It seems that dreams often do not involve a body in the same form as waking life. The level that we transcend to in dreaming is as a direct result of our daily consciousness. In hindsight, looking at the earliest dreams that I can first recall, I would always retreat into animal consciousness in dreaming, and deal with experiences of fear and fight or flight. The majority of animals are not self aware, and ‘see’ only outwards. I am confident that this is the same as is experienced in some types of unconscious dream.
Dreams heavily involving the body often can trigger lucidity. The body may look strange in some way, particularly the hands or feet. The dreamer may come across a mirror, which could also possibly trigger lucidity as it’s unlikely to look ‘right’. One of the most basic dreaming techniques is to focus on one’s hands. Carlos Castaneda was taught by Don Juan in, ‘the Art of Dreaming,’ to try to find his hands in a dream. To then only take short glances at objects in his dream before returning his awareness to his hands.
The hands themselves often serve as a reality check. Focus on them once, look away, then refocus on them. In a dream, you could well find that between glances they have changed somewhat, and this would go to serve as a prompt that you are in fact dreaming! This also applies to things such as clocks and other routine household objects.
The golden rule though is to maintain as a high a level of awareness throughout the day as possible. If you’re unaware of these things in waking life, you’re very unlikely to be aware of them in dreaming.
To some degree or other, our dreams are all made up of things on our mind, and things that we’ve been thinking about that particular day. The closer you get to sleep, the more your thoughts have an effect on your dreams. This makes setting up dreamscapes, or “dream scenes” very simple to do. Much like the MILD, or mantra induced lucid dreaming, we can use a mantra to induce any type of dream scene, including or not including lucidity. That said, it is unlikely that repeating a paragraph long mantra about how your dream is going to take place will be that effective. Instead, run through mental visualisations. If your visualising capabilities are poor like mine, that’s OK too – when it comes to things like this, it really is the thought, or should I say intention, that counts.
Your visualisations should be as accurate and powerful as possible, and if you can base them in any way on a real memory that you have and that you are trying to incubate as a dream, then even better. Run through the visualisation over and over, trying to picture the finer details of the scene you are trying to create. For lucidity, picture yourself within these visualisations actually lucid and performing constant reality checks.
As you feel yourself slipping into sleep, hold on to the visualisation and continue running through it. As it’s night time, it’s unlikely that you’ll fall into a WILD however it’s never impossible! The plan is that you fall asleep with your visualisations in tact, and they become the basis for one or more of your dream scenes that night.
Flying seems to be one of the tougher techniques to master in lucid dreaming. It was one of the first things that I began to practice during dreaming. There are a few different techniques available. Here’s mine -
I lift my left foot off the ground, then push up hard with my right leg intending to fly – that’s it. At first I would shoot straight up and wake up, other times I felt as if I had no energy and was so tired, and couldn’t do much more than hover clumsily over the ground until I woke up. I find that it’s a matter of focus and lucidity. Those where I shot straight into the air and then woke up, were typically due to over excitement and lack of focus. Those where I hovered clumsily over the ground were due to lack of lucidity and intention.
For a successful flying experience, calm and center yourself. Decide that you are now going to make a conscious effort at flying, and decide how high you want to fly. Then push off the ground and stay calm, focused and most of all aware whilst you fly. Half-assed uncoordinated attempts and performing anything without focus, attention and awareness are the biggest hindrances in dreaming. Arguably no more so than in waking reality however the results are perceivably instant in dreaming.
As unpleasant as nightmares can be, they are a great opportunity for lucid dreaming. It’s pretty easy to recognize your dream signs within a nightmare, as they are often even more obvious than usual. This is especially true if you find yourself having recurring nightmares, or at least nightmares with a recurring theme. Lucid dreaming is one of the best way to address nightmares.
Run through your nightmares mentally, and picture yourself becoming lucid within them. Visualize the actions you’d take, and do what you will with your nightmare characters, love them, laugh at them, or smile at them. Throughout your visualization, keep affirming, “This is a dream. I am dreaming”.
I spoke with a friend recently who told me that he sometimes has nightmares, and when he does, he just keeps saying “wake up, wake up, wake up” until he does. I said, “you do realize that if you’re forcing yourself to wake up from a dream, you must be lucid within the dream and realize you’re dreaming? Why on earth would you want to wake up?! Just laugh at your characters, imagine your own dream scene, and fly away!”
Not only are nightmares a great chance for lucidity, but working through them with conscious dreaming is a great way to put an end to them.
Once you find yourself aware within a dream, great! Congratulations! One of the first things that you are going to want to do is stabilize the scene and ground yourself.
There are differing degrees of lucidity ranging from the vaguest subconscious notion that you may be dreaming, but forgetting that thought within a few moments, to full vivid blissful dreaming, with absolute mastery over yourself and your surroundings in full HD 3D quality. You may become aware in a dream yet still find the scene unfolding in front of you without any real control over it, or just find yourself just continuing ahead driven by instinct rather than any logic or rational thought. The aims of dream control and stabilization is to escalate your level of lucidity and control once you have realized on some level that you are dreaming.
The moment I become lucid, I like to sit on the ground, feel the walls, smell the air, become really aware of my surroundings, and control my breathing. A really powerful technique that I learned from Carlos Castaneda’s – The Art of Dreaming, is not to become too absorbed with any particular item. A powerful method for dream control is keeping your hands visible, and just briefly glance at a particular object and then return your focus back to your hands. Whilst this path can then be used for other purposes according to Castaneda, I find it a useful way to stabilize the scene before proceeding on. From there, you should be well grounded, calm, and fully aware that you’re dreaming. Proceed as you wish and enjoy!
I will then usually affirm my intentions and what I’d like to do, and then just go do it! I sometimes find myself unable to see properly, similar to looking at things through half closed eyes. I simply imagine the scene I want around me, and it unfolds.
When a lucid dream begins to become unstable, and you’ll know what I mean when it happens, it will probably proceed to end quickly as you wake up. If you can catch it early, you have a few dream control choices to start with -
Spin round and round for a bit. Don’t ask me why this works, it just does!
Rub your hands together. This one ALWAYS works well. I suspect it’s because it provides focus, or tactile sensation.
Look back at your hands, and begin with the original technique again of glancing at various objects only for a short while.
Affirm to yourself clearly and intentionally, “This dream IS continuing” or similar, and continue performing reality checks within the dream.
Try not to get too absorbed in any particular thing and remain aware of yourself throughout. Getting too absorbed easily turns the lucid dream into a regular unaware dream.