I have to warn you, unlike any other “new age” tool, or weird concoction sold to you for a “good time”, this will actually work. And no, its not for a limited time, nor is it sold on the market, its relatively cheep, easy to use, require less than a few hours work a day and comes in an easily accessible forms. It does not, on any account come with a free set of stake knives, however if it does for you I finally know were they get them all from. I am talking of course of the resource known as sleep. With this wondrous resource that comes plentifully available each night you do sleep, you get this other thing known as a dream. If one has ever heard of this thing known as lucid dreaming, where one can control one’s own dreams and experience things beyond your imagination and are interested in achieving this feat, then you’re reading the right article.
This article discusses the who, why, what, where and how of lucid dreaming and not only will it give you a “good time” but if you like you can dream up yourself a free set of stake knives.
Well that’s very simple – you. There are almost no barriers to being able to have lucid dreams, if you can count, or remember your dreams for just 5 minutes, then you’re eligible. Of course some of you will immediately say “But I don’t dream,” this is of course rubbish, everyone who’s not crazy or brain dead dreams [1,2,3,4]. You just need to make a conscious effort to remember your dreams. However some advice I must give here is that if you have schizophrenia, experience psychoses of any kind, or your family has a history of such problem, then you should get advice from a psychiatrist before undertaking lucid dreaming. People with ADHD are likely to experience trouble with remembering dreams, but lucidity is still possible. And yes its even possible to lucid dream if you are blind.
Why lucid dream? To start with, you sleep more than 50-80% of your life [1,3,4], so why not take advantage of the fact? You may as well do something in your dreams. Have you have ever had a nightmare and do you ever wish you could just stop it? Or say turn the main aggravator in the nightmare into say, a very large pigeon? Or even make it say it sorry and apologize for all it has done to you in your dreams and promise to never come back again? You can do all of this and much in a lucid dream. In lucid dreams you can fly without the assistance of wings, an aircraft, or anything else for that matter, you can meet Gods and spirit guides and maybe even join them for a meal of an evening, you can go skiing, you can eat ice cream of any flavour for free, anything you can imagine can be done in lucid dreams [3,4]. So you can see why it is quite a popular thing to do, and since close to everyone can, there is almost no reason you can’t at least try.
Ok so your on the tip of the question, and may have been for some time, you have started a nagging question in your mind… What is a lucid dream and how do I know if I have had one? Put simply, a lucid dream is a dream in which you know you are dreaming. You don’t have to be in control of the dream as 100% control is extremely hard (some say impossible) but as long as you know you are dreaming then a dream counts as a lucid dream.
There are other things in the dreamer handbook as to other types of dreams, such as, false awakenings, outside of body experiences, pre-lucids and a few others:
A false awakening is where you think you are awake but are still dreaming, they can be quite vivid and seem real until… you really wake up and notice the subtle differences.
An outside of body experience is another topic entirely (which I will continue to discuss, as well as more on lucid dreaming and dreaming interpretation).
A pre-lucid is a dream in which you control your actions or words but have no idea that you are dreaming, generally before you work out that you are but not necessarily so.
Ok so where can you lucid dream, or find out more info?
You can lucid dream in your bed, in a chair, on a bus, in a lecture (I know one guy who frequently does so) anywhere you can sleep comfortably.
For more info on lucid dreams see my bibliography and also go to one the best place to get more info is ld4all.com, a free site devoted to the research, sharing and development of dreams and lucid dreaming.
You knew there would be a catch to complete dream freedom? Well yes there is. It means a bit of work on your part. First and foremost you need to make a conscious decision to remember your dreams, start by getting a notepad, if you have a dictaphone already then it would be a replacement but you need not break the bank buying one. Place it near to, or by your bed, or even under your pillow, with a pen (pencils are hard to sharpen in complete dark I can assure you this) and write down your dreams when you wake up from them. Do not forget, as you are likely not to remember, even a lucid dream can be forgotten by the morning if your not stringent with this part [3,4]. You should then write them all down in a dream diary when you wake up in the morning or soon after, as you’re likely to lose detail unless you do. After a month of remembering your dreams you may have recall of about 3-5 dreams a night, this is good, you may also have had a lucid dream. Congratulations if you have!.
The following is a list of different methods to add on to your nightly recall of dreams. I have found the best method is to work with a mixture of them.
