Common steps and sub-activities
The following description is a synthesis of all the ideas that those who are able to become lucid have devised and which have worked for them.
More details are to be found in the observations of the people themselves for this you need to go to the Dreaming and lucid dreaming section.
When to lucid dream
There are basically two schools of thought about when lucid dreams are easiest to get:
- A dream-initiated lucid dream (DILD) starts as a normal dream, in the normal dream cycle and the dreamer eventually concludes it is a dream. This is a true lucid dream, but it is extremely difficult to obtain.
- The wake-initiated lucid dream –WILD "occurs when the sleeper enters REM sleep with unbroken self-awareness directly from the waking state". - This second school of thought is based on the idea that we should go from a waking state into a dream state. This method seems to have, however, quite a number of disadvantages. In the first place it is rare for a person to start dreaming on going to sleep, second, it seems to be the case that the later dreams in the night cycle are the most important spiritually, early dreams are simply ‘reorganising dreams’. This approach should not be dismissed, however, and can be made to be more effective employing the following approaches
- the ‘wake-back-to-bed technique’ - This additional method involves going to sleep tired and waking up five to six hours later. Then, focusing all thoughts on lucid dreaming, staying awake for an hour and going back to sleep while looking for dream signs. As the most important dreams occur as the night goes on, this technique takes advantage of the best REM cycle of the night. Furthermore, we are rested enough to be able to concentrate on looking for dream signs in the dream itself.
- Early morning dreaming – after you have woken up from a full night’s sleep, you then stay in bed and doze – sleep but not deep sleep.
Thus, although it is not a good idea to practise wake-initiated-lucid-dreaming at normal bedtime after having been awake all day, [simply because you will either have great difficulty getting dreams or the dreams will be ‘the wrong sort’], at other times of day it can work as long as you are rested.
It is very clear from reading the observations of lucid dreaming using the WILD approach that people frequently mistake a trance condition for sleep. Any number of observations in the newer books of this subject simply describe the visions they have achieved through Relaxation. They are not dreaming, they are awake but deeply rested – half way to being asleep and awake.
Main techniques to obtain lucidity
Look for anomalies
Dreams are symbolic and by being symbolic they usually contain ‘anomalies’ mismatches with reality, thus one technique that can be used is to try to identify anything which seems out of the ordinary.
This is the technique that Oliver Fox used, in fact he believed that the only way in which one could make a dream lucid was by ‘arousing the critical faculty’ in other words, looking for anomalies.
One extremely foolproof way of recognising a dream is a dream is when you encounter writing and words. The spiritual world uses words only as symbols, thus you are unlikely to ever find documents which are ‘readable’.
One perceptive clue which most people would be able to pick up very quickly is the colour in the dream. Although colours can be as one would expect in waking life, some dreams can be ‘sepia coloured’ or odd mixtures and this can used as a clue as to whether it is a dream.
But this technique of looking for anomalies has its downsides. In the first place in order to recognise an anomaly you may have to use your power of reasoning. But by using your reasoning function you are interfering with the composer process by activating an alternative source of will, so you then run the real risk of waking up. There appears to be a fine dividing line between actual reasoning and simply using your memory and some facts about the way the physical world is organised. The latter works, the former doesn’t.
There is a further problem - this technique of the anomaly is not fool proof. One of the truly difficult aspects about recognising that we are dreaming is that we often, in dreams, take the abnormal as normal. Again, because we don’t train ourselves to be perceptive and hone our critical faculty in daily life, it is often virtually inactive during dreams. Even if we decide in the dream to try to devise a way of determining whether it is a dream or not, it may be that we overlook the absolutely obvious whilst concentrating on the wrong things.
Look for Recurring patterns
If you have had a dream before, it is a verification dream. A recurring dream is generally relatively easy to identify in a dream without compromising the dream state as all it requires is the recognition of a pattern, it does not require reasoning, thus it is a good way of enabling you to become lucid
Use the Dreams of high emotion
Memories - learnt behaviour as well as ‘data’ and images - are much more likely to be created when high levels of emotion are attached to them, whether this is positive or negative. Thus any highly emotional dream may be signalling the creation of a new memory or the verification of older memories and the correction of a pattern of behaviour which is no longer valid or acting against your interests.
Fear, unparalleled joy, bliss, terror, extreme anger are all emotions found in dreams and this should be a trigger to become lucid. Yet again, the onset of lucidity may not be ‘consciously’ achieved. There may be no rational process by which your sleeping mind says ‘this is an emotional moment, therefore I may be dreaming’; but the mind is capable of unconsciously recognising such moments and creating lucidity for you.
