Lucid Dreaming is a very interesting subject, and is definitely worth taking a look at. As we continue to grow in our knowledge of what happens while we are sleeping, and how we can use our brains to help us achieve success, it is also becoming apparent that we can find pleasure and entertainment in our sleep, and can become a part of it all. Lucid is described as "conscious awareness" during sleep. What this means is, we know we are dreaming, and we want to get inside the dream and have some fun. After all, while in the dream state, all things are possible! We can fly, swim underwater for a long time, see all things, and now, with practice, we can participate in these dreams.
Many people have heard for years that we only use about 10% of our brain capacity. This is why so many people now want to find out how to use more of that capacity, not just for work, but also for play.
Lucid Dreaming - a Gift for Certain People?
It was once thought that lucid dreaming was a gift given only to certain people, much like true Psychics have; but this is not the case. Anyone can learn lucid dreaming; it just takes practice and time. According to Charles McPhee, you must spend the time to identify when your sleep cycles are, and when your dream cycles come. Then, as you become more aware of your sleep cycles, you can prepare mentally for those times. "When you awaken early in the morning, before you roll over and close your eyes for another cycle, be confident that your dreams are on their way. In the early morning hours, you stand on the brink of thirty to forty-minute blocks of nonstop dreamscape action. The trick, of course, is to recognize the dreamscape." (103).
By definition, Lucid Dreaming means "conscious awareness during the dream state." But how can this be? Every book I've ever read on dreaming has described the dream state as being an entry into the unconscious, so how can you possibly be conscious during dreaming, and be able to enter your dreams. Keep reading.
Can you be Conscious while Accessing the Subconscious?
According to Charles McPhee in his book "Stop Sleeping Through your Dreams," the answer to the question on consciousness during sleep is a resounding NO! "Our ability for consciousness—our ability to achieve reflectivity in our minds—is specifically denied us during dream sleep. Single-mindedness is a quality that defines dream experience." If you had the ability to reflect in a dream, you would recognize instantly that you were dreaming, and wake-up, and this is why it becomes difficult to judge and evaluate our dream experience.
An important event occurs with our muscle system with the onset of dream sleep. The main motor neurons of the body are inhibited, which prevents us from "physically" acting out dreams - you wouldn't want to actually leap out of bed and start flying around the house; this would create chaos everywhere at night and you would wake up exhausted. Unfortunately, after the motor neurons are shut down, so is the ability for consciousness during dream sleep.
100 Minutes a Night for Lucid Dreaming
When we first awaken from dream sleep, we will have a good chance of recalling our dreams, whereas if awakened from any other stage, we will not even remember dreaming. We enter various stages of sleep during 90-minute cycles all through the night (you can test this by checking the clock before you go to sleep at night, and again when you awaken during the middle of the night.) This means that if you sleep for six hours a night, you will have four "dream cycles" which you can access for information or fun (most people dream an average of 100 minutes a night). In the book "Directed Dreaming," you discover how to ask the proper questions of your dreams in order to receive problem solving information and direction for your life; now you can go one step further and discover how to step into random dreams to find out what clues they are trying to give you.
Trick # 1 - The First Step
The first step to becoming lucid during dreaming is to start trying to recall the previous nights dreams. This takes practice, but it can be accomplished. You will soon find out that if you work backward from the dream, it is easier to piece it together. This is easiest to do, of course, right after you wake up. If a dream is not written down, or recalled quickly, it will be lost forever. When you achieve the ability for lucid dreaming, you will find out that these dreams are recalled easier and do not vanish as quickly; that's where the fun in lucid dreaming comes from! What good is it if you are able to jump into your dreams and "play," then not remember anything about the experience. Remembering your lucid dreams can give you a calming feeling and something to smile about during the day. Soon, you will become aware of what you want to find out in your dreams, and you can tell yourself that the next time you have the dream where you are flying, you will remember that you are dreaming and want to participate in that adventure.
