Imagine a world where you can easily conquer your biggest fears, travel at will to any location on the planet…or elsewhere, live out exciting, unbelievable adventures and even seduce a hopelessly sexy lover.
It sounds like fantasy, but the impossible is in fact very possible through lucid dreaming.
In this guide we are going to walk you through all the ins and outs of the fantastical, yet accessible, world of lucid dreaming.
- You’ll learn all about the benefits and how to lucid dream.
- We’ll answer the most common questions about lucid dreaming and discuss techniques that you can start trying today and tips and tricks for beginners.
- In this guide, you’re going to discover everything you need to know to start lucid dreaming.
Get ready, because you’re about to begin an exciting adventure where walking on the sun is a piece of cake and monsters turn into friends.
In the world of lucid dreaming, the laws of physics are turned upside down and there are no limits to the possibilities.
You’ll discover the unimaginable and conquer the impossible; but first, let’s talk about what lucid dreaming actually is.
The definition of lucid dreaming is actually quite simple. Lucid dreaming is being lucid, or aware, during a dream.
Think of it like this - are you awake right now?
Do you know that you are awake?
If so, then you are lucid. If you can ask yourself those questions about dreaming, while in a dream, and answer them, then you’ll be lucid dreaming.
A lucid dream is any dream during which the dreamer is aware of dreaming.-Wikipedia definition
You can experience lucid dreams actively or passively. The most popular form of lucid dreaming involves active participation where you create and control your surroundings.
This can be a fun and adventurous way to lucid dream and it’s what most people think about when they hear the term “lucid dreaming.”
However, passive dreaming can also be just as exciting. Obtaining lucidity in your dreams, but letting your subconscious do the rest of the work is a really fun self-exploration tool.
We attempt to exercise so much control in our everyday lives. It’s often a great source of stress for people and it’s the opposite experience of lucid dreaming.
When you experience a lucid dream, you aren’t worrying about what you should do or where you should go; rather, you are witnessing and experiencing the freedom of the perfect present moment.
Mindfulness and Lucid Dreaming
When you read about lucid dreaming, you often come across various techniques for inducing lucidity and some of the benefits and things you might experience.
What is often overlooked is the fact that lucid dreaming is also a phenomenal display of mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the act of being aware and present in the moment, without judgement. This is precisely what happens when you have a lucid dream - You are aware that you dream and are solely in the present.
The benefits of mindfulness are well documented and it’s worth considering practicing mindfulness in your daily life. This will enhance your lucid dreaming experience and help you get through the day to day hustle of living.
Of course, since they go hand-in-hand, by practicing lucid dreaming, you will also become more mindful!
Think of a dream or a nightmare - any dream you’ve ever had - and try describing it using as much detail as possible.
You may experience a common phenomenon of being unable to really articulate the profound feelings you experienced during your dream.
You might be able to describe the details and events with some accuracy, but when you attempt to convey the emotion and strength of the dream, words just come up short.
Dreams are so powerful, and they can enhance or defy everything we know about reality. When you dream, you get the experience all of these exciting and mysterious worlds, but you only experience them as a memory when you wake up. Lucid dreaming lets you experience those worlds in real time; lucid dreams are dreams that feel real.
In the real world, your sensory experiences (sight, touch, taste, smell and feel) are just processes in your brain that are triggered by something in your body.
For example, when you touch something, signals fire off in your brain and let you experience the touch. The same thing happens in your lucid dreams, which means you can fully experience everything in your dreamworld.
Lucid dreaming is like a hyperreality where you sense and feel everything around you, except everything around you is a construct of your infinite imagination!
1) Access your subconscious
Imagine a computer that has billions and billions of files that contain every piece of data about yourself, but 95% of those files are in a password protected folder.
This is essentially how your mind works and that password protected folder, with 95% of the data, is your subconscious.
This is the land of your dreams and if you’re not lucid dreaming, you’re not experiencing most of what is happening in your mind! If you can imagine the benefits of having the password to unlock that folder, you can begin to understand the benefits of lucid dreaming.
So much of what we truly fear and truly believe is locked away behind the gates of our subconscious mind. Luckily, when we dream, we get to process all of this information and try to make sense of it all.
2) Interpret your dreams
It’s easy to get lost in the confusing symbology of your mind.
When you have a nightmare about falling or a dream about flying, it’s easy to interpret those experiences as literal.
It must mean you are afraid of falling or you wish to fly, right?
A falling dream might just be about your fear that you're losing control in your relationship and a flying dream may be about your desire to be free from that relationship.
So, how do you figure out what these confusing symbols mean?
