I have always been bad in bed. At least when it comes to falling asleep.
Usually it takes me way too long to reach the realms of Morpheus, but small noises can wake me up very quickly. I must say, though, that I’ve been seeing a psychologist for the last couple of months and I’ve been sleeping far better and deeper since. Apparently, all of that murky shit we keep stored in our unconscious minds does make life worse.
Now, I’ve always been interested in dreams. As a child, I’d have very vivid dreams that would sometimes cause me to wake up shaking in dread. Other times, I was confused as I woke up: what is real, the dream or waking life? Sometimes I remember something and for the life of me I can’t tell whether it was a dream memory or an actual life event.
Until about four months ago, I would remember one dream a week on average. I don’t really remember how did I stumble upon the concept of lucid dreaming, but one day I did, which prompted me into doing a lot of research. I found out lucid dreaming is a skill that can be trained. So follow me in my baby steps:
1. Write a dream journal
This is where I started and stayed for about three months. Basically, you just leave a pen and a notebook by your bed so that you can easily reach them as soon as you wake up. When you do, before you do anything else – including looking at your phone – you write down anything you remember from your dreams with as many details as you can. If you can, try to take your time in waking up – it’s a special moment of the day. 😉
Writing a dream journal serves two important functions. Firstly, it improves your dream recall ability. Apparently, when you make an effort to pen down every detail you can remember from a dream, your unconscious mind understand that you’re interested in it and its contents, causing it to send more stuff to your conscious mind. Now I can remember at least one dream everyday, save when under sleep bothering conditions, say, stress.
The other beneficial effect or keeping a dream journal is getting better acquainted with your uncounscious themes. Just writing down your dreams is not enough. You should also review them from time to time and try to perceive any patterns and even connections with your waking life events. This measure will also make it easier for you to realize you’re inside a dream, since you’ll start to recognize some common features.
2. Is this real life?
There is, however, a trick to help you know you’re dreaming. It’s called reality check. You should perform it from ten to twenty times a day. Tricky, right? I had to set up some alarms to be able to remember at first, but now it’s a habit I’m incorporating.
You must perform your reality check with intention – just going through the moves won’t do the trick. The most common technique is to look intently at your hands and try to stick your finger through your palm. As you do, ask yourself: am I dreaming? And imagine the sensation of the finger actually going through your palm as vividly as you can. Alternatively, you can also try to push your hand through a wall or a piece of furniture.
This way, when you notice something uncanny is going on, you can perform a reality check and know for sure whether you’re dreaming or not.
3. Rub your hands
The first time I got lucid, I became very excited. I started to point my finger and boss the dream elements around – you, do this! and you, do that! Everything obeyed me and I got so fucking intoxicated in my newfound power that I lost the dream, or at least its memory. It only lasted me for about thirty seconds. But you know, I wasn’t even frustrated – I was way too glad with my success.
There is a way, however, to stabilize your dream lucidity. As soon as you become lucid, rub your hands very slowly, repeating to yourself: I am dreaming. Allow yourself to feel the sensation. The second time I became lucid I managed to remember this trick and it was amusing to me how I went from wobbly with excitement to grounded and calm. Very soothing indeed.
I did the rubbing of hands thing a couple of times in waking state. I just wanted to know how would it feel like and make my brain acquainted with the feeling. I don’t know whether it helps or hinders, though.
4. Wake up! And go back to bed.
Our sleep happens in cycles. Lucid dreams usually happen during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. One way to induce yourself into REM quickly is to wake up about four to five hours after you fell asleep, then spending some time (usually two hours for me) awaken and then going back to bed.
If you had a dream in the first part of your sleeping time, take note of it during your vigil interval and, as you go back to bed, try to slip into its scenery again. This is the trick that helped me becoming lucid the first time.
There are many other ways you can approach lucid dreaming and many other techniques to try. In this post, I’m merely sharing what has worked for me so far and how I managed to accomplish it, even being a beginner with a hard time falling asleep. I found most of my info at World of Lucid Dreaming, including the free 10-day e-mail course you can subscribe to.
As a magician, it is my belief that the key to dream control is the same as the key to manifestation, since both stem from an unyielding confidence in yourself and in the desired outcome. Also, it’s a unique opportunity to get in touch with yourself, create a relationship with the uncharted depths within, where so many treasures are buried.
Now, let me ask you: are you sure you’re not dreaming right now?