Once they hear about it, almost everyone wants to know how to have lucid dreams. And who wouldn't? It's an awesomely exciting proposition to become conscious inside your dreamworld and take control...
According to experts, lucid dreaming is a natural untapped ability that all of us possess. We just have to learn how to harness it.
We ALL already dream every night (even if you don't remember) and we are all conscious human beings by day. Combining these two states is perfectly possible - it just takes some targeted mental training.
Below I'll summarize some practical instructions on how to have lucid dreams, including my personal favorite lucid dream techniques.
Lucid dreaming is the ability to "wake up" in your dreams. It is the conscious stirring inside an unconscious dream world.
Most noticeably, conscious dreams look and feel extremely vivid and tangible, on a par with waking life. The difference between a normal dream and a lucid dream is like watching a movie with a bad TV signal vs actually starring in it.
Lucid dreams are NOT psychic premonitions, telepathy, shared dreams, vivid nightmares, sleep paralysis, ghostly bedroom experiences, or just really vivid dreams. Lucid dreams are 100% real and scientifically proven.
A lucid dream begins when you realize that you are dreaming, which makes you become self-aware. This gives you the full mental faculty to consider the dream in context and explore in "live". You have the power to control yourself, the scenery, the plot, and other dream elements if you choose.
With experience, you can accomplish all kinds of feats - like flying through space, creating new worlds, summoning specific characters and having realistic sex. But dream control is just the beginning which opens up many diverse applications for your dreamworld. Check out these 12 awesome benefits of lucid dreaming.
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The majority of lucid dreaming techniques train your mind to:
Having frequent lucid dreams will become a way of life. You'll be more successful in your efforts if you incorporate these techniques into your everyday habits. After all, your dreams reflect your thoughts, experiences and emotions from waking reality.
That's why just thinking about how to have lucid dreams could potentially produce your first lucid dream tonight!
Now, there is no guaranteed method of having a lucid dream tonight. However, there are many tried-and-tested techniques which can increase your chances, even more so over time.
Here are five basic techniques to kick-start your lucid dream training:
These beginner techniques are simple and effective with regular practice. But don't just read this and forget about it - actually DO IT!
Once you've spent a day committing to all five techniques, it's time to move on to some advanced lucid dreaming techniques.
I've been lucid dreaming since I was 14 years old and I've spent the last five years researching and writing about lucid dream control on this site.
Understandably, I get a lot of emails and forum questions from beginners, and by far the most common one goes like this:
Of course, no-one would waste their time on techniques that don't work. They are all valid in their own right, each enhancing different aspects of your psychological and physiological opportunities to lucid dream.
I find that lucid dream techniques work best in combinations, eg:
So, you can start to see now that there is no "best way" to have lucid dreams that applies to everyone.
I know that's not a very satisfying answer, but it is undoubtedly true. As a consolation prize, I'm going to share the best way for me to have lucid dreams, speaking quite generally, over the years.
Over the years I have found that following these techniques - usually in combination - produce the most lucid dreams:
1) Night-Time Meditation - There is a wonderful half-sleep state I go and explore whenever I am in bed and drowsy. I lie very still and relaxed and allow my mind to drift. I hold on to that thin strand of consciousness while allowing my body to fall asleep.
Not only is this deeply relaxing, it creates all kinds of interesting hypnagogic sensations: floating out-of-body, seeing geometric patterns behind closed eyes, auditory hallucinations and emerging dream scenes. This method is great for increasing your self-awareness, visualization skills, and learning how to walk your mind directly into a lucid dream.
2) Dream Journaling - If there were one technique that is absolutely essential to frequent lucid dreaming, it is to keep a dream journal. Spend 10 minutes writing down your dreams each morning and you will find that not only will your dream recall and intensity increase, but you will have many more moments of spontaneous lucidity in the dream world. Ignore this at your peril.
3) Incubation - This means "planting a seed" of an idea into your unconscious mind, so that you may recall it while dreaming. It's nothing to do with Inception. One way to incubate a lucid dream is to say to yourself "I will have a lucid dream tonight" while performing meditation or self hypnosis. Another way is repeatedly think about your desired dream plot or a dream character you'd like to meet all through the waking day. In the same way that horror movies can incubate nightmares... your thoughts and daydreams can incubate specific dream content which can trigger your lucidity.
I've touched upon quite a few different techniques here and you may even feel that is a little overwhelming - so where do you start?
Click the next button below to go through specific tutorials on how to have lucid dreams, or if you feel ready you can jump in with both feet.
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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?