Dreams: An Introduction To Inducing Lucid Dreams

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By Robert Waggoner

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Lucid dreaming is a relatively simple, yet truly profound, type of dreaming. It can be learned by anyone who has the ability to remember their dreams and the non-conflicted desire to become aware in their dreams. It is simple and it is profound, because it suggests that you can continue your conscious awareness in the dream state, and make conscious actions and decisions in the dream state. You can fly. You can make objects and characters appear and disappear. You can ask the dream to tell you what the dream symbols represent. You can experiment.

Simply stated, “lucid dreaming” means that you are consciously aware in the dream state that you are dreaming. At that point, you should be able to consciously influence the direction of the dream and your actions within it.

If you develop your lucid dreaming abilities, you should be able to interact with the dream state in such a way that you will convince yourself of the incredible potential and creativity of the inner self, the psyche. In essence, you may develop an awe-inspiring appreciation of the unknown base that supports the known or conscious you. By lucid dreaming, you will expand your view of your “self”, and learn to question deeply the nature of dreaming and waking reality.

So, how do you do it? How do you become lucid or consciously aware in a dream?

To begin, create a strong, positive foundation with a Welcoming Mental Atmosphere. Here‘s how:

1) Open up to lucid dreaming. Allow the experience. Acquiesce to it on an inner level. Say to yourself, ” I allow myself to become consciously aware and lucid in my dreams.”

2) Accept it as a natural experience that thousands of ordinary people are doing every night, and enjoying on many levels. You may say to yourself, “I accept my natural ability to become consciously aware and lucid in my dreams.”

3) Anticipate it — anticipate your amazement when you become aware and lucid in your dream! You may wish to say with a smile, “I look forward to becoming consciously aware and lucid in my dreams.”

4) If you feel any hesitancy, then delve into those feelings or thoughts. Try to uncover the underlying concern or reticence.

When you feel that you have opened up and allowed lucid dreams on an inner level, then you may want to select one of the following practices to perform every night before going to sleep: a modification of the Castaneda approach or the LaBerge ‘Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreaming’ (MILD) approach.

In my interpretation of the Castaneda approach, you are establishing a simple stimulus-response associational linkage. I highly recommend it for beginners due to its simplicity and high probability of success . Here is my version of a modified Castaneda technique:

1) Sit in your bed, and tell yourself that you are leaving behind the cares and concerns of the day, and are becoming more settled.

2) Look softly at your hands, and as you do so, tell yourself in a caring manner that, “Tonight while I am dreaming, I will see my hands and realize that I am dreaming.”

3) Continue to softly look at your hands and mentally repeat the affirmation, “Tonight while I am dreaming, when I see my hands, I will realize that I am dreaming.”

4) Don’t be bothered if your eyes cross, or you begin to get tired, remain at peace and continue to repeat slowly and gently your intent to become lucid.

5) After about five minutes or once you feel too tired or sleepy, quietly end the practice.

6) Gently remind yourself of your intention to see your hands in a dream and then realize that you are dreaming, and go to sleep.

7) When you wake up in the middle of the night, gently recall your intention to see your hands and realize that you are dreaming. Try to remember your last dream; did you see your hands?

8) Followed faithfully each night ( with a welcoming mental atmosphere ), you should have a lucid dream within the first week – maybe after only one or two nights!

9) When it happens, and suddenly you see your hands in your dreams and you make the connection, “This is a dream!”, try to stay calm and explore the dream environment. Later, when you wake from your lucid dream, take a moment and write it down in your dream journal — write the entire dream; how you realized you were dreaming; what you did while aware that you were dreaming, etc. Congratulations!

This simple technique of looking at your hands is a modified and amplified version from Carlos Castaneda‘s third book, Journey to Ixtlan, in which he claims to have been taught a technique for setting up dreaming by his teacher, don Juan. (In the book, the instructions are much more sparse, yet fascinating.) Like any practice, it requires a bit of discipline, a bit of perseverance and the ability to remember your dreams. Don Juan stressed to Carlos that one had to let go of any fears and persist in this effort.

The second approach is modeled on the technique developed by Dr. Stephen LaBerge in his book, Lucid Dreaming. (I highly recommend this book for all lucid dreamers.) In it, he details the development of his MILD Technique to achieve lucid awareness in the dream. The following is my interpretation of the technique:

1) Get into the practice of remembering your last dream in detail, when you spontaneously wake up during the night. Simply lie in bed, and recall the last dream in detail.

2) Next, intend to become lucid in a dream by suggesting, “Next time I’m dreaming, I want to recognize I’m dreaming.”

3) Then LaBerge suggests that you take your recalled dream, but now imagine that you have become lucid within it at an appropriate point. Visualize this clearly!

4) Keep doing the above until your intent is well established. Expect to become lucid and aware in your next dream.

In my personal history, I began with the Castaneda technique in 1975/76, and felt it was an excellent method for beginners. But after LaBerge published his classic book in 1985, I would frequently use the MILD technique with considerable success. In fact, I found it useful to recall the technique via the MILD acronym in this way: M – Memorize the dream, I – Intend to become lucid, L – Lucid, I see myself becoming lucid in the dream, D – Do it! By quickly remembering the steps in this way, I could actually perform them when drowsy at 5 am in the morning. Many people have used MILD to have their first and subsequent lucid dreams. It’s another excellent technique.

