This guide is designed to assist both the novice and expert Lucid Dreamer. It is designed to get to the heart of the matter; if you wish to learn modern theories on dreaming or the definition of a lucid dream, one of the many Lucid Dreaming FAQ's will be better suited to your taste. With the earth's population nearing 6 billion, it is obvious that no single method can work for everybody. That is why I've made this manual multi-faceted:
each section outlines several techniques, so you can choose the one best suited to you. If you don't believe in a method, or it doesn't work for you, don't use it!
=================================== Step 1: Improving your Dream Recall =================================== The first step to becoming more proficient in your Lucid adventures is to improve your dream recall. As common sense dictates, "If you don't remember your dreams, how can you remember your LUCID ones?" The other reason for developing your dream recall comes from the school of thought that if you learn to recognize the material that makes up your dreams, you will tend to recognize more often (while dreaming) that what you are seeing is dream material. This step is one of the most important ones, and it is often suggested that if you cannot remember AT LEAST one dream per night, then persist with this step until you can. One essential step to dream recall is the analysis of these dreams afterwards. If you notice that a certain "dreamsign" is repeating itself in your dreams, you can use that knowledge to cue lucidity the next time you see the symbol.
i) Make sure to allow yourself plenty of time to sleep. If you are getting a good amount of sleep each night, your mind will be more finely focused towards your goals and intentions while you are sleeping. Secondly, if you are getting plenty of sleep, you will not mind waking up in the middle of the night as much to record your dreams.
ii) Be verbose! While honing your dream recall abilities, an essential step is to write down every dream you can remember, no matter how fragmentary.
iii) Plant an auto-suggestion. Before sleep, tell yourself to remember your dreams. One method is to tell yourself that "In the morning, I will remember all the dreams which I have tonight so that I may write them down". In the morning you would ask yourself before anything else, "What did I dream last night? What was I just dreaming?". Once you have recalled as many dreams as possible, pick up your dream journal and write them down. The only thing that should occupy your mind from the time you wake up to the time you write down your dreams, is the recall of your dreams! This method is advantageous for those who find that they cannot wake up during the night, or find that their dream recall is much better in the morning than at night. The second method is to tell yourself before sleep, "After each dream tonight I will wake up so that I may write it down." Each time you wake up at night think to yourself, "What was I just dreaming?". After you have remembered everything possible pick up your dream journal and write the dream down, noting the time. When you wake up in the morning, try to recall any dreams you may have missed by saying, "What was I just dreaming? What did I dream last night?". Write any new dreams down in your dream journal. This method has several advantages. One advantage comes from the fact that your brain is spending a greater amount of time on the subject of lucid dreaming than it would if it slept straight through the night. This tends to enhance the chances of a lucid dream. A second advantage is that your dream recall is much higher and more accurate when you awake immediately from a dream. Thirdly, this method lends itself to planting many auto-suggestions per night, such as the "M.I.L.D" method created by Stephen LaBerge.
iv) While recalling a dream, normally a sketchy storyline forms in your head. In order to enhance your memory, try remembering what happened "just before" the part you can remember first, and build your dreams back up in reverse order. Try to remember colors, smells, and sounds as well. After the dream is as complete as possible, write it down.
v) If, in the morning, you have trouble recalling your dreams, try to prod yourself with phrases such as "I was walking and..." or "I was just about to..."
vi) If, during the day, you recall more dreams, write them down and transfer them to your dream journal when convenient.
======================= Step 2: Reality Testing ======================= This technique sets up a critical frame of mind; the more often you question reality in your waking life, the more you will question it in your dream life. The best way to begin reality testing is to ask yourself, "Am I dreaming?" whenever you think of it. If you ever find that something seems "weird", or you find yourself thinking about dreaming, or find yourself looking at your "anchor", then do a reality test.
i) Set up an anchor. Pick something that occurs often in your life, such as your pager going off, or hearing your watch beep on the hour. When your anchor occurs, it will be your cue to do a reality test.