Lucid dreaming lets you take a front row seat to those dreams and experience them in real time. Lucid dreaming gives you the password to your subconscious mind and lets you actively seek understanding before your conscious mind has an opportunity to interrupt and confuse you.
3) Conquer your fears
One of the greatest benefits of lucid dreaming is the ability to truly conquer the fears that plague your waking life.
Your subconscious mind wants to help you and it tries to play out these “fear dramas” during your sleep, but if you’re not present to witness them, it’s hard to really get any benefit.
When you lucid dream, you get the opportunity to experience and process those fears right in the moment your mind attempts to sort them out.
Many people find relief from their anxiety and depression after a lucid dreaming experience. You can even train yourself to have a higher pain tolerance. When you begin feeling pain in dreams, you can control and manipulate your reaction.
Lucidity is powerful in the dreamworld.
4) Stop nightmares
Along the same lines as conquering your fears, lucid dreaming can stop you from having bad dreams.
Nightmares are so terrifying because we aren’t aware we are dreaming when we experience them. Imagine a dream where you are being chased by a serial killer and then getting trapped in a house with the murderer.
That would be a terrifying dream and you’d probably wake up in a cold sweat. However, if you were able to lucid dream during that experience, you’d know that all of it was in your mind and none of it was real.
The very act of knowing you are dreaming can stop the nightmare in its tracks.
5) Have fun
Lucid dreaming isn’t just about deep, dark and scary stuff; it can be a lot of fun!
Your wildest “dreams” can come true and you can experience them using all of your senses.
You can do whatever you want in a lucid dream, and many people use lucid dreams to live out their wildest fantasies, from flying to having sex with their “dream partner.”
More immersive than a good book, a TV show or even a virtual reality game, a lucid dream defies all laws of physics and logic and puts your right in the middle of to experience it in 5D (using all 5 senses)!
6) Practice for real life
Once you learn how to lucid dream, you can begin to steer the dreaming ship.
We are going to talk more about how to do this later and what the experience is like, but for now, let’s just talk about the possibilities.
Once you learn to control your dream atmosphere, you can practice and rehearse for anything.
Have a big presentation at work?
Ready to confess your feelings to someone?
Want to practice being more confident?
You can play out any of these scenarios and let your subconscious work out the best approach. It’s no secret that many great problems are often solved during sleep and this problem solving is even more enhanced when you lucid dream.
7) Solve a problem
Speaking of problem-solving, imagine overcoming your writer’s block or solving a complicated equation during your sleep.
It happens. Mary Shelley, the author of the famous novel Frankenstein, dreamt about the plot of the book before writing it.
Famous golfer Jack Nicklaus improved his score when he realized he was holding his clubs incorrectly in his dreams. Countless scientific discoveries have happened during sleep, including the arrangement of the Periodic Table of Elements.
Your brain can work out some incredible stuff while it’s sleeping, but if you're not there to witness it, you may forget it ever happened.
Lucid dreaming is clearly an exciting possibility and you’re probably on the edge of your seat now, ready to learn how to do it.
So let’s get started!
We are going to cover the basic steps to get you prepared and teach you how to have a lucid dream. Then, we’ll talk about what you can expect and address some common questions and issues that arise when people begin to lucid dream.
If lucid dreaming were just as simple as going to sleep and remembering that you’re not awake, there wouldn’t be an entire industry of courses, workshops and books about how to do it.
Lucid dreaming is absolutely possible for everyone, but you’ll need to train your brain first. It isn’t hard to do, but it will take some dedication, practice and patience. There’s no luck, skill or intelligence level involved; it’s simply a matter of setting your mind to it and practicing the techniques until you get results.
Step 1: Remember your dreams
Remembering your dreams is critical for learning how to lucid dream. If you don’t remember your dreams now, you’re not going to be able to tap into them when you are asleep.
The more you remember your dreams, the closer you are to experiencing lucid dreaming. People who lucid dream frequently, report being able to remember up to 3-4 dreams each night.
Here are 6 tips to help you remember your dreams:
1) Keep a dream journal
Keep a notebook by your bed and write down your dreams as soon as you wake up in the morning.
Writing in a notebook is advised over using a computer because the act of turning on the computer, opening up a document and typing can cause you to wake up too much.
If you remember a lot of your dream, write down the key details first and then flesh out those details. It’s important to write down as much information as you can before your mind wakes up too much.
2) Keep a dream audio journal
Some people find that the act of writing wakes them up too much. Also, having to turn on the lights to see what you’re writing can make it difficult to stay in the right state of mind. By keeping a voice recorder or smart phone by your bed, you can record yourself describing your dream while keeping the lights off and not moving around too much. For most people, this is a great alternative to writing in a journal.
