Lucid Dreaming Explained

A dense forest of blue and purple trees, each growing questions as fruit. You wearily search for just the right fruit to pluck and consume. Suddenly, you realize the reality of it all. “This can’t be possible!” you think to yourself. “I must be dreaming!”

Lucid dreaming is when a person, while in the dream state of sleep (REM), becomes conscious of the fact that they are sleeping and begin to take a more prominent role in what the dream is about. While conscious dreaming, a person is able to change certain factors of the dream or even switch the entire environment just by willing it to be so. After a lucid dream, a person has a much greater chance of remembering their dream as well.

Lucid dreaming is natural and happens to a percentage of people without intent, some having them often, and others only have one or two lucid dreams their entire life. Though it is natural, there are ways to increase your chances of having a lucid dream and also increase the consistency.

Lucid dreams usually start off as regular dreams, where you are guided by the imagery, completely unaware of your sleeping body. At some point during the dream a trigger usually goes off in your mind that tells you that something is not right, and an ah-ha moment takes place that shifts the dream into lucidity.

The best way, then, to increase your ability to dream lucidly is to make a mental note every so often during the day to check whether or not you are dreaming. Your habit will become much more prominent when your subconscious is guiding you through mental imagery (when you’re dreaming) and you will eventually ask yourself if you are dreaming while dreaming. Dreams become obvious once you ask yourself this question.

Once you achieve lucidity, be careful what you think, you can cause yourself to awake, fade off into the darkness of unconsciousness, or even shift into another dreamscape where you will no longer be lucid. The unintentional ending of lucidity is usually caused by shock, excitement, or other intense feelings. The more comfortable you are once lucid, the longer you will be able to hold the state, and the more power you will have over your dream.

A common secret to maintaining lucidity is making an effort to look at your hands once you begin to feel the dream fading away. Though the hands are most common, you can also use other points of reference (IE: your feet), or an intent to read writing, anything that will ground you in the dream.

When your lucid dream is stable, creating the environment you want is as easy as believing. The world of dreams is much like the world of Peter Pan, without the need for pixie dust. It isn’t as easy as it sounds, however, as your intent must be confident and unwavering. For example, if you would like to conjure up an old friend you haven’t seen in years, you must believe that is what is going to happen in the very next second without doubting. Generally this takes practice.

One of the easiest things to do while lucid is flying, though the execution of flight can be wildly different for different people. When I am lucid and my intent is to fly, I can’t just go ‘up! up! and away!’ because of my wall of doubt. Usually I begin flying by running and flapping my arms like a bird. Others can just zip through the air like it’s nothing and even change the entire environment, zapping people, objects, and scenery about as they wish.

The most difficult of achievements while lucid is changing the entire context of the dream, like going from the desert alone, to a crowded beach. In my experience, trying to change the environment all at once just leads to a fading out of the visuals and consciousness. An easier approach is to change the environment piece by piece. You can add the water on the horizon in your vision. Then, as you move closer, the people can come into view, then you can shift the scenery behind you with ease, all without risking a black-out.

Dreaming is not something completely understood by science, and lucid dreaming is even more unexplored. The possibilities, however, are obvious, and with the capacity to do so, we can only learn more about how our mind works and how the varying layers of our conscious/subconscious effect our minds everyday.