreams and help bring your consciousness into the dreamscape. To learn more, read my reviews of popular lucid dream machines (http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/lucid-dream-machines.html).
Does brainwave entrainment help you lucid dream?
Brainwave entrainment is a scientifically proven method of entering meditative states at will. It's based on precision audio technology like isochronic tones and ushers the brain into a deeply relaxed state.
I believe entrainment is good for lucid dreaming on two levels. Firstly it helps you to attain deeply meditative states on demand, which improves your self-awareness, visualization skills and ability to stay conscious throughout altered states.
Secondly, it enhances your ability to enter the Mind Awake / Body Asleep state (used in Wake Induced Lucid Dreams) which is a powerful way of having lucid dreams and out of body experiences on demand. It focuses your mind on staying consciously aware while putting your body into a sleep and dream state.
For more information see my Brainwave Meditation Review (http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/lucid-dreaming-mp3.html).
Should I use dream herbs?
Dream herbs are very good at temporarily improving your dream recall, as well as giving you very intense and meaningful dreams the same night. Sometimes these are lucid dreams and at the minimum they are very vivid and memorable dreams.
I find certain dream herbs create interesting dream experiences and are worth experimenting with just for fun and to understand more about the dreaming mind. Beginners may want to try the popular herb like Calea Zacatechichi (http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/calea-zacatechichi-review.html).
Can I use lucid dreams to induce OBEs?
Some people believe out of body experiences (OBEs) are literal, physical projections of your awareness outside of your body. It may also be called astral projection. There is no denying the experience is somewhat similar to a lucid dream and there is nothing stopping you from inducing an OBE from within a conscious dream state.
You may also find that while practicing lucid dreaming techniques, you have some other unexplained experiences which may feel like you're moving out of body. In reality, this may just be a transition from your physical body into an imaginary dream body - a bit like a false awakening, which begins with you waking up in bed.
To learn more about the connection between lucid dreaming and OBEs / astral projection, take a look at Paranormal Activity (http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/paranormal-activity.html).
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