PostsUnravelling The Ancient Art Of Lucid Dreaming
Posted 07/28/2014

The Wild World Of Dreaming

Experiencing the world created within our minds while we are asleep is a remarkable part of life. Within our dreams there is an astounding level of character depth, scenery, and plot. During most dreams, our consciouses mistake this synthetic model of the world for waking reality.

Dreams have been studied and respected across religions and cultures since ancient times. "For more than a thousand years, the Tibetan Buddhists have used lucid dreaming as a means of experiencing the illusory nature of personal reality." EWOLD p. 285 In The Bible, Joseph's son Jacob is an avid interpreter of dreams. Additionally, several highly respected individuals within modern society are lucid dreamers including James Cameron, Stephen King, and Nicola Tesla (see here for more).

We have the ability to experience 10+ dreams per night EWOLD p. 22 . Nonetheless, many people claim they never experience dreams. In actuality, everyone has dreams, but sometimes it takes practice to remember them. Sleeping occupys ~30% of our lives, and a large portion of that time is spent dreaming. Lucid Dreamers take contol of this time, and make the most of it.

Lucid Dreaming - Dreaming while knowing that you are dreaming ~ Tim Post @ Ted

An oneironaut is an explorer of the dream world. Such exploration is best done during a lucid dream. With practice, anyone can become an oneironaut.

Disclaimer

Conventional judgements and hesitations regarding Lucid Dreaming are typically out of ignorance. Lucid dreaming is safe and healthy for normal individuals. Refer to the book Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming to vet any doubts. Chapter 1 addresses many popular misconceptions regarding Lucid Dreaming.

This article summarizes my own perceptions, experiences, and the recommendations for lucid dreaming. Please inform doctors and psychotheraputic professionals of your experiments if you require specific advisement.

With that said...

I have found numerous benefits via the practice of lucid dreaming. My shortlist contains:

  1. Increase in overall mood
  2. Therapudic treatment of anxiety, mourning, and angst
  3. Enjoyment
  4. Chimerical Fulfillment
  5. Creative Outlet

This is your Call To Arms to try lucid dreaming for yourself, and to make your own opinions about the topic

My first lucid dream (illustrated here) occurred in 2007, during my freshman year of college. It took me several weeks of practice before it occured. Since then, I found the dream world poses myriad levels of both challenges and enlightenment.

Cornerstones of Lucid Dreaming

Each of the aforementioned aptitudes doubles as an isolated phase in my Personal Lucid Dreaming Ritual.

Enlightenment must come little by little - otherwise it would overwhelm. ~ Idries Shah
The skills can be refined in parallel, and improvement in one will mentally spark development of the others. Use baby steps, and come back and refer to this article as you make progress in each area.

Initiation

Always, no sometimes, think it's me, but you know I know when it's a dream. I think I know I mean a yes, but it's all wrong ~ John Lennon

Initiating a Lucid Dream is a huge hurdle aspiring oneironauts must clear. It is perhaps the most emotionally challenging part of the journey due to its frustrating nature. Finding the right initiation ritual for yourself is the key to success.

Dream Induced

The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance. ~ Nathaniel Branden

Dream Initiated Lucid Dreaming, or DILD, occurs when an oneironaut becomes lucid mid-dream. There are scores of ways to execute a DILD. Some are ancient teachings of Tibetean Buddhists; others have more modern roots. Chapter 3 of Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming outlines a buffet of methods for aspiring practitioners sample from.

I purchased Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming after already practicing for some time. As such, I concocted my own DILD methods before being privy to the formally defined versions. After reading the book I embraced the similarities and distinguished the differences between my method and the formally defined ones. This combination created The Anchored Refutal Technique.

The Anchored Refutal Technique

My personal method, The Anchored Refutal Technique, adopts parts of several methods mentioned in Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming , namely:

  1. Critical State Checking (EWOLD p.61)
  2. Reflection - Intention Technique (EWOLD p.70)

Additionally, it has its own secret sauce which differentiates it from any method mentioned in the book. Everyone is different, but this method yielded the best results for my practices.

Anchoring

DILD sometimes occur naturally, but lucid dreamers must seek to increase the frequency of recognition. This is accomplished by training the mind to habitually poll its current state (am I awake or asleep?). The more times this is asked during the day, the more likely it will be thought during a dream.

Anchoring is a technique that increases the number of reality checks that occur during the day. This is accomplished by piggybacking a reminder to occur in conjunction with a certain situation. Ergo, the reality check is anchored to that action or situation.

I often think I recognize someone I know while out and about, which is a great anchor.

For example, I often think I recognize someone I know while out and about. This happens multiple times per day, so I use it as an anchor.

Here are some anchors I have successfully used:

  1. Checking my cell phone
  2. Greeting someone
  3. Running
  4. Driving
  5. Being on vacation, or out of routine

Refutal

Once an anchor is triggered, the oneironaut should perform a reality(or state) check. Dream Refutal is my method of checking state.

