WHAT IS LUCID DREAMING?
In 1953 a scientist at the University of Chicago attached electrodes and sensors to the heads of sleeping people and discovered the fast, jerky eye movements that accompany dreaming (REM). He also found that all human beings dream, even those who claim they never do. Dreams occur four to five times a night in roughly ninety-minute cycles. So the question is not do we dream, but can we become aware and change our dreams.
A lucid dream is one in which the dreamer is “awake” and aware inside of a dream, and it used to be considered about as respectable as spontaneous human combustion until Stephen LaBerge came along. LaBerge was five years old when he had his first lucid dream. He found himself swimming underwater, with the roof of the ocean above him, and thought “uh oh, how can I breathe?” Then, recognizing he was in a dream ocean, he realized he could dive for sunken treasures for hours if he wanted. Years later, armed with a Ph.D, he slept with electrodes for thousands of sleep-hours at Stanford University’s famous sleep lab, and logged in hundreds of dreams before he had what he wanted: electrophysiological proof of lucid dreaming.
LaBerge and other modern lucid dream researchers have devised a number of excellent techniques for inducing and maintaining a lucid dream. It takes practice, and there are many degrees and graduations of lucidity. “You can train yourself to have lucid dreams, it is a learned skill,” says Patricia Garfield, author of Creative Dreaming. “But once you’ve mastered it, you can do whatever you wish to do in your dreams. You can practice your skills, and they will carry over to your waking state. You decide what is important to you, and dream on it.”
TECHNIQUES FOR LUCID DREAMING
Here are a few techniques to help you master lucid dreaming:
- Five to ten times a day, ask yourself, “Am I dreaming or not?”
- When you ask this question, visualize intently that you are in a dream and that everything around you - the people, the furniture, your body, the commercials for Cheerios - is just a dream.
- At the same time concentrate not only on what is happening now but also on the past. Do you remember anything unusual, or do you suffer from memory lapses?
- Get in the habit of asking yourself, “Am I dreaming?” in all situations that are reminiscent of dreams; in other words, whenever something unlikely happens, or when you experience overwhelming powerful emotions.
- Do you have a recurring dream event or subject - a fearful experience or a repeated appearance of an Akita pup? During the day, ask yourself, “Am I dreaming?” whenever you feel threatened or you see an Akita pup at the park.
- Do you have particular dream experiences, such as floating or flying, that rarely occur while you are awake? During the day imagine that your are floating or flying - or whatever the dream experience is - reminding yourself meanwhile, “This is only a dream.”
- Before falling asleep, tell yourself you are going to be conscious or aware in your dream. This technique is especially effective if you wake up early in the morning during your final REM stage and then fall back asleep.
- Resolve to carry out a particular action in your dream. Any action will do; the key is to teach yourself to do it at will.
MEDITATION AND LUCID DREAMING
Researchers have also found that people who meditate consistently report more lucid dreams than non-meditators. Guided meditation provides a more concentrated focus to relieve you of the over-analytical mind chatter. It can lead directly to a lucid dream, especially if practiced a couple of hours before you'd usually wake up. You may also like to try it if you feel tired in the afternoon or before you go to sleep.
A mind machine, like the Kasina, can guide you into different brainwave states and into deep meditation. They are based on using visuals (displayed through glasses) and sounds (played through headphones). By combining synchronized visuals and audio, mind machines can change your brainwaves and allow you to slip into a new state very quickly. They are perfect for people who meditate because you can reach deep relaxed states in minutes instead of hours.
There are over 50 sessions included with the Kasina. The sessions that will be the most help with inducing lucid dreaming are found in the Meditate and Night Voyage folders. The Meditate folder includes sessions such as Relaxation By Fire and Touch of Silence. The Night Voyage folder, which can be used before you go to sleep, include sessions such as Dream and Night Shift.
Aim to practice guided meditation as often as you can. A daily retreat to this mindful place is ideal, and if you can spend an hour or more doing so, you'll reap the benefits in your lucid dreams.
What is your experience with lucid dreaming?