What is a LUCID DREAM?
A lucid dream is a dream in which you realize you’re dreaming. After starring in the film “Inception,” actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt became so inspired with lucid dreaming he produced this video, “Dreams: Cinema of the Subconscious.”
In the video Joseph visits with pioneering dream researcher Stephen LaBerge who describes the usefulness of lucidity and offers some tips about how to begin experimenting with lucid dreaming. LaBerge also describes how his dream experiments at Stanford University proved the possibility of lucid dreaming.
video clip approximately 6 mins.
Despite the fact that you’re asleep when lucid dreaming there is an element of wakefulness present because you’re aware that you are dreaming. Essentially you’re bringing the self-awareness of waking consciousness into the dream world, a world without limits.
Typically when dreaming we’re so focused on being the actor we don’t realize we’re also the author of the dream. But when lucid you’re empowered with awareness of being both actor and author in this world without limits – the dream world.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? When you bring self-awareness into this world without limits you are free to experience things you could never do in waking life. Want to fly? No passport needed! Confront scary entities? Why not – it’s a dream! Party with some hot celebrity? The man/woman of your dreams is yours at last! Beyond such adventures, lucid dreaming offers the opportunity to experiment with the frontiers of human consciousness.
Lucid dreaming inspires us to step outside the box of our everyday thinking and question the nature of reality and the potential of consciousness.
Lucid dreaming is a unique state of consciousness that’s not like waking life and yet not like the typical dream state. The lucid state is characterized by self-awareness, images that seem to be out of this world, and an intensity of feelings, sensations and vivid colors.
The hyperspace of dreams invites us to step outside the box of our everyday thinking and question the nature of reality and the potential of consciousness. Besides, it can be fun! As Forge says in the film “Inception” which features lucid dreaming, “Don’t be afraid to dream a little bigger!”
“Our brain is a three pound universe.”
Lucidity can occur spontaneously or it can be intentionally cultivated. Generally it takes mental preparation and patience but more and more people, like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, are learning how to do it – what about you?
MY DREAM LIFE’S
QUICK TIPS FOR LUCID DREAMING
Keep a Dream Journal
The first step to developing lucidity is to improve dream recall by tending to the dreams you’re already being offered. There is a direct relationship between recall and lucidity and valuing your dreams by paying attention long enough to write them down. So make sure you keep a dream journal and have it handy by your bed.
Reading and reflecting upon past dreams can kick-start dream recall because you’re welcoming deeper realms of the psyche to engage with your conscious mind which is exactly what supports lucid dreaming. For more dream recall tips from The Dream Blog: “How to Remember Your Dreams.” Check out the Dream Discovery Workbook: A Guided Dream Journal to explore the wisdom of the dreams you keep in your journal.
Intention is everything. If we go to sleep with the expectation that we’re checking out from life we won’t remember our dream life. But if we go to sleep with the expectation that we have special opportunities before us in the dream world we’ll remember more dreams and are likely to become lucid at some point in our dream explorations.
When you practice dream incubation you’re nourishing the best conditions for the development of dream recall and lucidity. If you need support for remembering dreams, check out “How To Remember Dreams” and practice using the power of suggestion to program your mind to support dream recall. To use the power of suggestion for recall, just as you’re drifting off to sleep mentally focus and repeat a number of times to yourself…
”I will remember my dreams tonight.”
After you’ve improved recall, you can substitute this intention with another to incubate lucid dreaming. At that point, repeat to yourself…
“I will know when I am dreaming tonight.”
At some point you may want to practice dream incubation to use lucid dreaming for specific goals. In the book Exploring The World of Lucid Dreaming, surgeon Howard Reingold explains how he uses dream incubation before going to sleep at night to review his surgical cases with the intention of practicing them while lucid dreaming.
Being a virtual reality simulation, the lucid dream world is an ideal place to practice life skills to enhance success.
Practice Reality Checks During Waking Life
In the 1950s pioneering European psychologist Paul Tholey said this about lucid dreaming: “If one develops a critical frame of mind towards the state of consciousness during the waking state – by asking oneself whether one is dreaming or awake – this attitude will be transferred to the dreaming state. It is then possible through the occurrence of unusual experiences to recognize that one is dreaming.”
Lucidity requires a high level of self-awareness in the dream state. To encourage this level of self-awareness while dreaming practice reality checks during waking life. During the course of the day repeatedly ask yourself “am I dreaming?” You can choose to follow that up with asking “how do I know?”
Asking yourself “am I dreaming?” a number of times a day primes your mind to perform that same reality check while dreaming. Once you’re self-aware, you’re lucid!
