Ian Parkin is the author of this post.
Learning how to lucid dream offers you unparalleled freedom and vivid experiences. As you hone the art of lucid dreaming, you step into a boundless world where every adventure feels breathtakingly real, leaving an indelible mark on your memory. This guide is designed to help you unlock the ability to consciously navigate and shape your dreams. There's an array of motivations to explore lucid dreaming - perhaps the sheer thrill of it! Even the simple act of flying within a lucid dream can offer an unparalleled surge of exhilaration. Lucid dreams stand out in their intensity and vividity, distinct from standard dreams.
When you venture into lucidity during dreams, opportunities abound:
Embarking on the journey of lucid dreaming not only promises exhilaration but also provides a unique platform for self-discovery and growth. Let's dive in!
When attempting some of these techniques, you may have some frightening experiences, such as falling or shaking sensations and even recurring nightmares. Although not dangerous, you should avoid the techniques that create these sensations if you would prefer not to experience them.
Additionally, the placebo effect has a major effect on dreaming. If you believe your dream characteristics will be dull and lifeless, they are far more likely to be so. If you believe they can be creative, original, and surprising, they are far more likely to be. Much of the content of your dreams is affected by the placebo effect. Remember that the easier you believe it is to dream lucidly, the easier it will to learn how to lucid dream.
Many of the techniques and “facts” presented here are not medically reviewed or backed up by researchers. This is not to say that these techniques do not work. With these lessons on how to lucid dream, you are conducting your own scientific research and will be getting your own experiences from which, you will be able to make your own judgments.
Each night, we spend about one and a half to two hours dreaming. We dream about once every 90 minutes of sleep. The time you spend in dreams becomes longer throughout the night, from about 10 minutes to around 45 minutes or slightly longer. But what happens when we sleep? The dreaming we remember is from this REM sleep period.
There are five stages of sleep: four stages of NREM (Non-REM) sleep, also called SWS (Slow-Wave Sleep), and one stage of REM (Rapid Eye Movements) sleep. The most vivid dreams, and therefore the ones we remember the most, occur during REM sleep (though we dream in other stages too). One sleep cycle is roughly 90 minutes long. While in REM sleep mode we are able to dream lucidly.
(NREM1) The first stage is a transition state between wakefulness and sleep. This is the stage that hypnagogic imagery occurs in. It usually passes into stage 2 within a few minutes.
(NREM2) During stage 2, the body gradually shuts down, and brain waves become larger.
(NREM3) Stage 3 usually occurs 30 to 45 minutes after falling asleep the first time. Large, slow delta brain waves are generated.
(NREM4) Stage 4 is often called “deep sleep” or “delta sleep”. The heart beats the slowest and there is the least brain activity. It is during this stage that sleepwalking usually occurs.
After stage 4, the NREM stages reverse and move back through stage 3 to stage 2, and then into REM sleep – the dream's center.
(REM) During REM sleep, some parts of the brain are nearly as active as while you’re awake. During rapid eye movement your eyes flicker rapidly (hence the acronym). Your body is paralyzed, probably to prevent you from acting out your dreams. Very vivid dreams and some slight conscious awareness of the dream is known as lucid dreaming.
After the REM state, (also known as the Alpha state of mind) you sometimes wake briefly. This is usually forgotten by the time you wake up in the morning. If you do not wake up, you go back to stage 2.
Waking up and getting to sleep.
Firstly, practice waking yourself up and then to going back to sleep just 10 minutes later. Probably the easiest method is a quiet alarm clock. You can put it on the other side of the room to force you up. However, you could also use the MILD lucid dreaming technique to try and wake yourself up immediately after your dreams. This should also help with your dream recall. You might want to drink lots of water or some tea, which is a diuretic (makes you go to the toilet). However, you might just wake up in the morning feeling extremely uncomfortable! Also note that the diuretic effects of tea come from caffeine, which may affect your ability to sleep.
