WHAT IS LUCID DREAMING ?
On this blog, I’d like to talk a bit more about wellness and alternative methods that can help us feel in peace with ourselves. Quite the program, isn’t it ?
I started a few days ago with a post about meditation, that you apparently enjoyed. So I might as well continue these posts, and today will be dedicated to lucid dreaming.
But what is lucid dreaming ? This may be the first time you hear of this, and the only thing that might come to your mind right now is the trailer of the movie Inception… So let me tell you more about this funny experience…
What is lucid dreaming ?
Lucid dreaming, as the name suggests, is simply being aware that one is dreaming, and that during one’s dream. Understanding that the pink hippo chasing you in this very moment is just a figment of your imagination, that it does not actually exist and that he will not really eat you. With a little practice, you can even tame the hippo or simply “erase” him, and continue a peaceful dream.
Why should I control my dreams ?
You may want to control your dreams to “heal” a deep problem that reflects in your sleep. For example, if you’ve been suffering from a family conflict for years, it will likely come out in your nightmares under a particular form... Who knows, this hippo who seeks to devour you may be the representation of that particular family conflict, or of this work that encroaches too much on your private life, or any another problem that you refuse to face and that you’ve been pushing away for too long… We are not necessarily aware of the things that really plague us, and how they materialize in our dreams. With lucid dreaming, you can tame and control those issues in order not to be afraid if you face them again. You do not want to run away anymore, but you want to master the panic element.
Similarly, lucid dreaming can help you get rid of recurring nightmares you don’t know the origin of. Maybe you’ve been dreaming of this terrifying pink hippo since you were a child, and this several times a month ? You’d like to move on, now…
Lucid dreaming can help you identify what this nightmare represents in your subconscious, and make it disappear. However, it won’t happen in a snap, and it requires a lot of practice…
And indeed, if you practice enough and manage to reach a sufficient level of control, you’ll be able to orchestrate your dream in your own way. Basically, you will be able to decide the course of your dream, as if you were just choosing which movie you want to watch that night.
Yes, it’s almost like in a science fiction novel, but getting to this level of control is indeed possible, and this can open new doors : you can use your dreams to relax and unwind fully, for example by dreaming that you’re weightless, or that you’re flying in the middle of a cotton sky.
In addition, a controlled dream will allow you to develop your creativity and use the dream as a space for personal development. This can help you compose a new music in your dream, explore a new landscape that you can paint once awake, develop a scenario for the novel you’d like to write, etc. Quite simply, in a dream, anything can be real : the pink winged hippo exists, you can float in zero gravity, jump from cloud to cloud, live the life you’ve always dreamed of, become an animal… You can play with your imagination as much as you want.
For example, in the first Terminator movie, the scene where the Terminator gets up from the floor with his skin burnt is a scene from the director’s dream…
How can I control my dreams ?
I might as well warn you : reaching such a level of control will require a lot of practice and will not happen overnight. You will have to integrate automations that can sometimes be a bit constraining – more about that below – but are nonetheless necessary if you want to succeed and control your dreams one day.
► If the experience tempts you, start by keeping a dream journal. Many people already have one, without necessarily seeking to make lucid dreams. You just have to write your dreams down in a journal, every morning when you wake up, before you forget everything. If you remember to do this everyday, you will quickly find that you are able to remember much more of your dreams, with more details.
► To spice things up a bit, you will have to incorporate an exercise that you will do while awake. From time to time, during the day, remember to check your state of vigilance : does the room in which you are retain its normal size ? Do you remember what you were doing 15 minutes ago, do you know how you got where you currently are ?
These small reflexes will help you realize that you’re not dreaming, but well grounded in reality at that time. This will help your subconscious navigate and make a clear distinction between real (awake) and unreal (dreaming). As a bonus, it can help you gain focus in your everyday life, help you get more aware of yourself and the world around you.
My boyfriend told me about a technique he uses himself to successfully control his dreams : when you change the environment (when you move to another room for example), look at your hands for a second and try to make their shape change. Try to lengthen your fingers through your simple thought. If you can not, that’s normal, it means that you are well and truly awake. If you manage to do it, this means that you are currently dreaming. (If not, I advise you to go see a specialist immediately…)
This will become a reflex when you’re awake, and gradually a reflex when you’re dreaming. As soon as you’ll move to another room, you’ll look at your hands, and you’ll know what state you are in.
If you’ve watched the movie Inception, the character played by Leonardo DiCaprio uses this technique with his spinning top : if it stops spinning after a while, he knows he is in reality. If the top spins indefinitely (which is impossible in real life), he knows that he’s dreaming.
► Next, there are several things you can do before going to sleep :
➜ yoga or meditation to calm your mind and get into a relaxed state.
➜ recall a recent dream and try to notice something abnormal in it, which proves that it was just a dream. For example, “in this dream I was flying“. If you see in your future dream that you can fly again, you’ll be able to say “hey, that‘s strange, I’m flying but I‘m not supposed to be able to fly, so I’m dreaming.”
➜ try to induce the content of your future dream. Concentrate on what you would like to dream of.
➜ repeat with conviction : “during my next dream, I will realize that I’m dreaming.”
► Finally, to go a step further, you’ll have to practice a night exercise that can be quite irritating, but necessary if you want to control your dreams :
➜ when you wake up during the night after a dream, try to stay still for a few minutes and memorize your dream as much as you can.
➜ then, wake up completely, turn the light on, get up, your subconscious must understand that there is an interruption between the dream state and the waking state.
➜ a few minutes later, when you go to sleep again, repeat with conviction “during my next dream, I will realize that I’m dreaming” while visualizing the dream you just had.
After a little practice, you will dive back into your dream, and this time you will be aware that you are dreaming. Gradually, you will manage to control your dreams and live them as if they were a movie and you were the director.
Whether you want to analyze your dreams and understand the origin of a deep problem or wether you’re just curious, you can try lucid dreaming with these little techniques. It’s a matter of training!
If you already practice this type of experience, if my post made you want to start or if you have questions, feel free to leave me a comment below!