The Wake Induced Lucid Dream (aka WILD) is often considered the most powerful lucid dreaming technique for two reasons:
Also sometimes known as the Mind Awake / Body Asleep technique, the Wake Induced Lucid Dream does exactly what the name suggests, catapulting you directly into the lucid dream state from full consciousness.
The WILD method can also generate so-called Out of Body Experiences, where dreamers believe they are literally traveling beyond their physical bodies to explore the physical world beyond. An extension of this belief is called Astral Projection, based on the theory of the spirit traveling beyond the body and through various non-physical planes. However, neither of these theories are scientifically proven, and many lucid dreamers including myself believe they are types of Wake Induced Lucid Dreams.
In the following tutorial, I'll explain how to have a WILD via traditional visualization and the most popular out-of-body technique.
The modern WILD technique stems from practices used in Tibetan Buddhism for thousands of years - an art form they call Dream Yoga. In Buddhism this is one pathway to enlightenment.
However, irrespective of your religious views, you can use this WILD technique to have fantastic guided dreams. It is a natural and intuitive method of entering the dream world; many children figure out this technique on their own without any help at all.
I have split the Wake Induced Lucid Dreams tutorial into four parts:
Timing: The best time to initiate a WILD is typically after 4-6 hours of deep sleep, when your body is deeply relaxed, your REM cycles reaching their longest, and your dreams the most vivid. To this end, if you are a deep sleeper, set your alarm clock a few hours earlier than usual. If you are a light sleeper, simply practice this method when you naturally wake up in the night. Alternatively, you can practice if you are tired and taking an afternoon nap, when your brain attempts to catch up on lost REM sleep.
Lucidity Aids: You may find it helpful to practice meditation with isochronic tones to improve your ability to WILD, and to occasionally supplement your WILD attempts with Galantamine for superior results. These are my recommended WILD boosters, although it is of course perfectly possible to achieve WILDs without lucidity aids.
Think about how you fall asleep every night. We're going to replicate that process with one tiny difference: as your body falls asleep, your mind will stay awake. That may sound like an alien concept, but rest assured it is entirely possible (and becomes easier with practice). When it does happen, you'll be surprised how natural (and wonderful) it feels.
To begin, your body should already be very relaxed and loose. Lie on your back, or whatever position you can lie in for a while without moving. Empty your mind and gaze into the blackness of your closed eyelids. If any thoughts pop up, just observe them - don't interact - then send them on their way. If you find it hard to enter that state of calm meditation, this is where brainwave entrainment can prove extremely useful.
Once relaxed and dreamy, lead your mind into the half-asleep hypnagogic state. Sometimes you'll wake up in the night and already be in this dreamy state, where your body is soft and relaxed and your mind is drifting back into the dream world without any effort at all.
When you catch that cloud - float on it!
(If you are attempting a WILD "from cold" you will need to relax into it, both physically and mentally, with at least 10 minutes of meditation. Soon, the hypnagogia will come.)
Once in the hypnagogic state, you'll see patterns and colors that take over your vision in the darkness. Observe the hypnagogia and go deeper, allowing it to hypnotize you and draw your awareness away from the outside world. It may also produce sounds like music and voices, or physical sensations like floating or tipping. The internal dream world will start to evolve now and you should fully embrace it while holding on to that critical knowledge: "I'm dreaming".
Remember to let your body stay soft and sink into the bed, keeping absolutely still and imagining
numbness taking over. If you have a persistent itch, scratch it and start over, but otherwise try to stay completely
still and relaxed. Silence your inner monologue if it starts to chime in at this point. Calmly accept any strange noises and feelings as best you can. I promise it is all internally generated so take it on in the manner of an intrepid mental explorer.
At this point you need to make a judgment call. If you don't feel sufficiently relaxed or ready to drop off to sleep, then stay with your hypnagogia for longer. However, if you feel the dreamstate coming on and feel quite detached from the real world, then you're ready to start the launch sequence for your lucid dream.
Making the right judgment makes all the difference between an easy, successful WILD and numerous fruitless attempts. But don't worry, once you know the signals (or absence of signals) that precede a WILD, you'll find it easier to recognize.
