Mirrors present an interesting puzzle in lucid dreams because their main property in real life - reflection - is driven by the laws of physics. Yet these laws are entirely moot in dreams.
In fact, the only reason things do follow the laws of cause and effect in any dream is because we expect them to.
Physical law drives our entire conscious experience and we carry it with us - both consciously and unconsciously - into the dream world.
Every "normal" construct in the dream world (cars, houses, human beings, bicycles, swimming pools, trees, dogs, clothing) has been drawn from your waking experience. If you were blue and lived on Titan, you would no doubt dream of blue aliens and green skies every night - and that would be your normality.
So your dreams are heavily based on your memories and expectations, and this creates an interesting conundrum which we can explore with dream mirrors.
Let's combine the ability of an dream object to function independently with your unconscious expectations about what you look like in a dream.
This experiment enables you to literally look your unconscious in the face.
The mirror experiment is simple enough. The next time you become lucid, increase your level of awareness as much as you can then seek out a mirror and look into it.
What do you see? Do you relate to the person in the mirror? Do they move the same time that you move? Do you notice anything unusual about them?
The results, you'll find, can sometimes be scary and alarming. It's a total trip. Here's a lucid dream excerpt from the very first time I tried this experiment some years ago:
Another time, I was having a normal dream and I had something in my eye, so I went to the mirror to check it out. I was prompted to become lucid while looking in the mirror:
Perhaps not surprisingly, people have reported similar effects when taking psychedelics. Looking in a mirror (in real life) while hallucinating can reveal strange facial distortions.
I have also had positive experiences with dream mirrors... But for some reason it's the really messed up ones that stick with me to this day :)
Your conscious expectations usually have very little impact on what you'll actually see in the mirror. This is definitely an unconscious experiment in which you can examine your self-image. It can also reveal personal insecurities and self-doubts, as well as positive hopes and beliefs, projected onto the mirror image version of you.
What if you see some really messed up imagery in your lucid dream mirror?
It's intriguing to interpret the symbolism of your dream. This experiment isn't simply to freak yourself out... although I admit that's part of the fun ;)
I believe learning more about yourself can be productive, too.
For example, what if your teeth fall out when you look in the dream mirror?
One theory is that your teeth reflect anxieties about your appearance and how others perceive you. In particular, they may reflect your sense of sexual attractiveness, femininity (among women) and the consequences of getting old. Dream research found that women in menopause frequently report dreams about teeth falling out.
However, no dream analysis is ever definitive. Teeth dreams are also found to commonly symbolize power, self-confidence, diet, faith, lies and money.
Different cultures find different dream meanings, and of course there is room for variation between individuals. So while you can use a dream dictionary as a starting point, you should fill in the context of your dream, your current mind set, and also note recurring dream themes and symbols.
When you've finished examining your appearance in the dream mirror, you can try one more experiment: use the mirror as a portal to another dimension.
Sometimes, as in the dream I had below, the mirror leads exactly where you expect it - to the wall behind!
If you believe the mirror to be a gateway to another location - and truly expect that to happen, visualizing events on the other side - it can be a very fun way to teleport your awareness.
Here's another example from my dream journal:
Next time you're lucid dreaming, try the mirror experiment.
Check out your reflection and consciously remember as much detail as you can for dream analysis when you wake up.
And remember that mirrors, doors, wardrobes and windows can all make useful portals to your next dream location...
I was walking down a hallway with my dad when it happened. A dark, pointy figure grabbed me by the ankles and flung me down the hall. I was shocked and in pain. But before I knew what was happening, he marched over to me and did it again. He was furious. He was going to destroy me. And I had nothing. Except for my lucidity.
Members of our lucid dream forum have been asking how to create dream characters in lucid dreams. The most common problem is having characters who look nothing like they should. Or they seem disinterested in your company. Or they fail to show up on command altogether. So, how to combat this? It's a matter of finding creative solutions that bypass logical expectations.
To lucid dream, I recommend being able to remember at least one vivid dream per night. That will boost your self awareness in dreams (making lucidity more likely) and also means you can actually remember your lucid dreams. Which is nice. Here are four detailed tips on how to remember your dreams more frequently. And if you don't think you dream at all - trust me, you almost certainly do. It takes an extraordinarily rare sleep disorder to deprive someone of dream sleep.
It is estimated that these wise and wily Indians have been using mugwort in their healing and ritual practices for 13,000 years, where it is known as the ‘dream sage’. They use the herb to promote good dreams, which they consider an essential aspect of normal human functioning! But that’s not all...
Silene Capensis has been used for millennia by the Xhosa shaman of the river valleys in the eastern cape of South Africa, where it is known as Undela Ziimhlophe or 'white paths'. It's fragrant white flowers open only at night, when they emit a fragrant and almost hypnotising aroma. Also known as African Dream Herb or Ubulawu, Silene Capensis induces spectacularly vivid dreams - yet has never entered the mainstream and remains a fringe taste within western culture.
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?