In our last blog we started the discussion on Lucid Dreams and how you can have them in two simple steps. Everyone can achieve this state.
- Dream journal
- Reality checks
We also talked about MILD (Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams), a powerful technique that combines the dream recall and reality checking mentioned above and adds two more elements: affirmation and visualization. MILD trains a person to increase self-awareness and incubate lucid dreams, while programming the content of your next dream with conscious triggers.
After you have got the hang of this (I know some of you have already been working on this over the week), you can move onto WILD.
WILD (Wake Induced Lucid Dream) is a technique used in Tibet Buddhism for at least a thousand years. It is part of a ‘dream yoga’ used to help on the pathway to enlightenment. WILD has four major components:
- Physical & Mental relaxation
- Hypnagogic imagery
- Creating a dream scene
- Entering the lucid dream
This technique is best initiated after 4 – 5 hours of deep sleep, as might be found in broken sleep we talked about before. Some people even set alarm clocks 2 – 3 hours before they usually get up, to help create this state. Alternatively you can use the afternoon nap, when the body wants to catch up on lost REM sleep.
Physical & Mental Relaxation: This process is no different than ordinary relaxing your body for sleep, but has a tiny twist – your body falls asleep and your mind stays awake. At first this will seem strange, but it definitely gets easier with practice.
Just let your body relax and become loose, shutting off mind chatter. The idea is to just look into the emptiness, with your eyelids closed. If a thought pops up, just observe it and let it go, without interacting with it. For some this is hard to do at first, especially if you are a person that likes to go over and over things in your head before you fall asleep. If this is the case, you might be better to try this as the broken sleep method we talked about in the last blog, or as the afternoon nap. I personally find the best time for me is the afternoon nap, or in my second sleep after I get up for 30 – 90 minutes in the middle of the night. For me, I usually fall asleep the first time within minutes (if not seconds) of hitting the pillow, so I have no time to set this up. Each person that wants to try this will have to find his or her own rhythm for it. There is no right way or wrong way; there is only the way that works for you at that time.
Hypnagogic Imagery: lead your mind into a sleepy, half-dream state of hypnagogia (half sleep, hypnotic state). You know this state. Sometimes you wake up and you are not sleeping, but not awake. You can move in and out of the dream world from here easily.
If you are doing this during the day at nap time, you need to relax yourself with something like a short meditation or other relaxing technique. As soon as you see patterns and colors taking over your vision in the darkness, you are in this hypnagogic state. Feel the hypnagogia and let it draw you in deeper, away from awareness of the outside world.
Let the body soften, sinking into the bed, letting numbness take over your body. If you have an itch, scratch it and keep up the process, while relaxing into the experience with joy.
Creating a Dream Scene: as you enter the hypnagogic state you will have to decide if you are relaxed enough for the next stage, or if you are just going to fall asleep. You will probably fall asleep often during the first while, but the discernment of the timing becomes much easier as you practice.
When you feel the dream state coming on, you will feel quite detached from the ‘real’ world. This means you are ready to move into lucid dreaming. Don’t worry about failed attempts; sooner or later you will get it. You will get used to recognizing the point easier each successful time. As with most things, practice makes perfect.
Visualization: use as much imagination as possible as you start the dream sequence you are interested in. It could be a question or a scene. I often have a special place I go to and start the sequence from there. Once you start the sequence pay as much attention to the details as possible, keeping in mind you are Lucid Dreaming. I usually pay much attention to the details of the landscape, in my case a little fire, a lean back chair and a cave entrance. You find your own ‘location’. It does not have to always be the same place, I just find that this makes a great launching pad for wherever I am going. I then visualize what I want to achieve and punch ‘cruise control’ and let myself go there.
For you there might be music, or a favorite exercise. The content is not important; what is important is that you can get fully engaged in it.
As your mind is engaged in this state, let your body fall asleep, losing all awareness of it. Once you are fully there and the sleeping body is a distant memory you will have the unmistakable feeling of Lucid Dreaming.
Enter Lucid Dreaming: To ‘lock’ yourself into and stabilize the dream, say to yourself that you are dreaming and do your reality check that we talked about in the last blog.
Sleep paralysis: At this point some people will still feel attached to their body so much that they have a hard time moving around. Remind yourself that you are dreaming and either try to sink through the bed, or float above the body to get loose of it, so you can move around in your dream. Some people find that by making a sour face as if they have just eaten a really sour lemon will help them pop out of the sleep paralysis. Remember your limbs should be feeling paralyzed while you are asleep; this is quite natural. Many people by-pass this stage completely.
There you have the technique of WILD. It will take some time to master this one, but once you do, you will have a great resource at your dream fingertips. I often find the best time to do this is in the afternoon nap, as I can schedule it better, and can be more set up for recording it after. Often at night it is easy to use the excuse that you might disturb your sleeping partner, so you will write down your dream later – not realizing by the time you do, much of it has been written over with your wakeful thoughts.
Remember sometimes you just need a good sleep and it seems like too much work to Lucid Dream; that is quite good and natural. I often go a long time between lucid dreams and then have several in a row. You will find the right rhythm for your situation.
Well I think I should nap on that. The big question many have is: “How to create a great nap?” We will just have to wait for that until next time because I need a nap now.