|By Allan Wallace author of Dreaming Yourself Awake
and Adriana Ayales
It is an exciting experience to have your first lucid dream — especially if it is accomplished intentionally. In fact, it is so exciting, bizarre, unexpected, energizing that you usually awaken after only a few second of lucid dreaming. So the next step is to is to develop some stability, increase your “flight time”. One very important contributing factor that cannot be overlooked is your ability to get a good night’s sleep, developing stability in lucid dreaming is impossible. Below I will offer suggestions and exercises that will help you fall asleep more easily and extend your sleep time.
Techniques like the ones below, if practiced diligently, will eventually enable you to engage in lucid dreaming frequently, or whenever you want. Therefore to extend or stabilize lucid dreams requires that you 1. keep the dream going and not wake up 2. maintain lucidity (don’t fall into ordinary, non-lucid dreaming). Once you’re able to maintain a lucid dream for a few seconds, you may notice the dream scenario begins to break up. The images lose their sharpness and cohesiveness. There are a number of techniques you can apply via your “dream body” to stimulate your senses and revive the integrity of dream contents. Techniques derived from meditation for creating a vividness of consciousness can also be applied to your dreams to enhance their intensity.
The techniques used for reconstituting dreams are based on the theory that competing sense data from either the waking state or the dreamless sleep are responsible for the deterioration of lucid dreams. Following that logic, practices have been developed that focus your attention on the dream phenomena, diminishing outside interference and allowing the dream to be reconstructed. Here are some techniques that will help you through small reminders, or through powerful shifts that will help you maintain the lucidity for as long as possible.
1. The power of motivation > Make positive affirmations throughout the day in regards to lucid dreaming can generate significant accomplishment. This not only reminds the mind of your dreams, this helps you access your intention with precision. Let’s say your intention is to see an aspect of your future — a state in your mind throughout the day “I want to see my future tonight”. Say it out loud and say it often throughout the day. Some folks at the beginning even set a timer on their phone, every 2-3hrs to do a check in about that night’s intention.
2. Prospective memory > Planning ahead and imagining an outcome, for example, during the day imagine becoming lucid in the dream. What does that feel like? What does that look like for you? Go into what that feeling might be, and imagine yourself immersed in it, receiving what you intended to receive.
3. Noting dream signs > Set small symbolic moments to become moments where you tap into the dream. A classic one is to look at your Hands. For some reason, when you look down in a dream the veils slim enough that it’s an easy reminder that you’re dreaming. A classic tool that by having the intention of looking at your hands (or feet) is an instant recall that you’re dreaming. It’s helpful to set it in your mind, that every time you look at your hands or feet, you’ll repeat “I’m dreaming” or “This is a dream.” Every time you become successful at a dream sign (whether it was a pre-planned or a spontaneous one) write it down the next day in your dream journal.
4. Performing state checks > Throughout the day, ask yourself “Am I dreaming?” This is very helpful as sooner or later you’ll be asking yourself the same question in the dream. If you happen to ask yourself if you’re dreaming, whilst in your dream, don’t even double think it and just go for whatever you’d like to do. For example, try to fly, or look at your hands, or jump of a cliff to see what happens (this might be a hard one if you’re a true beginner) — this will help you open the lock and just set your intention into immediate play.
5. MILD > Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams.
When you become skilled at remembering your dreams, you will begin to easily notice oddities and anomalies — things that are so bizarre that its surprising you don’t even question them as you dream along. Anomalies ranging from flying elephants to green sunsets to the appearance of deceased relatives, to being inhabited by fantastic creatures, occur in most people’s dreams, but our normal dream state, dominated by dullness, prevents us from questioning them. This helps awaken our critical reflective attitude in dreams and training your mind to see oddities as a trigger to know you’re dreaming.
*Technique 3 + 4 is similar to the MILD practice, basically performing state check-ins when you see a dream sign.
6. DILD > Dream-Initiated Lucid Dreams.
One variation on this is to use an alarm clock to awaken yourself periodically during the night. This involves setting up an alarm clock to wake up and put yourself back to sleep with an awareness that you’re going back into the dream. I recommend folks setting their alarm at 3 or 4am, as usually the last 2 hours of sleep are the easiest to enter lucid dreaming (This goes for the DILD and WILD techniques)
7. WILD > Wake-Initiated Lucid Dreams.
Wakening in the night, reading a bit and falling back asleep and re-entering sleep lucidly. Another version of this practice is to follow the hypnagogic imagery that often appears as we fall asleep. These images range from partial dreamlike scenes to elaborate geometric patterns. They are very subtle and require relaxation and sensitivity to perceive, but if you can maintain gentle attention on them once you see them, you can fall asleep consciously and experience both dreams and non-REM* sleep lucidly.
8. Reconstructing fading dreams.
This technique involves spinning your dream body, vertically or horizontally, and giving yourself a rub-down. This one is a bit more of an advanced practice, yet once you’re in the groove, this one is excellent — One of my all-time favorites.
*Rapid Eye Movement
Personally, I view lucid dreaming as a laboratory for exploring the mind. From the most intimate aspect of our own story to the collective matrix that encompasses the everyone’s mind. Lucid dreaming is a remarkable tool for accessing the deepest contracts of reality, that enable powerful healing to mind and body. This practice can allow you to explore your fears, neuroses, psychological obstacles, insecurities, and so forth. Even unfinished business with a deceased relative can be reenacted in a lucid dream because of the dream space you can bring that person (as you conceive of or remember that person) back to life. In the process of such explorations, you can learn new things about yourself (to say the least.) Try practicing this daily, to not only get excellent sleep but to master your emotions and your mind.