For many, the dreams you have while asleep are very much out of your control. One minute you’re having a pleasant meal with your significant other, and the next thing you know, you’re in that forest behind your old school and a duck is walking towards you. Your mind is working in mysterious ways, weaving a story line that nobody quite understands. All the while, you’re forced to play along, waiting to see what comes next.
This is where the concept of lucid dreaming comes into play. A lucid dream refers to any dream in which you are fully aware that you are dreaming. Have you ever had a dream where you thought to yourself, “this isn’t real”, or “this is a dream”? Acknowledging this fact is the first important step to learning how to control your dreams.
There are many reasons why you might decide you want to learn this unique skill. Achieving a state of lucid dreaming and control will ensure that things occurring in your dream world are of your own choosing – anyone who suffers from frequent nightmares would benefit greatly. But if you don’t have nightmares very often, controlling your dreams is still really cool, and will instill a sense of freedom you’ve never experienced previously. Lucid dreaming is like an author living inside the story and world they’ve written for themselves. Simply thinking about what you want to happen will make it happen.
Still intrigued? Let’s get into the training process.
Step One: Encourage REM Sleep
The best way to encourage lucid dreaming is to get plenty of REM sleep. REM sleep is known as ‘Rapid Eye Movement’ sleep, and typically occurs in the first 90 minutes you’ve been asleep. The best way to ensure that you’re getting enough REM sleep for lucid dreaming is to stick to a consistent sleep schedule.
Step Two: Keep a Dream Journal
Keep a notebook on your night stand or close to your bed for quick access when you wake up. As soon as you open your eyes, write down everything you can remember about the dreams you just had. It’s important to be specific, and record things such as sensations and emotions in addition to the details of the dream. The more you recall your dreams, the more you will be training your mind to remember. This is an important key to controlling dreams.
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Step Three: Let Yourself Go Back to Sleep
Once you’ve woken up, write down your dream as you normally would. When you’ve finished, close your eyes and attempt to drift back into the dream you just recorded. Focus on the sensations and details. Occasionally, this method may cause you to drift into a lucid dream, but it does not work for everyone.
Step Four: Dream Analysis
When you’ve been recording dreams for a couple of weeks, look back at your journal. Were there any recurring situations or events? Pick out details that seem to come up often in your dreams – these may become triggers for realizing that you’re dreaming later on.
Optional Step: Buy A Light Alarm
There are various accessories online that you can buy for the purpose of controlling your dreams. One is called a ‘light alarm’, which is meant to induce lucid dreaming by turning a light on at set intervals. It is not meant to wake you up, but to create a stimuli that your unconscious mind will recognize.
There are many other tips and tricks online if these steps don’t quite do the trick! Remember that lucid dreaming takes patience and a lot of time – your mind isn’t typically trained to do this naturally! Many who have mastered the art of lucid dreaming are still only able to do so once or twice per month, so don’t give up!
Featured image by Moyan Brenn on Flickr