3) Set an alarm to wake up early
If you don’t have a dream in mind when you wake up in the morning, it’s possible that you slipped out of the dream stage of sleep before you woke up. We actually do most of our dreaming in the early morning and the best way to remember a dream is to wake up in the middle of it. To do this, set an alarm for an hour before your normally wake up. Don’t worry; you don't need to fully wake up and start your day! You can just use this technique to help you wake up during a dream. Once you do, be sure to record it in your journal or audio diary.
4) Keep a regular sleep schedule
Your brain loves to sleep in regular cycles, so if your bedtime changes every night, you might want to reconsider. By going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day, you are giving your brain the cues it needs to know that it’s time to run through the cycles of sleep. When you do this, you’ll be more likely to enter dream stages throughout the night.
5) Set random alarms throughout the night
Everyone is different, so if the above tips don’t work, you might need to do some investigating. If you've tried to record your dreams upon waking and you've set yourself up for success, but haven’t had any luck recalling a dream, you may need to find your specific sleep pattern and work with it. Most people dream every 90 minutes, but this varies wildly from individual to individual. Try setting an alarm for a few different times during the middle of the night. Set an alarm for 90 minutes after you go to bed and see if you recall a dream when you wake up. If that doesn't work, set an alarm for various random times during the night. You might discover that you only remember dreams if you wake up at 3:20 am. If that's the case, you’ll need to get into the habit of waking up during that time to record your dreams.
6) Be healthy
Healthy people have healthy sleep cycles. A healthy sleep cycle is key in remembering your dreams. If you’re having a difficult time remembering any kind of dream at all, you might want to look into your lifestyle and make some adjustments. Certain substances like alcohol and marijuana can affect your ability to dream, just as anxiety and depression can cause sleep disturbances. If you experience the rare result of none of the above tips working for you, you might need to address some underlying issues before moving on.
Step 2: Perform reality checks throughout the day
It sounds silly, but to know you’re asleep, you must first realize that you are awake. Successful lucid dreamers perform reality checks throughout the day to confirm that they are indeed awake. Those same reality checks performed during sleep let them know that they are dreaming. However, you can't just perform a reality check at will while dreaming; it takes practice and training. To do this, you'll need to form the habit of reality checking every day.
Here are proven ways for performing reality checks that have been successful for other lucid dreamers.
1) Read something
Text and numbers seem to change in the dream world. In fact, it is reported that text read twice during a lucid dream changes 75% of the time, the second time it is read. That number goes up to 95% when it is re-read a third time. This makes reading text or numbers one of the most popular reality checks around. A few times each day, remind yourself to look at your watch or read a piece of text in front of you and then re-read it two more times. If it stays the same, you can tell yourself, “I know now that I am awake.”
2) Defy physics
The laws of physics don’t apply to the dreamworld, so testing them is a great way to find out where you are. You can do these reality checks by trying to push your hand through a solid object or jumping off the ground and seeing if you can fly. You obviously won’t succeed when you’re awake, so when you fail, you can tell yourself, “I know now that I am awake.”
3) Make something happen with your mind
Whether you want to move objects or make something appear or disappear, you might be able to do it when you’re dreaming. When you’re awake on the other hand, unless you have some incredible gifts, you’re going to fail. Just like the other reality checks, when you attempt to do this when you’re awake, remind yourself that it didn’t work because you are not dreaming.
4) Make it consistent
The key to successful reality checks is keeping it consistent. You’re going to be performing these in your lucid dreams, so don’t confuse yourself by making too many of them. Try to practice 1 or 2 of the same reality checks a few times each day. It only takes a few seconds and it will greatly improve your ability to lucid dream.
5) Do them in bed
Many first time lucid dreamers have an experience known as a “false awakening.” When this happens, you think that you have woken up, but really, you are lucid dreaming. These can be frustrating experiences because it’s difficult to distinguish between reality and the dream world when they look exactly the same. To prevent this, do a reality check before you go to sleep and right when you wake up. Make this a habit and every time you wake up, you’ll know for certain if it is a lucid dream or not.
Step 3: Have A Lucid Dream
Once you’re in the habit of remembering your dreams and practicing your reality checks, you’re ready to start practicing lucid dreaming techniques. It’s possible that by just performing the steps above for a couple weeks, you could start lucid dreaming without trying. If that’s not the case though, follow the guide below to induce your lucid dream.
The MILD Technique
The MILD Technique or Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams Technique was created by one of the most well-known dream experts, Dr. Stephen LaBerge of the Lucidity Institute. The concept behind the technique is that you can train your brain to have a lucid dream by repeating an affirmation and setting the stage for the dream. It’s a great technique to learn how to dream about what you want.