ii) Do reality tests. Whenever it occurs to you, ask yourself the question: "Am I dreaming?" The secret to asking this question is to truly think about it. Look around for anything out of place. Try to change something (make your watch go backwards, for example.) There are several ways to test your reality, and here are two that work well: "Past Recall Method", created by Lee Holmes In this method, when you wish to do a reality check, or suspect that perhaps you are dreaming, attempt to recall your actions in the past few hours. I have always found that I do not have a past in my lucid dreams, or I've got a past that defies reality. (Ie: I just got back from an alien convention) In normal life, your past makes complete sense, so it is obvious that you are not dreaming. "Hand Breathing Technique", created by James L. Guinn In this method, you test your reality by attempting to breathe through your hand. Obviously, in waking reality this is impossible if you attain a proper seal. In dream reality, however, one CAN breathe through their hand, even if a proper seal is attained. To use this method, simply squeeze your nose between the sides of your thumb and index finger, and cover your open mouth with the palm of your hand. With a proper seal, the only time you will be able to inhale will be when you are dreaming. "Control the Unchanging", created by Lee Holmes. The purpose of this method, simply, is to change something that should not be alterable in normal waking reality. Two tests I use are attempting to change the sunlight (reverse night and day), and trying to stop my heart. When stopping your heart, place your hand on the middle-left hand side of your chest. You can feel your heartbeat so try to stop it by force of will. Since it is an autonomic process, you will only be able to change it in your dreams.
iii) If you are SURE that you are not dreaming, then ask yourself, "what would it be like if I were dreaming?" and visualize yourself acting as though you were dreaming. Visualize yourself bending a lamp post, for example. Take this chance to mess around with reality and visualize yourself doing other things as well.
iv) After your reality-bending, pick something you would like to do in your next lucid dream. Visualize yourself flying, for example. You must attempt to visualize every possible detail; the wind on your face, the trees beneath you, and the sky above you. Say to yourself, "The next time I am (flying, etc), I will KNOW I am dreaming." One reality test that works particularly well is the process of remembering your past. In most dreams, by trying to remember what has occurred over the last few hours, you will realize that your memory of them is non- existent. The realization of this will trigger lucidity.
============================== Step 3: Adopt a Sleep Schedule ============================== In recent research done by The Lucidity Institute, it has been determined that certain patterns of sleep are favorable for lucid dreaming. In their studies, they found that altering your sleep schedule so that you wake up an hour early, read for an hour, then nap for an hour greatly increases your chances of having a lucid dream. In their sties, they found that lucid dreams occurred 10 times more often in the early morning "naps" then they did in the preceding night-time sleep. This may be partially due to the increased amount of REM activity in the latter portions of the night, but one cannot disagree with favorable odds! As with waking during the night, this method also lends itself to increasing lucidity further. If, for example, the material you read during your wakefulness is related to lucid dreaming, your chances of having a lucid dream will increase as well. Additionally, the M.I.L.D technique to be discussed in Step 4 lends itself to this method (and is recommended). Another sleep schedule, recommended by Seth (through Jane Roberts), recommends a 2/2/4 type shift. The sleep periods are> most effective when spread evenly throughout the day, so this method lends itself almost implicitly to the self employed or those between jobs. When the sleep periods are distributed this way, it gives you two benefits: one is that your dream recall is increased (consistent with waking up after each dream at night), and the second is that the Lucidity Institute has found a greater chance of lucid dreaming during naps than during normal night-time sleep. (As mentioned above.)
Step 4: Lucid Dream Induction Methods =====================================
Here is a compilation of a few lucid dream induction methods. As mentioned before, if you don't believe in one or it doesn't work for you, then simply use another method.
[Dream Incubation, by the Lucidity Institute]
1. Formulate your intention Before bed, come up with a single phrase or question encapsulating the topic you wish to dream about: "I want to visit San Francisco." Write the phrase down, and perhaps draw a picture illustrating the question. Memorize the phrase and the picture (if you have one). If you have a specific action you wish to carry out in your desired dream ("I want to tell my friend I love her."), be sure to carefully formulate it now. Beneath your target phrase, write another saying, "When I dream of [the phrase], I will remember that I am dreaming."
2. Go to bed Without doing anything else, go immediately to bed and turn out the light.
3. Focus on your phrase and intention to become lucid Recall your phrase or the image you drew. Visualize yourself dreaming about the topic and becoming lucid in the dream. If there is something you want to try in the dream, also visualize doing it once you are lucid. Meditate on the phrase and your intention to become lucid in a dream about it until you fall asleep. Don't let any other thoughts come between thinking about your topic and falling asleep. If your thoughts stray, just return to thinking about your phrase and becoming lucid.
4. Pursue your intention in the lucid dream When in a lucid dream about your topic carry out your intention. Ask the question you wish to ask, seek ways to express yourself, try your new behavior, or explore your situation. Be sure to notice your feelings and be observant of all details of the dream.
5. When you have achieved your goal, remember to awaken and recall the dream.
[Chakra Method: From "Treatise on Lucid Dreaming" by Robert Bruce]
Sit in a chair, or lie down, and relax your whole body. Starting with the feet, tense them and relax them. Continue this with calves, thighs, hips, stomach, chest, arms, neck and face. Go over this a few times until you feel completely relaxed.
