There can be little doubt that lucid dreaming is a highly nuanced practice.
Indeed, new techniques often appear as a variation of a variation of an original idea.
This is for good reason. Each person being unique in their biology and mentality, it certainly requires experimentation to understand how a technique fits into one’s practice - and to what degree.
The result is the creation of variants that are then shared with the wider lucid dreaming community.
Although a variant can be finely tuned to the individual, it does not
necessarily hold true to others. This is merely one example of nuance
within the practice.
There are a great deal more fine details that can be observed on a more individual level.
When comparing similar efforts from one lucid dream to the next - and taking slight deviations into account - the differences in approach would begin to branch out like a tree of personal lucid dreaming development.
Although we may not find it prudent to graph our progress in such a way, we do have the dream journal that likely contains the same information in text.
It’s possible that, when reading over previous entries, one could come
realize that the small differences in approach equate to quite a large
difference when it comes to results.
The difference in our expectations is likely the most accessible example to use.
If a dreamer attempts to fly (or preform any other feat of control) without a clear expectation that it will succeed, failure is the usual result. However, if the same attempt is made with a clear intent for what is to occur, and with the expectation of success, the exercise in control is almost always completed with ease.
It’s also worth mentioning that, when attempting to receive insightful answers to important questions, how the question is posed could likewise be the difference between a blank expression and an intuitive response.
How the subconscious responds to the same question when posed one way, as opposed to another, is once again down to the way that specific dreamer’s mind works.
This quickly becomes a theme in the specifics of lucid dreaming: what
for one might not work for any other.
So too, does it seem to be the case when addressing the idea of “advanced lucid dreaming”.
When searching online for advanced techniques or exercises, it quickly becomes clear that it is often talked about, but rarely (read never, Ed.) defined.
There are no hard and fast rules for what is an advanced activity and - even if there were - these guidelines would quickly be edited by another oneironaut. Perhaps someone who can manufacture anything they wish in a dreamscape, but cannot for the life of them induce a WILD.
In fact, the WILD is probably the only clear indication of a dividing line between beginner and advanced lucid dreaming.
It is uncontroversial to say that WILD is an advanced induction technique. This is widely accepted.
But, is it fair to say that if someone is highly proficient in dream
control via DILD, they are still not advanced if they happen to have
difficulty inducing a WILD? I should say not.
As you had probably gathered, the answer is rather difficult to pin down.
It can be, but such clarity can be easily attained by an intermediate oneironaut who employs an effective stabilization technique, or who has this benefit from increased waking life awareness through meditation or All Day Awareness.
It could very well seem to be. But what many see as total control of a lucid dream is simply a mischaracterization of what lucid dreaming truly entails.
While we can control practically everything in our lucid dreams, there will still be variations and levels of detail that are completed by our subconscious without our intentional effort.
You might, for instance, decide to create a wooden bar stool. Upon completion, the stool looks exactly how you imagined. But how much conscious effort did you put into creating the individual grains in the wood? My guess would be none at all.
The subconscious is relied upon for such levels of detail that the conscious mind simply cannot hold onto all at once. I believe this alone is sufficient to assert that lucid dreaming is a cooperative act between the conscious and unconscious mind, mediated by the accessing power of the subconscious.
Taking this into account, you might say that “advanced lucid dreaming” is the ability to effectively influence the dream state, with the minimal amount of resistance.
This might be closer to the truth.
While you ponder what advanced lucid dreaming might mean to
you, let’s take
a step back and attempt to define it with reason.
It seems fair to say that a beginner lucid dreamer is someone who has begun to implement the practices into their daily lives, with varying levels of success.
For this purpose, we will classify anyone who has not - at the very least - begun to dream journal and reality check regularly as a mere lucid dream “enthusiast”.
A true “beginner” in this context is someone who has either kept up the
practices to no avail, or has had a few successful lucid dreams without
sufficient control or stability. In short, we can say that a beginner
oneironaut, but one that has sufficient room to improve.
Once one has a working knowledge of the practices and has implemented them to achieve stable lucid dreams with some regularity and degree of successful control, it seems reasonable to say they are an “intermediate”.
Let’s attempt to clarify this further.
An “intermediate” would be someone who has begun to establish the practices into a longer-term part of their lives. Such a person may be fairly successful in their attempts at lucidity and control - but still lacking a crucial outlook to push them over the hump from ‘intermediate’ to ‘advanced’.
