Lucid dreaming is an art that can be learned by anyone. There are a couple of proven techniques that will help to increase awareness and train our minds to wake up during the dream periods. As with many things, practice is key.
One of the simplest an most effective ways to develop a better sense for dreams to keep a dream journal. It‘s easy, just keep a notepad and pencil next to the bed. Any time you wake up, immediately write down as much as you remember from your dream. Make this the very first thing you do after waking. As you probably know, our dream memory fades very rapidly.
The dream journal allows us to recognise dream patterns and generally attune our sensitivity towards dreams. As we remember our dreams and write about them, we become more acquainted with our personal dreamlands. Since dreams often repeat themselves, with more or less variations, there is a good chance that next time you‘re in a similar dreamworld, you recognise it and turn lucid.
Another cornerstone of lucid dreaming is to perform so called reality checks. This technique is particularly aimed at the early levels of awareness, when you are already a spectator to you dreams, but not yet realising that you‘re actually dreaming. In these states, performing a series of simple checks will help you determine whether you are in a dream or not.
The key to preforming reality checks in a dream is to make it a common habit in the waking state. Ask yourself at least 5 times during the day „am I awake?“ and try to answer this question by looking closely at your environment. Is there something that looks weird?
Some ways you can preform a reality check include:
• Holding your nose, closing your mouth and trying to breath – Can you do it even though you are blocking you airways?
• Reading – Can you read a sentence twice without it changing?
• Jumping – If you jump, can you fly? Do you float at all?
• Looking at your hands and asking “Am I dreaming?” – Are the amount of fingers correct? They will normally be wrong in a dream.
• Clocks – Look at a digital clock. Does it remain constant?
A good one is the mirror check - in a dream, there tends to be a different reflection, or none at all. You can make it a habit to perform a reality check every time you pass a mirror in your home. Doors are also a good anchor point, because we encounter them many times during the day. Every time you walk through a door at home, make a habit of asking yourself „am I awake?“ and perform the checks.
After practising this for a few days consistently, it should be engrained enough that there is a high chance you will perform a reality check somewhen during a dream. If indeed you find „no, I‘m not awake“, you will all of sudden become aware of your dream consciousness. It‘s common to become overly exited if this first succeeds and wake up. But no worries, that‘s a great sign and if you keep going that‘ll take care of itself.
MILD stands for Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreaming and was described by psychophysiologist Stephen Laberge, an expert in lucid dreaming. This technique focuses on memorising your last dream in detail and then re-entering that same dreamworld in an aware state. To do this set your alarm to wake you up 4 ½, 6, or 7 ½ hours after you have gone to sleep. That is the best time to become lucid. As soon as you wake up, start recalling what you were dreaming. Recall the dream, but imagine that you had become lucid at that moment in time during the dream. Tell yourself that you are aware that you are dreaming, make yourself determined to enter a lucid state. Go back to sleep with the firm expectation and determination to be lucid.
This technique tends to be the most successful when used in conjunction with reality checks. Set your alarm to wake you up 90 minutes before you normally would. After the alarm went off, stay awake for the 90 minutes either reading or thinking about lucidity. Go back to sleep with the expectation of becoming lucid.
This method revolves around making an association with your hands and being aware. This technique is essentially based on the reality checks, but focuses particularly on the hands. In dreams, looking at your own hands tends to be a bizarre experience, because most likely they won‘t look like what you would expect. Instead, they might look goofy, massive, rubbery, or coloured. So, to get the hang of this method, just perform the reality checks by looking a your hands several times during the day. At some point in your dream, you will see you hands and you will make the association that you are dreaming. ?
A good way go mentally prepare, is to sit on your bed until you are sleepy and in a calm meditative state. Stare at your hands and internally repeat to yourself in a soothing manner “Tonight, while I am dreaming, I will see my hands and realise that I am dreaming”. After five minutes, or when you become too tired, calmly lie down and go to sleep. When you wake in the middle of the night, remember the phrase and reinforce your intention to enter a lucid dream. If you continue to repeat this process, at some point you will see your hands and become lucid.
Certain herbs have a long history of being used to induce lucid dreaming. In South America, shamans have discovered the powers of Calea Zachatechichi to induce vivid dreams. But when it comes to herbs, African healers are the ultimate experts. Working with an arsenal of herbs, they discovered a whole range of plants that support their spiritual journeys. The Xhosa and Zulu tribes of Africa were particularly renowned for using dream herbs such as Silene Capensis, Entada Rheedii and Synaptolepis kirkii.