Meditation is a practice known to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm, compassionate, and stable state. Meditation has proven difficult to define as it covers a wide range of dissimilar practices in different traditions. Since the popularity of meditation has increased in the west, more than 1,000 published scientific studies have found the long-term effects of meditation to improve metabolism, blood pressure, brain activation, stress relief, pain relief, and other bodily processes. There are two main routes to meditation: Concentration, such as listening to a hypnotic voice or visualizing a desired lucid dream, and mindfulness, such as focusing on the present, clearing the mind, and enjoying a sense of inner peace.
There is evidence that consistent meditation, especially mindfulness meditation, increases lucidity in dreams. Studies since the 1970s have found fascinating links between meditation, lucid dreaming, and cognition. Meditators were also shown to have more dream recall and lucidity compared to non-meditators. Many of the primary skills cultivated in meditation practice (particularly open monitoring or focused attention meditation), including stability of attention and the ability to monitor one’s current experiential state, are thought to be useful in having and sustaining lucid dreams. an intriguing possibility that arises from these findings is that at least some types of meditation practice lead to alterations in mindfulness traits that then carry over into sleep and dream states.
Increased mindfulness is also associated with less anxiety and negative dream quality. Mindfulness is a possible protective factor against dream disturbances. The practice of mindfulness is aimed at improving your awareness of the present moment, without judgment. Lucid dreaming is characterized by being mindfully aware of the present moment, so building this skill through meditation is fairly common and effective. Many common lucid dream induction techniques use the concept of mindfulness, such as reality checks, which train the dreamer to build a habit of mindfully examining their surroundings.
There is no right or wrong way to meditate, because there are many great forms of meditation, with similar aims of promoting awareness and acceptance. There is no main goal or expectation when it comes to meditation. It is important to just accept the experience as it is, without judgment. The goal of meditation is not to empty the mind and clear it of thoughts. Train yourself to become aware of those thoughts and return back to your point of focus. That might be your breath, a mantra, or whatever guided meditation you’re listening to. When a thought drifts in during meditation, it provides a chance to cultivate skills to work with the energies of thinking. Without pulling the thought in or pushing it away, your job is to simply notice its existence.
When starting meditation, it is best to incorporate it into your routine. Research has shown that benefits can be achieved with a practice of only 8 minutes per day even with simple guided meditation videos Some meditators practice for much longer, and you can build your practice and meditate for longer periods each time. Even 5 minutes a day has been shown to significantly help people reduce anxiety, and have overall more clarity and calmness during the day.
Some of the common processes that happen across different meditation forms are:
This is sometimes called self-scanning. Doing this involves focusing on the physical sensations you can feel throughout your body.
This usually involves concentrating on a question or some kind of contradiction without letting your mind wander.
This kind of meditation has you focus on a specific emotion. For example, focusing on how to be kind to others or on what makes you happy in your life.
This kind of meditation involves repeating (either aloud or in your head) and focusing on a specific phrase or sound.
This type of meditation can involve focusing on breathing, holding your breath, or performing specific body movements. It can also involve walking while focusing on what you observe around you.
This form of meditation is about staying aware of what’s happening at the moment rather than letting your mind wander and worrying about the past or future. It can also involve a similar approach as body-centered meditation, using what you feel throughout your body as a foundation for your awareness of the world around you.
This kind of meditation involves focusing on something you can see (either with your eyes or by concentrating on a mental image).
Future research may seek to delineate which types of meditation practice are most directly influential on dreaming, and perhaps in the future, the possibilities of practicing meditation even from within the lucid dream state.
Lucid dreaming has also been considered an ideal state for meditative awareness. Many lucid dreamers set the goal to meditate while lucid. Tibetan and Toaist Dream Yoga traditions taught that lucid dreams begin with waking life awareness, and as it increased dream lucidity, they began meditating in the dream. By 600 BC, Taoists in China and Buddhists in India had developed complex meditation practices. Meditation helps create continuity between increased awareness during waking and sleeping states.
Baird, Benjamin, et al. “Supplemental Material for Increased Lucid Dream Frequency in Long-Term Meditators but Not Following Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Training.” Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice, 2018, https://doi.org/10.1037/cns0000176.supp.
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