Day-to-day reality can be a nightmare — chainstores, alienation, surveillance cameras and McJobs. But we’re never entirely trapped in any particular version of material reality — reality is inherently relative and multi-facetted. Tapping into other realms can inform efforts to transform the world. Our dreams can become our reality.
Lucid dreaming means dreaming while you know you are asleep. A lot of the recent knowledge of lucid dreaming has been heavily co-opted by entertainment media. Nevertheless, lucid dreaming has been part of yogic traditions for thousands of years, as a method for improving mental health and facilitating creativity. With practice, you can learn to shift or change the reality of your dreamscape as you dream it, and to prolong your dreaming so that you can explore it more deeply. If you want to learn how to induce lucid dreaming, be patient with yourself. This process is partly about the goal, and partly about enjoying your innate human faculties, which include dreaming and being asleep. Here are some simple steps that can help improve your ability to lucid dream:
1. Set a journal by the bed. Before you go to sleep, set your intention to remember your dreams. Whenever you wake from a dream, immediately record what you remember, and how it made you feel. Practice this regularly to improve your ability to recall your dreams. Also look for any patterns or repetition. As you get more information about the nature of your dreams, it will become easier to pick out dream signs, things that will indicate to you that you are dreaming.
2. Practice reality testing by writing a phrase or a string of nonsense letters on the inside of your wrist. Look at them several times a day, then look away, then look back again. See if the characters have changed. Try making them change while you look at them. If they don’t change, you may conclude you are still awake….
3. The oldest recorded instructions for lucid dreaming, a thousand year old text on dream yoga from Tibet, advises that you should sleep “on the right side, as the lion doth.” A relatively recent study found that participants who slept on their right sides were several times more likely to have a lucid dream.
4. When you are ready to attempt lucid dreaming, set your alarm clock for 6 ½ hours from when you go to sleep. Use a gentle alarm clock sound if you can, so that you are conscious but not fully alert. Write anything you remember from your dreams in dream journal.
5. Go back to sleep. As you rest, repeat this mantra: “I will wake after every dream and remember my dream….”
6. When you wake up, write down whatever you remember immediately, even if it’s vague.
7. Go right back to sleep. Your goal is to pick up where you left off. Repeat the mantra, while simultaneously visualizing yourself recognizing a dream sign, something you often dream about or the letters moving on your wrist.
8. If you become aware that you are asleep and dreaming, stay calm. If the dream starts to fade, imagine you are spinning in a circle like you did as a kid to make yourself dizzy, as the dream world spins around you, you may be able to re-enter it and begin dreaming again, only this time with full awareness that you are doing so.
9. You can also practice lucid dreaming without an alarm by repeating the mantra as you fall asleep, then waking yourself up to record your dreams throughout the night (however we dream most vividly after seven or more hours of sleep, so this is the most likely time for lucid dreaming to occur).
Lucid dreaming is much easier if you get plenty of sleep and are not busy being an overwrought overachiever type. It may not happen immediately, but with practice, lucid dreaming is something you can learn to do literally overnight. If you want to learn more, the best information I have found about lucid dreaming comes from The Lucidity Institute, based on the work of a researcher named Steven LaBerge. Hit www.lucidity.com.