The dreamworld is one of my favorite topics to talk about and the concept of lucid dreaming never fails to intrigue me. Lucid dreaming is the act of becoming conscious within a dream, which can lead to being able to control the dream.
Most people have experienced a form of lucid dreaming at least once in their life, but few manage to lucid dream consistently. This topic along with astral projection is one I get the most questions about, as simple as it sounds the execution is what stumps people.
In this post I want to lay out how to lucid dream easily (with the technique that got me my first lucid dream in just three days) and how to use the lucid dream state to explore your own consciousness. I see a future where this type of inner work is commonplace, and from the conversations I’m seeing it’s becoming more and more discussed.
If you’re having trouble maintaining a lucid dreaming practice or simply don’t know where to start, I hope to provide some much needed direction. So without further ado let’s get right into it!
How to Lucid Dream Easily
I’m going to discuss the techniques I used to have my first lucid dream in three days…yes that’s right. This was around the age of eleven and since then I have been having lucid dreams consistently every week over the past decade.
Now this isn’t to say that everyone will have the same success so quickly, but with consistency you will break through at some point. Some people are more tuned into the dream realms than others, having a high level of awareness already will help with this.
Once I had my first lucid dream it just snowballed from there. Instead of having to do any techniques like the ones I’m going to discuss, by maintaining a high level of mindfulness during the day when I did dream I was aware of it.
Step 1: Dream Recall
The first step to lucid dream is practicing dream recall – this is by far the most important aspect and one not to skip. You might have a dozen lucid dreams but they’ll quickly be forgotten by your conscious mind if you don’t work on your dream recall.
Start by finding a dream journal that you will enjoy writing in. Keep this within reach of your bed so that you do not need to get up in the middle of the night to write your dreams down. If a journal isn’t your style use the notes app on your phone or make voice memos, whatever works best for you.
When recording your dreams the key is to add as much detail as possible, write down the events as best as you can remember. Write about how the dream made you feel, the characters you interacted with, the symbols you saw and any other important details.
Simply having a journal by your bedside is a great first step when learning to lucid dream, as it signals to your subconscious mind that you are serious about this. You’ll find that the more dreams you record the more you end up recalling in the future.
Your dream recall acts like a muscle that you can train and strengthen over time, you’ll remember more dreams but you’ll also remember the details more vividly.
Step 2: Reality Checks
The next step involves what are known as ‘reality checks’. These are little checks you do throughout the day to test if you are dreaming. This could be as simple as counting your fingers and confirming that you have five, or seeing if you can read a clock clearly every time you see one.
If you do this consistently at some point you’ll look at your hands or the clock in a dream and notice something is off, you will become aware you are dreaming.
Different reality checks to try:
- Counting your fingers
- Checking the clock
- Pushing your fingers through your hand
- Making sure electronics function properly
- Seeing if you can read a passage of text
- Asking yourself “am I dreaming?”
Some like to leave reminders for themselves to do these reality checks. You can leave post-it notes in your bedroom with the text “am I dreaming?” written on them, write a reminder on the back of your hand or set reminders on your phone.
Simply asking yourself the question “am I dreaming?” is a powerful reality check as it can be done at anytime, in the privacy of your own mind. If you ask this question and are confused whether you are dreaming or not…this is a very clear sign you are!
During the course of a lucid dream it is important to carry out as many reality checks as you need to, whenever the dream becomes unstable or your focus dwindles. This will help keep you lucid dreaming for longer and with continued clarity.
In my first lucid dream I was going about a regular dream (which I can no longer remember) and suddenly saw my hands randomly pop up in front of me. This alerted my conscious attention and I immediately started counting my fingers. My fingers didn’t look elongated or unusual in anyway but as I counted over five I gained more and more digits!
This is when I knew I was dreaming. I brought my attention to the dream world around me and started to walk around the room I was in, which wasn’t made up of walls but a white energy. It was from here that I tried weird foods, flew for a bit, swam underwater and then woke up. I remember the dream as vividly today as the when it occurred.
Step 3: Dream Incubation
Another great way to get lucid is by doing what I like to call ‘dream incubation’. This involves using the last few minutes you are awake to prime your mind and visualize the types of dreams you would like to have.
Before sleep try reading a lucid dreaming blog (like this one), watching videos about lucid dreaming or researching dream symbols. Anything that gets you thinking about dreaming as you are falling asleep is great.