Having a grasp on the differences between waking and dreaming worlds is the key to a refutal. If several reality checks are successful, then the dream state is successfully refuted. If the dream state cannot be disproved, then one should assume they are dreaming until they can prove they are not.

Here is a list of refutals I have used successfully:

  1. Waking life prevents movement of limbs through walls and doors
  2. Waking life restricts time to be constant, so clocks should not change sporaticly
  3. Waking life restricts events to be built in sequence, so you should be able to recall where you came from
  4. Waking life objects somewhat static, so words should not morph on a page.
  5. Waking life dopplegangers are rarely the actual person. In the dream state places often contain famaliar faces.

Lucid wikia's Reality Check Page is the original list I referred to when starting to experiment with state checking.

Wake Induced

Unlike the DILD, conscousness is maintained when initiating a WILD (Wake Induced Lucid Dream). WILD techniques came easier to me, but for most oneironauts the DILD methods are easier to master.

Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming provides a wide range of WILD strategies that range from pragmatic to spiritual. I have successfully used, and can recommend the following:

  1. Hynagogic Imagery Technique EWOLD (p. 98)
  2. Dream Lotus and Flame Technique EWOLD (p. 104)
  3. Twin / One / No Body Techniques EWOLD (p. 108 - 115)

As was the case for the DILD, I did not read Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming when I started my WILD experiments. As such, I devised my own frankenstein ritual for WILD induction. I call it the Diving Board Technique. I later found that it is a consice cross between techniques outlined in Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming :

  1. 61 Point Relaxation Technique EWOLD (p. 54 / 56)
  2. Twin Body Meditation EWOLD (p. 108)
  3. Dream Lotus Meditation EWOLD (p. 104)
  4. Autosuggestion EWOLD (p. 81)
  5. Count Yourself To Sleep EWOLD (p. 103)

I approach the ritual by mentally cascading through three sequential steps while maintaining conscousness:

  1. Relax / Enter Sleep Paralysis
  2. Enhance Hypnogogic Imagery
  3. Induce The Dream State

The following sections outline each of the aforementioned steps.

Relax / Enter Sleep Paralysis

There are two focus points to that need to be achieved during this phase: Stay Conscious, Relax The Body. Both progress simeltaniously.

Stay Conscious

As an audiophile, I naturally leverage music to keep my mind awake while my body goes to sleep. Here are some albums that worked for me:

Turn off repeat, and let the album play through to the end. Afterward do not remove the headphones because it will wake you up.

Relax The Body

During this period, get comfordable, and keep movement to a minimum. Focus should be on relaxing the entire body and mind. I have had best practiced using self hypnosis methods, and the 61 point relaxation technique, but am not married to any specific method.

Sleep paralysis can be recognized by numbness of the body, or a sensation of the bed spinning. The best case scenario is to reach sleep paralysis during this stage. However, if the body is not in sleep paralysis just continue anyway as you are relaxed enough after 15-30 minutes of relaxation.

Enhance Hypnogogic Imagery

WILD induction takes an extreme level of focus. Extereme care must be taken to keep the mind from wandering. A wandering mind it will pull you into a non-lucid dream.

Meditative practice can assist the oneironaut during this phase. There are several ways to hang onto conscious while falling asleep. Chapter 4 of Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming recommends several approaches; many of which come from eastern religious gurus.

My prefered method is to hold my focus on hypnogogic imagery, the mental visualizations seen when falling asleep. The imagery ranges from colored spots to full dream scenes. Focusing on hypnogogic imagery is a key step to the diving board technique.

Letting images fritter away is key during this process. Too much focus on any single image will cause awakening. However, letting them flow too freely will make you lose your train of thought (slip into a normal dream). Due to this duality, this is the hardest part of WILD induction.

Once this imagery is somewhat shaped, move to the next step.

Diving Board Technique

The Diving Board Technique smoothly carries its practitioner from viewing hypnogogic imagery into a fully lucid dream. Follow these steps to execute The Diving Board Technique.

Prepare a mental image of youself standing on a diving board peering into the water
  1. Prepare a mental image of youself standing on a diving board peering into the water
  2. This board should have a high elevation
  3. Bob your body up and down on the board
  4. Synergize the rise and fall of both your body and your breath
  5. Sense gravity as you fall down, and spring back into the air
  6. As imagery becomese more vivid note its presense (texture and color of board, ripples of the water, your feet etc.)
  7. Captivate your imaginary senses (smell and taste the salt or chlorene, feel texture of the board at your feet)
  8. Carry Through to induction...