Breath awareness will help to calm and focus your mind and awareness. Breathe deeply and slowly. Be aware of the breath entering and leaving your body. Feel it coming in and feel it going out. Focus your whole attention on your lungs and the breathing process and it will help to occupy your surface mind. Gently push any intruding thoughts away as they begin, before they distract you. By feeling your breath coming in and out you are shifting your awareness into your chest.
The mental hands technique will train you to shift your point of awareness to other parts of your body. This will also give you greater body awareness which is very important in lucid dreaming.
Calm your mind and relax your body. Imagine you have a pair of invisible hands. Feel your awareness in these hands, just the same as with breath awareness where you concentrate your awareness on your lungs. Stroke yourself slowly with these hands, start at your feet go on up through your legs and through the rest of your body. Try and FEEL these imaginary hands relaxing and soothing you.
Become aware of and use these hands as you are doing the relaxation exercise. Start at the feet, tensing and relaxing muscles. Feel your mental hands in these muscles as they tense and relax them. Work your way through your whole body this way. Feel your body relaxing at the touch of them. Your point of awareness is in these hands. You are shifting your point of consciousness into different parts of your body as you do this.
When you are familiar with your new mental hands, use them to pull energy up from your feet and through your legs to the base chakra. Imagine you are gripping energy and pulling it up through you. Combine this with your breathing. Draw it up through you with the inhale and hold it in place on the exhale. Do this over and over again for at least a few minutes.
This is the natural path of the energy that flows through you. With practice you will actually feel this energy tingling and surging through you.
Chakras: These are situated at: 1. The base of the spine (between the anus and the genitals) 2. The spleen (slightly below the belly button) 3. The solar plexus (1 hand-span above the belly button) 4. The heart (centre of the chest) 5. The base of the throat. 6. The centre of the forehead. 7. Crown ( whole top of your head). They are best imagined as roughly the size of your hand, except for the crown chakra which is much larger and covers the whole of the head above the hairline.
Chakras are transformers that convert raw energy into energy of a different type. During these exercises your chakras will be pumping energy into your astral body.
Pull energy up through your legs with your mental hands to your base chakra. Use your mental hands to open this chakra. Imagine you are tearing open a bread roll where the chakra is. Draw this energy up to the next one and open it, and on to the next one and so on. Repeat this> over a few times. You may not feel much at first, but with practise you will feel a tingling surge of energy like adrenaline and a fluttering or pulsing under your skin as you do this.
Even if you don't feel anything you are still raising some energy. When I first started using my chakras, many years ago, I didn't feel anything happening in them for several months. Many people report feeling some sensation in them the first time they do this. Some people seem to have more natural chakra activity than others.
Closing The Chakras
After any work on opening the chakras it is Very Important to close them unless you are going to use them, or go to sleep shortly after. During sleep they will close naturally after an hour or so. This closing is especially important if you feel strong activity in them. If you leave a chakra open during normal day to day activity, you can bleed energy. This will can fatigue and health problems. To close them, simply reverse the process until no activity is felt. Feel your mental hands closing them and push the energy back down.
Stop and Check
Keep checking your muscles for any tensing during the energy raising and chakra stimulation exercises and re-relax as needed. Your muscles will automatically try and respond as you draw energy up through you. Remember, this is all mental. Your body must stay calm and relaxed throughout this.
The relaxation, breath awareness and mental hands exercises should, ideally, be carried out daily. They can be done anywhere and anytime you have a few minutes to spare. You will, in time, condition your body to respond quickly and easily. Every time you do these, keep in mind your intention of having lucid dreams. Whatever your lucid dreaming trigger is, keep this in mind while you are doing these exercises.
To Prepare For Lucid Dreaming
Do the relaxation exercise and use breath awareness to calm your mind. Raise energy through you and stimulate your chakras for five or ten minutes, or until you start feeling heavy. This heaviness happens when you enter a trance. The trance state is brought on by deep relaxation. In a trance you are very open to self hypnosis and suggestion. This is the best time to program yourself with the trigger to become lucid in a dream. In the trance state you may feel like you are paralysed but you can usually move if you try, its just a big effort. If you can't, do your lucid dream trigger affirmations and go to sleep.
Note: Once you reach the trance stage, stop any further energy raising or chakra stimulation and proceed with the trigger programming stage. Do your normal affirmations that remind you to become lucid during your dreams and remember all when you wake up. Say to yourself, " I must remember to look at my watch" or " I must remember to look at my hands" Say this over and over to yourself until you fall asleep.
