What exactly is Lucid Dreaming?

Lucid : from the Latin ‘Lucidus’ meaning ‘light, bright and clear’

What exactly is lucid dreaming?

To put it in the simplest terms, it’s the ability, once you start to dream, to recognize and be consciously aware that you are dreaming, while you are fast asleep. As interest grows in the subject more information and books are steadily becoming available. Mind machines such as masks with inbuilt LED programs that recognize when you have entered REM sleep are now available for the serious seeker of lucid dreams.

Where can you learn about lucid dreaming?

For anyone wishing to learn about some of the induction techniques used a good place to start is an excellent book Exploring the World of Lucid Dreams by Steven LaBerge. The term, lucid dreaming was first coined by a Dutch psychiatrist, Frederick van Eeden in 1913 but was not taken seriously by the scientific community at the time.

It was Steven LaBerge, founder of The Lucidity Institute in 1987, who took things a step further after researching lucid dreaming at Stanford University. He developed simple techniques which enabled him and fellow researchers to enter a lucid dream state at will, and is credited with the first published and scientifically verified signal from the mind of a dreamer.

There is increasing interest in the subject today and although not clearly understood, evidence suggests that our consciousness is the only ‘real’ thing despite persistent observations experienced through our five senses. When we sleep, our consciousness, blissfully released from the body and all the delusions we embrace during waking hours, is at liberty to wander here and there as it wishes, directed by us only to the limited degree of control we have acquired over it in our conscious state.

What’s the Method?

Although it takes a bit of practice the consensus is that most people can achieve lucid dreams so don’t be put off if it doesn’t happen immediately. Below is the method for a simple routine outlined by Steven LaBerge which will get you started.

  • Always keep a notepad and pen beside your bed so as to be able to jot down any dreams before they disappear from memory

  • Firstly when you awaken from a dream remember it as vividly as you can and immediately write it down

  • Before returning to sleep concentrate on remembering your dream. Keep this concentration for as long as you can. If you can’t remember your last dream clearly use instead a dream you can remember

  • Visualize yourself becoming lucid

  • If there is anything particular you want to do in your lucid dream, visualize it as clearly as you possibly can. If for example you want to fly, visualize yourself flying over and over again

  • Allow yourself to fall asleep

How do we know if the dream is lucid?

Since this is a very subjective experience in that it’s impossible to know what others’ may be experiencing in their lucid dreams, it follows each of us will describe our lucid dreams in a different way.

There is a very heightened awareness initially. It compares well with the expansion of consciousness during meditation when everything around you seems to swell and open up and with that comes an awareness that is not normally felt during waking. All colours, senses and feelings are hugely increased and there is a definite altered state of consciousness. If you can imagine a balloon being inflated and then your mind being inflated in the same way, that is the nearest, though wholly inadequate description I can offer in physical terms.

I have read various accounts of lucid dreams where fear and running away have been mentioned and as subjectivity comes into play so each person will have their own individual experience. However, I can say quite categorically, if you have a lucid dream you will know because it bears no comparison to an ordinary dream.

My own experience is that with the expanding comes an awareness that you are dreaming, accompanied by an overwhelming calm and bliss which totally dispels any desire to do anything. The awesome scenario I find myself in totally negates any desire for anything other than to enjoy it and ‘be’. Thus I have never tried to manipulate events or knowingly tried to do anything specific but 'thinking' something will make it happen instantaneously.

An excellent Lucid Dreaming Kit is available which has many good reports for successful results, but if you have the time and inclination to become a lucid dreamer it can be achieved without any extra aids. If you have difficulty with focussed imaging the gadgets may be helpful but the secret lies in the ability strongly to visualize the intent. Happy dreaming!

Read about some lucid dream experiences

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