Lucid dreaming techniques
The following techniques are the ones I have found most useful and by reading other lucid dreaming literature other people have found most useful also. I would like to say at this point that most of the techniques have been down to the work of Stephen LaBerge, whom I spoke about earlier and I have listed under the useful information section for further reading on this subject.
What we do during our normal waking day, we tend to dream about at night in our non lucid dreams. This is the minds way of relieving the stressful situations, which have cropped up in the course of the day. It also resolves any inner conflicts or any unsolved answers we have had during the day. With reality testing we are taking the premise that what we do during the day we will dream about at night. This technique involves asking ourselves at different points throughout our normal waking day, whether we are dreaming or not. For example if you are shopping, take a mental few moments to ask yourself if you are dreaming. Take the question very seriously and really test yourself to see if you are dreaming or not. try and make yourself fly, or look at your hands for a few moments (our hands tend to distort in our dreams when we concentrate on them). Other things to lookout for are trying to read something, again we cannot read for any period of time in our dreams. Practice doing this every day at certain moments throughout your day. It is best to link this practice to a cue. For example every time you see a dog in the street, or everytime you see something out of the ordinary. The trick is to make this a habit and do a reality test about twenty times a day, it only takes a minute or so. Now by doing this every day during your normal waking day, you will carry this practice over into your dreaming life. As soon as you ask yourself this question in your dream you can turn the non lucid dream into a lucid dream. There is a pitfall with this and that is that your mind can trick you into believing you are not dreaming. For example I once had a dream where I was talking to a friend and I noticed the words on the newspaper he was carrying becoming distorted. I realised then I was dreaming and told my friend this in the dream. He insisted I was being absurd and kept on giving me strange looks and made me believe it was not a dream. This is just something to be careful of, the more you use this technique the more you can perfect it.
Mnemonic induced lucid dream (MILD)
This technique is a highly effective one, again devised by Laberge. It is designed so that we remember to have a lucid dream before going to sleep. So before we go to sleep you train your brain to have a lucid dream whilst you are sleeping. It can sound a bit difficult at first, however if you practice trying to remember future triggers in your waking life it will make this technique much easier. This type of future memory trigger is called prospective memory, for example when we say to ourselves I must remember and tell Dave about that job advertisement the next time I see him.
For one week write down future memory triggers for each day, so for the first day you might say the next time you switch on a light you will remember to do a reality test, or the next time you talk to Lisa you will remember to do a reality test. Do around four of these a day and it will train your brain to act upon cues. Once you have mastered this or even whilst trying to master it use it before going to sleep each night and remind yourself to have a lucid dream whilst you are dreaming. It may sound too simple, but without waking up our prospective memory abilities it is harder to do whilst we are dreaming, so it is important to practice whilst we are awake.
Just before falling asleep at night and whilst in a relaxed state tell yourself that you will have a lucid dream the next time you go to sleep. The key to this is to be in the correct frame of mind so it is important to relax your body completely and try and free your thoughts from events of the day. The best thing to do here is to lye in bed and relax each part of your body in turn. To do this simply focus on each part of your body in turn, starting with your head and physically relaxing that part. Go all down your body until you feel completely relaxed and there is no muscle tension in any part of your body. Once you are completely relaxed repeat to yourself, mentally, my mind is now open to having lucid dreams. It is wise not to tell yourself that you will have a lucid dream as this can be a demotivating factor if it does not happen after a few days of trying. It is important to make yourself open to the experience and trust that it will happen, but do not put pressure on yourself to have on a specified night, just be open to the possibility.
Taking a nap
This is one of the techniques I have found to be the most useful. It involves taking a nap during the day or getting up a couple of hours earlier from normal sleep and then going back to bed and remind yourself to have a lucid dream when you fall asleep again. Studies have shown that lucid dreaming occurs in the Alpha stage of sleep and that this stage is lighter, with regards to brainwaves, towards the end of our sleeping cycle. On average we sleep for eight hours a night. So to use this technique set your mind to wake up after six hours of sleep. When you wake up go and do something like read dream related literature, for around ninety minutes. After the ninety minutes go back to bed and remind yourself to have a lucid dream. We can also do this during the day if we get a chance to have a nap for an hour or so. Again, just remind yourself to have a lucid dream when you are dozing off and this sets up your brain for the intention to have a lucid dream. This technique works as we go through a sleeping cycle every night from light sleep, to deep sleep, then deeper sleep and light sleep again. When we wake ourselves up we are waking from a deeper sleep and then when we go back to bed after ninety minutes we are going back into alpha sleep which is the
sleep state we have lucid dreams, and because it is for a shorter period of time we tend to remember the lucid dream a lot better.