Lucid dreaming is truly fantastic, and I believe that everyone should try it at least once in their lives. It allows you to explore the realm of your subconscious, and take control over a fantastical world where anything is possible. As well as the sheer joy of new experiences, lucid dreaming has some amazing practical and useful applications. For example, it has been used to treat recurring nightmares, PTSD, and depression. Given this, it’s no wonder that it has been growing hugely popular in recent years.
So why not give it a go? We’ve compiled a simple guide to help you master your dreams and possibly even lucid dream tonight. Trust me, it’s a lot easier than you’d think!
7. Immerse yourself into the world of lucid dreaming
You may have noticed that when you’re sleeping, aspects of your day feature in your dreams. In fact, a popular theory is that sleep is necessary for our brains to sort through the happenings of the day to consolidate information into our long-term memory and that dreams are merely a by-product of this process. Lucid dreamers use this to their advantage by dedicating some time during their day to considering the phenomenon that is lucid dreaming.
If you’re new to lucid dreaming, there are loads of different sources about lucid dreaming to lose yourself in. Listen to podcasts, read blogs and articles, watch YouTube videos – find a medium that suits you and expand your knowledge about this field.
Of course, not everyone has the time to spend trawling through media outlets, but don’t let this hold you back! Even just thinking about lucid dreaming will embed this in your thoughts. Come up with a phrase that you associate with lucid dreaming – it can be something as simple as “I will lucid dream tonight” and repeat this to yourself throughout the day. Play around with it a bit and figure out what works for you!
6. Get to know your dreams with a dream journal
Dream journaling is a common practice among lucid dreamers, and it is a great way to gain insights into you as a dreamer. Filling in a dream journal improves the recall of your dreams and allows you time to consider the contents and experience of your dream world.
The nature of your dream journal is entirely up to you. Some people find that the good old pen and paper approach works best for them, others may prefer to use an app or notes on their phone, or a word doc on their laptop. As long as it is something that you can access immediately after waking up, it’s totally up to you.
As soon as you wake up, start writing about what happened in your dream. You will notice that the details will be foggy at first, but the details will become clearer as you recount the dream narrative. Focus particularly on the emotions that you felt and if there was anything about the dream that felt familiar to you from previous dreams. Often our dreams contain recurring themes or situations, and these can be useful for helping you to identify if you are dreaming (I’ll go into this a bit later on, so hold that thought).
If you were trying to induce a lucid dream, record what technique you used, and if it was successful or not. This will help you to reflect on why it did (or didn’t) succeed and allow you to keep track of what works best for you.
Now, some of you reading this will say that you don’t ever dream. Though it may feel like that, in fact, everyone dreams. However, depending on when you woke up or how attuned you are to your dreams, you will have varying levels of recall. If you don’t remember anything about a dream, write that in your journal! This will help you to get into the habit of keeping a dream journal, and with time, your mind will become more primed to recalling your dreams. The brain is a muscle – it just needs training!
5. Perform reality checks
While dreams feel real when you’re in them, there are hints in your dreams that can give away that you’re dreaming. This is because the landscape of our dreams is changeable and hazy, bending to the whims of your subconscious. By learning to identify changes or inconsistencies in your dream world, you can alert your mind to the fact that you’re dreaming and then take the wheel!
One way to tell the real world from dreams is through reality checks, which simply means assessing yourself or your surroundings to check that they’re definitely real. Take a look at your hands. Notice your skin tone and how many fingers you have. Now look away and look back. Still the same? Then you’re awake. Now, if you did this while you were dreaming, aspects about your hands would have changed – you might have gained a finger, changed color or become blurry. Pretty cool, right?
Our hands are not the only things that change in our dreams. When you’re dreaming, see if you can find a clock and read the time. Then look away and look back to the clock and see if you notice any differences. The clock face may have changed, disappeared, or may show a completely different time. This is also true for pieces of text, and your reality check may be to read a paragraph, look away, and look back to see if the text has altered in any way.
The best way to master this skill in our dreams is to practice it in our day-to-day life. Every so often, stop and ask yourself, “Is this real?”. Pick something in your environment and notice the details, and then look away and back. Confirm to yourself that you are awake and then use this moment as a chance to think about lucid dreaming to really consolidate that idea in your mind, and then go back to your day.
