As the lockdown continues, I found myself in need for a new absorbing hobby. For some reason unknown to me, when I was ordering books on Amazon, a book called A Field Guide to Lucid Dreaming was recommended to me and I spontaneously decided to go for it. I have heard of lucid dreaming before and I even tried the very simplest technique for a bit succeeding in getting lucid in one dream for literally a couple of seconds before waking up, but I never gave much more thought into it or really saw many advantages of even taking the effort to do it at all (and it is, I must say, a substantial effort). However, upon completing the book, I was sold on the idea and having been developing this skill for roughly two months now, I see even more surprising benefits to it than mentioned in the book, and not only from the lucid dreaming itself but also from practicing the techniques that help develop it. It being not such a popular or very well understood skill just yet, I would like to share with you the changes I saw in my life through the practice and perhaps inspire you to try it out for yourself.
Let’s start with what lucid dreaming actually is. A lucid dream is a dream in which you become fully aware that you are, in fact, in a dream. This, with practice, can give you the power to control the dream narrative and the behavior of dream characters, as well as do literally anything you can imagine – fly, go through material objects, construct complex designs in a matter of minutes, perform magic or ask your subconscious direct questions. However, in essence, the critical difference between a lucid dream and a regular dream is your awareness of being in a dream and not the ability to control it, as some people tend to think.
Lucid dreaming (also known as oneironautics) is essentially a skill anyone can develop with enough determination and commitment to the practice of lucid dream inducing techniques. Some people, especially children, can have lucid dreams occurring naturally. However, even when that’s the case, it’s super valuable to learn more about it to fully reap the benefits. In essence, most of us very likely had a lucid dream at some point in our lives but we simply might not remember it, just like many of our regular dreams. That is why one of the first things one needs to do in order to get on a path towards having lucid dreams is to improve their dream recall.
If you are one of those people who think they don’t have any dreams, you are wrong. We all have multiple dreams throughout the night – we simply tend to forget them within minutes or even seconds after waking up. This is because dream memory is stored in a different place in our brains than our waking life memory. Just like our regular memory, it needs to be practiced in order for it to become stronger and for our dream recall to become more and more detailed.
In order to improve your dream recall, what you need to do is to start a dream journal. It is truly very simple. All you need to do is to keep your journal and a pen on your nightstand and the moment you wake up, write down anything you can remember from your dreams. Even if you don’t remember anything, try to write something – perhaps you vaguely remember some kind of feeling or you can just jot down that you don’t remember any dreams. I noticed that for me, even if at first I don’t remember anything, simply stating in my mind an intention to recall my dreams works surprisingly well for the memories to start coming back. With time, you will notice that you start to remember more and more details and more and more dreams. I was quite astonished when on several nights I started recalling 5 or even 6 dreams! This alone brings some surprising benefits. The fact that you remember so much from your sleeping time has quite an astonishing effect on your sense of time. One of the first things I noticed was that time seemed to slow down in a sense. It feels a bit as if the 2 months have been passing very slowly and at the same time they were so packed with action for me. It’s like living two lifetimes at once and it feels absolutely incredible!
Another advantage of this is the more you pay attention to your dreams, the more interesting they become! I used to have rather dull dreams, resembling waking life in many aspects, however, when I started really paying attention to them and giving them more importance through writing them down, I noticed more creative elements appearing in my dreams. Even in my regular dreams, there is more magic, colorful, complicated artistic designs and carriages and just purely weird things that don’t seem to have that much connection to the events of my waking life. Through that alone, I feel more inspired, I have more creative ideas and just being in my regular dreams is a pure visual delight.
The second basic technique for inducing lucid dreams is to do reality checks throughout the day. If you seriously ask yourself throughout the day if you are dreaming and perform checks, such as looking at your hands or trying to push the fingers of one hand through the other (which in a dream would be possible), this habit will eventually slip through into your dreams and when you do that in a dream, you can realize that you are indeed in a dream and become fully aware. I modified this technique a little bit for myself to fit what works better for me and I turned it more into an awareness practice. The moment I ask myself if I am dreaming, I become fully aware of my surroundings and sensations. I look around, become fully present and see everything with more focus and vividness. This helped me realize a couple of times that I am dreaming in a very realistic dream that took place in my apartment as I noticed something that is not normally there. But, apart from helping me becoming lucid, this is also helping me become more fully in the moment in my waking life. The thing is, in our days we usually become so absorbed in what we are doing and what is happening or even in thoughts or smartphones, that sometimes days pass us by in an almost zombie-like state. We are there, but not really there, not fully absorbing the moments with all our senses. This then translates into our dreams as just as we’re barely aware in our waking life, our awareness is similarly zombified in our dreams and we do not realize that something as ridiculous as a flying elephant should not be there. This incredible awareness and feeling the moments with all my senses, has brought so much more joy and flavor to my life. I feel more grounded, more awake and my days seem to be passing slower as I am fully aware in them. I am also much less in a reactive more and so my actions are more thought through and reflective.
When you finally become lucid in your dreams, your dreams become much more vivid and you realize that the sensations you are feeling are truly indistinguishable to those in your waking life. It is an indescribable experience. The first time I tried flying in my dream, it just felt so real I had chills. I felt the wind against my skin, the sensation of getting lifted and moving through the air. It’s just an incredible experience in itself.
Some of the other benefits of lucid dreaming include the obvious opportunity to literally experience whatever you can possibly imagine and as I mentioned above, really experience it with all your sensations. Additionally, as dreams are crated by your subconscious, becoming aware in them gives you direct access to it and do things such as heal your subconscious wounds, ask your subconscious any question you might have or ask for inspiration. You can also use them to go deeper in meditation or reprogram your subconscious more easily and quickly for things such as confidence, creativity, feeling more worthy etc. Affirmations spoken in your waking life can take ages to get effective as they go through the filter of your judgement and learnt beliefs. Repeating them in dreams is like sidestepping that barrier and going straight to the source. You can also practice things like speeches or specific skills in your dreams and this can significantly improve them in your waking life as well!
I think lucid dreaming is a truly fascinating subject to explore, especially now that many of us have the extra time being more at home and don’t have the opportunity to change the environment so much. Well, with lucid dreaming, you could be anywhere you like and have as many adventures as you can imagine no matter what is happening in the world around you! I truly recommend, as a start, giving a go to dream journaling and the awareness practice. The benefits are priceless!
If you’re interested in learning more about this, stay tuned! I am planning to write a bit more about the topic and also restart my neglected Youtube channel with new videos on the specific techniques and my learnings on the path, as well as other topics in line with this blog.