Trick #2 - The Best Time to Become Lucid
One important thing to remember about your dream cycles is that during the night, the time spent dreaming grows progressively longer with each cycle. This means that the longest stretch of dreamtime occurs just before awakening. This is the time you should concentrate on trying to become lucid. You should have tracked your dream cycles (as explained above), and determined approximately when you will reach the 4th cycle, then, when you awaken after the 3rd cycle, you can consciously tell yourself that next time you see or hear something, you will be dreaming, and you would like to be aware of this dream and enter into it.
Trick #3 - Not Sleeping!
It has been found that if you do not get enough sleep, and haven't had time to dream, your body will compensate by dreaming more! It is almost as if it's essential for us to have dream experiences. Therefore, if you are having a hard time becoming lucid in your dreams, you might want to try staying up later for a few nights, and then you will have more dream cycles as you try to "catch-up." When you have these extra dream cycles in the catch-up phase, it's a great opportunity to practice your lucid dreaming, as your cycles will be long, intense, and deep. It is more difficult to wake yourself out of sleep when the body is very tired, making this an excellent opportunity for lucidity!
Trick #4 - Associations
After you have become accustomed to writing down your dreams, it's time to pick out a few common things in the dream that will remind you that you are dreaming. For example, if you commonly dream that you are driving various kinds of sports cars, the thing to tell yourself when you are awake is that the next time you are driving a fancy car you will be dreaming. That way, you create the association in your mind to trigger the unconscious to recognize that as a dream, and help you participate. If you commonly dream of flying, that's also a good clue that you are dreaming, and if you consciously make a note of it, the next time you find yourself flying, you will wonder what you were supposed to remember about flying. If luck is on your side, this association will trigger your thinking that if you're flying, you must be dreaming, and with that instant thought, you will be able to start your adventure into that dream.
The first few times you attempt to do this, the awareness that you are dreaming may wake you up! This is because your consciousness has been activated, and in order to keep dreaming you need to stay in the subconscious. It takes practice to make the acceptance that you are dreaming into a passing thought, and just go with the flow. If you think about it too much, you will wake up (and, of course, will need to try it all over again). Again, according to McPhee, "Whatever you choose as a clue to identify your dreams, the association will carry over to your dreams. As you keep a dream journal and familiarize yourself with the content of your dreams, you can experiment with clues. Before long, the next time you take off in flight or are pursued by some familiar tormentor, there is an exceptionally good chance that you will have the associated thought, "Oh! I must be dreaming." And with this awareness, you will have successfully identified the dreamscape.
What do You Want to Find Out
After you have successfully entered your dreams, the next step is to find out what you want to accomplish by being there. Do you want to make your lucid dream into a fantasy where you physically fight off attackers, or do you want to be the fastest runner in the world and successfully outrun anything that comes after you, or would you rather have fantasies of a sexual nature? This fantasy type of lucid dreaming is fine, but what purpose does it serve? It does not help us resolve anything in real life; but it can be a good stress-reliever. A better way to work with lucid dreaming is to try to get some insight into why the conflict is occurring. If you were to stop those people who are chasing you in your dreams and talk to them, what would they say? Could they reveal to you why you are running and open up the opportunity to explore unconscious fears in real life? Since the unconscious is probably trying to tell you something, it would be best to find out what it is, so you can act on it when you wake up, and resolve these difficult situations. The more you practice, the closer you will get to resolving your issues -- and then you can go back to fantasy dreaming (my guess is that that's probably what you want to do anyway), but since you are taking your time to practice becoming lucid, you might as well make it work to your advantage every now and then.
Technology Can Help
As technology advances, so does the opportunity to get help with your Lucidity. There are now high-tech devices that you can use to induce lucid dreams. Most of them can be found in New Age bookstores, or you can go to the library and find mail order catalogs that carry these devices. You can now find popular devices such as eyeshades that detect rapid eye movement and blink a red diode when you start to sleep. This red light is incorporated into the dream, and reminds the dreamer to clue in that he or she is dreaming. If you're having trouble getting into your dreams, these devices may be able to help you relax enough to have a little fun!