The coolest brain hack I've ever experienced is the Wake Induced Lucid Dream - or WILD.
The name says it all: during a WILD, you literally hand-off your awareness from a physically waking state directly into a sleeping lucid dream state.
Though not the easiest lucid dream technique, it does have two big advantages:
In this tutorial, I explain how to have a Wake Induced Lucid Dream via two routes: visualization (using your hypnagogia) and the out-of-body exit.
Buckle up, Dorothy, 'cause Kansas is going bye bye.
This WILD technique stems from Tibetan Dream Yoga, a Buddhist philosophy used as a path to enlightenment. It's much easier if you frequently meditate. You'll see why in a moment.
Also know that, while it does usually require practice, WILD is also totally intuitive. I know people who naturally taught themselves to WILD as children. I call it "dreaming yourself to sleep".
The key is getting to know your body's sleep signals. Once you can identify the natural triggers and responses to falling asleep, you'll be able to exploit the process to have lucid dreams.
Think about how you fall asleep every night. We're going to replicate that process with one difference: as your body falls asleep, your mind will stay awake.
That may sound like an alien concept, but rest assured it's entirely possible - and it becomes easier with practice. When it does happen, you'll be surprised how natural it feels, slipping straight into the dream state with full awareness.
To begin, your body should already be very relaxed and loose. That's why it's so much easier to do after waking up from a deeper sleep (the ideal time to have a WILD is after 4-6 hours of sleep).
Step 1: Relax into the corpse pose
Lie on your back in the corpse pose. Other sleeping postures can work too, but I find this most effective because it doesn't cut off blood supply to any limbs and allows you to imagine floating for the OBE exit.
Empty your mind and gaze into the blackness of your closed eyelids. If any thoughts pop up, just observe them and send them on their way. Don't interact with your thoughts or let your inner monologue kick in.
Breathe slowly and deeply. Focus on breathing in to the count of four, holding for seven, then breathing out for eight counts. (This is also a great stress-reliever at any time of day.)
Do this ten times. You'll be totally relaxed.
If you find it hard to enter a state of quiet meditation, brainwave entrainment can prove extremely useful. It's helped me enter the altered states of awareness necessary for WILDs and OBEs on many occasions.
After a while, you may notice the onset of the hypnagogic state.
The most obvious sign involves phosphorescent patterns flowing behind your closed eyelids. Allow yourself to become mesmerized by the color play and let it draw your awareness inwards.
You can interact with your hypnagogia if it draws you deeper into the meditation. Some people prefer to ignore it, allowing what's beyond the hypnagogic imagery to produce the dream instead.
As you go deeper, your hypnagogia may also simulate sounds (like distant music or voices) and physical sensations (like floating or tipping out of bed). This is all normal. Often, your mind is asleep by this point.
Hold on to your consciousness awareness. You need it to go lucid.
Step 2 - Observe your hypnagogia
Sometimes you'll wake up in the night and find yourself already immersed in this deep, dreamy state. Your body is soft and relaxed. And your mind drifts between your bedroom and the dream world.
When you catch that cloud - float on it.
If you jump out of bed to use the bathroom at this point, you'll have to start over. The same goes if your partner starts thumping around the bedroom. You need absolute peace and stillness and mental immersion.
Soon, the internal dream world will start to evolve, either directly from the hypnagogic images or from the space beyond it, beyond your field of vision. Wherever it comes from, embrace it.
All the while, silently repeat the mantra: "I'm dreaming... I'm dreaming... I'm dreaming..." At this point, the temptation to let go and fall asleep mentally is the strongest. Hold on just a bit more.
If you're startled by any unusual hypnagogia, remember it's just the dream world poking through into reality.
I once heard a man's voice outside my bedroom window yell "It's f***ing winter!" while I was totally relaxed in this state. Of course, there was no-one there. It was all in my head. Expected the unexpected.
On rare occasions, this includes the onset of sleep paralysis. (Don't be alarmed - use it!)
More often, you'll find your body becomes a distant memory (you can no longer feel it in bed) and your mind will start to make leaps into other realms. Enjoy this feeling. The dream is close.
If you feel the dream state coming on in fleeting but intense snatches of memory - you're ready to start the launch sequence for your lucid dream.
If not, then enjoy the hypnagogia for longer, and don't put any pressure on yourself to succeed at every attempt. In fact, you'll probably need to practice just getting to this point many times before you can launch into a lucid dream. It's totally worth it.
If you're ready to launch, you have two options:
I prefer the former. Not that I always get a choice.
If you're a dab hand at visualization, you can start to picture your desired dream scene in your mind's eye. Layer up the landscape, like an artist, or recall the face of a desired dream character. Make it vivid.
Once again, you can either program the images into your moving visual hypnagogia (it's easily controlled with willpower at this point) or draw the imagery from beyond your field of vision.
As the scene intensifies in your imagination, put yourself right in the middle of the action. Explore your surroundings in a calm, peaceful manner. Immerse your awareness as fully as possible.