The Wake Induced Lucid Dream (WILD)
The Wake Induced Lucid Dream simply involves you counting or using some other method of keeping your conscious mind awake as you go to sleep. This can lead to sleep “hypnotic” states and possibly the dreaded “Old Hag Syndrome” in which you can’t move but are fully conscious. It’s better to visualise the numbers or walk up or down stairs (it doesn’t effect the dream which as far as I am aware). In fact if you have heard of “counting sheep till you fall asleep” then this is where the method has entered popular culture.
The most effective WILD method I currently know of is a process of relaxing the body by slowly relaxing the muscles in your body from the feet up till you reach what is called the “hypnagogic” stage [3,6] (a long explanation of the hypnagogic stage can be found in Carol Eby’s book “Astral Odyssey”, referenced as 6). From this stage start to count “1 I am dreaming, 2 I am dreaming…” and so on and you will see images starting to appear, you will become into a state of “knowingness” (no current English word describes this) and then will be able to literally enter your dream. This may take a while but with practice WILD is the most reliable form of lucid dreaming, however it can involve some OBE and “old hag syndrome” side effects in my experience.
The Mnemonic Induced Lucid Dream (MILD)
The mnemonic induced lucid dream is one of the most familiar to anyone who has read anything on lucid dreaming before. This is as its an invention of Stephen LaBerge, a lucid dreaming scientist who has proven time and time again that lucid dreams are real and available to (almost) all [4,3].
The MILD method relies on your memory and belief in lucid dreams, you start with telling yourself you will wake upon having a dream, when you do remember all you can and record it in some manner. On going back to sleep you should set your intent on being aware that you’re dreaming and when you find your thoughts wandering bring them back softly (this is important as you will wake yourself if you concentrate to hard), then visualise yourself becoming lucid in that dream, see yourself as lucid and in control. Repeat the last two steps until you fall asleep. Of course as with any other method it takes some practice and patience but will be successful eventually.
Reality Checks and Dream Induced Lucid Dreams (DILD)
Another method of lucid dreaming is the dream induced lucid dream or DILD method. This method is better used in conjunction with other methods of lucid dreaming as it will likely not get you results very quickly. The idea of a using DILD is to catch yourself dreaming, basically you need to “check” your reality in the dream to see if it looks normal.
The common pop culture reality check is the age old “pinch yourself to see if your dreaming” which of course does work, if you’re in the habit of pinching yourself in real life. All you need to do is form a habit of keeping yourself pinching and eventually you will do it when you’re in a dream and suddenly you will notice it didn’t hurt! Thus you know you’re dreaming.
Another easy one is the nose reality check (RC), in which you block your nose for a few seconds and see if you can breathe through the nose, if you can, you’re probably dreaming.
Reality checks become useful for the other methods as a self-test, its always good to make sure your dreaming before trying to fly off a building for example.
There are more methods of lucid dreaming, but some require much more practice and may be only suited to certain people, these are the methods I have found both widely published and easy to use. A lucid dream may take many months to accomplish, but when it happens you will know it and its wonderful effects.
A search on Google™ can make you realise how much of a market there is for things that supposedly help you lucid dream, some advertising “guaranteed lucid dreams in under 3 days.” Most are rubbish. There are a few tapes and things that will help, but they are much easier to buy separately and it’s not a good idea to go searching on Google without knowing what you’re looking for. Also note that the ability of these to work often realys on already having experience with lucid dreaming, people new to it will find it harder.
A dream bag containing lavender, white sage, jasmine flowers, calendula, mugwort (do not use mugwort if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant or near young children) and rose petals can work, but they will run out after a while. Teas containing aniseed, sage, rose petals, yarrow, liquorice root, star anise and chicory root may also assist. I have also found the oils or extracts of lavender, aniseed, sage, benzoin and jasmine placed on a dream bag in quantities of 1 or 2 dorps help considerably as well, sandalwood is quoted to have worked for some but I have never had it work for me. [7, 8]. A much more in depth post on the bonuses, dangers and possible side-effects of drugs and herbs on and in dreams is pending (much research needs to be done).
I have already posted a little about these on this blog, but there is more. BB’s work. I know they do because I have had them work for me. However they work BEST with the WBTB method, i.e. you wake up about 3-4, still tired and then put in the headphones (bed partners will prefer this) and then use the Biannual beat recordings. The best place to get them is from the Zen institute (at least when I published this post, it will change) and you will fork out a good $5-15 for them. Some are better than others, and it helps if you use the ones designed for helping lucid dreams or OBE’s, they are generally in the ranger of 4-6 hrtz. They work by helping your brain keep conscious over the time when you are sleeping and will often make you feel relaxed enough to sleep while using them.