They might be able to fly, but only by flapping their arms like wings.
fail to realize that any attempt to fly—birdlike or not—is not
upon the method, but rather the mindset behind it.
Following this process to its conclusion, one might be tempted to say that an advanced lucid dreamer is someone who has:
At first glance, I would be willing to accept this description myself but, upon further inspection, it appears to have a few glaring and rigid rules which will not apply to everyone who may still be deserving of the title of ‘Advanced Lucid Dreamer’.
The first issue with this definition is that the regularity of lucid dreams varies wildly, even between well-established oneironauts.
Some quite proficient dreamers might only go lucid a handful of times a month. While others find themselves conscious in a dream multiple times a week (or even multiple times per night, every night!).
Regularity can be improved with vigilance, effective practices, and a regular sleep schedule. However it doesn’t seem fair to say that someone who experiences less frequent lucid dreams, but has the same level of lucidity, control, and understanding as someone who goes lucid nightly, isn’t as “advanced”.
Regularity does depend on some factors that are under our control. But it also depends on a wide array of factors that are likely outside of anyone’s control.
This can be observed in how long it takes beginners to have their first lucid dream. Some will integrate the practices into their life and be successful in a matter of weeks, while someone else - who does exactly the same, in terms of effort and quality of effort - might not become conscious inside a dream for several months.
Everyone being different, it may be the case that not everyone is
to be a nightly or even weekly lucid dreamer. Simply put, regularity of
lucid dreams isn’t a reliable criterion to base skill level upon.
The next issue in the previous description of what might constitute an advanced lucid dreamer is in relation to the amount of control they can exercise over their dreams.
While it seems reasonable to assume that an advanced lucid dreamer would be able to control any aspect of a dream as they wish, whenever they wish - this doesn’t take into account the many instances of failure that will likely occur seemingly “by design”.
It fails to acknowledge the natural ebb and flow of the things that arise in dreams. Some things behave stubbornly for a while, and later come to pass us by without any apparent rhyme or reason.
A life trauma, or a period of high stress could result in a dream character that appears frequently and who - despite a clear intention and good expectation - the dreamer just simply can’t make disappear.
Even for the very advanced, there will likely be times when an aspect of “self” will reveal itself in a dream - which cannot simply be controlled away.
This is a rare occurrence, but it is quite possible that obstacles will occur during lucid dreams that must be dealt with by alternative means. Be that via nuanced interaction or the solving of a problem in waking life.
It is this idea which - I believe - is the real dividing line between the intermediate and advanced lucid dreamer.
I submit to you that the advanced lucid dreamer, rather than being an all-powerful lucid dreaming machine, is someone who grasps the total reality of their inner dream world.
I would describe such a person as someone who has:
Despite that description being a mouthful, I feel that this is closer
the reality of what it means to be advanced in the context of lucid
The advanced lucid dreamer is really someone who has dug down deep in their practices, survived their lucid escapades and inner adventures - and has sufficient self-awareness to understand what is most valuable in their own dreams.
Furthermore, this is someone who has - through all of this - achieved what is known as a “lucid lifestyle”.
Not only are they daily writers in their dream journal, frequent reality-testers throughout the day and nearly unstoppable in their dreams, but through careful analysis and appropriate action, they have learned to use their practice as a means to improve their state of waking self.
Although the “advanced lucid dreamer” could be described by the five points above, it seems more relevant to say that they are merely those who have attained a mindset that allows them to flow through their lucid experiences with the least amount of friction possible for them.
What this might look like could very well be different per person (as with everything else in the practice).
Lucid dreaming is something that seems to have an inherent lack of clear lines.
Just as lucidity itself is a spectrum.
There are inherent difficulties in objectively defining how lucid someone is (although “Layers of Lucidity” by Reece Jones is a useful attempt at doing so).
So too, it is with being “advanced”.
While I have set out some reasonable criteria to determine whether
is advanced, the idea of quantifying how advanced
someone might be
is more of a distraction than a helpful classification.
It can be easy to get sucked into the idea that we want to be the best lucid dreamer out there and surpass our peers.
But in all actuality, it seems a futile attempt at comparison between dreamers.
Lucid dreaming is such a subjective experience, at every level, that any comparison is difficult to make and even more difficult to verify.
Everyone’s experience is different and we are all at different points in our own personal journey.
Rather than getting hung up on the definitions I’ve laid out here, I ask you to take this information with a grain of salt and continue your journey into dreamland with honesty and compassion - not only for your fellow oneironauts but for yourself as well.