Chapter Three - What is lucid dreaming?
Read the signs, dangers and advantages of controlling lucidity in your dreams.
Lucid dreaming is basically dreaming while being aware that you are dreaming. If you are in a lucid dream, you will usually have some power over your dream — anything from being able to fly or making an object or room appear behind a door or inside a pocket, right up to being able to change into animals and create a whole world! It is like being a director of your own movie.
Lucid dreams have been scientifically proven to exist.
Stephen LaBerge, of The Lucidity Institute, [lucidity.com] used a special machine to track eye movements during a dream (these are linked to your eye movements within the dream). He asked lucid dreamers to point their eyes left and right in quick succession and this movement was recorded on the machine. More information on this and other experiments of Stephen Laberge are in his book Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming.
There are plenty of reasons you might want to lucidly dream: Simply for fun! Just flying in a lucid dream is an exhilarating feeling. Lucid dreams are generally far more intense and vivid than most non-lucid dreams. You can use a lucid dream to wind down after a long day.
What is lucid dreaming? Transforming into animals or getting superpowers is a unique experience that is hard to get any other way.
A major part of “training” for lucid dreams is improving your dream recall, that is, how many dreams you can remember.
What is lucid dreaming used for? If you are particularly interested in dreams — either in psychology, spirituality or in psychic studies — trying lucid dreaming could help you in your research.
If you're writing fiction or even creating a world for a computer game, you may also be asking “what is lucid dreaming to me?” Lucid dreaming can help you visualise your project idea as if you were actually in the story or game. You could ask your characters how they feel about something or what they think will happen.
Some people compose music in their lucid dreams.
Lucid dreams can be realistic enough to rehearse a speech or musical performance.
You can relive previous dreams or experiences.
They can help in dream interpretation and communicating with your subconscious
This is very rarely actually the case (though sometimes it is in nightmares). Usually it is just your memory which treats you as though it were beyond your control. If you become lucid in a dream where you have a body, you will almost always be able to control your body. However, you might not manage to do anything else. Don't worry, though — most people have no problem with jumping very high or flying in a lucid dream!
On the other hand, parts of your brain are less active while dreaming, which can lead to dream/trance logic and sometimes choices you will later regret. For example, you might choose to continue your lucid dream, although you know that once you wake you will only remember half of it. Once you wake up, you may wish that you had stopped your dream. Another example is of somebody who dreamt they were sitting next to Mother Theresa. They wondered if they might be dreaming, thinking isn’t Mother Theresa dead?. They then concluded that she was obviously right next to them and therefore alive, and that it wasn’t a dream!
There are differing views on this. Some people claim to have organised shared dreams or precognitive dreams through lucid dreaming. Others say these are simply created in the brain like any other dream, something like self-hypnosis. What is lucid dreaming to a psychic? Most psychics will be able to relay prophecies from their lucid dreams.
This completely depends on the person and circumstances. Some people have a lucid dream just a few nights after finding out about it (usually by accident), while some people can take months! If you don't get enough sleep or feel too stressed after work to try techniques, then it may take a long time, especially if you expect it to. It will also depend on how much effort you put in. However, everybody has the ability to dream lucidly so keep asking yourself, “what is lucid dreaming?” until you know from your own experiences.
It is quite rare to have regular lucid dreams naturally, although most people have had a lucid dream at some point in their lives. If you want to increase the frequency of your lucid dreams, carry on reading through these web pages.
In general, a lucid dream is defined as a dream in which you know you are dreaming at some point, regardless of anything else. Even if you were lucid one second but lost your lucidity, it is still technically a lucid dream. However, this can be a little misleading. Sometimes you dream that you fall asleep and have a lucid dream! This is often thought of as a sign that you will have a proper lucid dream soon, as your mind is asking what is lucid dreaming a lot of the time.
Signs you were lucid
Signs you were not lucid
While there is no current evidence of lucid dreaming being abnormal or unhealthy in any way, there are a few things you should be aware of that could occur as a result of practicing lucid dreaming techniques. These possible side effects have been outlined for you below. Please don’t let this scare you away from this wonderful tool; rather, remember that with dreams you are dealing with your own subconscious mind, and recklessness is not recommended.
