How & Why I Learned to Lucid Dream
Confession… I love to lucid.
I love many things about dreams, and — yes — among my favorites is the ability to get lucid.
I started to explore lucid dreams in 2014, after stumbling upon a book titled ‘Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self,’ by Robert Waggoner. The author’s lucid dreams were so profound and amazing. I found myself wanting to experience what it’s like to consciously awaken in my dreams.
As a child I’d had a dream where I was running from a monster and suddenly realized it was a dream. I remember the relief I felt as I willed myself awake. Albeit short-lived, I’d technically had a lucid dream.
But I’d never considered lucid dreaming to be something you set out to do. I figured it either happened or it didn’t. I’d also not thought about all the remarkable things one can do while lucid in their dreams. After reading Waggoner’s accounts, I decided I wanted to learn how to lucid dream, too.
I quickly discovered that there’s a lot of material written about the science of lucid dreaming, as well as common practices used for getting lucid in dreams. I began studying the topic and started trying the various techniques.
Within days of setting my intent I had an incredible lucid dream:
It started as a false awakening. I was waking up, feeling bummed that it was morning and that I’d not had a lucid dream. Music was playing in the background, which seemed rather odd. I then noticed that the fireplace was in the hall. Hey, that doesn’t belong there, I started to think. And that’s when I realized I was inside a dream.
As excited as I immediately became, I’d been preparing myself for this moment and knew I might quickly wake if I didn’t remain calm. I wanted to focus on the goal I’d set, which was to take flight. I proceeded to fly seamlessly through the patio door and way up into the sky.
This wasn’t like anything I’d ever experienced. Being consciously present while in dream flight was pure euphoria. The cool wind blasting my face… the sensation of the speed… the sheer thrill of knowing I was co-creating inside my dream — I’d never felt more alive!
It was love at first flight. I immediately knew that I love to lucid and I wanted to lucid dream again, soon!
I figured I was a natural, having had a lucid dream after only a few nights of giving it a try. But I would then go weeks without having another, even though I was putting in a lot of focused effort. It was going to require persistence and determination to go lucid dreaming again.
Although lucidity would commonly elude me, I kept up with the practices and started having a lot of success. I was loving how it felt to bring my waking consciousness into my dreams. Every new lucid experience would boost my desire and motivate me to continue on my quest.
Before I knew it, two years had gone by and I could count over 200 lucid dreams in my journals. I’d captured in writing my entire adventure — the goals I’d set, the attempts I’d made, the steps I was taking, and the lessons learned. My lucid dreaming bucket list was dream-by-dream being fulfilled.
Now I was, admittedly, a girl obsessed. Dreams had always been a focal point in my life and I’d just discovered an alternate state of consciousness. I hadn’t known this kind of experience existed in dreams. It was among the coolest things I’d ever done. I was hooked, at least for a nice long stint.
My practice, these days, enjoys a much more balanced dreaming approach. When lucid dreams naturally come along, I welcome them with open dream arms. But, I would never give up my unconscious dream life. It’d be no good to bring my waking consciousness into all my dreams.
At the end of my 2-year lucid dream immersion, I was back to paying more attention to my non-lucid dreams. I appreciate how central to my well being they are. For a lifetime they’ve astounded me for the incredible aha’s and inspirations they reveal.
Still, I relish in the thrill of a good lucid dream.
I find it empowering and fun to awaken in my dreams. It’s like landing into a magical wonderland of play. What’s so amazing is how the dream reacts to my awareness and always plays right back.
But my enjoyment for lucid dreams goes beyond pure play. Once I got my fill of fun, I began to see how enlightening and spiritually-uplifting these dreams can be.
That’s why I continue to strive for a healthy dose of lucid in my dream life.
Been wanting to add some lucid to your dream journey?
There’re a lot of techniques for incubating lucid dreams. (I feel like I’ve tried them all!)
In my experience, there are four tips that are tops for improving dream lucidity. These are the essentials I focus on for my own lucid dream boost.
My Top 4 “I want to lucid dream” Tips
#1 – Journal Your Dreams
Your dream journal is essential for lucid dreaming.
For starters, writing your dreams helps you build your dream recall, which is pretty important if you want to enjoy lucid dreaming. By taking time each morning to journal your dreams (or the mere fact you had none), you’re sending a message to your subconscious mind to remember more dreams. Once it gets the message, it’ll comply.
