Dreams reveal our innermost fears, desires, and emotions and yet they’re often out of our control. In fact, they can feel so real that upon awakening, we're no strangers to pounding hearts as we realise with relief (or even disappointment) that it was all just a dream. Lucid dreaming gives us the simple joy of dreaming while still remaining conscious. And sometimes, it can also give us control.
What is lucid dreaming?
Imagine diving deep underwater, and deeper and deeper still without the need to come up for air. Or floating through space, enjoying the pure delight of feeling completely free and weightless while laying in bed.
Lucid dreaming helps us face our fears or live out our wildest fantasies (who doesn’t want to fly?!). It’s a way of escaping our reality and making it the way we want it to be. Put simply, it’s about knowing you’re dreaming while being in a dream. And the fun part is, if you know how to, you can put yourself in charge of what happens. We spend approximately one-third of our lives sleeping, so we might as well have fun with it!
How to lucid dream
Lucid dreaming requires a heightened sense of self-awareness. It’s about being in the present moment and really feeling everything in that one moment. Here are some steps so that you can learn how to lucid dream and take advantage of this amazing phenomenon.
MILD or Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams is a technique created by Dr Stephen LaBerge of The Lucidity Institute. It’s a series of four steps that helps condition your mind so that you can remember your intention to lucid dream while you’re sleeping.
1. Start a dream journal
Upon awakening, quickly write down your dreams from that very night in your dream journal. Make sure you put it in an easy-to-reach spot such as your bedside table so that you can complete this task immediately. Try to remember as many details as you can. This’ll help you understand any patterns you may have while dreaming. By identifying these common dream signs, you’ll be able to better recognise when you’re in a dream.
2. Do reality checks
If you’ve ever watched Inception, this is going to be something similar. In the movie (don’t worry, no spoilers!), the characters use a token of some sort to help them differentiate between reality and dream. You should do the same. It doesn’t have to be a physical token but something simple like pinching yourself. Pinch yourself in real life and you’ll feel a short sharp pain, right? In the dream-world though, you won‘t feel anything and you’ll become aware of what’s a dream and what’s not.
If you want to lucid dream, you need to really commit to not only the idea of it, but the fact that this is something you can achieve. When you’re lying in bed, getting ready to sleep, repeat affirmations to yourself. You can say any affirmations as long as they relate positively to lucid dreaming. Some examples are:
“Next time I sleep, I’ll remember I’m dreaming.”
“I will remember my dreams”
“When I fall asleep, I’ll lucid dream.”
But it isn’t enough to just say it, you need to really believe it and believe in yourself. That’s when the magic will happen.
Create a scene in your head that you want to enter in the dream-world. It could be a previous dream that you’ve had (which you’ll be able to recall thanks to your dream journal), or a painting, or you can even make one up. Then visualise what it’ll feel like to be in that scene. Use all the senses to make it all the more believable and see it unfold right before your eyes. If you fall asleep while performing this step, don’t worry, that’s a good thing! It means that your intention to lucid dream was the last thing on your mind before sleeping. This will increase your chances of actually doing it.
Lucid dreaming isn’t just a fun way to explore the unconscious while still being conscious. It aids in personal reflection, can cultivate your creative side, and give you the courage and confidence to face certain realities in real life. Just remember, it may take some time before you’re able to accomplish lucid dreaming but with the (dream) world in your hands, it’ll be well worth it.