Lucid dreaming is the ultimate form of entertainment. It's free. It happens while you're getting rest. You can do anything you want, anywhere. It has unlimited potential. So why do so few people attempt to develop this ability?
Lucid dreaming doesn't come naturally to most. A lot of people can't even remember their dreams upon waking. To develop this skill, you must form a few habits that help dream retention and dream recognition.
Step 1: Dream Journaling
To remember dreams, a dream journal is crucial. This will be the first thing you touch every morning. Upon waking, grab the journal (or note app) and write down as much as you can remember about any dreams you had that night. The prose will likely be far from elegant as your brain is still waking, but you can edit the entries later if you desire.
Doing this every morning gets you into the habit of holding onto these dream memories. Without the journal, most dreams fade before you make it to the shower.
Below are my first few entries into my own dream journal.
Maria bought a tank of propane and was installing it in the new barbecue on her own. I was confused since we were planning on making a Home Depot run in the coming week.
I was following someone into a new environment, but there was a timer that was about to go off. The details are blurry.
Weird times in my hometown, Wenatchee, WA. There were a bunch of drugged out guys hanging out in the tree out in front of my parents' house. My dad had just pulled up in a camper that was smoking like crazy - massive plumes of black smoke. Before getting home, I had got a speeding ticket on my ultrafast skateboard. The whole city had converted to adapt to the new skateboard revolution. Sean Mack arrived with a knife to fend off the drug addicts. Eventually I go inside the house with my friends. Hannah and I then go on a walk because she has something really important to talk about. Unfortunately, I'm unable to hear what she has to say as the morning alarm wakes me.
At a massive beach house with friends and strangers. It was a dance party. I felt guilty for something. The dream was very blurry.
Wenatchee again. I sneak out the back door to go shower at a standard sidewalk shower, but am met by someone. We chat for a bit and three more people come. Finally, I break free and find a nearby sidewalk shower. To save the time I lost talking earlier, I keep my shorts on while I shower, making passersby look at me strange. Then the zombies come. People start running by me as I'm finishing my shower. I'm safe in here, but as soon as I finish my shower, I must exit - it is the law, after all.
As you can see, just after a few days the details of my dreams are coming through more and more. I have found that the earlier I get to my note app, the more detail I retain.
Step 2: Reality Checks
Once your dream journal is getting filled with some interesting entries, it's time to take it to the next level. We need a technique to clue us in to our dream state. This can be any number of things, but there are a few that work really well.
- Look at text or a clock. If it's hard to read the words or the time, you are likely dreaming! Or wasted.
- Look at your hands; in a dream, they should look different than normal. The shape may be funny, or the texture will be warped.
- Create a motion that creates different results if you're dreaming. For example, take your right index finger and try to push it through your left palm. If you can do this, you're (hopefully!) dreaming. Otherwise, ouch.
When you pick a reality check, start practicing it several times a day. We want to make this second nature so you'll remember to do this in your dream. As you perform the check, ask yourself, "Am I dreaming?" As you ask this, look around at your surroundings and also ask, "Is this real?" The more your build awareness about your waking environments, the better you'll be aware of your dream environments.
Step 3: Prepare Before Sleeping
With your dream journal and reality check at the ready, it's time to lucid dream! As you're drifting to sleep, actually perform your reality check. Press your finger into your palm. Or do simple math problems in your head. Whatever check you've practiced, execute until you fall asleep. This will prepare your brain to perform it in your dream state.
Once you perform the reality check, your environment should become much more clear. You are now aware that you're dreaming! From here you should have some level of freedom to make conscious choices in your dream.
Become a superhero.
Live the life of a video game character.
Explore the world.
Go to the beach.
The choice is yours! If you have experience lucid dreaming or have any additional tips, I would love to hear about them in the comments! Dreams are a wild phenomenon; definitely worth the effort.