Lucidity exists on a spectrum.
Sure, you can say that a person is either lucid dreaming or not. If you have any awareness that your reality is a dream, or any level of conscious control, or both - then you're lucid.
But there is a scale of increasing lucidity to be defined. And the level of your lucidity has a major impact on:
The following are my own unofficial classifications of lucidity in dreams.
For most people, this is the default dream state.
You are totally unaware that you are dreaming and you accept the dream as reality.
It may be hazy and illogical, or vivid and highly evocative. Either way, when you have no conscious awareness or control of your dream, you are not lucid.
Non-lucid dreams are created entirely by the unconscious mind. They are based on memories, experiences, fears and desires, illustrated by your unconscious conceptual understanding of reality.
This is the lowest level of lucidity, most common in beginners.
A semi-lucid dream is almost always the result of a Dream Induced Lucid Dream (DILD). You're dreaming of being on a first date with a giant, gregarious gerbil when you suddenly realize you're dreaming. The world snaps into focus.
Perhaps for the first time ever, you exist consciously in a new reality. This is not like wakefulness. This is really, really alien. It's hard to focus.
You say out loud, "I'm dreaming!" You ditch the gerbil and attempt to take flight. But nothing happens. The gerbil sniggers. You try again. Gravity resists.
Something is blocking your conscious will from affecting the dream world. But what?
You're wandering around the dreamscape, half aware that you're dreaming, but also overpowered by the realistic and yet inconsistent nature of the dream.
That thin strand of conscious awareness is hard to hold on to.
A lion sneaks by. So does Angelina Jolie. Hey, what? A mailbox.
You forgot you were dreaming. Lucidity is lost.
The solution to this semi-lucid limbo? Take the time to maximize your conscious awareness the moment you become lucid. It will affect the entire outcome of your dream.
The good news is, as you heighten your lucidity, you will become more observant of your dreamworld and the rules at play.
The part of your conscious brain that is responsible for shaping and influencing the dream will start writing a new rule book.
Soon you will be able to soar above the clouds, run through solid objects and create entire new dream scenes.
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To enjoy a fully lucid dream, you need a little more practice at lucidity. That's my experience anyway.
Don't get me wrong - my early lucid dreams were highly exhilarating. But in no way did I have control of my dreams (at least, as much as I wanted at the time).
First I had to get to grips with staying lucid for more than ten seconds. This is actually the really easy bit when you know now.
Next, it was a challenge to control my immediate environment.
It finally struck me that all of this becomes so much easier when you become fully lucid. To heighten the intensity of your conscious awareness as a priority.
Then you can start controlling stuff.
A fully lucid dream means having no doubt whatsoever that you are in the mental construct of the dreamworld.
You understand profoundly that everything you see and feel is the creation of your own mind, and that you can manipulate any element at will.
It follows, through flawless logic, that in this fake reality you can teleport across the universe at the speed of thought or morph yourself into a tiger.
But lucid dreaming is not just about dream control. Anyone who has ever experienced a lucid dream knows that. It is about having conscious awareness of the dream state, which is often even more intense than waking reality, in its own way.
You can float above the city and observe hundreds and thousands of dream characters in the streets below, going about their business.
You can passively observe the dream while allowing complex plots to unravel on their own, while still playing a central character.
This is the real beauty of lucid dreaming. It is your gateway to an alternate reality world where you can exist in a far richer context.
As far as Tibetan Buddhism goes, there's an even higher level of lucidity which passes beyond the dreamstate.
The ultimate goal in Tibetan dream yoga is to attain a fully lucid dream -- then dissolve the dream.
That doesn't mean waking up. It means moving past the visual imagery, the tactile stimulus, the sounds and smells and tastes of the dream.
Deprived of any physical or conceptual dream sensory data, yet fully lucid and consciously aware, it's possible to experience the purest form of conscious awareness.
That sounds like an excellent goal for any lucid dreamer...
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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.
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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?