If you have trouble getting to sleep in the first place, do not drink water for about an hour before you think you will turn your lights off. In fact, do drink water an hour before, to stop you from getting thirsty later. Avoid caffeine and sugar before bed.
If it still takes too long for you to fall asleep, you can take advantage of this by reading books about lucid dreaming before going to sleep. This could greatly increase your chances of getting a lucid dream. You need a light next to your bed to read until you are too sleepy to carry on, as getting up to turn the light off can often wake you up fully.
A great example of checking reality is shown in the Lucid Dream movie called WAKING LIFE. It is an animated feature movie in which Wiley Wiggins floats in and out of a series of philosophical discussions and ethereal experiences. Eventually we learn that Wiley is lucid dreaming throughout the film and is trying to gain control over his dreams. He uses the reality check of turning the light switch on and off as shown below. This is how Wiley Wiggins realizes he is lucid dreaming. It is a must-see movie if you are learning how to lucid dream.
So here are some reality checks to use while practicing your how to lucid dream lessons. Be familiar with the entire list even if you only use a few.
Whatever lucid dreaming techniques you use always choose a few reality checks which you will do regularly. Keep doing reality checks until you are convinced that you are not dreaming. You should always carry out more than one reality check. If you find that it is not a dream, look around you and think of what would be different if it was a dream. If you do this it will make it more likely that you will do a reality check in a dream.
Apart from doing reality checks throughout the day, you also need to do a reality check immediately after you wake up. This helps you become lucid in false awakenings when you begin to act out the following day in a dream.
If you have trouble bringing reality checks into your dreams then before going to bed imagine yourself in a dream, noticing odd details and doing a reality check. Then do a reality check in real life. If you do this a few times before bed you will find that you will do it more often in dreams.
If you are in a situation where you cannot do a reality check, such as at a public speaking, try to do one as soon as possible. You can do some reality checks very discreetly, such as feeling your fingers to make sure you have five. If you start to say “well, I can't do a reality check now” you should not be surprised when you make this mistake in a dream!
When you read through these lucid dreaming techniques, remember that different methods work for different people. There is no “best technique” and most how to lucid dream practices could be used to have 2 - 5 lucid dreams every night!
WBTB stands for “Wake-Back-To-Bed”.
Wake yourself up after 4 to 6 hours of sleep, get out of bed and stay up for anywhere between a few minutes to an hour before going back to bed. It is preferable that you do something related to lucid dreaming during this time (such as reading about lucid dreaming techniques), but it is not required. This is best combined with other lucid dreaming techniques; many people have amazing results with a MILD/WBTB combination.
The WBTB lucid dreaming technique significantly increases your chance of a lucid dream and using MILD (see below) in conjunction with it puts you at good odds if you are planning to sleep an hour or more after your WBTB session. However, you might need plenty of sleep time and therefore you may only be able to use it once or twice per month.
This lucid dreaming technique describes how to use autosuggestion to have lucid dreams. It can be especially effective for people who are highly susceptible to hypnosis, but for most people, MILD will probably be more effective.
As you are falling asleep, suggest to yourself that you will have a lucid dream either that night or soon. You can use a mantra (such as “I will recognize that I'm dreaming.”) if you want, but make sure you do not try too hard to get a lucid dream. Instead of putting intentional effort into the suggestion, try to genuinely expect to have a lucid dream. Let yourself think expectantly about the lucid dream you are about to have but be patient if you do not get one right away.
You could also use autosuggestion to improve dream recall. Just use the lucid dreaming technique, as described above, but instead of suggesting that you will have a lucid dream, suggest that you will remember your dreams when you wake up. You could also use a mantra with this, such as “When I wake up, I will remember what I dreamt.” Just be careful not to put too much intentional effort into the mantra - try to genuinely expect to remember your dreams instead.