There are two ways to create a dream from here: dream visualization or the OBE exit. Personally I prefer visualization because it's more natural to me but some lucid dreamers routinely use the out-of-body technique. Try both methods and see which works better for you over time.
Do you have a vivid imagination? If so, begin to visualize a vivid dream scene with as much close-up detail as possible. Either program it into your moving visual hypnagogia or recall the imagery from beyond your field of vision. As the scene intensifies, put yourself right in the middle of the action and explore your surroundings in a calm, peaceful manner. Send your awareness into the dreamscape as fully as possible.
If you are a musician, then you may have a better auditory sense, so instead of visualizing, use your
imagination to create the sounds of your dream. Listen to everything and make the sounds and voices
realistic. Likewise, if you are good at sports or working with your body, induce a movement sensation such
as walking, running or riding a bicycle. Use your strongest sense to fully engage your mind
in the desired dream. It may start out feeling like a form of vivid day dreaming but that will soon change.
For a detailed expansion of this visualization stage, see my article How to Visualize.
Keep reminding yourself "I'm dreaming" - even if you're not there yet. You soon will be, and this will be a helpful reminder to stay lucid and not lapse into a regular non-lucid dream state.
With your mind absorbed the half-dream state, allow your body to fall asleep altogether: lose all awareness of it and place your mind fully into your new dream body. Soon, you will sense that you are no longer lying in bed - but now inside your dream! When you feel it "pop" into place, your sleeping body will be a distant memory.
The feeling is unmistakable - you are now lucid dreaming :)
Sometimes you may be so swept up in your hypnagogic meditation that your body falls asleep before you have the chance to create a dream scene. Your awareness has nowhere to go but your own bedroom, except now you are dreaming. It is a dream bedroom, and you are lying in bed in your dream.
The realism can be startling and the lack of any clear transition is why so many people believe they have had genuine out of body experiences. It literally feels like you are still awake, lying in bed, with the ability to float out of your body. Don't be fooled, however. All scientific explanations and similarities with lucid dreaming suggest this is a very vivid lucid dream.
Here are some clues to help you recognize the subtle transition from waking to dreaming (bear in mind these do not happen to everyone, and the transition may be virtually seamless):
At this point you can embrace your lucid dream and leave your body. The room will look incredibly lifelike, whether it is your usual bedroom or a temporary sleeping environment like a hotel room. The imagery is triggered by your waking memories and the fact that this is the last place you went to sleep.
This can be confusing to say the least. You may feel like you've just opened your eyes and woken up - so be sure to perform a reality check at this point. Otherwise you may just roll over and go to sleep within your dream!
The final step is to fully submerge your awareness into the lucid dream - and stabilize the dream to prevent yourself from waking up.
If you used the visualization method, keep exploring the dream scene with all your senses. Say out loud "I'm dreaming" and do a reality check. You will know you're dreaming because the whole scene will be 3D and feel like a world of its own. Like regular dreams, you will have little or no awareness of your physical body in your bed, or the real world.
If you used the OBE exit method, you may need to free your dream body from the distant sense of your physical body which is also lying in bed. This is one of the quirks of OBEs. 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 unchanged.
You may be able to climb out of bed normally - however if the sensation of sleep paralysis is with you, it can be hard (even impossible) to move your limbs. In this case, try sinking or floating out of your body. Imagine how it feels when you're swinging really high on a swing in the park; that kinetic sensation can free you from your body.
Alternatively, relax and visualize a new dream scene. Use your most powerful sense and engage yourself in the picture. It should be easier to create a dream from here and "teleport" instantly. Or, if you find you have company in your bedroom, you can ask the dream figures for help getting out. However they appear to you, embrace them. As dream characters they are ultimately projections of yourself.
Learning to have WILDs takes time and considerable awareness of the optimum state. However, once you're in the correct state, the actual dream creation is deceptively easy. Stick with it, and make it a night-time meditation habit. Even a failed WILD attempt is good practice.
The most common problems I hear are opposite extremes: either people find they can't relax enough, or they become too relaxed and fall asleep. So here are some final troubleshooting points:
For more step-by-step tutorials on lucid dream exploration, check out The Lucid Dreaming Fast Track.