Today we'll examine how to stay lucid in dreams - transforming a few brief seconds of lucidity to many long, memorable experiences.
This is based on my own dreams as well as lucidity expert Dr Stephen LaBerge's lucid dream stabilization methods.
My first lucid dreams were very short. We're talking seconds. I would realize I was dreaming and then get excited and run around telling everyone about it. This is a common mistake among newbie lucid dreamers. The fact is you have to keep a cool head, or you'll most likely wake up.
So next time you become lucid, immediately perform these simple dream stabilizing techniques to increase your self awareness in an instant. This will enhance the clarity of the dream, making it easier for you to recall your lucid dream intention and explore your new surroundings.
Avoid running around or shouting "I'm dreaming!" at every man and his dog. Just get a grip on your emotions and try to relax back into the dream.
Movement stimulates the conscious brain and increases your awareness of your dream body, helping to ground you in the dream.
Focusing on your hands close-up draws your awareness to the finer details, enhancing your lucidity in the moment.
Push your fingers through your palm, or a solid object, or do your standard reality check and remind yourself clearly "I'm dreaming".
Shout it out loud and mean it! Your dream scene will instantly snap into focus, as per your willful instruction.
Do a simple arithmetic sum in your head, such as 4 + 4, to engage the conscious brain within the dreamstate.
Spinning can help stabilize your awareness in the dream. Sometimes it can also make the dream scene go black, so it's also good for changing scenery. Just visualize the next scene you want to visit and it will appear clearer.
This relies on the principle that movement helps increase your self awareness within the dream, although be warned it may also jolt you awake or into a false awakening! See below for troubleshooting...
As soon as I learnt how to stay lucid, my dream world exploded.
It suddenly became a new adventure playground, in which I could travel anywhere and do anything I wanted to with complete clarity and awareness. I had incredibly vivid conscious dreams that lasted a lot longer.
My lucid dreams can last up to one hour, sometimes as part of an even longer dream scenario. During one episode I have been able to escape from a nightmare, fly into space and back, time travel to an ancient civilization, explore a mansion, pass through the walls, fly over mountains and valleys, play the piano, and eat delicious food. I was fully conscious the whole time, guiding the dream and letting the dream guide me.
So it's crucial to your lucid dream life that you learn some techniques to prolong your lucid dreams. Next time you realize you're dreaming, perform as many of these methods as you can remember. It only takes a few seconds and dramatically improves the outcome of your lucid dream.
I fell backwards and woke up in bed - what happened?
In his experiments, Stephen LaBerge found that falling backwards with the aim of relaxing could often bring on false awakenings. If you expect to wake up in bed, there is a chance that you will do just that. Of course, it is only a dream bed and you are still inside a very lucid dream! Make it a habit to perform a reality check every time you wake up and you can turn your false awakenings into brilliant lucid dreams.
I span around and woke up in bed - what happened?
Another false awakening! Spinning around can feel so vivid and real that you may imagine your arm hit the bed. But as LaBerge teaches us, it is only your dream arm hitting a dream bed. Perform a reality check to get your lucid dream going again - this time from your bedroom.
I span around and the dream went black - what happened?
LaBerge also discovered that spinning often causes a new dream scene to emerge. However if the dream goes black, you can create another one by simply visualizing the next scene in front of you.
After spinning once, I found myself a bodiless point of consciousness, floating in space. I improvised the next dream scene by picturing it on a piece of movie reel in the darkness. Then I zoomed in until I was in the movie, and the scene became 3D around me.
You may surprise yourself with unusual ways to overcome problems in your lucid state of awareness. Once you understand the rules of the dreamworld you will see the possibilities are endless. Experiment!
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.
Inspired and named for the notion of Flatland, artist and photographer Aydin Buyuktas has created a series of works where "a space of surprises creates a space that creates surprises." Based on photos of Istanbul, Buyuktas explains: "We live in places that most of the times don't draw our attention, places that transform our memories, places that the artist gives another dimension; where the perceptions that generally crosses our minds will be demolished and new ones will arise. These works aim to leave the viewer alone with a surprising visuality, ironic as well as a multidimensional romantic point of view."
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?