Lucid Dreaming: Tricks And Techniques To Take Control Of Your Dreams
For most people, dreams seem completely real while we’re in them. No matter how bizarre the scenario that presents itself, we generally don’t guess that it’s not real until we wake up. In some cases, though, the sleeper realizes that they are dreaming. This is known as a lucid dream.
There are numerous benefits to lucid dreaming. Nightmare sufferers can gain relief from their condition by learning to take control of their dreams. Athletes and sportspeople can use lucid dreams to practice their skills. Those recovering from illness or accidents may find that activity in lucid dreams can help speed up their rehabilitation.
Lucid dreams can also be used to cope with depression or anxiety. Creative people use lucid dreams for inspiration. For example, an artist might strive for a lucid dream in which he visits a gallery of his future work.
Some people are naturally more prone to lucid dreams than others. It’s also possible to develop the ability even if you’ve never had a lucid dream before. There are two main types of lucid dream induction: WILD (Waking Induced Lucid Dreaming) and MILD (Mnemonic Induced Lucid Dreaming).
This article will focus on MILD techniques, which use memory tricks to help induce lucidity. Following these simple techniques can help you learn to have lucid dreams at will.
This is perhaps the most important technique for would-be lucid dreamers. Keep your dream journal on your nightstand or under your pillow — somewhere you can reach it immediately on waking. If you can remember anything about your dreams, write it down straight away; don’t wait until later in the day, as dreams tend to fade from memory quite quickly.
At first, you might not be able to remember very much. Write it down anyway, even if you can only recall the vaguest impressions. With practice, your recall will improve. It can sometimes help if you keep still in bed for a few minutes and go over the content of your dreams before you start writing in your journal.
Try to set down your dreams in as much detail as you possibly can. The more of your dreams you can recall, the more likely it is that you will be able to recognize that you’re dreaming.
Get into the habit of regularly checking whether you’re awake or not. Every few hours, ask yourself whether you are awake or asleep. You might find it useful to set up a reminder on your phone or computer to ask you if you’re currently awake, or leave yourself a note in a place you’ll see it frequently.
Some people find it useful to write a phrase or keyword on the back of one hand, such as “Am I dreaming?” to help them remember their regular reality checks. Others use letter bracelets spelling “Awake” or “Lucid” as reminders.
During the day, look around now and then for clues that you might be dreaming. There are common phenomena, known as “dream signs”, which can let you know that you’re sleeping and thus trigger dream lucidity.
Well-known dream signs include being unable to write or read, or finding that a page of text changes if you look away from it and look back. Another common dream sign is that clocks behave oddly; they may show impossible times, like 33:33, or display words instead of numbers. Try looking away from the clock and looking back to see if the time changes suddenly. Glancing at your hands and feet or checking your reflection in a mirror is another good habit for the would-be lucid dreamer, as these may appear distorted in dreams.
Lighting and light-level changes may also be a sign that you’re in a dream. Pay attention and ask yourself if you’re dreaming when you turn the lights on and off in real life; in dreams, you may find that the light stays on even when you switch it off. Light levels may also change suddenly in dreams — for example, it might be morning in one room and nighttime in another.
Some dream signs are unique to the dreamer. These can include characters, objects and locations which appear regularly in your dreams but which either don’t exist or aren’t a regular part of your waking life. You can learn to recognize these so that they’ll trigger a period of dream lucidity if you encounter them. Your dream journal will be a good source of these personal dream signs.
Herbs and supplements: certain herbal preparations and food supplements are reported to help promote lucid dreaming. Supplements implicated in lucid dreaming include melatonin, 5-HTP, vitamins B6 and B12, and choline. Herbs that can support lucid dreaming include mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) and Mexican calea (Calea ternifolia). Always check whether any herbs or supplements you try are safe for you to use and legal in your region.
Before you go to sleep, recite affirmations for lucid dreaming. These might include phrases such as “I am a lucid dreamer,” “I am aware when I am dreaming,” or “I easily recognize my dream signs.”
Initially, you may only have occasional flashes of lucidity. Sometimes the surprise and excitement of realizing that you’re in a dream can be enough to jolt you out of sleep. You might also become uncertain as to whether you’re in a dream, despite the presence of dream signs, and thus slip out of the lucid state and back into normal dreaming.
It can take a lot of practice to gain extensive control and enjoy long periods of lucidity. Perseverance is the key here. Keep your dream journal every morning and practice regular reality checks every day, and in time you should find yourself having lucid dreams on a regular basis.
Read more: 5 Ways To Keep Your Creative Juices Flowing