4. Pay Attention to Dream Signs
While we’re on the topic of reality checks, let’s talk about some features of our dreams that can alert us to the fact that we’re sleeping. You may have heard of, or even experienced, recurring dreams. These are dreams that we encounter frequently featuring the same scenario or situation, and we generally react the same way each time. A less extreme version of this is a dream sign. These are features of a dream that are common to a couple of different dreams. They can take the form of anything – a person, an object, a situation – and they will differ from person to person.
Don’t know what your dream signs are? This is where your dream journal can come in handy. Take some time to read back over previous entries and see if anything leaps out to you that could be a dream sign. This is also why it is important to be as detailed as possible when you are filling in your journal – it’s not just a paper exercise!
Like everything else with lucid dreaming, forming habits in your waking life will help you in your nocturnal world. If one of your dream signs is a black cat, keep an eye out for black cats when you’re out and about. If you notice one, perform a reality check. Eventually, it will become a concrete neural pathway that reduces the amount of mental energy required to conduct a reality check until it becomes an unconscious reaction that you can do in your sleep!
3. Clear your mind with some peaceful meditation
Meditation is a critical component of practices such as mindfulness and has been shown to have a positive effect on our mental well-being, such as reducing stress and anxiety. In essence, meditation is the art of clearing your mind and letting your thoughts pass you by without engaging with them, which creates a profound sense of peace and clarity.
Those who spend time meditating experience more lucid dreams and greater dream recall compared to those who do not meditate. This may be due to the increased awareness of our thoughts and mental processes, as we must be able to notice that our mind has wandered to be able to redirect our attention back to meditation.
Before you fall asleep, take 10 or 15 minutes to meditate. If you’re new to meditation, this can be a strange experience. Focus on your breathing, and when you notice your mind wandering, catch the thought, and push it from your mind. If you can’t clear your mind, repeat your intent to yourself, such as “I will lucid dream tonight.” This will help you to let go of distracting thoughts, relax, and be ready for a night of lucid dreaming.
2. Wake Back To Bed (WBTB)
WBTB is a method of hacking your sleep cycle to improve your chances of achieving a lucid dream tonight. When we sleep, we go through stages of sleep, which can be broadly categorized as REM and non-REM sleep. These stages occur in cycles, and each cycle lasts roughly 90 minutes. Our brains are most active during REM sleep, which is the final stage of the sleep cycle. This is when we have our most vivid dreams, and when most lucid dreams occur.
Set your alarm for 5-6 hours from when you fall asleep, as this should wake you from the depths of REM sleep. Make yourself get out of bed and do something that is mentally taxing for about fifteen minutes, such as filling in your dream journal or reading a book. Once you go back to sleep, you should slip back into REM sleep, leading you to be in the prime condition for experiencing a lucid dream.
1. How about some late-night piano? The FILD method
When you go back to bed, it is important to maintain cognitive awareness through the transition into the dream world. One way of this achieving this is through the Finger Induced Lucid Dreaming (FILD), though there are multiple variations of this approach and no one size fits all solution to instigating lucid dreaming. With that being said, the FILD method is one of the best ways to lucid dream tonight.
So, what is FILD? Well, lie on your back with one hand off the side of your bed (or in any comfortable position if you can’t fall asleep on your back). Focus on your fingers and move them up and down, as if you were playing the piano. Slowly reduce their movement until you stop moving them altogether but continue to imagine the action. Don’t let your mind wander here, or count the movements – just focus on the concept of moving your fingers.
After about 30 seconds, do a reality check. This process is remarkably fast-acting, and in as little as 10 seconds, you may be experiencing a lucid dream! However, if you are still stuck in reality, you can set your alarm for another hour and try again, or just fall asleep and try again tomorrow.
If the FILD method doesn’t suit you, you can give the MILD method a go. This is mnemonic induced lucid dreaming and works on similar principles to FILD. However, instead of maintaining conscious control through finger movements, you focus your thoughts on a particular phrase, such as “I will lucid dream tonight,” and repeat it for the 30 seconds. This approach can be a little trickier as some find it to be boring, but it’s worth giving it a go if you’re looking to find which method works best for you.
And there you have it! That’s our list of the 7 best ways you can use to lucid dream tonight, You are ready to go forth and dream lucidly! It should be noted, however, that you may not be successful the first time you try. But don’t be disheartened – lucid dreaming is a skill that takes time, practice, and focus, and it does get easier. Each time you don’t succeed, you are a step closer to being able to achieve it the following night, so just hang in there. Good luck!