Lucid dreaming gives you power in your sleep, which is where you spend about a third of your entire life. Instead of being driven away by the abnormal constructs of a dream, you are there, present and awake, somewhat like your normal day-to-day reality. This is a powerful moment where you can literally take full control of the dream and create anything you want. To lucid dream on a consistent basis is a skill that takes practice and consistency. Similar to working out, your brain is like a muscle that needs training and direction on what to focus on.
In order to wake up from an amazing lucid dream, you have to remember it by building your dream recall. Keeping a dream journal is one thing that anyone interested in lucid dreaming should be doing. You can keep a physical notebook by your bed, or use a phone app such as Oniri which also has voice recording features. It is also amazing to read back on old dreams and form connections that you would have otherwise forgotten. It is most effective to record dreams the moment you wake up, before the dream has faded. Not only will recording your dreams improve your overall dream recall, but it will also help you identify your common dream signs, which is very helpful for lucid dreamers. Over time, you will notice objects, people, feelings and places that commonly appear. These are your dream signs. Dream journaling is the best way to tell your brain that your dreams, even the non-lucid ones, are worth remembering.
A reality check is an exercise that if performed correctly, will lead you to realizing you’re dreaming within the dream. When you are awake, it may feel silly because you know you are not dreaming, but in a dream you are also convinced that you are awake. You can pinch yourself, flip a light switch, count your fingers, try to breathe with your nose shut, stretch your fingers, check the time, or anything that may act differently in a dream. For example, when I pull my fingers, in a dream it will stretch like rubber, which immediately tells me I am dreaming. It is good to pick two that you like, and do both as a backup.
The more often you form the habit of reality checking in your daily life, the more likely you will do it in a dream and become lucid when the reality check fails. The hardest part of this technique is remembering to perform the reality checks. You should use your common dream signs to trigger you to perform reality checks. This is the most effective way to remember to do them, because it makes you more likely to do a reality check while dreaming. For example, if you see cats in your dream often, perform a reality check every time you see a cat walk by. If you dream of driving often, perform a reality check (or two) every time you get in the car.
Dream Initiated Lucid Dreaming (DILD) occurs when a person is already dreaming and becomes lucid from within the dream. When you are dreaming, you may notice something is unusually bizarre, maybe the text on a billboard looks like gibberish, maybe you see your dead grandfather, or your reality check fails. Maybe you just spontaneously have a hunch and become lucid in the dream. Whatever the reason, it is good to do your reality checks in order to confirm lucidity and stabilize the dream.
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.
The Wake Induced Lucid Dream (WILD) is a method known to be more difficult for most people, but can produce amazing dreams and out-of-body experiences. In this technique, a person is attempting to remain conscious while crossing over from the wake state to the dream state. While doing this, you may consciously experience normal, but frightening side effects of going to sleep, such as hypnagogic hallucinations or sleep paralysis. Do not be frightened. Instead, prepare yourself for a fun ride, and stay calm, reminding yourself that you are safe and will be dreaming soon. Like many techniques, practice makes it increasingly easier to cross over to the dream world fully lucid. This method involves turning your attention inwards and focusing on your conscious awareness without falling completely asleep. Basically, keep your mind awake, while your body falls asleep.
To perform the WILD method, go to bed and lie absolutely still, as if your body is melting into the mattress and losing all sensation. Silence your inner monologue if it starts to chime in. You may hear hypnagogic sounds, echoes of voices and other sounds in your head. Once in the half-dream state, you will experience hypnagogia as a mixture of patterns and colors that take over your mind. Observe your hypnagogia and stay relaxed, allowing it to hypnotize you and draw your awareness away from the outside world into the internal dream world that is starting to evolve now. As you enter this state, gently focus your mental awareness on the hypnagogic imagery and simply float through it, allowing it to build, layer by layer.
The key here is to maintain a balance without blacking out and being sucked into the dream state unconsciously. Don’t engage the hypnagogic imagery, but don't reject it either. Just lie there watching it until the dreamscape has been formed sufficiently for you to consciously begin dreaming. If you feel yourself blacking out, just keep bringing your focus back to the hypnagogic imagery as it continues to build in your mind’s eye. You can also use this in combination with MILD to visualize a lucid dream as you are laying in bed. Once you successfully transition, you will likely find yourself in a dream version of your bedroom because that is where your subconscious expects you to be. Many people report being able to roll out of their bodies at this stage. You can also stay in bed longer and use visualization to create a dream scene manually. Remember to do a reality check and enjoy the lucid dream! As you have more WILDs, you’ll learn to recognize the signals that you are ready to lucid dream. Since your consciousness is still linked to your physical body, which is now asleep, you may feel the effects of sleep paralysis. This is a natural protection mechanism which stops you from acting out your dreams. It happens every night, but usually by this stage your mind is asleep too, so you normally do not notice it. If you feel like your limbs are going numb, don’t fight it. Instead, relax and rejoice in the fact that you are about to enter a Wake Induced Lucid Dream.
SSILD (Senses Induced Lucid Dream) is a hybrid method that combines aspects of multiple techniques. SSILD is built upon cycling through focusing on your senses after performing Wake Back to Bed. Each cycle includes the following steps:
As you fall asleep, start to take longer with each sensation, increasing each cycle from a few seconds long, to a few minutes long. During the slow cycles, you may become distracted by a lot of random thoughts. This is a good indication that you are close to falling asleep. Do not try to suppress these thoughts, just observe them. If you lose track of a cycle, just relax and start over. The repeated stimulation of the senses conditions our mind and body into a subtle state that is optimized for lucid dreaming to occur naturally. Keep this in mind so you do not make the common mistake of "trying too hard" during the cycles. It is important to get in the habit of performing a reality check upon each awakening, because methods such as WILD and SSILD are known to cause False Awakenings, which can easily turn into a lucid dream if you have good reality check habits!
One of the biggest pitfalls with lucid dream induction is when a person tries one method for a week or two, then decides it’s not working, and switches to another method or gives up completely. It’s very important to understand that lucid dreaming is a skill and any limiting beliefs such as “I cannot do this” or “this doesn’t work” will manifest into your practice. We are all naturals to an extent, but with any mental or physical practice, consistency yields results. The mind needs time to internalize what you are trying to learn before it can give you good results. If you wake up in the morning with no lucid dreams, don’t think of it as a failure. If you did your favorite technique before bed, then consider it a success because you got your practice done.