So last week we touched on dream recall and reality checking, but not in any real depth, so I thought we would get a little deeper on that, as well as some starting tips on lucid dreaming. Keep in mind that the best times to lucid dream are later in the night towards morning, and during afternoon naps. This has to do with all these science-y reasons relating to REM cycles.
The primary difficulties had when one is attempting lucid dreaming are remembering that you had one, and prolonging the dream. That’s why dream recall is important to work on. After all, if you can’t remember that you had a lucid dream, then it is nearly impossible to track them or learn from them, and the more familiar you become with your own dreams, the more likely it becomes that you will recognize that you are dreaming. And the best way to work on dream recall is to keep a dream journal. Through your dream journal you can track your dreams, and by doing so, eventually track dream signs that consistently pop-up. These dream signs can become a form of reality checking; if you are seeing the same signs in dreams regularly, then you can turn them into triggers that allow you to recognize that you are lucid dreaming. Another common method is to remember to simply ask yourself upon awakening “What was I dreaming?” Prolonging the dream is the next difficulty most people have, and that generally comes from the realization that one is dreaming, which leads to excitement and then waking. There are a couple of different things you can do to counteract this, but the most important is of course, staying calm. You’re less likely to wake up if you stay with the flow of the dream. When the dream fades though, there are things that you can implement to try to extend the dream, or even to morph into another. These things are usually looking at the ground, rubbing your hands together, spinning your dream body, falling backwards, or singing a song.
One of the most noteworthy things is that typically Lucid Dreaming methods such as MILD or WILD work effectively only when employed with the Wake Back to Bed, or WBTB method. This method is quite simple; you wake up after 4 1/2 to 6 hours of sleep, and then you get up for an hour before going back to bed. Typically during the hour awake one reads material relating to Lucid Dreaming, looks through one’s dream journal, takes a warm shower, listens to music or simply relaxes, away from bed. You can set an alarm clock to wake you, but many find that to be jarring, so a common alternative is to use mantras to convince the mind that “I will wake up at _____ time”.
We touched on Reality Checks, or RCs last week as well, but I wanted to add in a few tips on that as well. Your Reality Check can be different from the ones commonly used, as the key is that it is one that works for you. Some of the popular times to do Reality Checks during the day are when you wake, think of lucid dreaming, recognize something out of place, or see a dream sign. When Reality Checks don’t work effectively (such as when you’re tripping hardcore on shrooms and just can not for the life of you figure out if you are awake or not), you can feel like you are left on your own, but always remember that observation of your surroundings is key, for only you can really determine whether the things going on in your surroundings are real or not. After all, if the walls are melting away there should still be some sort of sign.
The most popular of the lucid dreaming methods, and the one most often recommended to beginners is the Wake Induced Lucid Dreaming, or WILD method.This method is typically most effective when sleeping on the back. The trick is to stay as still as possible while lying in bed, allowing the mind to wander as it will but not thinking too much. Eventually the body will fall asleep; this is usually accompanied by a numb feeling. After a while most people will begin to experience hallucinations of some kind (either visual and/or auditory), which then will lead to the dream state. This state of hallucinating is known as a hypnogogic state, and can be really disorientating, but if you stick with it, you should find your way to fleeting images that will flesh out into your dream. A really effective way to be aware yet relax is to use the counting method described by Stephen LaBerge. It’s simple really- as you are lying there, begin to count in succession with the reminder that “I am dreaming.”