Dreams are usually ethereal things that are often forgotten immediately upon waking or not long afterwards. At least the ordinary ones are. Unfortunately, it is much more common to remember our nightmares, especially recurring ones. The fact that lucid dreaming can be used to control dreams leads some nightmare suffers to wonder if this could be a solution to a recurring nightmare problem. Can lucid dreaming be used to stop nightmares?
Lucid dreaming is a very effective tool for stopping nightmares. A trained lucid dreamer can easily stop a nightmare and change the dream into something more positive. Learning to control your dreams through lucid dreaming is also a potent way to eliminate recurring nightmares permanently.
In this post we will delve into the use of lucid dreaming to stop nightmares.
- How can lucid dreaming help with nightmares?
- You start by changing the nightmare into a lucid nightmare
- How to stop lucid nightmares
How can lucid dreaming help with nightmares?
Nightmares are not pleasant. Vivid and lifelike nightmares are downright terrifying. Then, of course, we have the dreaded night terrors. Can lucid dreaming help with these?
For most of us nightmares are only occasional experiences that are really nothing more than a nuisance or slight annoyance which we forget quickly. However, for some people having a nightmare is much more serious and disturbing, while for others a nightmare is such a debilitating experience that they don’t even want to go to sleep. For These people, and anyone else who hates having nightmares, lucid dreaming may be the solution. So, how can lucid dreaming help with nightmares?
Lucid dreaming can help with nightmares by giving the sleeper full control over the dream. A trained lucid dreamer can stop a nightmare in its tracks through a mere act of intention. Experienced lucid dreamers can also completely change a nightmare to something more positive or simply wake themselves up. It is also possible to use lucid dreaming to learn what a recurring nightmare is trying to teach you, in a safe and controlled environment, so you never experience it again.
By learning how to lucid dream it is possible to become wake-up within, or become lucid in, a dream. This state of lucidity refers to the mantle state of the dreamer. When you become lucid in a dream you literally wake up inside the dream. You have full conscious awareness, just as you do now, and everything in the dream feels real.
You can learn how to become lucid in ant dream and this includes nightmares.
However, once you learn how to become lucid in dream, by finding the best induction techniques that work for you, you haven’t finished with the lucid dreaming learning curve. Learning to induce a lucid dream, or become consciously aware while dreaming, is only half the story. You see some of the most common lucid dreams are actually of the uncontrolled variety.
Why does this concern us when it comes to dealing with nightmares?
Well, in order to effectively deal with a nightmare through lucid dreaming you obviously need to be able to first make yourself lucid (consciously awake and aware within the dream). However, this is only half of the lucid dreaming story.
If you have not also trained in dream-control techniques then, when you wake in your dreams, you will simply create an uncontrolled lucid nightmare where you find yourself in a lifelike scary dream over which you have no control. This is a worse experience than having a normal nightmare because you experience it in a wide-awake state of consciousness and everything that happens feels 100% real. Now don’t panic just it. There is a solution.
As well as learning how to become lucid in a dream you can also learn how to fully control the dream.
Luckily, the most difficult part of learning to lucid dream effectively (i.e. becoming lucid in the dream and being able to fully control it) is the first part; it is learning to wake up in the dream that is the hardest part of learning controlled lucid dreaming. It takes some time, patience and dedication to learn this skill. It isn’t difficult to learn but you must be willing to be persistent in your efforts.
So, although it can take days, weeks or even months to learn how to consistently become lucid in your dreams, the actual dream-control techniques that allow you to mould and manipulate the dreamworld and everything in it are very easy to master. You will likely be able to use them on your first try. So, this makes dealing with nightmares easy.
The importance of lucid dreaming training
Because learning how to lucid dream really involves training in both aspects of the art, (i.e. becoming lucid and gaining dream-control), I always urge would-be lucid dreamers to invest in a proper training course rather than simply relying on their own efforts. Courses such as The Lucid Fast Track not only teach you how to become lucid in a dream, or nightmare, it also teaches you the easy-to-implement advanced dream-control techniques that give you omnipotent control over your dreams.
Now, once you learn how to use lucid dreams to deal with the problem of nightmares you may want to stop having lucid dreams altogether, especially if you find you start to lucid dream every night, though why some people want to give up this ability bewilders me. But it does happen.
