Owing to my dry spell, I’ve begun work again on dream recall and meditation to help elavate me back to at least weekly lucid dreams, and i have had mixed but positive results. Firstly, I went out and got that cheap voice recorder, and it’s placed right by my bed. It took me a few nights to remember, but eventually I began recording dreams immediately on waking through the night. I was shocked to discover what colourful nights I had experienced on waking each morning! After only 3 or 4 days, my dreams are now longer and far more detailed, as well as much easier to remember.
I have also been performing short twice daily meditation for the past two weeks or so. This has lead to a noticed transition from short and confused dreams to longer and more calm dreams – perhaps a direct reflection of my waking state of mind.
In the evening, I listen back to the recordings, try to ‘relive’ the dreams, and then record them into the written journal before wiping the voice recorder. The last aspect here is the actual lucid dreaming itself. The dreams are longer, more organized and more vivid, yet I am still entirely unaware that I am dreaming. The logical next step then to the practice is in performing the all day awareness techniques as well as MILD techniques before sleep as well as when briefly waking in the night and before returning back to sleep. I’m going to make a concerted push to meditate for longer throughout the day as well as to try and remain more in awareness whilst working and studying outside of the meditation practice itself. I shall report back with any results
Think back and picture some of your past dreams, if you’ve kept a dream journal for long enough, then look back at it and look for recurring patterns. When I started out practicing dreaming, I realized that I only ever had two different ‘themed’ dreams. I was either in a bad argument with my parents, or I was at my old school suffering some kind of hell. Strangely, I hadn’t been at school for about 6 years when I first practiced dreaming, and despite a rocky relationship with my parents when I was younger, it had been long resolved, and things were great. Well, obviously these issues were not subconsciously resolved, and so I used dreaming and meditation to bring them to a close. The point here however, is to note the dream signs – signs that you’re dreaming, and those were my two. Looking for dream signs is technically just type of reality check.
What are your dream signs? Do you frequently find yourself being chased through an old house by a monster, or do you find yourself driving through an unknown town? Do you frequently find a certain person or object involved in your dreams? Perhaps, you’re the one doing the chasing, or running after something or someone. What other ways can you think of, that you can identify a dream scene from reality?
Just considering and knowing your dream signs is often enough, however they can also be combined with a MILD type of technique. Lie still after a WBTB or as you prepare for bed and just run through your ‘regular’ dreams and dream signs. Whilst doing yourself, picture yourself as facing your particular dream sign and immediately becoming lucid. Perform this exercise a few times. You could also try visualizing your particular dream sign, and then affirming to yourself, “I am dreaming. This is my dream sign. I am now dreaming” whilst visualizing becoming lucid.
Personally – my visualization abilities are quite poor, and so I frequently enjoy dreams simply through regular focus and attention to the subject, regular reality checks, and regular MILD attempts.
A Wake Back To Bed (WBTB) involves purposely waking up during your sleep period at a time optimal to perform lucid dream induction techniques. First, it would be good to discuss a little about sleep patterns.
An average person’s sleep cycle is 90 minutes long. This is not a set rule for everyone, and sleep cycles do vary from person to person, but you can use it as a rough guide. The image below courtesy of Wikipedia’s “Sleep Cycles” entry shows a generally accepted set of sleep cycles throughout the night. As we fall asleep at night, we fall from awakening into deep sleep rapidly. We then experience longer and longer periods of REM, highlighted in red, as the night unfolds. We can see that later into the night, we experience more REM sleep and this is where the majority of our dreaming and lucidity is likely to occur. The general rule of thumb is to go for either 4.5h or 6h of uninterrupted sleep, before attempting any kind of conscious dreaming techniques. I have spoken to a number of people before, unfamiliar with lucid dreaming in general, who show various irregularities to the accepted sleep pattern. One person seems to consistently dream throughout the night. After a period of only an hour’s sleep after a full day, upon waking, the person can often vividly recall dreams. I have no reason to doubt this person’s accounts, and it goes to show that these patterns can indeed vary dramatically from person to person. This is by no means ‘abnormal’ or necessarily a ‘sleep disorder’, and could simply be put down to individual differences, unless of course it causes the person any particular discomfort or issues.
Lucid dreaming and sleep patterns are mentioned throughout history in religion and various esoteric texts. The Christian theologian, Thomas Aquinas provides valuable clues as to when a lucid dream would be most likely to take place, and in doing so he predates the findings of our present sleep researches by over five hundred years. He states that lucidity is most likely to occur, “Towards the end of sleep, in sober men and those gifted with strong imaginations”. We can find several references in history such as the one above in the book “The Lucid Dreamer; Malcolm Godwin” – a highly recommended book. It goes on to state, “To many, Mohammed’s Layat al-Miraj, or night journey, is just such a vision quest – a lucid dream if ever there was one, in which the Angel Gabriel led the prophet through Jerusalem, past the seven celestial spheres finally to ascend to God.” Reading various spiritual and religious accounts from various religious texts with conscious dreaming in mind starts to show some of the texts in a slightly different light. Accounts of religious experience which one has to either believe and accept at face value or entirely disregard as illogical could indeed have taken place during conscious dreaming and other trance states. Using such states to realize one’s true self, “enlightenment”, has long been accepted in various religions such as Buddhism, and a view which I personally, entirely accept. An excellent book on the subject is “The Tibetan Yogas Of Dream And Sleep by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche” which I have read several times. Further reading, and another excellent book from the Mexican sorcerer’s perspective is “The Art of Dreaming” – Carlos Castaneda. Continue reading →
MILD stands for Mnemonic Induced Lucid Dream. The idea here, is that you set your intention and focus as clearly as possible on your goal of dreaming, and that you then repeat a phrase or ‘mantra’ affirming this, over and over again. Not just on autopilot, but retaining awareness and clear intention throughout.
Clear and concise mantras work best, choose one that resonates with you. I try to avoid ones that talk about lucid dreaming as such, and I personally often vary it whilst I’m repeating it, to avoid going into autopilot, e.g. “I am dreaming. I am dreaming. Am I dreaming? I am dreaming. I know that I’m dreaming. I am dreaming. I’m aware that I’m dreaming. I am dreaming. I love dreaming.”, remembering to clearly concentrate and focus your intent on what you are saying. Conventional wisdom however, is to remain with a single short mantra. The mantra certainly does not have to be repeated out loud, but you can if you wish. Continue reading →