LaBerge also recommended that lucid dreamers conduct a “reality check” to verify that they were dreaming. A “reality check” could be something as simple as levitating or flying — if you can do these actions in the dream state, then obviously it is a dream! But if you can not fly or levitate, then are you really dreaming? It is a wise idea to perform a “reality check” when you think you are lucid in a dream. Particularly if you are prone to sleepwalking or hallucinations, you should always do a “reality check”.

In The Lucid Dream Exchange (LDE), we routinely offer a section on “Tips and Techniques” based on the experience of long term lucid dreamers. Also, many readers find that by reading the LDE’s lucid dreams before they go to sleep, it helps to increase their likelihood of lucid dreams! They begin to think about these lucid dream adventures, and it sparks their imagination for new goals, new ideas, and greater lucid awareness.

If you do not succeed in becoming lucid after two weeks of regular practice (or if you have tried to become lucid and never succeeded), you may need to re-consider your Welcoming Mental Atmosphere. Why? There may be a chance that your Mental Atmosphere contains the following detrimental tendencies:

1) you are interested in lucid dreaming, but afraid.

2) you are interested in lucid dreaming, but philosophically do not agree with it or believe in it.

3) you are interested in lucid dreaming, but feel it requires a huge effort or high spiritual accomplishment.

4) you are interested in lucid dreaming, but are too tired to do the practices OR can not remember any dreams.

5) you are interested in lucid dreaming, but your life is hectic or in turmoil (due to work, relationships, family, money problems, etc) – and you can’t really concentrate.

If any of these tendencies apply, it is important to face them fully, before proceeding. By facing our fears, expanding our limiting beliefs, and responding to issues in a thoughtful and insightful manner, we can usually reason with ourselves and move forward and grow. To dream lucidly, though, it is important to have a Welcoming Mental Atmosphere of allowance, acceptance and expectation.

Goals for Beginners

At the early stages of lucid dreaming, it is important to become comfortable with the lucid state and maintain lucid awareness. So our advice is to:

1) Explore the surroundings

2) Test your senses – can you taste, feel, hear?

3) Test your memory – can you remember your name, where you live, where is your physical body?

4) Maintain your lucidity – if needed, repeat, “This is a dream”

5) Make choices to do or not to do, to surprise the flow of the dream

6) Do your best to fly or move from one area to the next

7) Talk to a dream character

8) See if you can use your intent or will to influence the dream – can you make something happen by expecting it to happen?

9) Be creative – see what is created when you open a dream door, or a dream drawer ,and finally

10) Modulate your emotions – don’t get too excited, but stay interested and calm. Maintaining your lucid awareness and modulating your emotions are the two most important practices at this level. It is very easy to get too excited, and suddenly wake up; similarly it is possible to be lucid and get caught up in the dream action, such that you lose your lucid awareness.

Goals for Intermediate Lucid Dreamers

By the time you are an intermediate lucid dreamer, you should have considerable experience with the lucid dream environment, so that you are comfortable there and have learned to move, act and maintain the lucid dream setting. The goal of the intermediate lucid dreamer is simply that – to have “goals” – to be able to take conscious goals and recall them in the lucid state, so that you can experiment.

What kind of experiments should you try at this stage? Experiments that personally interest you are the best to try. Things like: 1) Ask a dream character or the dream to explain a symbol within the dream, and then remember the response, 2) Move from the dream scene to a desired place (a friend’s house, a different city, your workplace, etc), 3) Ask the dream to show you a personal symbol for ’natural joy’, 4) Tell the dream that you want your inner self to show you something important for you to see, 5) Try to solve a personal or work problem in the dream, 6) Try to realize a false awakening is a new chance for lucidity, 7) Try for a very long lucid dream and try to remember the entirety of it, 8) Fly through walls, swim under water, sing songs, 9) Hold on through the gray of the lucid dream ending, by maintaining your lucid awareness without any visual imagery to re-enter a lucid dream and 10) Test your awareness within the lucid dream with an experiment that has a result that can not be “expected” in advance.

Goals for Advanced Lucid Dreamers

By this time, you should have numerous questions about the nature of the lucid state and dream reality. It is important to move forward, to keep questioning and not settle for simple answers. Advanced lucid dreamers know that the limitations of the lucid state are largely self-defined, therefore it is important to expand one’s concepts and one’s ability to experiment.

You may want to try some of these ideas: 1) When lucid and you meet a personage that you know is deceased, ask them appropriate questions about the future, and then ask why they are there in your dream – do they have a message for you? 2) When lucid, ignore the dream setting and simply watch it – what happens? Can you maintain your lucidity and simply observe? 3) When lucid, ignore the dream setting and yell out, “Hey, I want to hear my feeling tone!” 4) When lucid, decide to learn about a past reincarnation, 5) When lucid, try a precognitive task, and see the response on a sheet of paper or from a helpful dream character, 6) When lucid, fly out to the planets and stars – what happens? 7) When lucid, ask the dream that a troubling spiritual question be explained to you there in the dream state, 8) When lucid, announce that all dream characters that are “thought forms” should now disappear, 9) When lucid, announce that you now wish to go “to the next level” – what happens? And 10) When lucid, send constructive energy to those in need of it.

Goals for Very Advanced Lucid Dreamers

For very advanced lucid dreamers, they may wish to explore the nature of the dream state even further. For example, they may involve themselves in seeking mutual lucid dreams, affecting a physical healing of themselves or others, altering the course of an event in waking reality, etc. Even more, they may seek to go beyond lucid dreaming to an experience of base reality, consciousness.



The Lucidity Institute

Lucid Dreaming FAQ (from The Lucidity Institute)

Documentary: “WAKE UP! Exploring the Potential of Lucid Dreaming”


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