In the last few blogs we have been looking at various energetics that might influence sleep patterns and insomnia. We have also suggested that not only can broken sleep patterns be natural, but also they can enhance Lucid Dreaming. I know I have skirted around this area of Lucid dreaming in several blogs over the last year, so lets take a deeper look at it.
I really can’t remember when I first started having lucid dreams. I am pretty sure I was having on and off lucid dreams while I was a child, as my dream awareness and the ‘information’ I received from my dreams did influence my early life. Even though these dreams were having influence on me, I was not really conscious of what I was doing. My first conscious effort at lucid dreaming was as an undergraduate in the early 1970’s. I was interested in dreaming and did a few papers on it in university, but my major ‘mentor’ in this area was the writings of Carlos Castaneda and his series of book on Yaqui Indian shaman Don Juan. I later learned this was also true of many other lucid dreamers of this era.
Don Juan used shamanic techniques that created almost a continuum from shamanic journeying and lucid dreaming. Thus for me I still find that vision questioning, shamanic journeying, out of body experience (OBE), wakeful lucid visions, some forms of guide meditation and lucid dreaming all come from the same fabric. They are all from the unconsciousness whelms of ourselves – what many call ‘higher self’. I am not saying because the part of self is ‘higher,’ that we need to take these incidences a gospel, or give any more importance to them than our daily experience. I am saying that reflections or ‘information’ if you like, from these other realms should be used as part of the data that we make our daily decision by. Not as a set of information that we should write off as just dreams and therefore give them no importance.
Many important decisions and direction of my life have been strongly influenced from these realms. At first, lucid dream is ‘mind-blowing,’ something that was quite popular in the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s. You can fly over great expanses of wonderful landscapes, you can travel to other parts of the universe, you can travel to the quantum level of an atom and you can have a build in advisory system. How cool is that! The utilization of lucid dreaming is as wide and as deep as your imagination – it is infinite.
What is lucid dreaming?
For me, these are often more vivid than life sequences or dreams where you can consciously observe and control your dreams. Having consciousness in your dream, you know you are dreaming and the sights, feeling, tastes, smells and sounds can be important ‘lessons’ for your waking life. The basic definition is to have heightened awareness during dreaming.
When a person thinks of lucid dreaming these days it often bring up the popular movie Inception by Christopher Nolan. While I totally enjoyed the movie, with it action filled plot, this is quite far from what I believe lucid dreaming to be. The concept of ‘dream incubation,’ where you influence a dream sequence, plot or even character in a dream I feel is quite real and many dream researchers agree with this.
What I don’t think is true in the movie is all the hardship like climbing laboriously when they knew they were dreaming. This is normal dreaming. The dream world does not obey the same laws of physics we have in the ‘3D’ world. If you are in a lucid dream and in control, you would just fly up the cliff, why have all the drama and hardship – oh it makes good movies! I don’t believe you can get stuck in a dream or get so lucid you could die. These are just made up for Hollywood.
On the other hand, even though you can control a dream, it is not useful to over control them. For the beginner lucid dreamer, it is tempting to equate lucid dreaming with full control. This in itself might be a symptom of things in your waking life. If you need to be too much in control, you can be going down a path that may develop a group of disease issues from chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, OCD, MS and a long list of other issues. I find that it is best to ‘hit cruise control’ in lucid dreaming and let the dream take you where it will. You will often learn more in these situations and have a fuller experience. Use control, or better stated, re-direction when it suits you, but not overly so.
The best explanation I have seen of this is by dream researcher Robert Waggoner and author of an excellent book Lucid Dreaming; Gateway to the Inner Self:
“No sailor controls the seas. Only a foolish sailor would say such a thing. Similarly, no lucid dreamer controls the dream. Like a sailor on the sea, we lucid dreamers direct our perceptual awareness within the larger state of dreaming”
One thing that can be said for sure is research in lucid dreaming has taken an increased level of awareness in the last while. Researcher at the Max Planck Institutes of Psychiatry in Munich and other institutes have shown with magnetic resonance tomography (MRT), that brain activity in lucid dreamers is quite different than normal dreamers. The MRT have demonstrated that specific cortical networks consisting of the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, frontopolar regions and precuneus is activated when this lucid consciousness is attained. These are region associated with self-reflective functions. Martin Dresler explains “In normal dreams, we have a very basal consciousness, we experience perceptions and emotions but we are not aware that we are dreaming. It’s only in a lucid dream that the dreamer gets a meta-insight into his or her state.”