Induce the Dream State

When the mind is flirting with entry into the dream state, give it a push (induce the lucid dream). WILD techniques vary in their ways of dispatching the dream. The following is the transition offered by the Diving Board Technique:

  1. Once hypnagogic imagery is vivid JUMP or DIVE off of the diving board
  2. Feel the body as it is pulled slowly by gravity toward the water
  3. When the body penetrates the surface use imaginary senses to feel the body submerge in the water
  4. Swim to the surface, which will be the dream world
  5. If it failed, then do a 61 Point Relaxation EWOLD (p. 54 / 56), and repeat steps two (Enhance Hypnagogic Imagery) and three (Induce The Dream State).

Control

Lucid Dreaming is like Homer's Odyssey. It takes a Herculean effort to make the journey into the world, and there is still a battle awaiting when you arrive.

Lucid dreams are equally stubbourn and brittle, especially for beginners. Perhaps the greatest difficulty in the process is staying awake during DILD recognition. Excitement from the realization awakens the dreamer from the world, so the oneironaut must always remain calm when within a lucid dream.

A level emotional state must persist throughout the lucid dream. Attempts to control the dream in any way should not be conducted until emotions are level. One method to calm the senses is The Spinning Technique, outlined within EWOLD on page 161. In a nutshell, the dreamer should spin in circles to maintain lucidity.

Once excitement is controlled, then the oneironaut is freely encouraged to attempt to control the dream if they desire. Interestingly, just because anything CAN be done in dreams doesnt mean you will be able to do it immediately. My personal experiences unraveled a progression of feats that gave me a great control of the dream world. This section will provide tips for the feats which are: Flying, Transposing, and Materializing.

Failed attempts at these feats can be frustrating. Frustration can wake the dreamer if felt too passionately. As such, quickly attempt them, but after failure just enjoy the dream for what it provides.

Flying

Here is my prescription for flying. It may differ from others, but has given me personal success:

  1. Jump off something with a running start (if possible)
  2. Ensure a horizontal position (like a plane). I have difficulty flying vertically. Most of my success comes when mimicking Wingsuit BASE Jumping

Transposing

This skill is harder to master than flying. To Transpose from one location to another, I use my own Barrell Roll Technique.

Note: This is similar to the Spinning Technique suggested in Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming (p. 161)

The techinique is as follows:

  1. Find a corner in a room and run toward it
  2. When about 3 feet away do a diagonal front flip into it
  3. Imagine where you would like to appear

Materializing

Materializing objects and people is even harder than transposing. Furthermore, attempts to materialize may wake beginners up. There are two forms of materialization, and I have a method for each.

People

  1. Find a phone (or cell phone), and call the person
  2. Talk for a while, and then close your eyes while talking
  3. Open them after a second or two and the person will most likely be there with you talking

Objects

  1. Same idea as the phone technique, but I use cabinets instead
  2. Believe that an object is within a nearby cabinet or locker
  3. Open the cabinet and the item will be within

Recall

you should be able to recall at least one dream per night before attempting lucid dream induction techniques. ~ EWOLD p. 7

How many dreams do you remember? To master lucid dreaming you need to recall at least one per night. Dream recall is important for the following reasons:

  1. Increase Vividness Of Dreams
  2. Identification Of Dream Signs
  3. Remember All Lucid Dreams

How To Increase Dream Recall

He will fly away like a dream and not be found; he will be chased away like a vision of the night. ~ Job 20:8

Training yourself to remember dreams hinges upon informing your mind of their importance to you.

Start a dream journal.

It is a strange habit, but the most effective way to increase dream recall. Have it ready to write down the dreams you remember. Dont fret lack of recall when starting, as it will pick up as time goes on. I began by only remembering about one per week, but now recall multiple every night.

You may start to remember only trickles or emotions of dreams, but write them down. After a while you will remember long epics that can take up multiple pages. Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming has a ton of information on the best practices when it comes to dream journalling.

Analysis

After collecting a number of dreams it is important to analyize them to recognize patterns. These patters can be used to increase dream recognition as noted in earlier sections.

Once several dreams have been collected, read them over. Notice recurring patterns. Note their overlap or lack within real life.

Conclusion

I hope this serves as a great guide to take you to places you never dreamed you could go (pun intended). Refer back to it as needed, and remember that this is an investment that takes time. If you do nothing else, purchase Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming and read it. That book will give you all the information you need to get started with lucid dreaming.

I also listed some other lucid dreaming resources I have used at the bottom of this article.

Resources

I only recommend products I use and endorse. If you choose to take my recommendations please use the following links, so I can recieve affiliate credit. If I do not have affiliate links to your favorite site, please let me know so I can use them in the future.

Books

  1. Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming
  2. Wizard Of Oz
  3. Alice In Wonderland

Dream Logs

  1. Evernote
  2. Ubernote
  3. Dropbox

Movies

  1. Waking Life
  2. Vanilla Sky
  3. Inception

Music

  1. Binaural Beats
  2. Dark Side Of The Moon
  3. Music For Deep Meditation