Instead of worrying about the day one as you are drifting off to sleep, picture the dream you would like to have in your mind. Add as much details as possible and really feel the environment around you with your senses.
What we think about before sleep has a great chance of showing up in our dreams, and so you will find that many of the dreams you visualize materialize. When this happens you are more likely to become lucid as you will feel a sense of familiarity with your surroundings that will trigger conscious awareness.
These three steps will get you lucid dreaming in no time, although the exact length will vary for everyone. Some people are already more aware of their dreams/have lucid dreamed before and so this comes more easily to them. For others getting their first lucid dream can take weeks even months.
There are really only two things you need to start lucid dreaming in my view: intention and consistency. Having a consistent intention to become aware in your dreams as you fall asleep will eventually cause a lucid dream, although the techniques above will shorten this process.
I have known people to have lucid dreams without doing any specific techniques, simply because they heard about lucid dreams from someone or read about them. Knowing that lucid dreaming is a real possibility is enough to trigger one over time.
Lucid Dreaming and Spiritual Growth
Lucid dreaming is one of the best tools for spiritual growth simply because it is an easily accessible state of altered consciousness. When we are conscious within the dream world, we are placing our focus outside the regular physical world we are accustomed to.
When I first started lucid dreaming it was all about having fun and trying out cool activities like flying, taste testing different foods, breathing underwater or fulfilling other fantasies. Over time my lucid dreaming took on a new form: expansion of my consciousness.
Currently the only technique I use to induce lucid dreaming is a practice of mindfulness when awake. This mindfulness carries over into the dream state and so I can discern that I am dreaming fairly quickly, when something unusual happens in a dream it catches my attention.
Through working in this non-physical space I have been able to delve into my own psyche, identify obstacles I’m avoiding in waking life, manifest, work with my energy, and communicate with spirit guides, animals and other spiritual beings.
Lucid dreaming also gets us familiar with the sleep paralysis state. I understand the fear or aversion that can come up when you mention sleep paralysis, but this is a highly misunderstood sleep phase.
Sleep paralysis is simply a state between sleep and awake, we are half-awake and can often perceive our room but cannot move. This can be frightening at first, but if we remain relaxed there is nothing to fear.
Jumping off of the sleep paralysis phase we can attempt an astral projection, which is another word for a conscious out of body experience. Place your focus somewhere a distance beyond your physical body and visualize yourself floating out.
Astral projection is similar to lucid dreaming in that we have to be in the mind awake, body asleep state. It is different in its vividness and the level of control we have over the environment. Lucid dreams take place in our mind or mental construct, astral projections take place on the astral realm.
Lucid Dreaming FAQ
How long does it take to lucid dream?
The first question people have about lucid dream is how quickly they can succeed. As I mentioned before I was able to have my first lucid dream in three days, but I think this had a lot to do with my age at the time. This process can take days or weeks, it generally doesn’t take months or years (in comparison to something like astral projection).
The time it takes to have your first lucid dream will depend on how well you are able to maintain a mind awake body, asleep state. A regular meditation practice will help tremendously. If you don’t have success after a few weeks, perhaps come back to it at a later date, with a refreshed mindset.
Can you get stuck in a lucid dream?
Another question people have is if they can get stuck in a lucid dream.
You cannot get stuck in a lucid dream anymore than you can in a regular non-lucid dream. However it can often feel like we’ll be stuck in the dream while we’re in it, because our mental capacities aren’t as sharp. It’s easy to allow fear and anxiety to snowball.
If you ever feel trapped in a lucid dream try to remain calm and remind yourself that this is just a dream. No harm can come to you in this state.
Can lucid dreaming make you tired?
This is an interesting one and there is truth to it. Lucid dreaming can interfere with our regular sleep schedule because we aren’t meant to be conscious within our dreams – our bodies aren’t accounting for that. A lot of the processes we experience within the dream prompt a similar physiological response in the sleeping body. We are awake when we aren’t meant to be.
If you find your lucid dreaming practice is causing you to lose sleep I would recommend abstaining from your reality checks or any other techniques which are interfering with simply getting to sleep.
Over the years I have becomes much more content with allowing my dreams to go their own way, if I lucid dream that is great but if I don’t the dream will show me what I need to see. You can find a good balance by building that initial awareness first (the ability to recognize when you are dreaming) and then pulling back a little.
What has your experience with lucid dreaming been?