If you take a quick browse through the articles on this website you will a ton of amazing real-world benefits that lucid dreaming offers. However, if you do decide that lucid dreaming is not for you once you have used it to eliminate nightmares you can learn how to stop lucid dreaming much easier and much quicker than it took you to learn how to do it in the first place. I advise you to also complete that free training just so you have it in your toolbox.
Anyway back to actually dealing with nightmares through lucid dreaming.
You start by changing the nightmare into a lucid nightmare
The first step to using lucid dreaming to stop nightmares is to turn a regular nightmare into a lucid nightmare!
You do this by becoming lucid while the nightmare is happening. You literally wake yourself up within the dream, thus becoming fully consciously aware while the nightmare is happening. Although this will make the entire experience feel real and very lifelike it does give you the opportunity to take full control over the nightmare and do with it whatever you want.
Now, before I continue I should state clearly that lucid dreaming does not give you nightmares. You are learning how to use this skill to stop nightmares and even to eliminate them completely but be aware that lucid dreaming itself will never cause a nightmare to happen.
So, from here on I will assume that you are going to train yourself to become lucid within your dreams, and will thus be able to make yourself lucid and consciously aware within your nightmares.
So, as soon as you become consciously aware within a nightmare, the nightmare will then change from a regular dream to a lucid nightmare where you will have the opportunity to control it. The phrase lucid nightmare just means you have become conscious and aware within the nightmare.
Once in a lucid nightmare it is possible to stop it and you can do it within seconds.
How to stop lucid nightmares
Once you wake yourself up within a nightmare and become lucid in it you have several choices for stopping the scary dream. But first remember at all times that lucid dreams cannot hurt you in any way. You cannot get harmed in a lucid dream and you cannot die in one either!
Although it may seem scary to be consciously aware while a nightmare is unfolding before you, you are perfectly safe.
Luckily, any fear you feel will at this stage will be fleeting because you will instantly flex your dream muscle and take full control of the situation and all the characters involved in the nightmare.
You may find that becoming lucid the first time in a nightmare scares you so much that you simply wake up. This is fine as you have effectively stopped the nightmare, but over time you will want to develop your dream-control abilities so that you can use the nightmare to your advantage rather than simply running away from it. More on that later.
There are 3 ways you can stop a nightmare. They all require that you become lucid within the dream, something you will be able to do when you learn the skill. Keep in mind that everyone can lucid dream and everyone can learn to do it deliberately. This includes you so don’t think you can’t do this. You can earn how to become lucid in your dreams!
Three ways to stop a lucid nightmare:
- Wake yourself up from the dream through an act of intention.
- Change the dream to something more pleasant through a simple act of intention or through the use of dream-control techniques.
- Stay in the nightmare to discover what your subconscious mind is trying to communicate to you through it and let the nightmare end peacefully.
Let’s look at these three options more closely.
Waking yourself from a lucid nightmare
When you are lucid within a dream, even a nightmare, it is very easy to wake yourself up physically.
Although some lucid dreamers complain about lucid dream episodes in which they felt stuck in the lucid dream being unable to wake themselves, it is actually extremely easy to get out of any lucid dream when you know how.
In the article how do you wake up from a lucid dream I highlight a fool-proof method from waking out of a lucid dream that works every time.
Changing to a different dream scene
The second option for stopping a lucid nightmare is by far the most commonly one used. Rather than waste a perfectly good opportunity to enjoy dream lucidity a lucid dreamer will simply take control over the nightmare and change it.
Through a simple act of will, or intention, a lucid dreamer will exert their control over the dreamworld, leave the nightmare and go somewhere more pleasant. If an act of intention alone doesn’t change the environment then spinning on the spot while holding in mind a different location and scenario usually works.
Although I’ve done this myself in the past a few times when I’ve become lucid during a nightmare, I have since come to believe that doing this represents a loss of a really great opportunity for personal growth.
What do I mean?
Learning what the nightmare means to eliminate it completely
When we have a nightmare, especially when we experience a recurring nightmare, it is more often than not an attempt by our subconscious mind to communicate something to us. In the case of recurring nightmares there is usually some emotional blockage that the subconscious mind is trying to heal but is having problems processing (usually due to a lack of conscious interaction with it and conscious understanding of it).
