Dreams – the doorway to to the subconscious. I have always found the world of dreams interesting, ever since I was little. It’s a place where you can do things you cannot do in real life. I’m not going to blog today about regular dreaming everybody can do that, I’m going to write about LUCID dreaming (controlling your dreams). I’ve chosen this topic because it’s one of my favourite abilities and happened, most recently, just two nights ago. The best thing about having a lucid dream is that when you wake up, you feel more in control of your life than you have ever felt – because the night before you somehow controlled that petulant child that is your subconscious. It is the most powerful feeling!
Most people over the age of ten have four to six dreams every night. Those numbers, times 365 days in a year makes between 1460 and 2190 dreams every year! We dream during REM periods (rapid eye movement), which can range anywhere from five minutes to half an hour long. In the course of one night, this happens many times. It might seem hard to believe, but this is because we forget between 95% and 99% of our dreams!
Now, I put it to you. What if you could enter a world within your own mind? A world where you could do anything your heart desires? No limits, no consequences. If you can imagine it, you can do it, and all whilst sleeping peacefully. I am of course referring to LUCID DREAMING. Lucid dreaming is a fantastic psychological phenomenon that happens when we sleep. It is a state where you realise you are inside of a dream. This isn’t a naturally occurring thing, only about 20% of the world’s population have had lucid dreams and I’m writing about it to help you get into that 20% with me! It’s a dream where YOU are the writer, YOU are the director.
I know there are probably people reading this thinking, ‘yeah, right-o Stace,’ but it isn’t just a theory, it’s factually proven in science! Using cat scans, scientists can see which lobes in the brain activate when you ‘go lucid.’
Lucid dreaming is a learnable skill that can be used for living out fantasies, practising creative problem-solving, role-playing important life situations, stopping nightmares, creative or artistic inspiration, and even personal or spiritual exploration.
Two nights ago, in my dream, I was sat in my old work’s office in Llangennech. My colleague and I were terrified as we could see spaceships flying round the sky, shooting lasers at buildings and destroying everything. I suppose you could say it was more of a nightmare. My boyfriend was working his shift at the time and I couldn’t get hold of him so I rushed to the office car park ready to drive to see if my parents were okay. Strangely, everyone else’s car was there but mine.
This is the moment I went lucid. Initially I didn’t realise I was dreaming until my car (which is the only way I ever used to get to that office) had disappeared. It was then I realised that what I was experiencing, the aliens, the spaceships, the destruction, the missing car, it was all a dream and I knew it! I turned to my colleague and told him not to worry because this wasn’t real and it was all happening in my head. He asked me to prove it, and rightly so, bless him, he was terrified.
“Watch this!” I said with a satisfied grin on my face, knowing full well I’d conquered my nightmare and was in full control of what was to happen next. I went to the parking space where my car would have been, sat down on the concrete and pretended to put my key in the ignition. “I want my car to be here so if I really concentrate, it will appear around me and I can drive home” I said out loud. All my work colleagues had surrounded me at this point, looking at me in confusion. Sure enough, a few seconds later after wishing hard that I had my car, it appeared. “Ha! See? Told you I was dreaming!” I shouted to them. I told them they didn’t need to worry about the aliens destroying Earth anymore because I would will it to stop.
How did I do this? How did I stop my nightmare? Simple – I just recognised I was dreaming. Once you are aware you’re dreaming, you can alter your dreams and dictate what happens. Learning to dream like this often requires you to know your dreams well enough to find any differences between your dream and waking life – in this instance it was my car not being where it was supposed to be. For example, if you dream about a certain person, place or thing that you never see in your waking life, you can use that as a cue to aid you in becoming lucid. This is called a dream-cue or dream-sign. More often than not, these dream-signs take the form of things or events that you wouldn’t see or wouldn’t happen in the real world. Some examples of dream signs are:
- Breathing underwater
- Flying or taking unusually long jumps
- Oversized/undersized objects or people
- Lilac skies and pink cats… just generally weird stuff1
Beware though, dream signs can be more subtle, perhaps in the form of suddenly returning to an old job, losing the ability to scream, inability to run, arriving somewhere naked or your teeth falling out.
