What is Lucid Dreaming?
Lucid dreaming is when you are conscious during a dream. It’s a form of metacognition, or awareness of your awareness – without being awake. And it is possible to train yourself to maintain this metacognition and purposefully influence your dreams. Deep dream state typically happens during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and this is the optimum time for lucid dreaming to take place.
It is estimated that 55% of people have had a lucid dream. The most common experience is becoming aware of being in a dream but for most people, they cannot maintain that awareness without waking up. With practice however, it is possible to gain control of your consciousness during dream states and with practice, you can begin to influence your dreams.
Benefits of Lucid Dreaming
In my personal experience and from working with students over the years, I have found that learning to lucid dream often helps us to gain control of our waking consciousness and become more focused. It also allows us to increase self-control, self-confidence and helps us heal from wounds from the past.
By learning to access and control our “awareness of being aware,” we realise that we are so much more than the thoughts and feelings we have. We learn to become a witness instead of identifying with everything we think or feel. This allows to truly embrace the fact that we are multi-dimensional beings; capable of experiencing a whole range of consciousness, not just the consciousness of the mundane and subconscious world. Once we experience this freedom, we are able to step into our true power. We realise that allowing our thoughts and feelings to bring us suffering is a choice. We learn to observe our inner workings and become objective. We stop seeing ourselves as victims and we begin to play an active role in creating our reality instead of being subjected to a reality that is rooted in subconscious fear and limiting beliefs.
Other benefits include –
- The ability to decrease and manage anxiety
- Reduced stress
- Better self-mastery
- Increased self-trust
- Enhance our performance in sports, business and other life activities
A personal story from Vernon’s assistant, Shireen
When I was a young child, around 7-8 yrs old, I would have the same nightmare over and over again. I would be running down a long passage in a house, with many rooms on each side of the passage and one big room at the end of the passage. Not only was I running, I was also being chased by a Rhino! And all the walls and doors were made out of glass and everyone I knew where behind these doors, unable to get out and help me!
I kept having this dream and after some time I would find myself becoming aware that I was in the same dream, just as I was about to enter the big room at the end of the passage. At first, I would wake up almost immediately after realising that I was dreaming and I would lie awake in bed, shaken and determined to stop this nightmare!
My childhood logic said that I would only be able to stop the nightmare if I finished the dream. In my waking state I anaylised the dream and worked out that the reason I was terrified of going into that room at the end of the passage was because I would get stuck there with the raging Rhino. I decided that I needed a ladder so I could climb out the window to safety.
From then on, when I was awake, I would imagine a ladder whenever I could. I would imagine the texture and the size and feel of it. I decided it was strong and lightweight and decided I could pick it up and run without any effort at all! I also repeated to myself, “Stay in the dream, stay in the dream, stay in the dream” throughout the day. When I was falling asleep, I would imagine the ladder and repeated, “stay in the dream”.
Then one night, I realized that I was running down that familiar passage, my heart racing and the sound of the rhino grunting right behind me. I’m dreaming! “STAY IN THE DREAM!” I carried on running and noticed the frightened people behind the glass… and then…. The ladder! There it was, just as I imagined! Yes!!! I reached out to touch the ladder and the moment I grabbed it, the rhino disappeared and the house turned to normal and I woke up feeling absolutely exhilarated! I did it! And I never had that dream again.
The reason Shireen’s story is important here, is because she never questioned the possibility that she could influence her dream. She believed that she could and she did it! If she had asked her teachers or even a parent, they would have most likely told her that it was impossible and she would have most likely believed them and continued having the same nightmare.
Now, as adults, we are faced with unlearning and letting go of the limiting beliefs we were subjected to in order for us to gain control of own consciousness. This can be a fun and simple process! And it is worth every effort.
How can you start to lucid dream?
The following lucid dreaming techniques train your mind to notice your own consciousness.
They’re also designed to help you regain or maintain consciousness as you enter REM sleep.
1. Testing Reality
Reality testing, or reality checking, is a form of mental training. It increases meta-cognition by training your mind to notice your own awareness.
