Many years ago I purchased a book called Lucid Dreaming. Lucid dreaming is all about being aware within a dream that you are, in fact, dreaming. Why would you want to do such a thing, you might well ask. That depends on several factors, but what’s true is that if you can master lucid dreaming, you can do things you would not otherwise be able to do. Perhaps the most useful aspect of lucid dreaming is preventing the continuance of nightmares. Lucid dreaming is a very effective therapy for overcoming bad dreams; in fact, it may well be the most effective tool there is.
The fear you feel in a nightmare is completely real; the danger is not, and therefore if you are lucid dreaming, the false danger is recognized and the fear dissipates.
Another advantage to learning lucid dreaming is enhanced creativity and problem solving. In the dream world anything is possible. If you are aware you are dreaming you can try out problem solving techniques and ideas that you might not have the resources for in waking life, including time. If you find something workable, you can bring it into the real world.
On the other hand, lucid dreaming can simply be used for recreation if you so desire. People who use it regularly report enhance creativity. Some people use it simply for fun. Flying is a common activity in lucid dreaming. Nearly everyone has dreams which involve flying, and it’s usually a pleasurable experience. With lucid dreaming you can do it at will. Any pleasurable experience can be had while engaging in lucid dreaming. I’ll leave it to your imagination to figure out what you might want to do in a dream. You can even use lucid dreaming to rehearse things you have coming up in life, such as speeches and presentations.
So how does one go about learning lucid dreaming? The first step is excellent dream recall. By remembering your dreams in detail you become familiar with their patterns and features. Without this you would have lucid dreams that you wouldn’t remember, which defeats the purpose of lucid dreaming in the first place. The primary step in good dream recall is to begin writing down your dreams as you have them. Yes, this involves waking up several times during the night. Lucid dreaming requires devotion to the task, so it’s not for everyone. I personally use a tape recorder, it’s much easier and you don’t have to turn on a light.
I won’t go into the rest of the exercises involved, if you’re interested in lucid dreaming, books and articles are readily available. Suffice it to say the exercises are not difficult and it’s mostly a matter of discipline.
What I’ve been talking about so far is referred to as Mnemonic Induced Lucid Dreaming, or MILD. There two other types. Dream Initiated Lucid Dreaming, DILD, and Wake Initiated Lucid Dreaming, WILD. A DILD starts as a normal dream and the dreamer at some point concludes they are dreaming. A WILD occurs when a person goes from a normal waking state to a dream state with no apparent lapse in consciousness. That is, when REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is entered directly from a conscious state. There are several ways to do this. If a person can stay alert while passing from a hypnagogic state, the borderline between waking and sleeping (I personally know many people who seem to live their lives there), to REM sleep, then they will achieve WILD. This is difficult to achieve, and it involves exercises I won’t go in to here.
Another method of inducing lucid dreaming is the one pictured above. It involves the used of a LDID, or Lucid Dream Inducing Device. The original device is called the NovaDreamer. It was designed in 1993 by an experienced lucid dreamer, Craig Webb, executive director of The DREAMS Foundation. It works by incorporating external stimuli into one’s dreams. The device detects when a sleeper enters an REM phase and then triggers a tone and/or flashing lights with the aim of incorporating these into the sleeper’s dream. For example, flashing lights might be interpreted in the dream as car headlights. There are other devices that use vibration to achieve the same end.
There is, of course, much more to all this, but that’s enough to get you started if it interests you at all. I haven’t tried this stuff in years; all I remember is that it’s very difficult and requires a lot of persistence. I recall the first exercise being to tell yourself before you go to sleep that you must look at your hands in your dream. If you can achieve that, you’re on your way. If you remember your dreams at all, you’ll realize that you never see your body parts in a dream. You never see your hands or feet. Achieving that is the first step. Good luck.