To perform this technique, be sure you have completed the steps above to remember your dreams and perform reality checks. Once you have mastered those steps and made them a habit, repeat a mantra in your mind every night before you drift off to sleep. The mantra can be something like “I will have a lucid dream” or “The next scene in my mind will be a dream” or even “I am dreaming now.”
After you have repeated the mantra long enough to induce a relaxed state, start imagining yourself back in a recent dream. Focus on a vivid scene from that dream and imagine something that you would like to happen. You can choose to imagine anything you want. The key here is to let your imagination run wild. Once you’re into it, repeat to yourself, “I’m lucid dreaming.” Though you won’t actually be lucid dreaming, you’ll be doing whatever you might want to be doing during a lucid dream. As you fall asleep, you’ll be training your brain to enter the lucid state.
The WILD Technique
The Wake Induced Lucid Dreaming Technique requires a bit more practice and patience, but it can bring on the most vivid lucid dreams imaginable. Since lucid dreaming is the state of being aware during an unconscious moment, the time between being asleep and awake can set the perfect stage for lucid dreaming. This technique teaches you how to control what you dream about and how to control your dream.
Some people find that WILD is easier to achieve during an afternoon nap or first thing in the morning. Try practicing WILD at different times of the day to see what works for you. The idea behind WILD is that you escort yourself into a lucid state from your waking state.
The steps below will outline how to perform this technique.
Step 1: Relax
Get into a relaxed state. This is easier to do if you are used to meditating, so you may want to start a daily meditation practice if you have trouble relaxing without falling asleep.
Step 2: In between
Allow yourself to start falling asleep, but stay focused on the unusual state between the dream world and reality. This is where this technique can be tricky, but doable with practice. The state between being awake and asleep is a place of sensory hallucinations. You might see colors pulsing behind your eyelids or you may hear music playing softly in the distance. Your mind may start imagining strange and bizarre tales. Whatever happens for you, stay focused on that state of being. Hold your focus there and don’t let yourself fall asleep or wake up.
You may experience sleep paralysis during this state. That is perfectly normal and it’s a good sign that you’re in an in between stage of sleep. It can be frightening for some people, but just remind yourself that it happens every single night - to everyone - we just aren’t usually half-awake for it.
Step 3: Dream scene
Create your dream scene. While remaining in the in-between state, let your mind drift to the wild places it wants to go, but exercise some control. This is a delicate balance, but by just being mindful of what’s happening in your mind, you’ll be able to create the scene you want without waking yourself up too much. You can place yourself in whatever scene you like and then let your mind do the rest from there. As you relax further into this state, you’ll drift into a lucid dream.
The Morning Technique
When we discussed remembering your dreams, we mentioned that waking up an hour before you normally do is a great way to record your dream. This is also a proven technique for lucid dreaming that works for many people.
- Set an alarm for 2 hours before you normally wake up.
- Record your dream as you normally do.
- Get up and do something for 20-30 minutes. Don’t activate your imagination by reading a book or watching TV. Instead, eat a healthy snack or do a crossword puzzle. You’ll be sleepy, so don’t do anything that will put you back to sleep. Also, don’t do something that wakes you up too much - in other words, don’t drink coffee, exercise or eat too much sugar.
- Go back to bed and focus on the dream you were having when you woke up.
- Put yourself back into that dream and allow yourself to drift off to sleep and experience a lucid dream.
The Dreaming Ship - Controlling Your Dreams
In the section on the benefits of lucid dreaming, we talked about the possibilities of controlling your dreams. Now that you know how to start lucid dreaming, we can dive a little deeper into controlling aspects of your dreams and setting yourself up to dream about whatever you want.
Sometimes, when lucid dreaming, the realization that you actually are lucid dreaming can be so alarming or exciting that it wakes you up. You won’t be able to control any aspects of your dreams if this keeps happening, so you’ll need to remedy this problem first.
The simplest technique is called the “spinning technique,” and all you need to do is spin around in circles in your dream once you realize you are dreaming. This technique works because it distracts you from the feelings you experience upon lucidity and it stimulates a dizzying sensation that we often associate with dreaming and falling asleep. You can also try falling backwards to achieve the same effect.
Once you are able to remain in the lucid dreaming state, you can start to steer your dreaming ship. It’s good to think of it this way because when you steer a ship, you aren’t in control of the waters or weather, but you’re in control of how you react. So, you can influence what happens in your dream, but if you exerted too much control, you wouldn’t be dreaming.