These are pretty awesome, they actually sense your REM state and help you detect a dream while you are having it. Best to get the latest model and the instructions though, as they can be tricky to get right. They are not as passive as Biannual beats but will work for those who are death or find BB’s don’t work for them. They wills set you back quite a bit though and getting the best one requires reseach. As with all dreaming aids, having already gained experience helps.
This is probably the hardest method of helping lucidity in terms of learning. You will have to find someone to teach you as the method CANNOT be learned from books (easily) and it helps to know what your doing wrong/right/etc. The effort is worth it as this is probably the best method as once accomplished using a meditative method (say like Layayoga) to reach dreaming is very physically and spiritually rewarding and often works for a very long time. Some of these methods do require considerable commitment to the beliefs and philosophy of the cultures that created them, its not something one should do lightheartedly.
Most shamanic trances have similar meditative or dream like states as those you can experience in OBEE, however note that these are NOT THE SAME. The methods are different, the skills are different and the result is VERY different. I would say most shamanic dreaming methods are also culturally significant to those culture, some closed, some open, with appropriation in mind you should make sure when pursuing such things you are treading very carefully.
The interpretation of dreams is a much larger topic and not one I am a huge expert in. The best way to interpret your dreams is to ask yourself again and again in different ways “What does that mean to me?” and “What else does it mean?” and sometimes “What does that mean in my culture/to other people?”. I tend to use my own method of interpretation first, and then I use this one. I think it’s best for you to first figure out what is the most common theme in your dreams and then use that as a basis for analysis. I have found the big S’s, i.e. Sex, Scandal and Scary stuff are the best place to start for any interpretation. A big no-no goes for interpreting every dream as spiritually related, a spiritual dream is a rare thing indeed.
This also goes for meeting Gods and spirits in dreams, some will visit for what a friend of a friend of mine describes as a “looksee”, basically because they can. I have had the God Pan visit me in two dreams and he has absolutely nothing to do with my spiritual life other than occasionally appearing in my dreams.
You can also be influenced by what you’re reading, researching or doing. If you read a lot of Celtic mythology, don’t be surprised if a Celtic God may pop up in a dream one day. A number of spirits and Gods also really dislike being forced to enter a dream so let them come at the own accord, if your into such things.
You are of course the best person to interpret your dreams, but a psychologist and some good dream interpreters can be found by asking around in your community. As a rule I personally refuse to do anyone else’s dream interpretation so please don’t send me your dreams.
“I didn’t feel confused or anxious anymore. And I didn’t feel powerless anymore either. I felt there was a lot of work ahead of me. And I liked that feeling.” 
Lucid dreaming is something that almost anyone can do it’s not only fun and easy but a great way to help memory and keep a person interested in what will happen next time they go to sleep. Its something I have found has aided me in both my normal and spiritual life, and continues to do so. There are many methods of achieving lucid dreams, some of which I described in full, others you can find on ld4all and in the many books on the subject. I am certain that having read this article you should be able to know the who, why, what, where and how of lucid dreaming and be willing to give it a try tonight. May your life be full of fantastic dreams.
1.Hobson. A. (2002). Dreaming, an introduction to the Science of Sleep. Oxford University Press. London.
2.Webb. B. W. (1973). Sleep and Active Process. Scott Forman’s and Co. Illinois – Out of Print
3.Q. (2006). Lucid Dreaming for All [online resource], http://www.ld4all.com
4. LaBerge. S. (2004). Lucid Dreaming: A Concise Guide to Awakening in Your Dreams and in Your Life. Sounds True publishing. Louisville, Colorado
5. Shakespeare. W. (Unknown). Hamlet.
6. Eby. C. (1996). Astral Odyssey. Samuel Weiser Inc.York Beach, Maine
7. Thorpe. R. (2003). Happy High Herbs. Possibility.com. Ringwood, Victoria
8. Drew. A. J. (2001). Wicca Spellcraft for Men. Career press. Franklin Lakes, New Jersey
9. Kharitidi. O. (2001). The Master of Lucid Dreams. Hamptom Roads Publishing. Charlottesville, Virginia