Move around. Kinetic sensations such as walking, running or riding a bicycle are a great way to "teleport" your awareness into a dream body. And that's the critical goal here: to forget about the real body and inhabit a lucid dream body, wafting around in an alternate reality.
Step 3a - Visualize your desired dreamscape
With your mind absorbed in the vivid daydream, allow your body to fall asleep altogether. You do this by forgetting - or even denying - its existence. It should be completely limp and relaxed; a distant memory of an old body. It's not yours, you don't control it, you don't even know how. Right? This is dissociation.
With complete dissociation, the moment of transition is unmistakable. You will POP into your daydream, now a highly vivid lucid dream world, surrounding you in three dimensions and fully tangible and interactive.
The dream is now easy and effortless and you will not believe how you just did that. You are now lucid dreaming!
Here's the alternative route to a Wake Induced Lucid Dream.
Sometimes you're so swept up in your hypnagogic meditation that your body falls asleep before you have the chance to visualize a dream scene. No big deal.
When this happens your awareness has nowhere to go but your own bedroom, except now you are lucid dreaming. It is a dream bedroom, and you are lying in a dream bed.
It's hard to tell, because the room will look incredibly lifelike, whether it's your familiar bedroom or a temporary sleeping environment like a hotel room. Look for minute oddities - there's usually something to give it away.
The startling realism, combined with the lack of any clear transition, is why so many people believe they are having a literal out of body experience at this point.
Don't be fooled. Scientific simulations of the OBE state, plus considerable crossover with the WILD technique, strongly indicate this is a type of lucid dream. (Believe what you want, I'm just saying there's no need to shatter your existential philosophy when all that's happened is you had a Wake Induced Lucid Dream.)
Here are some clues to help you recognize when you're in this state:
The moment you realize it's happening, you can start to launch your out-of-body exit.
It's referred to as out-of-body because your awareness is "locked" into your body lying in bed. You're holding on to a distant sense of your physical body under the effects of REM atonia. You're between bodies.
This is one of the quirks of out of body experiences. It's probably caused by the confusion of the conscious brain switching from waking reality to the lucid dream world, while the perceived surroundings remain largely unchanged.
You may be able to climb out of bed normally. However, more often, it's hard (even impossible) to move your limbs. No problem. This is a dream, remember? You absolutely can sink or float out of your body.
Step 3b - Float, sink or swing out of the paralysis
Imagine floating in water. Or imagine how it feels when you're swinging really high on a swing in the park. That kinetic sensation can free you from the illusion that your dream body has succumbed to sleep paralysis.
Alternatively, visualize a new dream scene. Say to yourself "I'm going to the forest now". You're already lucid dreaming, so it's easy to teleport away with the power of thought. This is how dream control works.
If, in the rare instance, you find you have company in your bedroom (I'm talking uninvited dream characters, who may present themselves as angels or devils or even Bart Simpson) welcome them and ask for a little help.
Say: "Can you take me to the park?" (Or anywhere to get out of the paralysis environment. Where do you want your lucid dream to go?)
Expect that they will. Expectation drives everything.
Even Bart Simpson can appear during your sleep paralysis hallucination
Learning how to have a WILD can take time and an understanding of your body's sleep signals.
The first WILD is always the hardest because you don't know what you're aiming for. Stick with it, and make it a night-time meditation habit. Even a failed WILD attempt is good practice.
And when you do pull it off, you'll be amazed at how easy and seamless it all felt.
The most common complaints with WILD? Either people find they can't relax enough, or they become too relaxed and fall asleep. So bear these points in mind:
Finally, if you're into lucid dreaming supplements, the ideal partner for Wake Induced Lucid Dreams is galantamine.
Take galantamine after a few hours of sleep and the hypnagogia will come fast. It's much easier to immerse yourself into the imagery and become lucid as you fall asleep.
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Humans are unique in our endless capacity for imagination. According to Steven Mithen, an anthropologist at the University of Reading in the UK, we needed to evolve seven critical mental skills before we could have imagination as we know it. Each of these abilities serve a distinct purpose in their own right, while imagination is the culmination of them all.
The coolest brain hack I've ever experienced is the Wake Induced Lucid Dream - or WILD. The name says it all: during a WILD, you literally hand-off your awareness from a physically waking state directly into a sleeping lucid dream state. Though not the easiest lucid dream technique, it does have two big advantages. Lucidity on demand - choose when you have a lucid dream. Peak lucidity - it's the most vivid type of lucid dream available. In this tutorial, I explain how to have a Wake Induced Lucid Dream via two routes: visualization (using your hypnagogia) and the out-of-body exit. Buckle up, Dorothy, 'cause Kansas is going bye bye.
So here's a quirky little nighttime oddity that can strike terror into your soul. Sleep paralysis. It's the mechanism that stops you from acting out your dreams. It happens to you every single time you go to sleep, and you've probably never even been aware of it. There's a lot to say about sleep paralysis. One the one hand, it's a very normal bodily process. One the other, it can be a terrifying sleep disorder. And on the third hand (yes, that's three hands now) it's the gateway to the lucid dream world. It covers quite the spectrum of emotions.
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