"How do I lucid dream!?"
That's a great question! The key to lucid dreaming is being able to distinguish when you are dreaming vs. when you are awake.
Simple enough, right? Well...not so fast.
If you've never had a lucid dream, you may be wondering, "How am I supposed to know when I'm dreaming? In all of my dreams, I just accept the dream reality as real. I don't question it and I don't realize it's a dream until after I wake up!"
You are unlikely to recognize that you're dreaming because you don't question this waking reality. Most of us go through the day on autopilot with a million thoughts running through our heads. We don't take the time to step back and really observe what's going on. The best way to break through is by developing lucid awareness.
Lucid awareness means to be clearly aware or cognizant. It's the ability to perceive and be conscious of your surroundings and situation.
When you practice lucid awareness you are able to notice whether you are dreaming or awake. It's as simple as asking yourself "Am I dreaming?" and analyzing your environment to find out.
Here are two ways to dramatically improve your lucid awareness:
Mindset. Have the mindset that you will be more aware of when you are awake vs. when you are dreaming. Do this by getting in the habit of asking yourself questions like:
Take a moment right now to answer all of these questions. Put some real thought into this.
Meditation. Find a quiet place and sit in a comfortable, upright position. Close your eyes and take a 3 deep breaths. Now focus on your breaths. Anytime you get distracted, simply come back to focusing on your breathing. Start out by doing this for 2-5 minutes right before going to sleep. Eventually work your way up to 20-30 mins.
The goal is to release your thoughts one by one, thus increasing your awareness. You don't need to be a Zen master or have years of practice to notice the benefits. You should feel more relaxed, centered, and in touch with the present moment.
One of the most important things you can do to have a lucid dream is to start remembering your dreams. This is called dream recall.
If you can't remember what your dreams feel like, where they take place, or even who appears in them, how can you expect to know when you're dreaming?
The easiest way to improve your dream recall is with a dream journal. Get in the habit of writing down your dreams every time you wake up from one. Jot down the key points: names, locations, emotions, what you were thinking, etc. Don't let your dreams slip away forever...write them down!
When you have at least a dozen entries in your journal, go back and read through them. Highlight the different locations, people, objects, actions, emotions, etc. Start to notice patterns. The most common occurrences are your dream signs. They will be used from now on to notice if you are dreaming or not.
To help you discover your dream signs, here are some of mine:
The next time you notice one of your own dream signs, ask yourself "Am I dreaming?"
When was the last time you made a mental note like "I need to stop by the store on my way home tonight" or "I need to take the trash out on Wednesday night" and you remembered it, no problem?
You can use a similar process of making mental notes to help induce lucid dreams. The idea is called dream incubation.
Dream incubation is a method for setting your intention before you fall asleep and having that intention manifest in your dreams. Here's a simple example:
Still with me? Because it's time for the fun stuff!
Now that you know the basics, we can explore some powerful lucid dream induction methods. There are several different ways to induce a lucid dream and each way has it's own step-by-step process that takes out a lot of the guesswork.
Below are a few well known techniques. Don't get scared off by their names, they're actually really easy to do.
I strongly encourage you to choose just one lucid dream technique and experiment with it for a few weeks. Get experience with one before switching to another. Those who are least successful try a technique only a few times before switching to another one (or give up altogether).
Have you ever had to pinch yourself to make sure you weren't dreaming? Well, you were performing a reality check.
Reality checks are simple tests that are used to determine if you are awake or dreaming. Since our reality is bound by physical laws, such as gravity, it is easy to tell if you are dreaming by performing one of these reality checks:
If you were dreaming, your finger would be able to pass through the wall, the light probably won't be affected by the switch, and the word you looked at would probably have changed in some way.
Choose one or two reality checks to perform the next time you think you're in a dream.
When I was 10 years old, I started having recurring nightmares that a tribe of Indians was taking over my backyard. They would surround me and intimidate me, night after night. Because of the repetitive nature of these nightmares, one night I realized that I was dreaming.
This was a revelation to me! From that experience, I quickly learned how to talk with dream characters, confront my fears, and wake up from within the dream.
I've experienced countless lucid dreams since then and I know that you will too. You just have to experience that first one and the floodgates will open!
Set a goal to have a lucid dream in the next three weeks. Some of you will have one on your first try tonight and others will take several months. But it will happen. You are well on your way.
Surround yourself with the topic of lucid dreaming through books, articles, videos, meetups, seminars, etc. to help you stay excited and increase your chances of having a lucid dream.
Remember, people have been having lucid dreams for thousands of years. Don't make it harder than it really is. Learn from your attempts and try not to make the same mistake twice. Have fun along the way!