If you don’t intently look for these signs in dreams during sleep, you will accept everything, no matter how strange it is and lucid dreaming just won’t happen to you. Some people keep dream journals where they can record all their dream signs. I just don’t have time for that, so I talk about my dreams. I tell the content to whoever will listen. We chat about how weird they are generally and it sticks in my head, thus helping me recognise my dream signs.
In lucid dreams, you can do things like transport yourself to a new place if you’re not happy where you are, become invisible if you are being chased, fly around if the ground is filling up with water or lava or find money on the ground if you’re feeling poor. The dreams can make you feel so good when you wake, trust me, I’ve had them all!
So how do you go lucid in a dream? In order to be successful at changing things in your dream, you have to believe it is possible – if you don’t, then you won’t be successful. Just think about what you would like to change and picture making it happen (like me picturing I was sitting in my car). For instance, you could imagine a bolt of electricity flying out of your hand pr even something much simpler like a can of coke appearing if you are thirsty – this usually happens when after alcohol!
Dream spinning can also help you control a dream and change your dream setting – I’ve only done this a couple of times as it’s quite advanced and I generally don’t really think about doing it when I’m asleep. Verbal commands are a good way to gain control as well. If you want a shark to disappear, just say it. Repeat it over and over and picture it gone in your head. This is easier to remember than dream spinning! Remember though, if you find yourself feeling uncomfortable in a dream, trying blinking really fast, it will often jolt you awake.
If none of the above works for you and you’d like to train yourself to go lucid in dreams, I recommend the ‘Wake-Induced Lucid dreaming’ approach:
- Start making a note of your dreams – the more you write them down, the quicker you learn the differences between dreams and reality in your mind. Alternatively just talk about them every morning like I do.
- Find a way to remind yourself what is real and what isn’t – a bit like the movie ‘Inception!’ Leonardo DiCaprio has what’s called a ‘totem’ which is a spinning top that spins indefinitely when he is in a dream world. Instead of this, you could just simply practise something you can do in the real world that you might struggle with in your dream, such as your nine times table.
- Remind yourself once, every hour of the day, that you are awake – you can chant ‘I am awake, I am awake, I am awake…’ ten times out loud and recite the nine times table. This way, when you fall asleep and you subconsciously feel like you want to keep doing it, you can’t. Why? Because you are asleep and dreaming!
- Set your alarm clock 4-5 hours after you fall asleep. When that alarm goes off, don’t get up out of bed, don’t freak out, don’t get excited or anything, just turn it off. Don’t go back to sleep however!
- Relax, close your eyes, breathe deeply – focus on ‘I’m going to dream, I’m going to go lucid’ – keep reaffirming this. Fight any urges you have to move and fidget. you may want to roll over, scratch things etc. but don’t! If you need to distract yourself from your body fidgets, focus on what’s called your third eye, which is directly in front of you. You may see squiggly lines and patterns, lots of activity behind your eyelids, but this is simply your brain confirming that that you are about to go to sleep, but DON’T fall asleep yet, you have to keep conscious throughout this whole process – this is the hardest part of it!
- Right now, your body is realising that you’re ready to go to sleep and is starting to shut down but you are NOT going to sleep yet. You are still conscious and focussed on the fact that you are awake and this is reality.
- At this point, you start to see a load of colours and images flash before you, but don’t focus on any of them, do not pay attention, don’t attach yourself to any themes you may see. This is your brain trying to get back into the REM cycle.
- If you keep doing this for as long as you can, eventually, you will attach yourself to a theme you really like and you will realise that you are in a dream. You are not choosing to have that dream, but you are becoming lucid within it and the power is now yours.
When you wake from a lucid dream, you feel so powerful and that nothing can stop you from having a great day. Good luck to all those attempting to go lucid tonight, please do let me know if or when you do – I’d love to hear about your experiences and know that there are others out there that can do this too