A Beginners Guide to Lucid Dreaming
Lucid Dreaming is the term for any experience where you become aware that you’re dreaming during the REM stage of your sleep cycle. Stephen LaBerge is a psychophysiologist and a leader in the scientific study of lucid dreaming, which he began researching during his Ph.D at Stanford University.
“Although not usually explicitly aware of the fact that we are dreaming while we’re dreaming,” writes Dr. Stephen LaBerge, “at times a remarkable exception occurs, and we become conscious enough to realise that we are.”
Being able to quickly enter this state was essential to conduct forms of dream experimentation. In 1987, DR. LaBerge founded The Lucidity Institute, that focus on researching lucid dreaming with the aim of teaching the general public how to achieve a lucid dream. During his research, LaBerge developed techniques to enable himself and other researchers to enter a lucid dream state at will, most notably the MILD technique (mnemonic induction of lucid dreams). The MILD Technique consists of four parts:
- Dream Recall
- Reality Checks
- Lucid Affirmations
- Visualise Your Dream
You’ll need to start keeping a dream journal and write down any dream in the morning that was vivid. If you can’t really remember the details, then the dream wasn’t dream enough and the chances are you wouldn’t be able to enter it in a lucid state.
By recording your dreams in this way, you are encouraging your brain to pay more attention to your dreams and increase the vividness of the dreams you have during the night.
Throughout the day, ask yourself “Am I dreaming?” to reinforce whether you’re awake or dreaming. This works better when complemented with a simple physical action, such as squeezing your hand.
You’ll need to do this at regular intervals during the day so that it becomes habit. Try setting an alarm on the hour. This will do nothing during the day, you will be simply reaffirming the fact that you are awake. However, when this habit has been instilled and you ask yourself in a dream you will be able to confirm that you are in fact asleep and enter a state of lucid dreaming.
Often times the physical action you’re accompany with the phrase will become ethereal or impossible, like your hand sinking through your other for example. You will not have the sense of touch in it’s correct sense. With practice you’ll be able to confirm that you are dreaming.
While lying in bed, preparing to fall asleep it is necessary to affirm to your brain that you intend to remember your dreams and become aware in them. Affirmations are simple sentences that reprogram the brain into thinking in a different way. Affirmations that work well include.
- I will remember my dreams vividly
- I will enter a vivid dream.
- I will recall all details of my dream.
- I will master Lucid Dreaming.
Repeat these for 5-10 minutes every evening. Feel free to tailor or create more that you feel comfortable with. Remember – you are persuading your brain that you have this ability, so believe it.
Visualise Your Dream
This part is really fun! First you will need to remember a recent dream, looking back at your journal will help this. Imagine you are back in this dream, but this time you are going to take control and live the ending differently. Visualise as much detail as possible and keep an eye out for a dream sign. This is usually an unusual character, location or object which reveals the dream to be just that – a dream; something you wouldn’t see in real life. When this happens be ready to think “I’m dreaming!” clearly and confidently.
All though this is a created fantasy and not a true dream, you are training your brain to change details and take control. You will more than likely fall asleep during your fantasy as well, really moving into a dream state. If you have done this exercise then you will have a much greater chance of entering a true lucid dream.
Is Lucid Dreaming Real?
It certainly sounds a bit ‘out there’ but the research conducted by LaBerge and others proves that lucid dreaming is both real and distinct from typical REM-sleep dreaming. Studies on Lucid dreaming date back to 1975. In later studies electroencephalograms (EEGs) were used to record the brainwaves of lucid dreamers. These studies found that lucid dreaming is “a hybrid state of consciousness with definable and measurable differences.”
What Happens During a Lucid Dream?
As cliché as it sounds, the possibilities are endless. You can choose to fly, to develop super powers, visit space etc. The only thing that has to happen is that you have to realise that you’re dreaming. Remember, you are in control so whatever happens depends on the extent of your imagination.
How Many People Can Lucid Dream?
It’s difficult to place know exactly how many people experience lucid dreams or how often they experience them, but some research indicates that more than 20 percent of people have one or more lucid dream per month. This study also showed that nearly 60 percent have experienced at least one lucid dream in their lifetime.
Are There Risks to Lucid Dreaming?
Not really, however there have been many benefits claimed such as lucid dreaming improving problem-solving skills, enhancing creativity, improving memory and self-confidence, reducing the number of nightmares that one experiences and providing you with a more restful night’s sleep overall.
Lucid dreaming has traditionally been considered harmless. However there have been some stories of lucid dreamers losing touch with reality and even exacerbating pre-existing mental illnesses.