I just watched the film "Waking Life" and thought it was very good. It talks a lot about lucid dreaming. It promted me to dig up an article I wrote almost 20 years ago that gives 5 easy steps to have lucid dreams. I really love lucid dreaming. I've had several lucid dreams in my life, but far too few, and I'd have to say it's one of the funnest things I've ever done. I've given out this article to many people in the past and several have gotten back to me soon after reading it to report it worked for them. A few have even said they had a lucid dream the night after they read the article! Here it is:
5 Easy Steps to Lucid Dreaming
by Gary Beckwith
By simply reading and following the 5 easy steps outlined below, you will attain the useful skill of Lucid Dreaming. Read this entire paper at first; however, it is important to do each step before you go into the practice of the next. Follow each step completely and in order, and you are on your way to becoming a master of the Dream World. Best of all, this is not just something to read about - you can experience it yourself! While many disciplines take months or years to see results, most people can have real lucid dreams in a short period of time if they follow these steps.
1. Know What Lucid Dreaming is and its Uses.
In normal dreams, we are "players" in a play. We don't know the plot or the outcome until it happens. Things happen "to us." It can be scary, confusing, dull, stressful, and frustrating at times. We are not in control. Lucid dreams are very different than normal dreams. In lucid dreams, we are in control – we are the writer and director of the play, the master of the dream. We can do anything we want. We can change the scene at will - just wish that the monster chasing you was a beautiful woman (or man) and POOF! Or better yet, stop and ask the monster why he's chasing you. The benefits of lucid dreaming are endless. The wonderful thing about lucid dreaming is that feels as real as "real life." Can you imagine a place exactly like this world, except for the fact that you have magical powers, can do absolutely anything you want, and where wishes come true instantly?
In the Lucid Dream World, you know that you are dreaming, but that doesn't decrease the realness of it. And because you know you are dreaming, you can do anything you want, without "screwing up" anything in your real life. You can tell your boss what you really think, without dealing with the consequences. You can even fly, go to the bottom of the sea, walk through walls, and satisfy your wildest fantasies. Our normal dreams are so real that we usually have no idea that we are dreaming. Likewise, in Lucid Dreams, our experience, our senses, and everything is the same, or even MORE vivid and brilliant, than our waking hours. Lucid dreaming can even be used as a form of therapy because you can live through experiences that are not possible in the physical world, but when you wake up, your body and mind feel as if you actually did those things.
A lucid dream is very different from a normal dream. Most lucid dreams start with a normal dream that turns into a lucid dream by following these steps. The instant a normal dream becomes a lucid dream, everything changes, and it’s a very exciting moment because you then have the power to do literally anything.
So how do you have a lucid dream? Are you ready for the big secret? Here it is. The key to lucid dreaming is just to be aware that you are dreaming. It sounds simple, but it takes a little practice. Once you realize you’re dreaming, the door then opens to infinite possibilities of learning, adventure, healing, fantasy, and awe.
In normal dreams we don’t realize we’re dreaming. If you can figure out how to realize you’re dreaming, you’re half way there. The rest is mainly about choosing what to do, not waking up, and having fun! Let’s get started.
2. Remember Your Dreams.
Many people think they don’t dream, most of these people are just not remembering their dreams. If you are one of these people, don't fret. Here's a recipe sure to help: First, keep a notepad or journal right next to your bed. Right as you go to sleep, remind yourself that you’re going to write in the journal as soon as you wake up. When you wake up each morning (or in the middle of the night), before you move a muscle, and before you open your eyes, ask yourself, "What was I just dreaming?" Write it down right away. Studies show that most people can report what they were dreaming about right after they awaken, but many people forget by the time they get out of bed. This is because the mind is in a unique state of consciousness right when you wake up and it isn’t good at remembering things, until “the engine is warmed up.” Keeping a notepad next to you will change all that. If you're like most people, it will only take a day or two until you start writing. And a few days after that you might be able to ditch the notepad because you’ll find you just got “used to” remembering your dreams better. When you are remembering your dreams, you are ready for step 3.
3. Check-in Often.
Again, the key to door of the Lucid Dream World is the knowledge that you are dreaming. In regular dreams, we usually don’t realize we’re dreaming, even though odd things happen. A completely illogical thing might be happening, but we usually just say to ourselves “hmm, that’s odd,” and continue in the dream, unsuspecting. Because everything is so real, we "fall for it" and think it's our normal waking life. Sometimes we do wonder, "hey, I could be dreaming," but don’t act on the suspicion.
Since our goal is to realize we’re dreaming, we need a way to determine if we’re dreaming or not and we need to “check-in” often. By this, I mean to get in the habit of asking yourself, "Am I dreaming right now?", even when you're awake. You must have a simple and consistent way of checking to see if you are awake or dreaming. People think of the classic test “pinch me, I want to see if I’m dreaming.” Do NOT use pinching as a check-in test, as it tends to make you wake up, which is the last thing you want to do if you want to have a lucid dream.
One way to check-in is to look at some words, on a sign or paper. If you’re dreaming, the words will usually be illegible. The letters might be all jumbled, upside down, or they might just not make any sense. If you look at a paper and see crazy mixed up words like that, you’re probably dreaming. Another way is to look at the palm of your hand. If you are dreaming and you look at your hand to check in, you will know “this ain’t Kansas” as soon as you look at your hand.