The other great reason for writing your dreams is that you can mine them for dream clues. You see, we each have our own personal symbols and themes that repeat in our dreams. Being aware of your dream clues is a great way to figure out that you’re dreaming.
When i first started doing this, I’d been dreaming a lot about being bit by a dog. There were also a lot of celebrities surfacing in my dreams and more than my fair share of technology issues (like my phone not working). These are perfect examples of dream clues I could use.
Be on the lookout for any time your clues surface in your life. Their presence is a prompt to ask, “Am I dreaming?”
Which leads me to the next clue:
#2 – Question Reality
“Reality Checks” are important if you want to get lucid in your dreams.
There are some who can keep a level of awareness through the entire falling asleep process and the dream eventually unfolds before them. They immediately know it’s a dream, because they never became unconscious. This is called a “wake-induced-lucid-dream,” and I found it to be among the most difficult things to do.
The common approach, which I found attainable, is to catch yourself mid-dream. For this, reality checks are key.
It’s a leap to actually wonder, “Is this a dream or waking life?” That seems like a nutty thing to do. “Of course I’m not dreaming,” is the assured and immediate assertion. Ah, but that’s what your dreaming self believes too. Until you check, perhaps you shouldn’t be so sure…
Your hands provide a popular and effected reality check.
Your hands are always with you, so they’re a pretty reliable choice. Simply hold them up and look at them closely. If you’re in a dream they’ll start to morph. When your fingers start blending together or twist around in contorts, it’s a pretty good sign you’re not in Kansas (or wherever your reality is) anymore.
Here are some other reality checks:
- Plug your nose. If you can still breath through it, you’re in a dream.
- Look at a digital clock, then look away and back again. In dreams, the display will change.
- Read anything, look away and then back. In dreams, the words won’t stay the same.
- Jump. If you’re dreaming, you’ll probably float up.
Get consistent with your reality checks and it’s only a matter of time before one will surprise you and confirm you are, indeed, inside a dream.
#3 – Practice Mindfulness
Lucid living leads to lucid dreams.
It’s estimated that the average person spends nearly 50% of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing. No wonder lucidity alludes us. We’re living unconsciously, even when we’re not asleep!
The best way to wake in your dreams is to be more aware in your waking life.
A mindful meditation practice will turbo-boost your lucid dreaming powers, not to mention the improvement it will have on your waking life.
Take this at the level and pace that’s right for you.
For some, sitting cross-legged and chanting is a practice they love to do. If that’s not you, there are plenty of ways to increase your level of mindfulness. Here are some things you can try:
- Deep Breathing: Take some slow, full breaths and release your worries or thoughts with every exhale. Focus solely on the breath, even if just for a minute or two.
- Walking Meditation: Out in the neighborhood, a park, or your own backyard… become aware of your every step. Can you hear the birds chirp as you go by? A simple walk is a great mindfulness practice.
- Arts & Crafts: There’s nothing quite like an art project to take your mind completely out of left-brained mode and into the present. Whatever your medium of choice and regardless of your skill-level, playing with your art is a wonderfully mindful thing to do.
- Soak into mindfulness: If you’re not into sitting cross-legged for a meditation, how about supine in the tub? That’s pure magic and a perfect time to be in the moment. A warm bath’s also a fabulous way to set yourself up for a great night’s sleep.
Integrate mindfulness into your day to experience more lucid dreams at night.
#4 – Wake-Back-to-Bed
This popular lucid dream practice creates a disruption to your slumber. But it works!
After 5-6 hours, you’ve moved into your heaviest REM cycle of sleep. Your dreams are now in overdrive, which makes it a perfect time to get lucid.
The practice is pretty simple, it’s the doing it that feels hard:
- Wake after 5-6 hours of sleep. Set an alarm clock if you must and drag yourself out from under those blessed covers.
- Stay up for 15- 30 minutes. You’re wanting to stir your consciousness, while not becoming wide awake. Keep the lighting soft and journal, read, or meditate.
- Then, it’s back-to-bed. Affirm to yourself: “While I’m dreaming, I will realize I’m dreaming,” and let yourself fall back asleep.
After this practice, your consciousness will be much more inclined to make an entrance into your dreams. It’s an incredibly effective lucid dreaming practice.
If you decide to venture off to lucid land, I hope these ideas assist your journey.
Love to lucid dream too? Been setting out on a lucid journey? Let us hear from you. What’s been your experience and do you have a tip to share? Add your comments at the bottom of the page.