What is lucid dreaming? Is it scientifically proven? Can anyone learn to lucid dream on demand? How long does it take? What else can I use dream control for?
I'm sure you have plenty of questions about lucid dreaming and this article aims to answer them all... Welcome to my quick start guide to lucid dreams!
Lucid dreaming is the ability to consciously direct and control your dreams. It transforms your inner dream world into a living alternate reality - where everything you see, hear, feel, taste and even smell is as authentic as real life.
Lucidity occurs during altered states of consciousness when you realize you are dreaming - and your brain switches into waking mode inside the dream. In normal dreams, your self awareness is shut down. That's why they often feel fuzzy and distant. But when lucid, the conscious brain wakes up during sleep!
This is a safe and natural state. It is not a literal out of body experience - because you are always asleep in bed. And if you want to, you can wake yourself up. When you become lucid, your senses become alive. You can explore the inner workings of your unconscious mind with total freedom.
Tibetan Monks have used dream control for more than a thousand years, in a philosophy called Dream Yoga. It is certainly not a new phenomena. However, the modern term "lucid dreaming" was not created until the 1800s by the passionate dream researcher Marquis d'Hervey de Saint-Denys.
The concept of lucid dreams became popularized by Celia Green in the 1960s, who pointed out the scientific potential of self awareness in dreams. She was the first to make the link with both REM sleep and false awakenings.
The first scientific evidence of lucid dreaming was produced by the British parapsychologist Keith Hearne in 1975. He did it by catching eye movement signals from his volunteer, Alan Worsley, in a lucid dream state in laboratory conditions.
But Hearne's research slipped under the radar of the mainstream science journals, and it was Dr Stephen LaBerge at Stanford University who became famous for replicating this experiment and formally publishing his findings.
A prolific lucid dreamer himself, Stephen LaBerge founded The Lucidity Institute in 1987 to explore the question: what is lucid dreaming? His mission is to research the nature and potential of consciousness in dreams... A riddle that may one day offer considerable advances in our understanding of the human mind.
Yes, I believe so. We all have dreams (whether we remember them or not) and so I think we all have the capacity to become conscious within them. Children have reported lucid dreams. And certain medications for degenerative conditions like Parkinson's Disease can cause lucid dreams. Age - and even cognitive ability - appear not to factor into the equation.
Having a lucid dream is not actually all that hard, once you tap into the right mechanism. Research shows that everyone will have at least one lucid dream in their lives, just by accident. And to have lucid dreams on demand, all you have to do is get into the habit of recognizing the dreamstate.
There are many ways you can achieve this habitual recognition, such as:
You can practice one or all of these methods during the waking day or just before you fall asleep in order to plant the seed of lucidity. It is up to your unconscious mind to trigger you during sleep. It can sometimes appear elusive at first but this unconscious programming gets easier over time.
In fact, one study found that committed students of lucid dreaming were able to have their first lucid dream, on average, between three days and three weeks. That first taste of lucidity usually provides all the motivation you'll need to continue your mental training long term.
At first, many people are drawn to the idea of lucid dreaming for the escapism it offers. In your virtual reality dream world, you can realistically fly over cities, meet your favorite celebrity in the flesh, or become a ninja assassin. It is way more realistic than day dreaming or playing your favorite video game.
But once you get over the immediate novelty value, you'll understand that lucid dreaming has many personal growth applications, such as:
Robert Waggoner tackles the intriguing latter point in his book, Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self. He introduces new ways to explore your lucid dreams and how to use them for communicating with your inner self.
If all that isn't appealing to personal development enthusiasts, I don't know what is! Lucid dreaming is a powerful psychological tool and an enlightening experience. As a beginner, intermediate or expert oneironaut, I hope you find this website and its complete guide to lucid dreams useful in your own personal quest for self awareness in the unconscious dream world...
For step-by-step tutorials on lucid dreaming, check out The Lucid Dreaming Fast Track, my digital course for beginners and beyond.