Dreams or nightmares are often seen as something that we experience passively, but we can be much more in control of our dreamland than we think. Do you want to learn how to lucid dream? Then read this blog and be in charge of your dreams!
What are lucid dreams?
Lucid dreams are dreams in which we are aware that we are dreaming and can control the dream experience to some extent. To understand lucid dreaming, I will shortly discuss a few basic aspects of human sleep. Our sleep cycle consists of different stages: three non-rapid eye movement stages and one rapid eye movement (REM) stage (this is called that because during this stage your eyes make a lot of small rapid movements). REM is the stage in which you dream lucidly.
Learning to lucid dream
Have you never experienced a lucid dream, but would you like to be able to? Great news! Practically everyone appears to be able to learn lucid dreaming, but motivation and discipline are important preconditions! Below I will discuss five tips and techniques.
1. Critical reflection method
When you start to critically examine your surroundings during the day, as if you’re not sure whether you are dreaming or awake, eventually this attitude will be transferred to your dreams. In your dreams, you take what is happening as reality. If you were to critically examine your environment, you would recognize its dream character and could become lucid; become aware that you are dreaming and can control your dream.
The most common mistake is that people don’t take the critical question of “Am I dreaming or am I awake?” seriously, because they already know they aren’t dreaming. You will have to pretend this isn’t certain. Take a good look at your surroundings. Do you notice any extraordinary things? Do you still live in this house? Are there people around you that you don’t know? What was I doing 15 minutes ago? By asking this last question you can find it if it is even possible for you to be here. According to scientist den Blanken, you have to ask yourself the question “Am I dreaming or am I awake?” about six to ten times a day. Investigating your surroundings should take around one minute.
2. Register your dreams
It is important that you learn to recognize when you are dreaming, therefore you have to know the content of your dreams. To do this, it is necessary to remember your dreams. This is difficult, because often we immediately forget what we dreamt about once we wake up. Remembering is easier if you remain in the same position in the morning when the alarm clock rings. Also try to think about nothing for a while, instead of what you have to do before you have to leave the house. Quickly write down the memories that come up, in a special dream diar, for example, otherwise you will lose them in no time.
3. Preparing for the night
Before you go to sleep, try to calm your mind as much as possible, so that you can start the night relaxed and with clarity. To do this you can try a form of meditation or breathing exercises that suit you. Then make a conscious decision to start dreaming lucidly!
4. Medication and substances
Research has shown that (sleep)medication and substances (such as alcohol and drugs) suppress the dream process. Keep this in mind if you want to start working on your dreams.
Last but not least, I strongly advise against starting lucid dreaming without expert guidance, for people that are very anxious and / or have difficulties separating reality from fantasy.