Alienation: Many people have never even asked what is lucid dreaming, much less ever experienced it. Some people are also less than open-minded and receptive to new ideas. Don’t be surprised if someone considers this whole phenomenon “weird” or “crazy” (which it is not). Don’t preach, either; it’s not your job to absolutely convince everyone.
Often people who spontaneously lucid dream, especially children, may find it surprising that not everyone does. They may even start thinking that they are the only person in the world who has lucid dreams. If they’re worried, the best support is to let them know that they’re not alone, and they’re not abnormal.
Addiction: Lucid dreaming can be used for different purposes. Some may want to try it just for fun, using it as a "safe drug", or a personal virtual reality machine. Having fun is a fully valid reason to experience what is lucid dreaming. However, be careful not to be addicted to this way of escaping your waking life. If you find that you are spending more time asleep than actually needed, or that you are thinking more about lucid dreams than your real waking life, take a break.
Dissociation: Lucid dreaming may weaken the borders between waking and dreaming, the conscious and subconscious mind, reality and fantasy. This might lead to problems of a disassociative nature. Probably the most common form of dissociation involves having problems distinguishing what is lucid dreaming and what are your waking memories. Everyone who recalls at least one dream will have to sort out what is lucid dreaming from what is reality in the morning. This can really be a problem for those who have previously had zero recall and, due to lucid dreaming, have had a major uptake in what is lucid dreaming recall. Now, suddenly, they have all these excess, illogical memories to sort out. This is unlikely to be a major problem, but may be a big annoyance.
However, there are signs that you should watch for that indicate a bigger problem may be developing. Lucid dreaming in itself should not cause these to appear in a waking state:
If this has happened, and there is no other cause (e.g. drugs), take a break from lucid dreaming for a while. In fact, take a break from just asking what is lucid dreaming for a while, at least until symptoms stop.
Creating Bad Habits or Becoming a Control Freak. When lucid dreaming, you have the option to control the dream world in ways that are impossible in the waking world. You can, for example, make objects appear or disappear, or make people act according to your will. Some people believe this may lead your subconscious to desire this kind of control in the waking world, where it’s highly inappropriate. Also, you might be tempted to apply what is lucid dreaming solutions to waking-life problems instead of actually facing them; for example, just willing bad things to go away or escaping or destroying them by superpowers. Again, this is probably more of a problem if you are not mentally stable at the outset of what is lucid dreaming process.
Accidentally Encountering “Spiritual” Entities. This depends on your worldview. If you are a psychic-junkie like me, you will be looking forward to meeting entities in the psychic realm. However if you see dreams as a creation of your brain and nothing more, you don’t need to worry about spirits or anything similar. If you want to be on the safe side, treating objects in your lucid dream decently and politely won’t do you any harm.
“What is Lucid Dreaming Compared to Astral Projection?” If you often enter a “dream world” after leaving your body, that is basically the same as the method called Wake-Initiation of Lucid Dreams. Keep in mind that many people believe that an “astral projection” or an “out-of-body experience” is actually what is lucid dreaming. Whether these PSI Phenomena are real or just the creative content of your dreams, learning to lucidly dream will expand the variety of your experiences.
“What is Lucid Dreaming Compared to Self-Hypnosis?” If, during self hypnosis, you often enter a “dream world”, that is basically the same as what is lucid dreaming, it’s the method called Wake-Initiation of Lucid Dreams.
“If These Are So Similar, Why Learn Lucid Dreaming and Not Self-Hypnosis or Astral Projection?”
Here are some reasons:
Everybody can understand what is lucid dreaming. Most people have already had a lucid dream. Self-hypnosis is not fully understood and no single theory about astral projection is accepted in the astral projection community.
Hypnosis has many negative connotations for some people. This is mostly from myths in books and films, but some people remain afraid of hypnosis.
If you don’t believe in Psychic Phenomena, you will likely be much more comfortable reading books about lucid dreaming than those on astral projection.
In contrast with self-hypnosis, much material answering the question, what is lucid dreaming, is available free. This website for instance - so use it to your best advantage!