March 11th, 2011

Three Easy Steps to Start Lucid Dreaming and Three Common Beginner Mistakes

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Lucid dreaming / Lucid dreams / Lucid dream in the sky and the cloudsLucid dreaming is being aware you are dreaming while dreaming. For first-time lucid dreamers, this usually happens due to a strange occurrence in the dream, such as flying or seeing a strange creature appear. Some first-time lucid dreamers are able to stay in this dream for a while, but many become disturbed and wake up from the dream.

If you are in a lucid dream, you will usually have some power over your dream- anything from being able to fly or making an object or room appear behind a door or inside a pocket, right up to being able to change into animals and manipulate your dream world. It is like being a director of your own movie. Through dream research, lucid dreams have been scientifically proven to exist.

Step #1: Improve Your Dream Recall

Go to your local bookstore and buy a nice journal which you will devote solely to capturing your dreams. Also purchase a book light which you can clip on to this journal, and a nice pen. Place your dream journal, pen, and book light close to your bed or under your pillow. Tell yourself that when you wake up the next morning, you will remember your dreams

Make a conscious effort to remember dreams before you go to sleep

As you’re falling asleep, suggest to yourself that you will wake up remembering your dreams. You can use a mantra (such as “I will remember my dreams”). Instead of putting intentional effort into the suggestion, try to genuinely expect to remember your dreams. Just be careful not to put too much intentional effort into the mantra. Instead, try to genuinely expect to remember your dreams.

Upon awakening, stay in bed as long as possible and replay the dream in your mind

It is generally accepted by dream researchers that dreams are not remembered unless the dreamer awakens during a dream. Even after awaking during the dream, it is usually not remembered for long. Therefore, every time you wake up in the night, and the next morning, ask yourself, “What was I just dreaming?”

Stay in the same position and think your dreams over before jumping out of bed. After you have remembered your dream, move to a different position (with your eyes still closed) that you normally sleep in, and try and remember other dreams. The position that you are in may help your brain remember what dream you had while sleeping in that position.

Write about the dream in a dream journal

Capture as much detail as possible, including the estimated time of the dream. If you are too groggy when you awake, just jot down a summary, and try to fill in the gaps the next morning.

Your dream recall will improve with time. Before I started capturing my dreams in a dream journal, I rarely remembered them. After using a dream journal for several weeks, I was remembering at least one dream per night, often 3-4.

Step #2: Perform Reality Checks

Throughout your day (5 to 10 times / day), ask yourself, “Am I dreaming?” Look at something near you in detail, such as your watch. If you are dreaming, your watch will give you two completely different times when you look at it twice. Also, the numbers on your watch may appear blurry, change rapidly, or wiggle if you am in a dream. If you don’t have a watch, look at an object in detail, turn away, and look at it again. Does the object stay constant, or change?

Reality checks help bridge your waking life with your dream life. The habits of thought you have in your dreams are similar to those in your waking life. So by performing reality checks throughout the day, you will start performing this habit in your dreams as well, allowing you to discover you are dreaming.

Make sure you create a habit of performing reality checks in the morning when you wake up. This ensures that you did not have a false awakening (dream where you believe you are awake but are really still dreaming). Here are some reality checks you can perform after waking up:

  • Performing a reality check when you wake up and look at your alarm clock
  • Leaving a note for yourself in the bathroom to ask “Am I dreaming?”
  • When you wake up, look at your reflection in the mirror and make sure it looks normal
  • Perform a reality check when you eat breakfast

Step #3: Recognize the Dream-Like Nature of Life

Tibetan Buddhists have been following this practice since the 8th century as part of Dream Yoga. There is no stronger foundational practice of bringing consistent lucidity to your dream life than by remaining in conscious presence throughout your waking life.

You need to truly recognize the dream-like nature of life until the same recognition begins to manifest in the dream. This practice is even more important than your daily reality checks.

How do you do this recognize the dream-like nature of life?

1. When you wake up, you must think to yourself, “I am awake in a dream.”

2. When you eat breakfast, you must think to yourself, “This is dream food.”

3. You should continue this throughout your day, reminding yourself that “This is all a dream.”

This practice will help you build lucidity into your waking life, and begin to manifest it in your dream life.

Beginner Mistake #1: Trying to induce lucid dreams at bedtime, during N-REM stages of sleep (Non-REM sleep)

Many lucid dreaming beginners attempt lucid dreaming techniques while going to sleep. But research has shown that dreams (both lucid and non-lucid) are much more common during your REM cycle, which first occurs 1-2 hours into your sleep. Dream-initiated and wake-initiated lucid dreams are much more common in the early morning, during your longer REM stages. During the early morning sleep cycles, the REM stage gets progressively longer (up to 45 minutes).

Beginner Mistake #2: Trying to have lucid dreams before mastering dream recall

You should be remembering at least one dream per night, and capturing it in your dream journal, before you attempt lucid dreaming induction techniques.

Beginner Mistake #3: Trying too hard to have lucid dreams

Being relaxed, patient and persistent are critical to mastering lucid dreaming. If you try to hard at the beginning, you will only lose sleep and become frustrated early on. Learn relaxation techniques and practice them before bedtime to increase chances of lucid dream induction.

Learn More

To learn more about lucid dreaming, sign up for your Free Lucid Dreaming Starter Handbook.

This post is part of the Dream Evolver Series

Creative Commons License photo credit: photosteve101

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