1. Every now and then during the day, look around and ask yourself, “Am I dreaming?” The answer is always, “Yes, this is a dream.” The first time I did this exercise, I had a lucid dream that very night. I found myself out in the courtyard of my home and, as I had been doing all day, I asked myself if I was dreaming, and realized that I really was. The effectiveness of this exercise wears off (in my opinion because it gets boring to keep doing this every day) but it is a potentially good way to “jump start” lucidity.
2. Think about what you would like to do in the dream space if you become lucid. Set an intent and incubate a lucid dream. Feeling strongly about something works much better (for me at least) than fun but superficial desires such as visiting a far away place or flying to the moon and beyond. It is my personal experience that setting an emotionally meaningful intent can trigger lucidity.
3. Whenever you wake up late at night, after at least five hours of sleep, stay awake a minimum of fifteen minutes (it helps to get out of bed) and mentally tell yourself that every night you will more clearly remember more and more of your dreams. Then, even if it’s too dark to see, raise your hands before your face and tell yourself that you will have a lucid dream, that you will realize you’re dreaming in the midst of a dream. As you fall asleep, keep this affirmation in mind. (At this point, you can also perform exercise number 4.) Hopefully, eventually, your intent will bear fruit and you’ll “wake up in your dream”. The first few times, becoming aware of my hands in a dream triggered lucidity, and even when I become lucid in other ways, occasionally raising my hands before me and reminding myself that I’m dreaming helps me maintain my lucidity. When you first start becoming lucid in a dream, it’s important to control your excitement. Also don’t focus on any one object for too long but keep looking around and moving gently forward. You might also quickly and lightly touch your upper body, which helps root you in the dream.
4. Lying in bed at night with your eyes closed, take a few slow breaths beginning deep down in your belly and moving up to the base of your throat, then exhale slowly. I do this approximately three times after at least four hours of sleep. Relaxed, focus on the darkness swirling with faint lights behind your closed eyelids. Anchor your inner vision, focusing only on any particular shapes that appear directly before you. At the same time, in a relaxed and pleasant fashion, be aware of your physical body lying on the bed gradually falling asleep even as your mind remains awake. Do this for a little while, enjoying the mysterious contrast between your sleepy motionless body and your tireless, always excited and ready for an adventure, awareness. You may find yourself riding hypnagogic imagery (an image or images experienced before falling asleep) observing distinct and detailed scenes rising out of the darkness and vanishing again. It is sometimes possible to ride hypnagogia directly into a lucid dream (called a WILD—Wake Induced Lucid Dream) but more often than not you’ll simply fall asleep. A dream initiated lucid dream (DILD) is by far the most common.
5. Whenever waking up from a dream, lucid or not, keep your eyes closed and don’t move for several minutes as you gently remember your dreams, giving them time to “download” into your waking brain. The more you practice remembering your dreams, without letting any miscellaneous thoughts intrude, the better your dream recall will become. When you have remembered all you can, get up and write down or record your dreams, at least a few notes you can expand upon later. In order to train your memory, at the beginning of your practice you should record every dream. With time, you will intuitively know which dreams it’s important you keep a record of.
6. I realize this particular technique isn’t an option for everyone, but (after I had already been lucid dreaming for a few years) I set aside a space and a bed all to myself for lucid dreaming. My brain chemistry reacted like a dog promised a walk outside: “Oh, we’re in this room tonight! That means we’re going to lucid dream!” Every night I slept in that space by myself (twice a week) I had at least one lucid dream. I always entered the space thinking, It will be wonderful if I have a lucid dream or two tonight, but if I don’t, that’s okay too, my soul knows best. But I also know it’s entirely possible I will become lucid, because I want to, and because I can.
“Everything, dreaming and all, has got a soul in it, or else it’s worth nothing, and we don’t care a bit about it… If I were only a dream, you would not have been able to love me so.”George McDonald
From the very beginning, I encountered a Presence in my lucid dreams that was not myself, and Who gently seduced me, in a most loving fashion, away from all my self delusions, and brought me to the truth of a loving Creator.
To quote directly from the Story of Joseph in Genesis, “Interpreting dreams is God’s business.” Modern man has made psychotherapy a kind of religion, but living life by any philosophy divorced from God is like denying the sun’s existence while living cooped up inside the house of your self, with only the electricity of your finite intellect for illumination and company.
We should never underestimate, and should value above all else, the subtle power and joy of God always in relationship with us, and that includes in our dreams, whether or not we take a conscious part in them by becoming lucid.
From the time I stopped attempting to will myself through the dream space and began treating it as an all-powerful and loving Person, to Whom I addressed my lucid intents as hopeful requests, I began being richly rewarded.
After lucid dreaming for more than 10 years, I know it is sometimes possible—with varying degrees of success—to change, or creatively modify, a dream scene; to “fast travel” or “teleport” to other dream scenes; and to receive answers to my questions. But the dream space has a will of its own. On this point, I think most lucid dreamers can agree, but they remain divided into three radically different camps:
- Those who (like me) believe a Supreme Being created our minds and everything else.
- Those who believe consciousness rather than matter is fundamental and are open to the concept of the dream space being autonomous, at least in certain respects.
- Those who believe thinking and feeling are confined to our physical brain, and so necessarily deny the dream’s autonomy, regarding it as merely a part of their own personality.
Our religious beliefs (or lack thereof) notwithstanding, the fact is that we cannot do whatever we please in a lucid dream, or completely control it, no matter how lucid we feel/think ourselves to be, or how experienced we are with employing various methods, old and new, for achieving our intents.
Our lucid dreaming minds are akin to children in kindergarten, and the dream space is the Teacher from whom, for example, we might demand a chocolate ice cream cone. If judging the time and situation appropriate, the Teacher may metaphorically smile upon us, and seem to obey our command, but in reality, it is the Teacher—actively engaged in a relationship with us—who makes the decision to gratify our desires, or not, and usually in ways we might never have imagined.
My first lucid dreams were full of childish fun as I flew over the earth before diving down into magnificently detailed landscapes and cities while feeling joyfully invulnerable. But as I grew more experienced and knowledgeable, I began to understand that the Holy Spirit works with us 24/7 and determines how best to interact with us, awake and asleep, in order to help us grow closer to God. There are laws in the dream space that appear to be limits to us but that are actually there for our protection, laws which can mysteriously evolve in response to how we grow as persons and, by extension, dreamers.