Your level of meta-cognition is similar in your waking and dreaming states. So, higher meta-cognition when you’re awake can lead to higher meta-cognition when you’re dreaming.
This may be related to the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which plays a role in both reality testing and lucid dreaming. To enhance your meta-cognition, you can do reality tests while you’re awake.
You can set an alarm every two or three hours to remind yourself to do a reality check.
It’s recommended to pick one reality check and do it multiple times a day. This will train your mind to repeat the reality checks while dreaming, which can induce lucid dreaming.
Here are common reality checks that people use to lucid dream:
- Ask yourself, “Am I dreaming?” By doing this frequently throughout the day you will start training your brain and thereby make it easier to access this question when in a dream state.
- Check your environment to confirm whether or not you are dreaming.
- Notice your own consciousness and how you’re engaging with your surroundings.
- Mirrors. Check your reflection to see if it looks normal.
- Solid objects. Push your hand against a wall or table and see if it goes through. Some people push their fingers into their opposite palm.
- Hands. Look at your hands. Do they look normal?
- Time. If you’re dreaming, the time on a clock will constantly change. But if you’re awake, the time will barely change.
- Breathing. This popular reality check involves pinching your nose and seeing if you can breathe. If you can still breathe, you’re dreaming.
2. Wake back to bed (WBTB)
Wake back to bed (WBTB) involves entering REM sleep while you’re still conscious. There are many versions of WBTB, but consider this technique:
- Set an alarm for five hours after your bedtime.
- Go to sleep as usual.
- When the alarm goes off, stay up for 30 minutes. Enjoy a quiet activity like reading.
- Fall back asleep.
When you go back to sleep, you’ll be more likely to lucid dream. While you’re awake, choose any activity that requires full alertness. The chances of lucid dreaming depends on the level of alertness and not the specific activity.
3. Keeping a Dream journal
Keeping a dream journal, or dream diary, is a popular method for initiating lucid dreaming. When you write down your dreams, you’re forced to remember what happens during each dream. It’s said to help you recognize “dream-signs” and enhance awareness of your dreams. For best results, log your dreams as soon as you wake up. It’s also recommended to read your dream journal often.
How to wake up
Sometimes, you might want to wake up from a lucid dream. Lucid dreamers use a few different techniques.
Try the following methods to wake from a lucid dream:
- Call out for help. It’s said that yelling in your dream tells your brain it’s time to wake up. Or, if you manage to speak out loud, you might wake yourself up.
- Repeatedly blinking may help your mind get ready to wake up.
- Fall asleep in your dream. If you’re aware that you’re dreaming, go to sleep in your dream so you can wake up in real life.
- Try to read a sign or book in your dream. This could activate parts of your brain that aren’t used in REM.
Finally…. If you’d like to lucid dream, try the techniques listed above. These methods can train your mind to be conscious of your consciousness during sleep. It’s best to see your doctor if you think you have a sleep disorder, PTSD, or another mental health issue.
If you would like to purchase the replay to Vernon’s 2hr online workshop, LUCID DREAMING, here is the link: https://vernonfrost.co.za/shop/uncategorized/lucid-dreaming-replay/
Humans typically lack awareness that they are dreaming while dreaming. However, at times a remarkable exception occurs and reflective consciousness can be regained while dreaming, referred to as lucid dreaming.
During lucid dreams, one becomes aware that one is dreaming while remaining physiologically asleep and immersed within a dream environment that often appears strikingly realistic. This a form of metacognition, or awareness of your awareness. Often, lucid dreaming also lets you control what happens in your dream.
During this 2hr workshop, Vernon will take you into a deep state of altered awareness that will assist you in becoming aware of your own awareness. He will also share tried and tested techniques that you can use in your waking state to become more attuned to your consciousness and improve your ability to lucid dream. This workshop will not only improve your ability to actively participate in your dreams, it will also increase your ability to remain focused and alert in your waking hours.
ARTICLE SOURCES: healthline.com reviewed by Deborah Weatherspoon, Ph.D., R.N., CRNA