Lucid dreaming is the practice in which a dreamer is aware he or she is dreaming. It usually leads the dreamer to take control of their dream and turn it into a virtual playground where everything is possible: meeting a celebrity, flying and so much more.
If you are new to lucid dreaming, you may be expecting quick results or getting frustrated if you have not succeeded yet. There are many techniques to get lucid that you will find online, and it may take some trial and error to find out which ones are best for you. There is no right or wrong, best or worst because lucid dreaming is a personal practice and results will depend on your goals and personal dreamwork.
In this article, you will find a complete, basic, step-by-step guide for beginners to help you through the whole process. By the end of this article, you will know exactly what to do in order to have your first lucid dream.
Recording dreams is crucial for lucid dreaming. Not only will it improve your recall, but it will help you identify dream signs. Dream signs or dream symbols can be any person, object or situation that occurs in someone's dream on a regular basis. Dream signs are usually unique to an individual and vary from person to person. For example, if many of your dreams include your sister, or being in the car, that could be a dream sign for you. Recognizing your dream signs is a big part of learning to lucid dream. Many lucid dreamers use dream signs to recognize when they're dreaming and become spontaneously lucid. Dream signs provide cues to lucidity, sparking your rational brain to chip in with the realization: "I am dreaming!" The more attention you pay to spotting dream signs, and dream journaling, the more you'll notice them and the more lucid dreams you'll have.
Dream journaling is also amazing to read back on old dreams and form connections or remember things you would have otherwise forgotten.
It is most effective to record dreams the second you wake up while it is fresh because the more time passes, the more you will forget. You can create a voice recording, a phone note, a sketch, or write on paper, just record it the best way that works for you.
Tip: We recommend using Oniri’s dream journaling features to write down your dreams.
Try to capture the emotions you were feeling in the dream, which will help to properly interpret and understand your dreaming mind. Dream journaling over an extended period of time can reveal patterns, through recurrent dreams or the repeated appearance of important details in your waking life, and the more familiar your mind becomes with these patterns, the more awareness it might begin to have in wielding them while asleep.
A reality check is an exercise that if performed correctly, will lead you to realize you’re dreaming within the dream (DILD Dream Induced Lucid Dream). When you are awake, it may feel silly because you know you are not dreaming, but in a dream, you are also convinced you are awake.
Throughout the day, find ways to truly test your environment to see if it is a dream or reality. You can pinch yourself, count your fingers, try to breathe with your nose shut, really anything that may act differently in a dream. The more often you form the habit of reality checking, the more likely you will do it in a dream and realize something is not right.
Using your dream symbols to trigger reality checks is most effective because it will cause you to do a reality check while dreaming, resulting in a lucid dream. For example, if you see cats in your dream often, perform a reality check every time you see a cat.
The reason there are hundreds of lucid dream induction methods is that everyone is different, and different things work for each individual dreamer. You must experiment consistently to find what works for you. Do not give up after one attempt. Incubation can take time to train your brain to increase awareness while dreaming.
A lot of people who are new to lucid dreaming ask what the easiest induction method is. It's hard to answer that question because different methods work for different people. As long as you keep trying, there really is no wrong way to do it and you will eventually succeed. It's very important to understand that lucid dreaming is a learnable skill. Here are some examples of two popular lucid dreaming techniques!
Wake Back to Bed is a method that involves waking up in the middle of the night to interrupt your REM sleep, and consciously returning to bed with the intention of having a lucid dream. There are many variations of this method, so it is good to experiment with the timing of it. WBTB is often used in combination with other techniques such as MILD or WILD. The idea behind WBTB is to increase your mental alertness before returning to sleep in the middle of the night.
