What if you could live in a world where everything was possible? Not only that, suppose you could control your surroundings and make whatever you want to happen? Maybe you want to fly, or find yourself at a buffet with all your favourite foods, or even spend a day with your favourite celebrity. All of this and more is possible- in the world of lucid dreaming.
What is it?
Everyone has around 3-5 dreams a night, although they are quickly forgotten. Most of the time, people dream of random things and events. Dreams are mostly a manifestation of our emotions, which is why they may seem bizarre and unreal if we remember them. Dreaming happens in REM sleep- a stage of the sleep cycle that lasts around 20-30 minutes at a time. This stage is generally not a very deep stage of sleep, and hence it is common to wake up during a dream.
Lucid dreaming occurs when the person is aware that they are dreaming. Their mind breaks free from the events that are going on in the dream, and they can remember that they are asleep. Experienced lucid dreamers are then able to control this fantasy, and engage in activities that they enjoy. However, if the person gets too excited, they may risk waking up.
Around 50% of the population experiences this fascinating phenomenon naturally. The good news is that lucid dreaming is a skill that can be learnt, just like playing the piano or studying a new language. Anyone can learn how to do it, and this skill can be fine-tuned with practice. Not everyone may be able to have a command over their surroundings, but they would be aware that they are dreaming.
How to Lucid Dream?
There are many ways to become lucid. Here are a few of them you can try!
There are many ‘reality checks’ you can perform- if they work, then you are awake, and if they don’t, you are asleep. For example, find something to read. Anything- a label, a sign, even the time on a watch. Look at it, look away, and look at it again. If the words or numbers are the same, you are awake. In your dream, they would have changed, and it would be something different.
Another one is to press your finger to the palm of your other hand. You can also push it into a wall. In your dreams, your finger would pass through your hand or the walls, hence alerting you that you are asleep.
You can also count your fingers. You know how many fingers you have in real life, and if you suddenly find that you have 13 or maybe just 6, that’s a sign that you’re dreaming.
For this method to work successfully, you need to perform these checks multiple times when you are awake. The more conscious and aware you are while performing these actions, the higher the chance you will gain awareness in a dream.
A dream journal is a log that you fill in every day with the dreams you remember having. Initially, you might not recall anything, but it gets easier the more you do it. While keeping a dream journal, you can also draw landscapes or symbols you see in your dreams. This method helps you identify common themes or surroundings of your dreams. You can, therefore, remember them when you are dreaming and become aware.
Dream journals not only help bring about lucidity, but they are also are excellent stress relievers. Noticing patterns in your dreams can also bring to light stresses in real life. It can be a cathartic activity.
Practising meditation helps you become more focused. If you are more mindful and aware of your surroundings when you are awake, it is easier to notice the lazy fluidity of a dream.
All the methods above will only help you realise that you are dreaming. Gaining control of your surroundings is a different ability that requires a different skillset to implement.
Here, slow and steady wins the race. It is important not to get very excited once you know that you are dreaming since that can cause you to wake up. Remember to stay calm and have fun.
Benefits of Lucid Dreaming
Since lucid dreams aren’t real, it is possible to do things that you can’t do when you are awake. You can conquer your fears by facing them in your dreams. Since you are always in control, you can go at your own pace. For example, someone who is afraid of heights can imagine they are at the top of a cliff, but if they feel uneasy, they can always remove that image. Lucid dreaming has helped many people overcome their phobias in this method.
You can also combat nightmares. If you can gain control, you can change a terrifying situation into something pleasant. Hence, lucid dreaming is also a useful therapy for people who have recurring nightmares.
In these dreams, it is possible to relieve anxiety. If you wish to talk to someone or want closure after an argument, you can speak to those people in your dreams. While this may not help your real relationships, it could give you the confidence or make you feel better about talking to them.
It is important to note, however, that while these dreams aren’t real, they can affect you in many tangible ways. They have the same effect as waking up from a nightmare with sweat pouring down your face and your heart beating rapidly. Lucid dreams may not be real, but they will feel real. So, you will experience real emotions towards objects and people from your dreams. Keep in mind that moderation is key to having a healthy dream life, and your reality always takes foremost importance. Other than that, have fun exploring and creating a fantasy inside your head!