The Wake Induced Lucid Dream, or WILD, describes a whole class of induction methods in which you walk your awareness from a physically waking state... directly into a sleeping lucid dream state.
It's actually considered the most powerful lucid dreaming technique for two reasons:
Here I'll explain how to have a WILD via two very popular routes - traditional visualization using your hypnagogia, and the "out-of-body" exit technique.
Timing: The best time to initiate a WILD is typically after 4-6 hours of sleep, when your body is deeply relaxed, your REM cycles reaching their longest, and your dreams the most vivid.
If you are a deep sleeper, set your alarm clock for this time. If you are a light sleeper, simply practice this method when you naturally wake up sometime before dawn. Alternatively, 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 while listening to brainwave entrainment to improve your ability to WILD. You can also supplement your WILD attempts with Galantamine for superior results. These are not essential aids but there is lots of evidence to show they help.
This WILD technique stems from practices used in Tibetan Buddhism for thousands of years. (In Buddhism, lucid dreaming, or as they call it "dream yoga" is a path to enlightenment.)
However, irrespective of your spiritual views, you can use the WILD technique as a natural and intuitive method of entering the dream world. Indeed, children figure out this technique on their own.
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. 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 this state of quiet meditation, this is where brainwave entrainment can prove extremely useful. I also recommend self hypnosis and daily meditation routines to get you started.
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Once relaxed and dreamy, allow your mind to lead you into the hypnagogic state. You'll see patterns and colors that take over your vision in the darkness.
Observe the hypnagogia and allow it to draw your awareness away from the outside world. It may also produce sounds like music and voices, or physical sensations like floating or tipping.
Sometimes you'll wake up in the night and find yourself deep 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!
The internal dream world will start to evolve now. Embrace it. All the while, hold on to that critical silent thought: "I'm dreaming".
Remember to let your body stay soft and sink into the bed, keeping absolutely still and letting the numbness taking over. If you have a persistent itch, scratch it and start over, but otherwise try to stay completely still, soft 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. The stimulus is part-dream - it's all internally generated - so remain fearless and take it on in the manner of an intrepid explorer.
At this point you need to make a judgment call.
If you feel the dreamstate coming on and feel suitably detached from the real world, you're ready to start the launch sequence for your lucid dream. (If not, enjoy the hypnagogia for longer, and don't put any pressure on yourself to succeed at every attempt.)
There are two ways to create your lucid dream from here. One is to visualize your dream until your awareness sinks into it. The other is to remain aware of your bedroom and perform what's called the out-of-body exit. Both will lead to a Wake Induced Lucid Dream.
Do you have a vivid imagination? If so, begin to visualize a vivid dream scene with as much close-up detail as possible.
You can choose to either program the scene into your moving visual hypnagogia (it's easily controlled with willpower at this point) 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.
This is a strange new concept to some people. For a detailed expansion of this visualization stage, see my article How to Visualize.
Silently repeat to yourself "I'm dreaming" ...even if you're not there yet. It will act as a hypnotic mantra that will continue your awareness on into the dreamscape.
With your mind absorbed the half-dream, allow your body to fall asleep altogether: lose all awareness of it and place your point-of-view fully in your new dream body.
Soon, you will sense that you are no longer lying in bed - but inside a lucid 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 visualize 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 a dream bed.
The realism can be startling and the lack of any clear transition is why so many people believe they are having a literal out of body experience. It actually feels like you are awake, lying in bed, with the ability to float out of your body.
Don't be fooled. Scientific simulations of the OBE state, plus considerable crossover with the WILD technique, strongly 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):
Your dream vision may appear now. The room will look incredibly lifelike, whether it is your usual bedroom or a temporary sleeping environment like a hotel room. This 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 might just roll over and go to sleep within your dream... and losing all lucidity.
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 largely 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, even in your dream body. 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 this illusion.
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 (I'm talking dream characters... not your sleeping partner) you can ask them for help getting out. However they appear to you, even if they present themselves as the devil, embrace them. As dream characters they are ultimately projections of yourself.
Learning how to have a WILD takes time and a good awareness of the optimum state. However, once you're in the correct mental 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:
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