What are Lucid Dreams?
Lucid dreaming means dreaming while you know that you are dreaming, and when you know you are dreaming within a dream you can also alter the dream course, with practice you can also develop full control over your dreams. You will be able to create anything the mind can imagine, change the environment even change your own appearance, have a chat with Abraham Lincoln or fly to the Grand Canyon.
The earliest recorded lucid dreams date back to the fifth century, the record came from a written letter by St. Augustine in 415 A.D. Another well-known recorded example of lucid dreaming came from eight century Tibetan Buddhists in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The Buddhists wrote of a form of yoga designed to maintain full waking consciousness while in the dream state. This ancient documentation of dreams is said to be more advanced than the knowledge we posses today.
People have been having lucid dreams for as long as the human mind has been dreaming. The first known use of the actual term “lucid dreaming” was by Frederik van Eeden in his work “A Study of Dreams” which was published in the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research in 1913. (Van Eeden also wrote the novel The Bride of Dreams). Since then the term has become part of our mainstream.
Steps to Lucid Dreaming
“I don’t dream”, have you ever heard someone say this? Or have you even said this yourself? It is not a true statement, everybody dreams nightly, but some people do not remember their dreams. The first step in learning to have lucid dreams, is have the desire to want to remember your dreams. Now before going to bed, have a clear mind, tell yourself that “I will remember my dream when I wake up”. This is a proven and effective way to help dream recall. Having a cluttered mind or worries can distract you from remembering your dream in the morning.
Have a regular sleep schedule, try and get a routine going with a consistent bedtime and wake up time, this will also aid you in your dream recollection. Avoid alcohol consumption or taking medication before going to bed. These things may hinder you from remembering your dreams.
Diet also plays a big part in dream recall, fatty foods or just eating right before you go to bed will task your body with digesting food instead of getting the rest your body needs and will divert your bodily resources from the brain. The most important step in recalling your dreams is to keep a dream journal. Keep a pencil and a notebook or tape recorder next to your bed so that it will be within reach as soon as you wake up. You want to make the task of recording your dreams as easy as possible. Having a small lamp by your bed will help if you wake up from a dream in the middle of the night and need to record it.
Do not get out of bed immediately when you wake up, lay there in your bed keeping your eyes closed and move as little as possible. Wake up slowly and stay relaxed, hold on to your feelings you have and let your mind wander to the images of what you have just dreamed, write down as many details as possible about your dream, do not judge the content, just record it, so later you can go back and evaluate it when you are more aware. Talking to people about your dreams to friends or participating in some on-line forums will also help dream recall.
How to Have a Lucid Dream
Once you get your dream journal going and are able to recall at least two dreams a night then you can start the steps to having a lucid dream. There are many ways to key yourself to the fact that you are dreaming but I will discuss a couple of the easiest for beginners. First there is Reality Testing (RT). How reality testing is done, is you ask yourself “Am I dreaming?” Finding that out in a dream is not always the easiest thing to do, but is usually quite obvious if you are dreaming or not. If you find yourself in an unfamiliar place, or doing something or seeing something that will not likely happen in reality, you will know that you are dreaming. Now if you are in your bed or in your own house, then you can try looking at something like a clock or reading a book or something, look away, then look back and see if the time is the same or the words you read are the same. Try changing the color of something just by thinking about it. Ask yourself this question “Am I dreaming?” several times during the day, then you will be more apt to ask yourself this in a dream.
The second way to realize that you are dreaming in a dream is to recognize a Dreamsign. When your recognize this dreamsign you will realize that you are dreaming. (ie. A pink elephant, meeting deceased people, or magically flying .) By keeping a dream journal and going back and finding things that are common in your dreams, you can choose a dreamsign that is unique to you. So when you see your dreamsign you will realize your experience as a dream, and can then further the experiments or work you would like to do in your dream.
Upon becoming Lucid
The biggest problem upon becoming lucid for newbies is that once they realize they are dreaming, they get so excited that it wakes them from their dream. Actually experienced lucid dreamers can have this problem also. There are different ways to extend your dreams, if your dream shows signs of ending some people have claimed success by spinning to help the dream come back, in other words making their dream self start to spin like an ice skater, and remind yourself the next scene will be a dream, to ensure you are still dreaming do a RT. Sometimes just running, or jumping can prolong your dream. Once you become proficient in achieving a Lucid Dream state, and are able to maintain this state to some degree, the next step will be controlling your dreams.
Controlling your Dream
Now the fun part! Once you are lucid dreaming the world is yours, anything you can imagine can happen in your dream. Have you ever wanted to be a superhero? Be able to turn invisible, to live as a millionaire, to sail around the world. The thing that I personally have had experience with is flying in my dream, the first time you accomplish flight in your dream you will have the most amazing sense of freedom that you have ever felt. Just think about it, if you could fly like a bird, the wind in your hair, the freedom to go anywhere, well you get the picture. People have used the experiences in their lucid dreams to improve their waking lives also, for instance, playing the piano better, improving at ice skating, or business success, some people even claim to have religious experiences.
Science has only just begun to examine the process of lucid dreaming. Some researchers view it as an evolutionary development of mankind and our consciousness expanding. Whether we are evolving or have always had this ability, we certainly are not taking advantage of all it has to offer. If we could become more disciplined with our dream work we would have many more options in which to learn and grow.