Lucid Dreaming Is as Simple as These Four Steps
Have you ever been aware that you are dreaming? Suddenly, you have the power to follow your wildest inclinations. Whether effortlessly flying through the air, breathing underwater, or traveling to distant and surreal locations, the ethereal world becomes your playground.
If this sounds familiar, then you’ve experienced a lucid dream. While only recently recognized by modern psychology, lucid dreaming has been revered by ancient cultures and religions for thousands of years. The first written accounts of lucid dream practice surfaced around 1000 BCE in Hindu texts, spreading to Tibet and later taking root in Greece philosophy and Islamic beliefs.
Lucid dreaming can be incredibly therapeutic, but it can also be frightening for some, and difficult to reach and maintain for others. The following are tips, tricks, and methods to help you remember your dreams and find lucidity within the dream state.
Every human being dreams, and while some of us are better at remembering our nocturnal adventures, everyone is capable of dream recall. Getting enough sleep and avoiding drugs and alcohol are simple ways to boost your ability to remember dreams, but the following tips will also strengthen your practice.
One of the easiest ways to boost dream recall is through self-suggestion. As you lay down for the night, repeat to yourself as many times as possible, “I will remember my dreams in the morning.” Fill yourself with the certainty of this phrase, and trust that repetition will allow it to enter your subconscious.
2. Keep a Dream Journal
Be sure to keep a dream journal or voice recorder by your bed and take note of your dreams as soon as you wake up. It’s best to literally do this first thing in the morning before you look at anything else and ideally before you even move from your waking position. The simple act of writing down your dreams will spur you to remember more of them.
If you already have healthy dream recall, then moving towards lucid dreaming is the next step. There are many methods for achieving lucidity and many different reasons for doing so. In Tibetan dream yoga, the goal of the practice is to help the practitioner reach enlightenment and the attainment of the “clear light dream.” It is undertaken through years of study with an experienced teacher.
While attaining Buddhahood may not be your goal in this lifetime, it illustrates the power of working with lucid dreams. In this state, it’s possible to face fears and phobias, access the immense power of the subconscious, or just enjoy the thrill of flying without wings. The following methods are pulled from a variety of Eastern and Western practices, with a focus on becoming consciously aware that you are dreaming.
Once again, self-suggestion is very helpful. Repeating to yourself “I will have a lucid dream tonight” can help to induce lucidity, but there are also suggestions you can do during your waking hours. In the Tibetan dream yoga, practitioners remind themselves that what we consider reality is in fact little more than a waking dream. While this may seem a little strange to the Western mind, it is an important tenet of Buddhism. If we remind ourselves that all we experience is a form of illusion, then our dreams will not seem as divergent from waking life.
2. Dream Triggers
While you are dreaming, certain events can help you become conscious that you are, in fact, dreaming. It is often difficult to read in a dream, and numbers and letters will sometimes change randomly within a split second. During your waking life, look at the clock and remind yourself to do this same action while dreaming. It may take practice, but eventually, you will begin to mirror your waking life in your dream life, and looking at the clock in a dream will trigger lucidity.
You may also become aware that you’re dreaming while engaging in a fantastic activity, such as breathing underwater or passing through a wall. Allow these triggers to wake you up to your dream, but try to remain calm! Excitement could cause you to awaken too soon.
3. Herbs and Supplements
Certain herbs and vitamin supplements can help induce lucid dreams. Increasing your intake of B5, B6, and Melatonin can increase dream vividness and recall. Choline bitartrate, mugwort, valerian, and passionflower are also good dream enhancers. While most of these herbs are very gentle, practice caution and consult a doctor before adding to your daily regimen.
4. Work with Your Sleep Cycles
The average adult has three to four sleep cycles per night, each lasting about two and a half hours. The final sleep cycle is generally the most intense, which is why we generally remember the dreams that occur right before waking. Try setting an alarm for 4-6 hours after you fall asleep. Allow yourself to wake as completely as possible, then go back to sleep with the intention of lucid dreaming. This may take quite a few tries—and might not be ideal if you have a hard time falling asleep again after an alarm.
Now, go to bed! It’s time to experience all of the magic and healing your subconscious has to offer.
Art by Brandi Van Nevel