Lucid Dreaming

Posted: August 29, 2012 by phaedrap1 in Science

Dreaming is a regular part of our nightly existence.  We enter the dream world each night whether we remember or not.  Frequently, our dreams are surreal mixtures of the fantastic and the ordinary. There is, however, another kind of dream which transcends the everyday, that is lucid dreaming.

Lucid dreams happens when the dreamer  “wakes up” in the dream.  Usually there is something   that triggers the awakening.  It could be anything, the realization that cats don’t fly or  that you’ve never learned to tap dance.  Whatever the occurrence, the dreamer realizes that he or she is not awake physically.  Usually, this state lasts for only a short time and then lucidity fades and the dream continues without awareness.  However, with practice, the length of time the dreamer can remain lucid increases.

There are several techniques that help the beginner become more proficient.  Some of these are:

1)  Dream recall – this can be done by keeping a dream journal.  The first thing upon waking in the morning, write down everything remembered.  It doesn’t have to be much, a word, color or feeling, anything you remember.  With continued journaling the amount of dream recall with increase.

2) Reality checks – this could be anything, a word or gesture that you constantly repeat throughout the day, such as looking at your hands when going in or out of a doorway.  When you see your hands, ask yourself “am I dreaming”.  Done often enough the gesture becomes second nature and will be repeated in a dreamstate.  It is a cue that can trigger the realization that you are not physically awake.

3)  Another is Mnemonic-Induction of Lucid Dreaming (MILD).  This technique was created by Dr. Stephen LaBarge of Stanford University, who is a pioneer in lucid dream research and consists of setting the intention to lucid dream by saying a mantra over and over while visualizing yourself awake in a dream.  Make the mantra short, such as “I am aware that I am dreaming”. Do not use the word “want” in your mantra, say that it is going to happen.  A command statement convinces the mind that this is what is happening.

4) There are also certain drugs or supplements that can help to achieve the lucid dream state.  One of these is Melatonin (3mg), this helps to set the circadian rhythm and its release is controlled by the pineal gland.   Another drug is nicotine, which is not recommended due to its highly addictive nature.

The first few times you achieve lucidity, you will likely be so excited that you will wake yourself up. Two effective techniques for extending lucidity are spinning  and rubbing your hands. Both techniques, originated with Carlos Castaneda, but LaBerge was the first to test techniques.   Of the two, hand rubbing seems to be the most effective.

People new to lucid dreaming spent much of their time indulging in various recreational activities such as flying to new places, this is to be expected, we all want to try things we aren’t able to do in the “real” world, but after you have enjoyed the extracurricular activities, its time to expand in new directions.  Lucid dreaming can help you find creative solutions to everyday situations or give you ideas on how to deal with past issues which are still causing stress in the present.  You will never know what knowledge can be gleaned during lucid dreaming.

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