The term “lucid dreaming” originated with the Dutch writer and psychiatrist Frederik van Eeden. He used the word “lucid” in its literal sense to refer to a state of clarity. In the case of lucid dreaming he meant mental clarity in the dream state.
Lucid Dreaming – The Night Skill
There is a misconception that lucid dreaming is the same as controlled dreaming (where you can take full control over every aspect of the dream world and experience it like real life but without any limitations or rules).
However, uncontrolled standard lucid dreams usually occur spontaneously while controlling your dreams is a skill that you can learn through specific exercises. There are even devices that have been created to help you enter a state of lucidity such as the novadreamer. However, these are expensive and completely unnecessary.
Although both the terms “lucid dreaming” and “controlled dreaming” are used interchangeably on the Internet, in a technical sense, they are not in fact the same.
We will cover both usages in this post.
What is Lucid Dreaming
The difference between a standard lucid dream and a controlled lucid dream is not always outlined.
A controlled dream will always be a lucid dream because you have full mental clarity and full conscious awareness of what is happening. In fact a controlled lucid dream feels just like real life except, unlike real life, you can control everything in the environment including other living beings and also do and experience whatever you want in it.
A standard lucid dream though is not necessarily under the dreamers conscious control and therefore you can have a lucid dream without having any control over it.
Hence when Frederik van Eeden coined the term
lucid dreaminghe was actually referring to a dream state in which a person realizes that they are dreaming but where they many not have any control over what plays out in the the dream.
“A lucid dream is any dream in which one is aware that one is dreaming.” [source wikipedia]
Almost all of us have experienced lucid dreaming at some stage even if we cannot consciously recall the experience. Oftentimes when a dream becomes lucid we will be content to allow the dream to continue and soon find that we drift back into unconsciousness.
Research has shown that if a person uses their conscious intention to take control over the dream during a period of such lucidity that a full blown controlled lucid dream will result.
Lucid Dreaming as an Acquired Skill
Although many lucid dreamers first encounter the phenomenon of controlled dreaming purely from a chance occurrence when they find themselves awake in the dream world, a growing number of people across the globe have actively developed this skill.
how to lucid dream is not as difficult as most people believe it to be. Because we are almost fully unconscious in the dream state and because most people find it difficult to even remember their dreams the erroneous belief persists that learning to control the dream state is challenging. It isn’t.
There are specific approaches and exercises, and even devices, that have been developed that can be used to reach a state of dream lucidity fairly rapidly if a person is willing to put in a little effort and be persistent in that effort.
One such approach is known as WILD lucid dreaming.
WILD Lucid Dreaming
A popular induction method for entering a state of lucidity during the dream sate is called Wake Induced Lucid Dreams (also known as wild lucid dreaming).
For this technique you simply need an alarm clock, or alarm set on your phone or other device.
Here is a simple lucid dreaming tutorial for Wakened Induced Lucid Dreaming.
- Wake yourself towards the end of your sleep cycle. Set your alarm to wake you approximately 5 hours into your normal sleep cycle.
- When you awaken stay mentally alert. When your alarm wakes you turn it off and stay in bed. Try to stay mentally alert while allowing your body to remain relaxed. You may use the toilet at this point if you feel the need.
- Relax your body while trying to stay conscious. Do not just drift back to sleep. Become aware of your body relaxing into sleep while your mind stays awake.
- Be a witness to the visual clues. Be aware that you will most likely see some type of visual clues indicating that you are entering the sleep state. These can be flashing images, lights or colours. Just allow them to enter your consciousness without paying too much attention to them.
- Just allow the dream images to appear. At this stage you will start to see people, events or objects appear in a hazy way in your mind’s eye. Let the dream unfold without trying to influence the images in any way.
- Stay alert. It is at this stage of the WILD process that you must be vigilant and keep telling yourself mentally that you are entering a dream. It is all too easy to just fall unconscious at this point.
If you manage to stay awake during step 6 the dream world will become very real to you and you will be able to interact with it in a manner just like real life. With practice you will be able to control all aspects of this world and everyone and everything in it.
You have now entered the fascinating and rewarding world of lucid dreaming!
Benefits of Lucid Dreaming
The benefits of lucid dreaming are wide and varied. If we look past the obvious and immediate benefits of controlling and eliminating nightmares, night terrors and unpleasant dreams the fact that you can experience your goals and/or wildest and most elaborate fantasies is a huge benefit.
However, the benefits of having access to controlled lucid dream states goes much further than the mere control over bad dreams and the real-life entertainment value it offers.
Lucid dreams have been shown to benefit athletes and professional sports personalities by being a practice aid; they literally use their dream time to “physically” practice their sport and acquire new skills.
It seems that if a new skill is perfected in the dream state it translates into the waking state. The body actually remembers what needs to be done to correctly perform a given task based purely on the practice it had during lucid dreams.
Truly the benefits of lucid dreaming are really limited only by your imagination and what you think is possible.
For example if you have a recurring problem in your life you could go get psycho-analysed by Freud or be hypnotized by Edgar Cayce to get to the root of the problem so you could address it and make internal changes.
In fact the benefits of lucid dreaming are so far-reaching that they go way beyond the scope of this article.