You're the captain of your lucid dreaming ship, so take it wherever you want to go. If you want to work on a problem that’s happening in real life, imagine the situation vividly and let your mind take you to the solution. If you want to face a fear, conjure it up and fight it or transform it.
The key to controlling your lucid dreams is to remember that the goal isn’t to create an experience, but to experience your creation.
There are a few things you can do to help make lucid dreaming more likely. Keep in mind that all of these things are only meant to be used in addition to the steps and techniques listed above. They won’t induce lucid dreams on their own, but they can make it more likely.
Tea and Herbs*
*If you have a medical condition or are pregnant, do not try these herbs without first consulting your doctor. Side effects from herbs can interfere with medications and some medical conditions.
There are many herbs and teas on the market that can help induce a dream state, intensify dreams and make lucid dreaming more likely. These herbs have been used for centuries by cultures all over the world to communicate with spirits, experience prophesies and visit the underworld. These herbs are legal and you can purchase them at your local health food store or online. Herbs you can use include: Mugwort, Huperzine-A, Choline, Wild Asparagus Root, Calea, Sinicuichi and Silene.
The best meditation you can do to help induce lucid dreams is mindfulness meditation. Since lucid dreaming is a state of mindfulness, practicing that state during your waking life is a very helpful aid. Try implementing a 20 minutes mindfulness meditation into your daily routine and see if it increases your chances of lucid dreaming.
If you need help from a guided meditation, try the one below:
Lucid Dreaming Music
There has been a lot of advancement in the science of using technology and sounds to induce a lucid dreaming state. Playing off our natural brainwave patterns, sound can influence certain states of awareness and make lucid dreaming more likely. If you're interested in trying this technique, listen to the 8 hour video below using headphones while you sleep.
You now know everything you need to know to start practicing lucid dreaming. Since lucid dreaming takes practice and patience, we’re going to conclude this guide by addressing the common challenges that people experience when trying to lucid dream.
Read through the questions and be sure to re-visit this page if you experience any difficulties lucid dreaming.
Is lucid dreaming dangerous?
Lucid dreaming is a wonderful self-exploration tool and it is completely safe. In fact, it’s a great way to experience far out worlds and ideas without using psychedelics, which can be dangerous. No one has ever gotten stuck in a dream or done anything dangerous while lucid dreaming. You can do anything you want inside your lucid dream and you’ll wake up back in the safety of your bed.
I can’t remember my dreams; what should I do?
We spent a lot of time in this guide going over all the steps you need to take to remember your dreams. If you consistently try all of those steps and you still can’t remember your dreams, you may have a sleep disorder or a medication that interferes with your sleep cycle. This is extremely rare, so make sure you try all of those steps for at least a month. If they truly don’t work, you may want to talk to your doctor about ordering a sleep study.
I had a lucid dream and it frightened me; is this normal?
Lucid dreams can be frightening if you aren’t prepared for them. Most people find them to be very exciting and fulfilling, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen that way. The best thing to do if you have a frightening experience is to remind yourself that it is all in your head. Everything in your dream world is a construct of your own mind. Things that appear frightening are just symbols in a dream. You woke up and you’re safe now, so let that be a reminder that exploring the darker parts of your mind is safe and can help you eliminate those fears.
I’ve been lucid dreaming, but I can’t control it, why?
You’ll never be able to fully control your dreams, only steer the dreaming ship. Keep this in mind and just keep trying. It can take time and patience to be able to direct where you want your lucid dreams to go and even those who have lucid dreams all the time aren’t always able to control them. Lucid dreaming is really about awareness, not control.
What is the difference between daydreaming and lucid dreaming?
You are fully conscious, but relaxed and distracted when you daydream, but it’s a good start to learning how to lucid dream. The difference between the two is that you are awake when you daydream and asleep when you lucid dream. Accessing your imagination is a great tool to enhancing your lucid dream experiencing, but it shouldn't be confused with lucid dreaming. Most daydreams are far less bizarre and surreal than lucid dreams. If you do a reality check in your daydream, you’ll realize that you are indeed awake.
Will I be more tired in the morning?
It’s logical to think an all night adventure of a lucid dream would make you wake up feeling exhausted. Yet, the opposite is usually true. Most people wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated after a lucid dreaming experience. This happens because lucid dreaming takes place during a very restful phase of sleep that lets our body recover. Having awareness during this part of sleep doesn’t seem to affect your level of rest.
Can you taste food in a lucid dream?
The short answer is - yes. Since all sensory experiences are merely neurons firing off in your brain, it is possible to experience them in your dream. You can experiment with this idea right now. Sit back and imagine your favorite smell. Think about it clearly and visualize the source in your mind. If you try hard enough, you can actually trigger your brain to experience the smell.