Lucid dreaming is when, while dreaming, you are aware that you are dreaming. This realization can be a fun and liberating experience. There are many books, websites and kits devoted to teaching the basics of lucid dreaming, although some people naturally have been lucid dreaming since childhood.
But after a few months or years of lucid dreaming, the dreamer may want more from their dreams now that they are aware that they are dreaming. The potential is limitless. For example, in Tibetan Buddhism, lucid dreaming is considered training for death. In order to get through the bizarre hallucinations in the death process, Tibetan Buddhists are encouraged to learn to meditate while dreaming. Although dream meditation may not be for everyone, here are three other exercises to try when you next realize that you are dreaming.
Staying Lucid As Long As Possible
This is surprisingly hard. Often, when dreamers become lucid they know that they have the most of the next couple of minutes because they will wake up. But lucid dream pioneer Stephen LaBerge, Ph.D. notes that some dreamers manage to stay lucid by spinning in a circle, using a remote control to switch channels or even by asking aloud that they do not wake up. Find out what works best for you.
One problem of having a long lucid dream is that you eventually forget that you are dreaming and think the dream is real life. Do not let this worry you for now. If it happens, it happens. The more you dream lucidly, the more you can begin to recognize when you are dreaming, even if you are convinced you are awake.
Meeting Other Dreamers
Get a friend and decide on a date when you will dream about the other person. Write down whatever you recall of the dream as soon as you wake up. It’s highly doubtful that a person’s consciousness travels outside of their bodies, but just wanting to dream about a particular person may help encourage a dream about that person. Compare your dream to your friend’s and see if there are any similarities.
Don’t worry if this exercise seems to fail. Robert Waggoner, author of “Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self” (Moment Point Press; 2009) chronicles his problems when trying this exercise. But he was able to take his friendships to another level just by discussing dreams. Perhaps friends that do not want to burden others with their problems may find talking about their dreams much easier than talking about their problems.
Shamans used dreams in order to find clues as to how to heal their patients. Scientists, artists and even students in dream studies often report being able to dream of a solution to a problem they have been working on. “Sleep on it” is a very sound piece of advice for anyone struggling with a decision or creative project. One thing about dreams is that many kinds of censorship or limitations are lifted. During the REM stage, a dreamer’s brain fires as much as when he or she is awake.
Think about this problem before you go to bed. Keep a notebook open to a blank page and a click pen or pencil by your bed. When you become lucid in a dream, talk aloud or a to a dream character about your problem. As soon as you awake, do not move. Try to remember as much as you can. Then jot a few details down in the notebook. If possible, do not turn on the light as the shock may make you forget the dream.
“Sleeping, Dreaming and Dying: An Exploration of Consciousness.” The Dalai Lama & Francisco J. Varela, Ph.D. Wisdom Publications; 2002.
“Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self.” Robert Waggoner. Moment Point Press; 2009.
“Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming.” Stephen LaBerge, Ph.D. & Howard Rheingold. Ballantine Books; 1990.
Scientific American. “How Can You Control Your Dreams?” Jordon Lite. July 29, 2010. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-to-control-dreams