Note: These exercises are best done, one at a time, apart from the combined energy raising - chakra opening one, lying on your back.
When you have completed them and are ready for dreaming, assume your normal sleeping position for the night.
[Symbol Trigger method, by Swami Vimanananda]
1 Give up a favorite food or drink for 1 month, telling the mind : I'm doing this for more awareness during dreams.
2. Fast monthly, on new moon. This can be a day of eating fruit only, just juices, or pure water, depending on what you are used to. This tells your subconscious that you are serious about paying attention to the 'internal' world. According to Yoga, fasting opens the Moon chakra, which is the gateway to the Dream world.
3. Visualize some symbol while falling asleep, and look for that symbol in your dreams. That symbol will trigger lucidity. The Tibetans use a small, white, glowing letter 'A' .
[Auto-Suggestion method, by Peg Steigerwald]
One effective technique for planting auto-suggestions is the following: while falling asleep, prop your arm so that when you do fall asleep it will hit you in the head (lightly). When your arm hits your head, it will wake you slightly and enable you to plant many auto-suggestions without falling asleep. If you plant a suggestion related to lucid dreaming, your chances of having one that night are much higher.
[External Supplements for Lucidity, by Bob]
The "Mega Brain" tapes that are easily found in stores offer another type of Lucidity induction. By out-putting certain beat frequencies from the speakers, a third "phantom frequency" is created by the brain. Two tapes from this set which help in attaining lucidity are "High Coherence" and "Sound Sleep", both by Kelly Hutchinson. Although these tapes do not induce lucidity, they assist in attaining it. Another supplement which aids in lucid dreaming is known as the DMAE/H3 liquid supplement, sold by TwinLabs. This supplement helps to clear the mind, and enables you to recall dreams much more vividly.
[Use of pot to attain lucidity, by Vossen]
1) Get yourself woken up 2 or 3 hours before you would have had your usual amount of sleep.
2) Have a small meal, containing a fair amount of sugar and milk, I take a cup of yoghurt mixed with some pieces of fruit and a sandwich.
3) SMOKE about 0.1 to 0.2 gram of a really high quality hasjies, more specific get the best hasjies you can lay your hands and smoke the LEAST AMOUNT NECESSARY to feel it having an effect. The intention is NOT to get yourself well and truly stoned, because if you do, you won't remember anything of your dreams. The idea is rather to have your mind to be just slightly tickled.
4) Empty your bowels.
5) Go to bed again.
The effect of point 3) is that you will be able to step into a dream with much greater ease. Another possible effect of point 3) is of course: getting arrested, This is why you should live in the Netherlands because over hear you can walk around with a maximum of 30 grams of the stuff without the government being nasty.
[Music as a link to lucid dreams, by Steven Lance]
While reading material relating to lucid dreaming, or browsing alt.dreams.lucid, have a certain song playing repeatedly. As you fall asleep, keep the song playing in the background low enough to allow you to sleep. This method seems to form a link between your subconscious, the music, and lucid dreaming. If the music is playing while you are asleep, your subconscious can still dwell on the idea of lucid dreaming much longer than you consciously could.
[Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams (MILD) Technique, by Stephen LaBerge]
1. Setup dream recall. Set your mind to awaken from dreams and recall them. When you awaken from a dream, recall it as completely as you can.
2. Focus your intent. While returning to sleep, concentrate single-mindedly on your intention to remember to recognize that you're dreaming. Tell yourself: "Next time I'm dreaming, I want to remember I'm dreaming." Try to feel that you really mean it. Focus your thoughts on this idea alone. If you find yourself thinking about anything else, let it go and bring your mind back to your intention to remember.
3. See yourself becoming lucid. At the same time, imagine that you are back in the dream you just woke from (or another one you have had recently if you didn't remember a dream on awakening), but this time you recognize that it is a dream. Look for a dreamsign--something in the dream that demonstrates plainly that it is a dream (see NightLight 1.3 & 1.4 for more about dreamsigns). When you see it say to yourself: "I'm dreaming!" and continue your fantasy. Imagine yourself carrying out your plans for your next lucid dream. For example, if you want to fly in your lucid dream, imagine yourself flying when you come to the point in your fantasy that you "realize" you are dreaming.
4. Repeat until your intention is set. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until your intention is set; then let yourself fall asleep. If, while falling asleep, you find yourselfthinking of anything else, repeat the procedure so that the last thing in your mind before falling asleep is your intention to remember to recognize the next time you are dreaming.