This stands for 'Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams', or sometimes, 'Mnemonically Induced Lucid Dream'. The MILD lucid dreaming technique was developed by Stephen LaBerge and is described fully in his book Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming.
With the MILD lucid dreaming technique, as you are falling asleep, you concentrate on your intention to remember to recognize that you are dreaming. Repeat a short mantra in your head, such as “Next time I'm dreaming, I will remember I'm dreaming.” Think about what this means (i.e., that you want to remember that while you’re dreaming - in the same way you might go to a grocery store and suddenly remember that you need bread) and imagine that you are back in a dream you've had recently, but this time you recognize that you are dreaming. For example, imagine yourself flying and realizing that it is a dream because you are flying. Keep repeating and visualizing the mantra until you are sure that your intention is set in your mind, or you fall asleep. If you stop repeating and visualizing the mantra, then still try to make sure the last thing in your mind before falling asleep is your intention to remember to recognize that you are dreaming.
In general, the MILD lucid dreaming technique can be practiced when you first go to bed at night, or after you have awakened from a dream during the night. If you practice the MILD method after you have awakened from a dream during the night you should first run through the dream you have awakened from in your mind to ensure that you remember it. You may find it helpful to jot down a few notes about your dream in your dream journal.
Once you have committed the dream to memory, go back to sleep following the steps above, except this time visualize the dream you just had. Run through the dream until you encounter a dream sign that you originally missed. Now instead of missing the dream sign in your visualizations recognize the dream sign and become “lucid”.
Repeat these steps until you have fallen asleep, hopefully you will find that you have re-entered the dream that you just had and will recognize the dream sign you marked earlier and become lucid.
WILD stands for “Wake-Initiated Lucid Dream”, or “Wake-Initiation of Lucid Dreams” to refer to any lucid dreaming techniques that involve falling asleep consciously. These techniques are like self-hypnosis. Some people believe that WILDs are not actually normal dreams but are instead astral projection.
For most people, they are far easier to induce in the early morning after waking up or in afternoon naps, as the sleep cycle will continue with a REM period. Once you are experienced with inducing WILDs, you can try to induce them at other times.
For WILDs to occur, it is best for your body to be completely relaxed. When you go back to bed, lie down comfortably. Now tense and relax your body, starting from your shoulders and working downwards, then back up to the face. This should make your body feel slightly heavy and relaxed.
There are many ways to induce WILDs, but they all involve doing something to keep the mind awake as the body falls asleep.
If you pay attention to your physical body while using these lucid dreaming techniques, you will likely enter sleep paralysis (which usually happens after you are already asleep) without losing consciousness of your body. You will get a tingling and buzzing sensation (this might be unpleasant). These sensations might be so strong that you feel that you will die (e.g., you might feel a choking sensation), but do not worry, this is perfectly safe! Sometimes you can simply wait until you fall asleep straight into a lucid dream.
However, if you do not fall asleep, and you become completely paralysed (apart from your eyes), do not try to move. Imagine your dream hand (or spirit hand if you prefer) going up and leaving your physical hand behind. Now you should have two separate bodies, both a dream one and a real one. Control your dream body only - if you control your real one, you will wake up. Now you can try to roll out of bed into your dream world (alternatively, you can get up and walk through a mirror, or sink into your bed).
Try not to think about anything for more than a second or two by constantly switching your attention. This simulates your thinking patterns when you are about to fall asleep. Once you have done this for long enough, the images and sounds begin to take momentum on their own (this is called hypnagogic imagery) and get very strange and illogical. You should enter a dream at about this point, and you will probably become lucid quickly. Otherwise, you will eventually realise you have entered sleep paralysis consciously (see above).
Another lucid dreaming technique is to count to 100 in your head, optionally adding (for example) an “I'm dreaming” between each number. Alternatively, you can imagine going downstairs, and, on every floor, reading the floor number from 100 down to 0. Try to make this image as vivid as possible - include not only what you see, but also what you hear, feel (touch the banister), and smell. At some point this image should continue into a dream or you will begin to get sleep paralysis as described above.