Choose a check-in method that works best for you and use it at least 6 times per day, while you are awake. The best time to check is when anything seems just a little weird. Here’s an example. You’re on your way to work, you notice your pen isn’t in your pocket. “Hmm, I thought I took the pen with me,” you say to yourself. You take this opportunity to check-in and look at a speed limit sign on the road. If it says 60 mph, you probably just forgot your pen. But if the letters and numbers on the sign don’t make sense, you’re dreaming. It may seem silly at first, but it only takes a second, and you need to do it if you want to have lucid dreams. By doing this often when you’re awake, you create a habit of doing it, which stays with you even when you're asleep. One day soon you will check-in when you ARE dreaming, just out of habit. You'll ask yourself, "Am I dreaming?", you'll do your check-in, and you'll find the answer is YES. This is a sacred moment and Step 4 will make sure you’re ready for it.
4. Have A Solid Plan For What To Do When You Realize You’re Dreaming.
If you aren't prepared for the special moment when you realize you’re dreaming, you won't be able to use it. It would be as if someone handed you a $100 bill and you just looked at it, and walked away.
People often suspect they are dreaming, or even know they are dreaming, but they just go on with their dream, still being a player in the play. That is not a lucid dream. Just to know you’re dreaming is not enough; you have to do something with that knowledge. For one thing, if you know you are dreaming, you know don't have to worry about getting hurt, and you don’t have to worry about that monster chasing you. But just knowing you can’t get hurt isn’t enough. You need a Plan.
It’s best at first to keep your plan very simple. A simple plan is to fly. If you realize you’re dreaming, all you have to do is take off! If you want to, you can take a running start and leap into the air. Think to yourself, "I am going to fly now." Many of us have wished we could fly. Well now is your opportunity! You can really fly! An alternative plan is to manipulate your surroundings. Change an object into something else. If there is another person there, you can "will" him or her to do anything, without saying a word. Just say to yourself, “I want that person to jump up and down” and watch it happen.
Whatever you choose for your plan, be consistent. Stick with that one plan until you realize you’re dreaming and you enact the plan successfully. Start with a very simple plan, and as you have more lucid dreams you will develop your plans. If you do not have a concrete and simple plan, especially as you’re getting started with lucid dreaming, you may wake up out of confusion. To avoid waking up like this, set your plan firmly in your mind while you are awake. Tell yourself, "when I realize I'm dreaming, I will stay in my dream and start to ...". Like checking-in, remind yourself of the plan a few times a day. You can even link your plan to your check-in. Whenever you check in and find you’re not dreaming, tell yourself “If had found I was dreaming, I would have immediately ___________.
NOW, before you go to bed every night, the very last thing, remind yourself of everything. Remind yourself about remembering your dreams, how you check-in, and that you do it often. Remind yourself of your Plan.
If you are doing all these things, soon you will have your first lucid dream. An we’re only on step 4! For some people, their first lucid dream will come the night after reading this article for the first time. For others, it may take longer to start remembering your dreams and to go through the steps but you will get there!
5. Daydream About Your Dreams.
Now that you've succeeded in having a lucid dream, think how you can use lucid dreams. Flying is very fun and you may want to stick with that for a while but eventually you may want to start contemplating your dreams more. Think about how you can learn from them, or gain some insight. It’s literally like the “holodeck” on Start Trek. If you’ve ever seen that show, remember how useful it was for them to have a place to go where they could experience things, try out different scenarios, and never have to worry about getting hurt or hurting others. Think up some fantasies that you would like to live out. Are you frustrated at work and want to tell your boss something, but afraid to risk your position? Do it in a lucid dream, and you may find that you wake up feeling as if you released the tension you were holding towards your boss, and it was good enough it was good enough to do it in a dream because the feelings are so real. Or you may have an increased feeling of confidence and be ready to talk to her from a more calm and rational viewpoint. Have you been carrying some kind of burden, or bad thoughts about something, or wondered about why or how an event could have happened or did happen. The Lucid Dream world offers a place to find out, and to release these burdens.
The best thing about lucid dreams is that your mind will feel as if you have actually done these things when you awaken. So, if you always wanted to swim with dolphins, go for it! Do it in a lucid dream and you will be fulfilled!
While you're awake, think about all the uses of lucid dreaming, and make your plans for the next time it happens. Set the plan firmly in your mind. Each time you do your check-in, remind yourself of what the plan is. The possibilities are endless. Just a few examples:
• Flying and space travel, and underwater exploration
• Being with your favorite celebrity
• Meeting a spiritual guide
• Performing in front of a live audience
• Sexual fantasies
• Go to a concert for your favorite band, even if they don’t play anymore
• Asking questions and receiving guidance in real life issues
• Going to sacred places
• Confronting situations, telling people what you think, releasing stress
One other great thing about lucid dreaming is that your senses are heightened if you simply focus on them. Scenes are more vivid, sounds are more intense, smells are more pungent, etc... If you take a moment, you can really feel the beauty. Just stop, look around, and notice how amazing everything is. This is the best time to “stop and smell the roses!”
This is an introduction to Lucid Dreaming. If you follow the steps you will succeed but there is much more to mastering the art. For a more complete discussion - I highly recommend the book, Lucid Dreaming, by Stephen LaBerge, PhD. It is filled with more uses of lucid dreams and other ways to develop the skill of having lucid dreams.
If you find that you were having lucid dreams but they are becoming less frequent, or they stopped, go back and make sure you are checking in and making your plans. Just because you had a lucid dream doesn’t mean you can stop the previous steps. You have to continue steps 2-4 to keep having lucid dreams.
by Gary Beckwith, Certified Hypnotherapist
uc 1991 This material is UNcopyrighted.
The more you share it, the more lucid dreams you will have!
The Harmony Institute