A strange, scary or simply unusual situation is happening, you feel nervous, distressed, afraid or uncomfortable, and suddenly… you wake up! The relief of knowing it was just a dream – or nightmare – is great. Now, imagine being able to identify that you are dreaming, and not actually experiencing a situation, while you are still in the dream? What if the dream is incredible – the kind where you fly or have the superpowers you’ve always wanted – and you realize that you’re dreaming, but you could stay there, without waking up, to enjoy the moment? This is possible when we are able to have lucid dreams and remain aware while dreaming.
The Science Behind Lucid Dreaming
Lucid dreaming is a state of consciousness. Researchers have already realized that lucid dreaming is common in children and becomes rarer when a person reaches 16 years of age. Therefore, scientists proposed a link between the natural occurrence of lucid dreams and the maturation of the brain. There are findings pointing to the fact that lucid dreams are a single state of consciousness separate from any other state of mind. Also, scholars have noticed that certain cortical areas of the brain are activated while this type of dream happens. (Cited in an article on Medical News Today about dreams)
Other research by Patrick Bourke, Senior Professor at the School of Psychology at Lincoln University, believes that, for dreamers to become lucid while sleeping, they need to see beyond the overwhelming reality of their dream state and recognize that they are dreaming. The same cognitive ability was found to be demonstrated, while awake, by a person’s ability to think differently when it comes to solving problems. So, the basic idea is to “think outside the box”.
So, let’s do that for a moment…
We propose here a link between Ego and Id. The subconscious mind, that place where dreams happen, is an operating system that uses an encrypted language of symbols and images. It only receives and does not filter information from the outside. There are no rules, no judgments. That’s why dreams can be so strange.
On the opposite the conscious mind or the ego, the filter system, is an app running over the operating system, using a different kind of language, a language of social ‘reality’, norms, etiquette and rules, that usually results in communication problems, between both. The conscious mind in order to “run” in the limb of lucid dreams has to use its “Will” to stay awake while dreaming. This is a process that becomes more difficult with the sedimentation of the ego throughout life. Hence it is easier at a young age where social adaptation to standards has not yet taken place completely.
We can program our subconscious mind, and control our dreams. But for that, we need to prepare ourselves for lucid dreaming with some cognitive and behavioral rituals.
Are There Dangers Related to Lucid Dreaming?
If lucid dreams do not happen naturally, before you try to do so, it’s important to understand that some dangers are pointed out. One of them is difficulty in distinguishing between reality and dreams while remembering if a memory you have was really lived or only dreamed.
Another risk is the possibility of becoming addicted in a way, addicted to the practice of trying to stay in a lucid dream, and this disrupting your routine by wanting to spend more time sleeping and making several attempts.
The Benefits of Lucid Dreaming
People who suffer from nightmares can be trained to lucidly dream and wake up on time.
It is possible to build your dreams according to what you want. Imagine what it would be like to experience beautiful moments as if they were real! The physical body is affected by the actions of lucid dreams and the positive emotions of those dreams can help to treat stress and anxiety.
Lucid dreams can help you solve problems. For example, if it is a personal problem, think about the person or situation with whom you are having a conflict, before sleeping.
If you are an artist and feel uninspired, imagine a blank canvas, before sleeping. During the dream, your unconscious mind will try to find a solution. Also, artists can take the opportunity to be inspired by their dreams.
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How to Lucid Dream?
Before attempting to induce lucid dreams, it is important to research more about the subject in reliable sources, in addition to paying attention to possible risks. Next, we will present a list with specific combinations of techniques that can increase the chances of achieving lucid dreaming.
But always keep in mind that YOU are your best teacher, and your intuition is your best ally. Everything else is guidelines…
Three different techniques for inducing lucid dreams:
1st reality test – check your environment several times a day, to see if you are dreaming or not. Perform different sets of reality checks: Ask yourself several times during your waking life “am I dreaming or awake now?”. Keep doing it. It takes time to create habits in your subconscious.
– After asking look at the floor and change the color of the floor, or whatever works for you. If you are awake it won’t change of course! But subtle things like this serve to create a habit allowing your conscient mind to penetrate suggestions in your subconscious and passing this state into your dreams.
2nd Waking up and going back to bed – After five hours sleeping, waking up and staying without sleep for a short period of time, then falling back asleep to enter the REM sleep period refers to one of the phases of sleep, in which dreams are more likely to happen.
3rd mnemonic induction of lucid dreams – When you wake up after five hours of sleep, the idea is to develop the intention to remember that you are dreaming before going back to sleep. For this, the technique is to repeat to yourself the phrase “the next time I am dreaming, I will remember that I am dreaming”. Another technique is to imagine yourself in a lucid dream.
All these induction techniques work in what its called ‘prospective memory’ or in other words, your ability to remember to do things in the future. Repeating a phrase that you will remember that you are dreaming, forms an intention in your mind that you(r) “Will”, in fact, remember that you are dreaming, leading to a lucid dream.
In short, you must create rituals, repeat them over and over again, in order to generate a bridge between conscient mind and subconscious.
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Keep a Dream Journal!
You can travel to a beautiful island with mythological creatures, fly or become a superstar. After all, you are the owner of your dreams. Being aware of the dream helps the person to feel happier and can reduce stress and anxiety. If you want to solve a specific problem in a dream, you must think about it before going to sleep. Make it the last thing on your mind before you fall asleep.
It’s good to keep a dream journal. Write down what you dreamed of immediately after waking up, with the maximum detail, so you don’t forget it later. You can also record your dreams on your mobile phone recording app, but it’s a good idea to write it down on paper or digital journal. Little by little, you will find common signs among all your dreams. Just wake up that scientist in you!