Another common reality check to practice during waking life is to look at the palms of your hands and study the details for a couple minutes — do this a number of times a day. Again, using this habit as a reality check can prompt the mind to do this while dreaming which creates that important bridge between the self-aware waking mind and the dreaming one. And, while dreaming, chances are your hands will do something weird like turn into gorilla hands or bird wings. Then you know you are dreaming so you’re definitely lucid.
Practice Reality Checks During Dreams Too
The first moment of success is when you recognize that you’re dreaming – Aha! But to be truly lucid you must hold the intention to extend that moment of consciousness long enough to stabilize the lucid state.
Once you have stabilized yourself within your first lucid dream, it’s pretty exciting. But it’s important to stay calm and simply explore your environment or you can destabilize the lucid state by waking up.
Here are several ways to stabilize the lucid state while dreaming. Choose your favorite to practice:
Say out loud “I’m dreaming!”
Look at the palms of your hands – study the details
Rub your hands together and feel the friction
Use a Light Alarm
Go online and purchase an alarm that is light-based versus sound-based. Set your new alarm for 4.5, 6, or 7 hours after you fall asleep. During REM sleep sound, touch, or other stimuli can make a dreamer aware of the fact they are dreaming but one study shows that LIGHT CUES are most effective for lucidity.
If Awakened, Stay Awake
If you awaken in the night one study shows that staying awake for somewhere between 30-60 minutes gives the highest chance of a lucid dream. Contemplate a dream, meditate, do a few stretches – the aim is to get your conscious mind active and alert, while your body is still full of sleep hormones. When you return to slumber, you will have created a bridge between the waking mind and the dreaming mind and primed yourself for lucid dreaming.
PERSPECTIVES ON LUCID DREAMING
These tips are a good start for lucidity but there’s a lot to learn to become a true devotee of lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming has gained in popularity and some people begin a practice of lucid dreaming without having committed themselves to exploring their dreams without lucidity. Here at My Dream Life we recommend that you start with at least some foundation in dream exploration before devoting yourself to lucid dreaming. One of the best ways to explore the world of dreams is with the DREAM DISCOVERY WORKBOOK: A GUIDED DREAM JOURNAL available here.
“I’d really rather be lucid!”
Many seasoned lucid dreamers and teachers have shared stories of their misuse of the lucid state before they integrated some principles of dream work into their dream explorations. Stephen LaBerge admits that when he first practiced lucid dreaming he used lucidity to fight off or flee from threats in his dreams. But why would you need to fight a dream demon — it is a dream, after all! The demon is a product of your imagination so why not find out what it’s doing here in your dream?
Charlie Morley, another lucid dreaming teacher, also tells a story of using lucidity to try to banish all nightmarish aspects from his dreams, even while teaching the method, because he believed he should have full control over dreams. Just one catch — his nightmares actually got worse.
Charlie took this dilemma to his Buddhist teacher who surprised him by advising him to do just the opposite. The spiritual teacher explained to Charlie that what he was attempting to banish from his dreams were actually disavowed aspects of himself that appeared nightly because he needed to understand them. Charlie’s spiritual teacher suggested that, if he dedicated himself to consciously integrating these aspects, a wellspring of creative potential would open up for him. Charlie took his advice and found it definitely true.
“Lucid dreaming provides a model for awakening. What is it like to awaken to a broader, deeper, fuller sense of reality?”
The experiences of Stephen and Charlie reflect the view here at My Dream Life that learning the principles and practice of dream exploration cultivates extraordinary depth of self-awareness and wisdom. That investment is a solid foundation for lucid dreaming exploration. To check out My Dream Life online dream group opportunities: DREAM CIRCLES
CELEBRATE LUCID DREAMING DAY WITH US
In 1980 Stephen LaBerge, featured in this blog’s video clip, convinced the scientific community that lucid dreaming is possible with his publication of results of a study on lucid dreaming while at Stanford. But it was actually April 12, 1975 that lucid dreamer Keith Hearne first signaled he was dreaming which scientifically validated that a person can know they are dreaming while in the dream. So APRIL 12 IS LUCID DREAMING DAY!
Let us know at My Dream Life your experiences with lucid dreaming: CONTACT US
In celebration of Lucid Dreaming Day, join us at My Dream Life to launch your dream discoveries: JOIN MY DREAM LIFE DREAM CIRCLES
Got your Dream Discovery Workbook? It’s a guided dream journal! Find out more here: DREAM DISCOVERY WORKBOOK: A GUIDED DREAM JOURNAL.
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“DREAM ON, DREAMERS!”
Video clip from Dreams: Cinema of the Subconscious
Dali painting: Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening
Dream Mentor & Dream Blog Author