How to Lucid dream
There are basic just two steps to become a lucid dreamer. Everyone can achieve this state. It is your birthright.
- Dream journal
- Reality checks
This is one of the easiest ways to recall dreams. Keep a specific journal for dreams. You want to keep this close by, as dreams will often fade quickly once you have wakened. The journal can be a book, but many prefer some form of recording device, like a recorder, or an app on their smart phone. Remember if you get up, walk around and start talking about other things, you will often ‘over write’ the dream and forget it.
Insight: dreams are in the now memory and can be easily over written.
You will dream 4 – 11 times a night, most of which you will not remember. Waking during, or right after a dream, while you are still in the now, will help you remember them. It is important to journal even if you only remember fragments of your dream. Even if you don’t remember a dream at all, write that down. This habit helps you get into a routine of remembering dreams. Write down as much detail as possible. Remember the texture, smells, sights, sounds and silly sequences. Do not try to edit the dream. This is not time for grammar checking, or a time for second guessing what the dream means.
The more often you journal, the more frequently you will have lucid dreams. I have kept journals off and on over the last 40 years. I still had to odd lucid dream when I wasn’t journaling, but when ever I pick up the journaling again, the frequency of lucid dreams increased dramatically.
This is one of the first lessons I learned. In order to be lucid in a dream, you have to know you are dreaming. When you are normal dreaming, you think it is reality until you wake and then you know it was ‘of a different world’. The idea of lucid dreaming is to know that the sequence you are seeing is really a dream.
In this case you can use anything to check if it is reality. I guess because I read this in Carlos Castaneda, I most often have used the hand technique. If I wonder if I am dreaming, I try to push one hand up against the other. In the 3D world it is solid, but most often in the dream world, the hand will go right though the other hand. There is nothing special about the hand, as Don Juan said, it is good to use as you usually have a hand with you. Any other sequence that is out of phase can also indicate dream. You can look at an object, look away and look back, in the 3D world it is always the same, in the dream world it will often change. Many researchers suggest practicing this reality check often during the waking hours so it is habit. This habit will often move over to the dream world and give you your reality check. You can use any reality check you like. At first it is good to keep to one or a few, but after a while other things will be your reality check. If you look at your hand and it is a claw, well that is a reality check in and of itself. For me it is often even the extreme vividness of the dreamscape. It is often way more vivid than the waking world.
With these two techniques you can be well on you way to having lucid dreams. The next technique MILD is not necessary, but it will often increase the frequency of lucid dreaming.
MILD (Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams)
This powerful technique developed by Dr. Stephen LaBerge. It combines dream recall and reality checking that we mentioned above and adds the two more elements of affirmation and visualization. MILD will train you to increase self-awareness incubate lucid dreams, while programing the content of your next dream with conscious triggers.
The first two steps of recall (journaling and reality checking) have already been covered. The next step is to go through some lucid affirmation in your mind while you are lying in bed before sleep, or if you wake up and are ready to go back to sleep. After you are relaxed you start repeating a phase like: “ The next scene will be a dream” or “I will have lucid dream this night”. Keep repeating this over and over again. If your mind wonders, don’t worry, come back to the sentence and use it as a mantra. You can also remember a recent dream and imagine you are becoming lucid inside the dream. The idea here is to reinforce the idea that you are dreaming, inside your dream.
This is the area were the most success happens with broken sleep patterns. If you wake up in the middle of the night, get up for 30 – 90 minutes and go back to sleep with these intensions (the mantra, or recent dream sequence). The technique can sometimes also be used when you have afternoon power naps. MILD is not necessary, but it can increase the number of lucid dreams and help determine what the content of the dream will be. I have found this to be quite useful when I am stuck with a research issue of even a question in my daily life.
After you have accomplished these above techniques, you might want to move onto a more advance technique known as Wake Induced Lucid Dream (WILD). We will have to leave that until next blog though. In the mean time you might want to check out the following books.
- Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self by Robert Waggoner
- Lucid Dreaming by Stephen LaBerge PhD.
- Explore Your Mind – Step By Step Guide To Lucid Dreaming by Kenneth Green
- The Art of Lucid Dreaming: The Pursuit of Conscious Dream Control by Rebecca Turner and Pete Casale