Teach yourself how to lucid dream
Have you ever had to think about whether something you remember happening, actually happened, or if you dreamt it? We all have those dreams that are so realistic that we confuse them for real life events. Have you ever woken up from a brilliant dream and found yourself upset or disappointed that it wasn’t real? Or on the other hand, had a nightmare so horrible that you wished you’d been able to shake yourself out of it? The ability to have lucid dreams is an extremely useful tool which enables you to know when you’re dreaming, and have more control over your actions in your sleeping state.
The term ‘lucid dream’ is credited to Dutch psychiatrist and writer Frederik van Eden (1860-1932), who used the term ‘lucid’ to mean ‘mental clarity’. In the simplest terms, lucid dreaming means knowing that you are dreaming. There are different levels of lucidity, ranging from vaguely recognising that you are dreaming, to being able to recognise that you are dreaming and actively controlling your actions within the dream.
One of the biggest advantages of having lucid dreams is the ability to act out fantasies and adventures, knowing that you are dreaming and that there will be no real life consequences for your actions. This freedom from consequence also provides an opportunity to use your dreams to rehearse something you are preparing for in real life, such as public speaking or a difficult confrontation, or even an athletic performance. On the other end of the spectrum, the ability to know you are dreaming can be extremely helpful and therapeutic to those who suffer from nightmares. The fear you feel in a dream is very real, but the danger is not, and so by being aware that you are dreaming, you are giving yourself the opportunity to realise that nothing in the dream can harm you, and therefore that you have nothing to fear.
Lucid dreams are usually triggered by the dreamer realising that something in the dream is physically impossible e.g flying. If you follow the steps below however, you can teach yourself how to have lucid dreams and enjoy the advantages that they bring.
Possibly the most important thing to achieve before you even start to attempt to have lucid dreams is the ability to recall your dreams. Keep a dream journal, and write in it every morning. Write down everything you remember about your dream, sparing no details, no matter how small and insignificant you think they are.
You will find that you begin to recognise patterns and recurring themes or objects in your dreams. You can use these as dream signals; when you see them, you will recognise that you are asleep and dreaming. Before you go to sleep, read your journal and pick a recurring object. By focusing on one object, there is a better chance of it showing up in future dreams, and eventually you will recognise it as an indicator that you’re dreaming.
Perform reality checks throughout the day. A common method is to check something, such as the time on the clock or some text on a page, look away, then check again. Research shows that if you are dreaming, the time or the text will have changed when you look back. Another way to check is by asking yourself the question ‘Am I dreaming?’ throughout the day. Don’t answer straight away, but consider why you’re not dreaming. If you habitually ask yourself this question throughout the day, you will eventually begin to ask yourself when you are asleep.
Following these steps will help you train your mind and help you to become much more aware of your conscious state, meaning that you can easily discern whether what you are experiencing is real life or a dream, which will hopefully lead to you being able to make your sleeping hours much more productive and even fun!
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