Understanding dreams has been an important aspect of psychology (and philosophy) for a long time. Dreams have been used to interpret fears, goals, destiny, love and relationships – but perhaps one of the most empowering uses of dreaming is lucid dreaming.
Lucid dreaming is the ability to control your dreams by waking up within them. One could theoretically live out their deepest fantasies in a dream, and it would be as if they were really happening. Besides fantasy fulfillment, lucid dreaming has been used to allow quadriplegics to experience the feeling of dancing again, widowers to revisit moments with their spouse, children to conquer recurring nightmares, and elderly hospice patients to relive their youth.
In addition, lucid dreaming can also allow us to build confidence and solve problems by practicing important key life moments before we actually live them. This could include a big speech at work, an audition for a play, a scientific experiment, or executing an outlandish marriage proposal. Thanks to techniques from researchers like Dr. Stephen LaBerge of Stanford University, you can learn to determine whether you are in an awake or dream state.
Unleashing Your Wildest Fantasies
LaBerge’s MILD (Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams) technique is a series of exercises that involves lying in bed and telling yourself that you will remember your dreams. Next, think of a recent dream, and place two important key points within the context of that dream. First, get a clear idea of what it is you want to dream about, and second, place several cues around the environment to remind yourself that it is only a dream.
The best time to experience lucid dreaming is when REM sleep stages are the longest and most intense, which is generally during the early morning. If you have extra time in the morning, as during the weekends, LaBerge’s advice is to sleep for six hours of the night, waking for an hour in the early morning to read about lucid dreaming, spending an additional ten minutes engaged in MILD exercises, and concluding with a two hour nap. There are also a number of electronic goggles designed to identify REM sleep, responding to the sleeper with either a sound or sequence of flashing lights to the eyes. The next big obstacle for the lucid dreamer is maintaining the awareness of dream without waking.
As the sleeper becomes aware of a dream, the mind consciously begins to wake. One trick to talk the mind into staying in the dream is called spinning. This involves turning your body in circles in the dream with your hands held out to the sides. The idea is to give the brain a contradictory perception of motion. Obviously, if you believe you are spinning in circles, you couldn’t possibly be lying motionless in bed, or so the brain is led to believe. Another technique is to rub your hands together vigorously during a dream as you sense that you are beginning to wake. The brain experiences this sensation and is once again tricked into staying in the dream longer.
Once you master your dreams, according to Dr. LaBerge, you will also become the master of the awakened domain. You will gain confidence in your choices and will no longer be just a prisoner to your mind’s whim, but rather the ruler of your own destiny!
What are your favorite tips for working with, interpreting and becoming lucid in dreams?