Before going to bed, set an alarm for 5-6 hours after you fall asleep. This is when you are most likely to be in REM sleep and can enter the dream world in the prime phase for lucid dreaming. Upon awakening, try not to use your phone, or any bright light that may wake you up fully. Enjoy a quiet activity, read about lucid dreaming, use the restroom or meditate. Research suggests the chances of lucid dreaming depends on the level of alertness and not the specific activity. Therefore, be mindful and intentional with this time. Most people stay awake anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes, depending on what works best for them. As you return to sleep, tell yourself that you will be lucid and know that you are dreaming.
In 1980, Stephen LaBerge created a technique called Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams (MILD). It was one of the first methods that used scientific research to induce lucid dreams. The purpose of this technique is to incubate the idea in your mind to later remember you are dreaming. With this technique, one rehearses a dream and visualises becoming lucid while repeating a mantra expressing the same intention, such as: “Next time I’m dreaming I will remember that I am dreaming.” You can think of a recent dream you had, or set an intention for a new dreamscape you would like to enter. For best results, it should be performed while returning to slumber during the Wake-Back-To-Bed (WBTB) technique, but it can also work well as a stand-alone method.
This is one of the most reliable and versatile methods that can lead to amazing dream experiences, making it great for beginners. This method is quite simple, and all you need is a few minutes of mindfulness before bedtime. If you are the type who falls asleep within a few minutes of hitting the pillow, you may not want to lie down for the MILD. Instead, turn off the lights, sit comfortably on your bed, and after at least 5 minutes, go ahead and lie down to sleep, keeping the MILD going as you fall asleep.
We’re all naturals to an extent, but with any skill, consistency and practice make perfect. The mind needs time to internalize what you are trying to learn before it can give you good results. Read our past blog post on the Most Popular Lucid Dream Induction Techniques.
Self-awareness in your waking life is significantly linked to increasing awareness in the dream state. Practicing mindful meditation before going to sleep will put you in the right mental state for transitioning into the dream world. Meditation is a useful strategy to induce a lucid dream. Keep in mind, though, that no foolproof method to lucid dream at will exists. This may work for you, or it may not. It may work some nights, but not others. Lucid dream meditation should be practiced regularly for the best results. Studies show that regular meditators have more frequent lucid dreams than people who are new to meditation.
Start small if you are completely new to meditation. Sit still in a comfortable, quiet spot. Close your eyes and focus attention on your breathing. Pay attention to each breath in and out for a few minutes. For mindfulness mediation, sit still in a comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed or distracted. Focus on your senses and thoughts in the moment. Let the thoughts go through your mind without judgment.
Even 10 minutes of meditation and mindfulness per day can make a difference and make it easier to have lucid dreams. Mindfulness can be described as the ability to be aware of the present moment and experience it with an open and non-judging attitude. This is a key component of lucid dreaming and both skills are related.
It is important to consider your reasonings for wanting to learn to lucid dream. Have a plan for when you do get lucid so that you are prepared. Many beginners become lucid and wake up within seconds because of shock or excitement. A dream plan helps you plan out what you want to do in your lucid dream so that you are not fumbling around without direction. Having a dream plan about what you will try to do while lucid is helpful because not only are you expecting to become lucid, you are also setting yourself up to stay in the dream longer. Start by identifying what motivates you to learn to lucid dream? Maybe there are spiritual reasons, maybe you want to experience the freedom of flying, or maybe you want insight on your life path. Whatever it may be, think about what that looks like in action. When you are in the dream, what do you do? Who do you talk to? What magic tricks will you try? Will you fly around, will you talk to animals? To put your dream plan into action, write it down before you go to sleep. Meditate on it, and even incorporate it into your evening routine. Use it as a movie scene that you visualize as you are falling asleep. Let your ideal lucid dream be the last thing on your mind to influence your dream content.
For inspiration on the possible things you can try while lucid check out The Ultimate List of Things to do While Lucid
Tip: Use the Oniri dream goals section to keep track of any dream tasks you intend on trying out.
Tzioridou, Sofia, et al. “The Role of Mindful Acceptance and Lucid Dreaming in Nightmare Frequency and Distress.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 21 Sept. 2022, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-19624-4.