Even when a dream involves strange places and absurd scenarios, we don’t seem to have any rational critique of the situation until we’ve woken up.
Lucid dreaming is a phenomenon in which you realize that you are dreaming while still in the dream. Knowing it is a dream, you can defy the normal laws of reality and fly, walk through walls, interact with people and beings you wouldn’t otherwise be able to, or almost anything.
If you are prone to nightmares, lucid dreaming can help you steer the narrative in a better direction or wake yourself up before it gets worse.
Lucid dreaming is not typically a regular occurrence, though most people have experienced it once or twice.
If this is something you wish to try for yourself, you can do a few things to increase the likelihood of it happening.
Keep a notebook by your bed, and immediately write down any dreams you remember. This practice helps you recall more details of your dreams, and it can help you recognize common themes and patterns that only appear in your dreams. Then, the next time it happens, you might remember that this is a sign of dreaming, triggering lucidity.
Falling Asleep Mindfully
One effective technique is called Wake-Induced Lucid Dream (WILD), where you fall asleep while your mind is still awake – a nearly impossible task. The idea is to trick your body into falling asleep but keep your mind alert.
Settle into a comfortable, relaxed position. Your body will conjure up itches to scratch and compulsions to roll over, testing if you are asleep yet. If you can stay perfectly still yet mentally active, you may feel numbing sensations and see colorful geometry forming on the back of your eyelids.
Eventually, your imagination becomes more vivid and lively. Most likely, you’ll get distracted or fall fully asleep, but if you can stay mindful, a lucid dream will form around you.
Try repeating a thought like, “I know this is a dream. I am entering into a lucid dream.” This is known as the MILD technique, Mnemonic-Induced Lucid Dream. By reinforcing this type of thought as you fall asleep, that thinking might continue repeating, and you may realize that you are dreaming.
Waking Up Before You Are Awake
Another common technique is called Wake Back To Bed (WBTB).
Set the alarm a few hours earlier than normal so that you can wake up, walk around and be moderately active for an hour, then go back to bed.
When you return to sleep, you should fall into the dream state easier, while your mind has already woken up. Combining this with the other tips, you should find it easier to induce a lucid dream.
Whatever you attempt, keep in mind that it probably won’t work on the first try. It can take a while to get the hang of it, but most people report that these experiences are worth the effort.