Use Objects and cues – ‘wishes and prayers’
Another way we can use is to be aware of anything which seems to match our threats, objectives, opportunities, obligations and so on. Note this does not mean we have objectives going into the dream, but that we are aware of our objectives, aware of what is bothering us at the time – the threats, are aware of obligations and so on.
By thinking hard about an objective that we want to occur in the dream it is also a possibility that the wish comes true and at the same time enables us to become lucid.
W B Yeats also tried to devise a way of ensuring his dreams were ‘visionary’ in nature – gave him more insight into the spiritual realm than just his subconscious. He used to put natural objects such as flowers on his pillow or by his bed.
The dream cycle as a means of obtaining lucidity
The stage at which learning has reached has an effect on how you can become lucid. The same mechanisms of attaining lucidity will not work at every stage:
- During dreams of extraction and understanding – we are far more likely to be able to lucid dream using objects and cues that have occurred during the day. Thus at this stage of dreaming in order to become lucid, we need to be aware of anything significant that has happened to us.
- During the difficult analysis and synthesis stage it is highly unlikely that we will be able to become lucid as this is the stage at which synthesis and reorganisation of the memory database is occurring.
- During the dreams of verification - dreams are used to teach us that our model is wrong. Here are dreams of real value to us and also ones we can tap into using anomalies – things, events or objects which would be impossible in everyday life. In these circumstances we need to keep an eye out for emotionally charged moments [fear or joy] in the dream together with repetition. Dreams that repeat themselves over and over again or have scenes that are repeated are there to help us relearn and we can use them to create a lucid state that helps us to learn more effectively.
But of course during the dream you normally have no idea what stage you have reached, so you may have to look for all these things to ensure you can reach a lucid state.
What to do in a lucid dream
The following actions are key to maintaining the lucidity of the dream
- you must let the dream unfold without interference. The moment your will becomes stronger than that of the composer’s you will lose the dream, so you have to confine all actions of the will to extremely simple ones in the dream such as manoeuvring.
- Intend to learn from the dream - Most lucid dreams appear to be relatively short in duration – quick glimpses– but this can change with practise and the intention to learn from the dreams. Thus as long as the person recognises that they are being given a privileged spiritual insight and learns from the experience, then access might be extended. If they don’t then the access period stays small or may be curtailed altogether. Time in the dream and physical time do not coincide.
Manoeuvring in the dream
As we have already seen, it is highly inadvisable to control the dream by willing something to happen, simply because the moment your objectives take control, you will lose the composer.
But it is possible in a lucid dream to manoever yourself around the dream world and also to zoom in or out changing the focus of the images seen. The aim of the composer is to help us learn, so allowing us to manoever will help this process because we will be able to see more.
In this respect the composer acts much like a movie camera, taking the scenes for you and adjusting the focus, positioning and detail. [see 002031 – Alan Worsley for some more ideas]
So you may be able to fly, glide, soar upwards like a rocket and move objects by willing them to move. Many variants seem to be possible, gliding along in a standing position with the feet above the ground, floating along on one’s back, moving forward horizontally by means of some kind of swimming stroke or with no movements at all, flying with wings, rising vertically upwards and leaping and bounding.
Flying seems to be one of the most enjoyable experiences in a lucid dream and there appear to be ways in which it can be both invoked and controlled. For more details see the observations.
As the will is only semi conscious in a lucid dream and access to memory not necessarily complete, you may forget or not realise in the dream that you do not have to traverse spaces in the way you would in the waking state. This can lead to some unnecessary diversions and difficulties. There are some funny observations on the site where people force themselves to take buses!
Two possible side effects are mentioned in the observations, although these do not seem to be universally experienced. The first is a headache.
The second is catalepsy. On the whole catalepsy is more often experienced in out of body states, when the person is wrested from the state before the body has had the chance to recover.
But it is clear that occasionally a return to the awake state from a lucid dream – particularly if it too is extremely sudden – can result in the person waking in the cataleptic state. Oliver Fox describes the problem but also offers a solution – go back to sleep again and let the body recover slowly see 002035 – Oliver Fox.
For all the observations related to this sub-activity go to the Dreaming and lucid dreaming section.
A Lucid Dreaming facebook page now exists with up-to-date information on aspects of lucid dreaming. As of mid 2015 it had nearly 12,000 members so this technique has great potential.
See also the entry on Oneiromancy
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- Billy Joel - The River of Dreams
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- Dr Robert Crookall - More Astral projections – Miss Edith L. Jones, of Hampstead Garden Suburb, N.W.11
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- Dr Robert Crookall - More Astral projections – Mrs Olive Mytton-Hill of Edinburgh has multiple OBEs
- Dr Robert Crookall - More Astral projections – Nurse C. H. Normanby, of Middlesbrough, a member of the Anglican Church, has two OBEs
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