However, if we face the nightmare in a mental mood of curiosity within a lucid dream it is possible to learn some profound and truly emotionally healing things from it.
Of course in a scary situation when you are filled with fear it is difficult to think straight let alone analyse what is going on around you but lucky within a controlled lucid nightmare you can maintain the illusion of the nightmare but remove your fear from it.
While lucid within the nightmare you can easily remove fear from the situation and then interact with the dream, and any characters in it, to learn from it. By literally asking the dream, or the scary dream characters, what they represent and what they are trying to tell you, you can make some quantum jumps in your own emotional-centeredness, enhance your self-confidence and improve your self-esteem.
But how do you remove the fear in order to successfully interact with the dreamworld?
Again, you have several options open to you. In fact, I am sure there are many more options available as lucid dreamers can be very creative and frequently find new ways of doing things all the time (one great reason to join a community of experienced lucid dreamers).
The 3 ways to remove fear from a lucid nightmare so you can learn from it:
- Change to third person point of view.
- Place a protective barrier between yourself and the dream imagery.
- Shrink all the scary things in the dream and make them comical looking.
Although I have listed the three ways, for removing fear from your dream, as separate steps that you can choose from, you can use any two, or all three, together if that makes you feel safer. Eventually you will be able to interact with a nightmare without having to take any of the above steps simply because you know that you are in charge (does a bird fear standing precariously on a high thin ledge when it knows it can fly?).
Let’s look at each if these three ways for removing dream fear more closely.
Changing to Third Person Point of View
Regular dreams, and almost all lucid dreams, occur in first person. After all, it needs to be so or having a lucid dream would be no fun. It would suck if you were just stuck watching other people having fun and not getting to do anything yourself.
However, being a trained lucid dreamer you will have the ability to do whatever you want in a lucid dream and that includes changing your perspective and your viewpoint. We can use this to our advantage in a lucid nightmare.
By far the quickest way to remove fear from a nightmare is to disengage yourself from the fearful events in it. To do this you simply move from first person point of view, where you are engaged with the dream, to third person point of view where you can see the scary events and your own dream body from an uninvolved witness perspective. Instead of being a part of the events you become a mere observer of them. This instantly removes fear because you are no longer a part of the action. I show you how to do this in the article can you lucid dream in third person.
Setting Up Protection
Through an act of intent, or will, you can conjure up a barrier for yourself in a lucid nightmare to act as protection against everything in the dream. This can be anything from an impenetrable glass bubble to a literal thick clear barrier. Why should the barrier or bubble be clear? Because you want to be able to see and interact with the things in the nightmare.
If you go for something like a bubble then you can place it around yourself or around the scary dream characters. Remember you can do anything you want in a lucid dream. You are in charge. So just know that this barrier is impossible to pass through unless you want to pass through it.
Shrinking The Scaries
Before I started to interact with scary things in my dreams this particular technique was a favorite of mine for dealing with nightmare characters and making them run away (rather than me running away). I actually learned this technique from a self-confidence training video by Paul McKenna the British hypnotist back in the ’90s.
McKenna taught the technique as a visualization exercise but I have incorporated it into my lucid dream experiences and it is very effective. You can’t get the video anymore as McKenna now offers the upgraded I can make you confident which is part of his I can make you series of self help hypnosis trainings. So, am I going to teach it to you now. It’s pretty simple in structure and implementation.
When you find yourself in a nightmare, and make yourself lucid, instead of running away or setting up protection for yourself (though you can do that as well as this technique) simply shrink the scary things around you. Make them super small and they will instantly become less intimidating.
Then, give them a funny face and a high-pitched comical squeaky voice. Give them a sultry accent and make them talk really fast or really slow. Make them walk funny. Change noses top honking horns and horns to twinkies. Change them in some way that makes you laugh or smile. The idea is to remove their fear factor and replace it with something that is funny.
Taking these steps instantly removes your fear and reduces the scary thing to something amusing and insignificant.
Now, Communicate With The Dream
Once you have removed your fear and nullified the fear-factor associated with your nightmare characters begin a conversation with them or even with the dream itself.
Ask aloud what the nightmare’s purpose is. Ask the characters what they mean, what they represent and what they are trying to tell you or teach you.
You may be pleasantly surprised, or even shocked, by what you learn and will come away feeling empowered and no longer afraid of nightmares!