The benefits of lucid dreaming are many and wide ranging. As a tool for self discovery it is unparalleled with its ability to uncover our deepest beliefs, help us eliminate our negative mental patterns and overcome bad habits. But, the main reason the majority of lucid dreamers have acquired the skill of awakened dreaming is for entertainment purposes.
Lucid dreaming allows your live out your fantasies in an internal world that feels just as real as the the world around you feels to you right now.
What is a Lucid Dream?
The term lucid dream was first coined by the Dutch psychiatrist and writer Frederik Willem van Eeden.
A lucid dream is a dream in which the dreamer is consciously aware that he or she is dreaming.
Most people experience this state of awakened dreaming regularly but forget that it has occurred. However, you may remember times when you have become lucid in your dreams only to fall unconscious again.
Many times when we become aware that we are dreaming we just allow ourselves to fall back into the hazy unconsciousness of the dream state. This is especially true when we encounter a nightmare and realise that it is only a dream. We may slightly alter the dream to make it less frightening or just observe it as being unreal. Eventually we just drift back into unconsciousness.
Any dream in which you find yourself being consciously aware that it is not real is a lucid dream.
However, it is the state of controlled lucid dreaming that is of the most interest to us as this is the dream state that feels the most real and is open to complete manipulation by us.
How to Enter a Lucid Dream
Entering a lucid dream is much easier than most people think.
To learn the art of lucid dreaming does require some effort on your part though. A few simple exercises and a bit of conscious diligence is often all that is needed to start lucid dreaming very quickly.
Tip 1: Keep a Dream Journal
Getting into the habit of documenting your dreams immediately upon awakening has a two-fold positive effect in respect to lucid dreaming.
Firstly, you will start to train your mind to remember your dreams. This will help you to differentiate between the dream world and the waking world making it easier to become conscious in the dream state when you realise that it is just a dream.
Secondly, by keeping a journal outlining your dreams you will begin to see patterns emerge in your dream world. Specific people, events, or objects will often appear frequently in a person’s dreams. By identifying these patterns it will become easier for you to realise that you are dreaming when they are presented to you.
Even if you see these patterns in the waking world they will still help reinforce your lucid dream exercises by giving you a clue to perform a reality check.
Tip 2: Reality Checks
Reality checks are one of the most powerful techniques for inducing lucid dreams.
We all know that dreams can be wacky and unpredictable. Oftentimes there are things in the dream that just doesn’t seem right or that seem out of place in some way.
These can act as clues to you that you are in fact dreaming. Recognizing these dream cues is all that is needed to become lucid.
A few examples of a great dream cues are reading, looking at numbers or telling the time.
If you read something in a dream and then look away for a second before looking back most often what you just read will have completely changed.
The same phenomenon will occur with numbers.
Telling the time is by far the best dream cue you can use.
You see the subconscious mind, which controls the sleep state, is incapable of understanding the concept of time. Therefore in the dream state clocks, alarm clocks, watches and other time measuring devices do not work correctly.
If you look at your watch or a clock and it is displaying some strange characteristics such as the arms of the clock swinging widely or changing dramatically you may be dreaming.
Even if the time is actually readable it will change constantly although digital numbers will mostly likely be illegible and jumbled.
In order to recognize that these dream cues are telling you that you are dreaming you must perform a reality check.
A reality check is started with a simply question that you ask yourself.
“Am I dreaming?”
Asking the question, “Am I dreaming?” is a great way to remind yourself to perform a reality check.
Throughout the day ask yourself mentally if you are dreaming and then look for clues that you may be in a dream. Read something, look at your watch or a clock.
Is there anything that seems strange or out of place?
Even though it will be obvious to you that you are wide awake when you ask yourself this question throughout the day you should still perform a reality check. The reason for this is simple; you are actually performing this exercise regularly so that you will also do it when you are dreaming.
When we perform repetitive actions during the day they often transfer into our dreams as the subconscious mind tries to process the day’s events.
If you consistently perform reality checks while you are awake you will eventually start to perform them in your dream state.
Tip 3: Set an Intention
When you go to bed at night and prepare for sleep set the intention that you will awaken in your dream.
As dreams are in the realm of the mind setting an intention is a mental activity that can help you to waken in your dreams.
Simply tell yourself before you fall asleep that you are going to awaken in a dream and take control over it.
Tip 4: Be Persistent
If you do not have a lucid dream straight away do not give up. Persistence pays off.
Keep performing your reality checks and documenting your dreams in your dream journal and you will eventually have a lucid dream.
Learning how to lucid dream is a skill that takes time to prefect. Don’t give up.
How to Wake up from Lucid Dreaming
When a lucid dream is coming to an end everything around will start to become hazy and/or you will find it more difficult to stay conscious as a feeling of exhaustion takes hold.
At this stage you can wake yourself from the dream in order to waken fully and make another intention to enter your next dream lucidly (we dream several times throughout the night).
Waking from a lucid dream is very easy.
Just tell yourself to wake up and make the conscious effort to open your physical eyes.
This is easier to do than it is to explain.
Are There Any Lucid Dreaming Side Effects?
There are no known physical or mental side effects to lucid dreaming. The only problem that some people encounter with lucid dreaming is that the real world can feel bland and disappointing compared to their dream lives.
It seems that having the ability to live out your fantasies does come with its downside for a tiny group of people in the fact that they must come back to the real world and live a less than desirable lifestyle.
However, if you use your lucid dreams correctly they will become a way of achieving those long held objectives that seem impossible to achieve in the real waking world. What could be wrong with that?
As lucid dreams feel just as real as ordinary everyday life living out your fantasies as real can only be a good thing…right?!
Lucid Dreaming Courses & Tools
There are some great resources online for helping you to achieve a state of lucidity rapidly and consistently from the Lucidity Institute created by Dr. Stephen LaBerge to hypnosis and subliminal recordings.
Research seems to point towards the effectiveness of some great exercises for developing lucid dream skills.
Whatever approach you use be sure to stick with it as the reward is a life-long skill that you will continue to enjoy for many years to come.