To incubate a dream about a specific topic, you should first think of a phrase that summarizes that topic (e.g., “I want to go to Atlantis”). It may help to write the phrase down. If there is something you want to do in the dream, think of a phrase to summarize that too (e.g., “I want to watch Atlantis sink into the ocean”). If you want to become lucid in the dream, then you should probably write something like “When I dream of [the topic], I will remember that I'm dreaming” beneath your topic phrase. Immediately go to sleep and focus on your topic phrase. Visualize yourself dreaming about the topic and (if you want to become lucid) realizing that you are dreaming. If there is something specific you want to do in the dream, visualize yourself doing it once you become lucid (not likely to work if you do not become lucid in the dream). Think about your phrase and topic (and intention to become lucid) as you fall asleep.
Make sure that the last thing in your mind before falling asleep is your intention to (lucidly) dream about the topic you want to dream about. You might want to wake yourself up when the dream starts to fade so that you remember more of the dream; you can do this by ignoring your perception of the dream environment - the opposite of dream stabilization techniques (just make sure you do a reality check when you wake up to make sure you are really awake).
Dream-chaining or “chaining dreams” is a method to re-enter your dream after you have woken up. It can work for lucid and non-lucid dreams, but you will probably want to enter your dream lucid.
Once you wake up from a dream (if you don't think you were dreaming before you woke up, it may not work well) you should stay still and keep your eyes closed. It does not matter if you move a little or open your eyes, it is just that the less movement, sensory stimulation, and less time awake, the better. Ideally, it should feel less like you have woken up, and more like you have taken a 30 second break from dreaming.
Once you are prepared to go back to sleep, close your eyes and either visualize yourself back in your dream, or use the “spinning technique” given below to imagine yourself spinning back “into” your dream. Spinning is a little faster than visualization. Be sure to maintain the fact that you are dreaming (unless you do not want to be lucid), or you may lose your lucidity while falling asleep. Stimulate your senses as early as possible.
VILD stands for “Visual Induction of Lucid Dreams”, or sometimes, “Visually Induced Lucid Dream”.
First, make sure you are relaxed. You can use the relaxing technique mentioned in the description of the WILD method. You can also imagine your brain emptying out and becoming sleepier. If you have a hard time falling asleep quickly, it should help to read a book (preferably about lucid dreaming techniques) for a while before you go to sleep, until you feel very sleepy.
Now, you need to visualise a dream which you had prepared earlier. Here is an example of a prepared dream:
Make sure you know exactly what the dream would be like, such as which friend, the exact words they say, and which reality checks you do. Reality checks that require no props, such as books or clocks, are recommended. Visualise this dream slowly three times, to make sure that you know every detail. Then, start going full-on and visualise the dream over and over. You should visualise the dream as though you are looking through your own eyes, not from a third-person perspective. If you find your thoughts drifting, ignore them, and continue to visualise the dream continuously. You will need patience for this - do not just give up if you think it will not work.
When you dream this way, you will not notice the difference - until you do your reality checks! Continue with the dream as you incubated it (e.g., remember to thank your friend!) before continuing through the door.
LILD stands for “Lucid Induction of Lucid Dreams”, or sometimes, “Lucidly Induced Lucid Dream”.
To use this lucid dreaming technique, you need to have a lucid dream in the first place. The idea is to do something in your dream that will help you to become lucid the next time you are dreaming. For example, you could ask a dream character for help - ask them to meet you the next night and tell you that you are dreaming. If it works out the way it should, then the next time you are dreaming, the dream character will walk up to you and tell you that you are dreaming, and so you will (hopefully) become lucid.
There are many variations on this one; you could set up signs in your dream world that remind you to do a reality check. This lucid dreaming technique is not likely to be very effective, but it can work; it relies on the chance that you will subconsciously induce the reminder (i.e., the dream character or sign or whatever you used) during some later dream and become lucid because of it.