[Lucid Dream Induction Devices (Cut from Lucidity Institute FAQ)]
The Lucidity Institute offers several electronic devices that help people achieve lucid dreams. They were developed through laboratory research at Stanford University by LaBerge, Levitan, and others. The basic principle behind all of these devices is as follows: The primary task confronting someone who wishes to have a lucid dream is to remember that intention while in a dream. We often remember to do things while awake through reminders: notes, strings around fingers, alarms, and so on. However, such reminders are of little use in dreams, although there are other kinds of reminders that are in fact helpful. The observation that some sensory events are occasionally incorporated into ongoing dreams (like your clock radio or the neighbor's saw appearing disguised in your dream rather than awakening you) led to the idea of using a particular sensory stimulus as a cue to a dreamer to become lucid. For example, a tape recording of a voice saying "You're dreaming" played while a person is in REM sleep will sometimes come through into the dream and remind the person to become lucid. In our research we settled on using flashing lights as a lucidity cue, because they had less tendency to awaken people than sound and were easy to apply. The DreamLight and NovaDreamer devices also have a sound cue option, which is useful for people who sleep more deeply.
The DreamLight, DreamLink, and NovaDreamer all work by giving users flashing light cues when they are dreaming. Users work with their devices to find an intensity and length of cue that enters their dreams without awakening them. In addition, device users should practice mental exercises while awake for the best preparation for recognizing the light cues when they appear in dreams. The devices are based around a soft, comfortable sleep mask, which contains the flashing lights. The DreamLight and NovaDreamer detect the rapid eye movements of REM sleep, when the wearer is likely to be dreaming, and give cues when the level of eye movement activity is high enough. The DreamLink lacks the eye movement detection circuitry; the user sets its timer to trigger the cues at times likely to coincide with REM periods.
These lucid dream induction devices offer a second method of lucid dream stimulation. This method arose out of the discovery that while sleeping with the DreamLight, people frequently dreamed that they awakened wearing the device, and pressed the button on the front of the mask to start the "delay," a feature that disables cues while you are drifting off to sleep. Ordinarily, the button would cause a beep to tell you that you had successfully pressed it. However, people were reporting that the button was not working in the middle of the night. Actually, they were dreaming that they were awakening and pressing the button, and the button did not work because it was a dream version of the DreamLight. Dream versions of devices are notorious for not working normally. Once people were advised that failure of the button in the middle of the night was a sign that they were probably dreaming, they were able to use this "dreamsign" reliably to become lucid during "false awakenings" with the DreamLight. This "reality test" button turned out to be so useful that it became an important part of all the lucid dream induction devices developed by the Lucidity Institute. Research suggests that about half of the lucid dreams stimulated by the devices result from using the button for reality tests.
============================ Step 5: I'm lucid now but... ============================
[Dream Spinning, by Stephen LaBerge]
If you find yourself loosing your precious lucidity during a dream, the problem is often remedied by "dream spinning". When you find the dream fading, spin around as you did when you were a child trying to get dizzy. (You will not get dizzy from dream spinning because your physical body is not spinning around). Remind yourself, "The next scene will be a dream." When you stop spinning, if it is not obvious that you are dreaming, do a reality test. Even if you think you are awake, you may be surprised to find that you are still dreaming!
[Focal Point method, by Dr. Paul Tholey] This method had actually been proposed by Dr. Paul Tholey of Germany as a technique for causing awakening from lucid dreams. This was to focus visual attention on a single point in the dream and hold it their until the dream ended. The experiment presented this behavior as another dream prolonging technique, as a way of testing the power of suggestion in the effectiveness of actions meant to prolong dreams, and as a test of the verity of Tholey's idea.
[Vocal method, by Stephen LaBerge]
When you find yourself loosing lucidity, continually remind yourself that you are dreaming by repeating phrases like "This is a dream!...This is a dream!...This is a dream!" or "I'm dreaming...I'm dreaming...I'm dreaming ...." This self-reminding can be spoken "out-loud" in the dream, if necessary. Otherwise it's better to say it silently to avoid the repetition becoming the predominant feature of the dream.
[Awakening at Will from a Lucid Dream]
If the secret to preventing premature awakening is to maintain active participation in the dream, the secret to awakening at will is to withdraw your attention and participation from the dream. Think, daydream, or otherwise withdraw your attention from the dream, and you are very likely to awaken. This method lends itself to situations where you wish to fully remember intricate details of the dream, such as lyrics to a song or results from an experiment. Dreamer beware, however, that awakening from a lucid dream more often than not causes false awakenings. If you wish to wake from a dream, make sure you are truly awake from them too or else your efforts will be lost!