“The royal road to the Unconscious” is how Freud talked about dreams. When our logic and critical thinking take a back seat, our subconscious mind drives our inner world. Many people appreciate how much we could learn from our dreams, but few realize that we could use our dreams to actually produce real change and heal ourselves. Before we get to that stage, however, there are several important skills we need to learn. The greatest learning comes from our ability to lucid dream. Lucid dream is a dream where you recognize it as such. You understand that it’s a dream while being in it, and your imagination is (quite literally) the only limit to what you can achieve. Imagine yourself being in the world which looks as feels as real as this physical world (some would even say it’s more real), and you aren’t limited in any way – you can visit any place, you can travel back and forward in time, talk to anyone (a friend or a celebrity, near or on the other side of the world, alive or dead, real person or a mythical being, or even a literary hero), you can take on any shape, you can fly, you are capable of absolutely anything – essentially, you are God (of your dream, that is). Imagine the possibilities it would open for you!
Here are some tips to help you get started with gaining lucidity in your dreams:
- The number one issue that people struggle with is remembering their dreams. Some claim they don’t see dreams, but that is not true. We all dream, every night. We simply don’t remember. Quite often what we think of when we fall asleep is the same thought we have when we wake up. So fall asleep determined to remember your dream, and as you wake up, don’t move or open your eyes, try to remember your dream – and you will!
- Record your dreams. Dreams disappear from your memory very quickly, and if you don’t take notes, you’ll lose them. Notes don’t have to be full sentences – some words or even symbols to remind you of your dream could be sufficient to bring the memory back whenever you need to recall a dream.
- If you are serious about lucid dreaming (and there are plenty of reasons why you should be, if you’re a serious spiritual practitioner), you need a separate dream journal, where you would record your dreams and sleep experiences, practices, and reflections. I wrote a post before about keeping a spiritual diary – you can use those tips to start a dream journal.
- Have a goal / purpose. Why do you want to connect with dreams? Why do you want to become lucid? Do you have a goal or a purpose for your practice? If you were in a lucid dream, what would you do? Knowing why you’re practicing not only gives you greater motivation, it will help when you actually find yourself in a lucid dream. Unless you have a specific goal in mind, you may get so excited (or confused) that you would lose that lucidity almost immediately. Having a goal helps us with being grounded and prolonging our lucid dream.
- Practice being mindful during the day. Pay attention where you are, what you’re doing. You may choose a single point of concentration, e.g. focusing on your breath, throughout the day, or simply notice whatever comes up as it does. This practice will significantly improve your chances of being lucid in a dream.
- Create ‘anchors’. Anchors are little ‘reminders’ that we create for ourselves to help us remember what we want to achieve. Select something that happens often during the day, e.g. a phone ring or touching your bag (or wallet!) or opening a door. Now every time this happens remember to return to ‘here and now’. Ask yourself: Could I be in a dream right now? How can I be sure this isn’t a dream?
- A radical way to practice lucid dreaming is to imagine that this physical world is just a dream, and remembering this all the time as you go about your day. Don’t do anything silly – no one managed to reverse the laws of gravity yet, so stay safe. However, do expect a lot of change in your state of mind when you practice that. This practice is powerful and quite advanced, so unless you’re certain you can remain a normally functioning human being, leave it until you have more experience in altered states of consciousness.