CAT stands for “Cycle Adjustment Technique”
Tibetan Buddhists practice what is known as Tibetan dream yoga. Probably one of the most time-consuming way of inducing lucid dreams, it is also, according to the practitioners, the most rewarding of all lucid dreaming techniques. The basic practice is awareness. Awareness should be practiced while sleeping just as well as while being awake. Meditating on the question “who is aware?” might catapult you into a higher degree of awareness. Keeping this level of awareness is another matter. The Tibetans have developed many yogic exercises and disciplines to be practiced.
Maybe the most interesting difference between Tibetan dream yoga and western lucid dreaming techniques is the Tibetan claim of the possibility to be aware during deep sleep, not only in the REM periods of sleep. If you are interested in these methods a good start is to begin to regard all experience as a dream. After all, from the countless multitudes of matter and radiation reaching our senses the nervous system tunes in to only a small fraction of this chaos. If you believe we create our own reality in the above sense this practice should feel natural. In general, though, it is recommended to get instructions from Andrew Holecek, a devout Buddhist practitioner and specialist teacher of lucid dreaming.
Many of these are combinations of the lucid dreaming techniques above with some addition or modification.
Slowing It Down
If the above lucid dreaming techniques are failing and you find your dream still fading, and you really want to continue your lucid dream, do the following:
You will have a false awakening and reality check, and then end up with an even more vivid lucid dream, or will really wake up, perform a reality check, and realize that you just woke up (unfortunately).
The most important part of this is the reality check. This is what will continue your lucid dream. You should be performing reality checks when you wake up. If you plan to induce false awakenings in order to stabilize a dream, the reality check that you perform as you wake up is as important as the one that got you lucid, if not more.
Perform every check in the list until you are positively, absolutely, and completely sure that you are not dreaming. A series of 10 reality checks are more likely to produce dream results in a dream, especially if you are expecting dream results. Again, this lucid dreaming technique is for those who are desperate!
If you did not do any of these, your best option is probably to try to wake up. That way, you will remember more of the dream.
The general rule of dream-stabilization is to stimulate the senses. If you listen for sounds, feel around with your hands, and pay attention to what you see and smell, you will stimulate your senses. The idea here is to load your senses with stimulation from the dream so that your senses cannot shift to the real world. If you close your eyes, you are removing a great deal of sensory information and might wake up. If you hear something loud in real life and are hearing nothing in the dream, your senses may shift to the real world, causing you to wake up.
Recovering From Lost Visuals
Getting Objects Into Your Dream
Here Are Some Methods To Help You Summon Objects:
Some people have also had success by closing their eyes and just imagining the object they desire in front of them, and when they open their eyes...
Remember to not doubt your control - your dreams are affected by the placebo effect. If you believe you can attempt extremely hard things in a dream, and have them occur and not wake up, you will have an easier time performing that action!
Write all your dreams and only your dreams
Ritualize your diary
Throughout the day
You can try remembering your dreams by “back-tracking” - start from the moment when you woke up and try to remember what you were doing before that. You may even be able to reconstruct your dream to the beginning.
If you find that many of your dreams are about certain items, such as cars and painting, then, if you are finding it hard to remember your dreams in the morning, think about whether you’re seeing any specific signs in a dream, in this case, cars and painting. You can even make a “dream lexicon” - a piece of paper with common dream items written on it, so you can read it every time you wake up.
Also, use the autosuggestion technique to improve your dream recall (see the full description of the autosuggestion technique in below).
Once you have a lot of dreams in your diary, you can start looking through it for dream signs. Common ones include flying, running to chase something, and being in an old house. However, it could be anything, such as crouching, skateboarding, or having one shoe missing! Try to look for these dream signs in real life and always do a reality check when you notice them.
Wiki - Lucid Dreams