Lucid Dreams Guide - Day Training
"We are asleep with compasses in our hands."- W.S. Merwin
Before you begin any of the actual exercises there are a few conditions that you should meet: you need to begin a dream journal, to learn about your sleep cycles, and to have the right attitude about the task you are undertaking.
The first and most important thing you can do to improve your dream recall is to keep a dream journal. You should write down everything you remember from your dreams each night. This can sometimes be a time-consuming process, but don't put it off until later in the day. Keep your journal right next to your bed so you can access it as soon as you awaken from a dream. If you are in a hurry in the mornings, you should take notes concerning your dreams, paying special attention to details such as feelings and colors, and then go back and write out the entire dream at a later time (do this at night when you come home, or take your journal to school or work). It is crucial, however, to get something concerning your dream down on paper as soon as you wake up. You may think that you will remember your dream, but by midday it could become just a foggy recollection. It is a time commitment to write down your dreams, but if you don't do it, you will have nothing to work with for the later exercises. Make dream recording a part of your daily routine, and dreaming will come into your hands a thousand times more easily. You never need to show your journal to anyone else if you don't want to. It is a private thing, like a diary.
Your journal can take any form you wish; it need not be fancy. You could buy a special dream journal at a bookstore, but a 99 cent composition notebook will serve the purpose just as well. You should write down the date and, if possible, the time of each dream you record for later reference. Some people like to title their dreams and include them in a table of contents. You may want to leave a sizable margin on the side of your description to add notes that occur to you later. If you are artistically inclined, or learn visually, it may be beneficial to you to include sketches of dream places, characters, or objects. Tape recorders are an effective alternative method of dream recording. You can record your voice describing your dream when you wake up in the morning, and transcribe it to paper, or you may choose to keep a library of all your dreams on tape. Whatever it is, your journal should be something you like and feel comfortable using. The setup of your journal is a completely personal choice. There is no right or wrong way to do it; the important thing is to record as many dreams as possible.
Recording our dreams helps us to pay attention to the dreams we are able to recall, and establishes a daily routine that molds the idea of dreaming into our lives. When we perform actions that cause us to think of dreams during the day, it helps us to "remember to remember" our dreams at night. You should keep a dream journal for at least a week or two before trying the induction exercises described later.
Know Your Sleep
In working with your dreams, you are working with your sleeping self, and so it is important to know just a little bit about what your mind and body are doing during sleep. This will help you to focus your efforts during some of the later exercises and give you a general knowledge of what you are dealing with, physically, as you work on manipulating your sleep and dreams. During the night, we go through repeated 90 minute sleep cycles consisting of four different stages and, of course, dream sleep.
During stage one, the first and lightest stage, we are in the process of falling asleep. This is a brief transition state to other stages. We experience hypnagogic imagery as we move into deeper sleep. Stage two is the onset of what we would consider actual sleep. It lasts about 10-20 minutes. Stages three and four are a "deep sleep" lasting about 40-50 minutes. This activity is not found in those suffering from insomnia or depression. Following stage four, we progress back to stage two and then enter dream sleep. Dream sleep is the time in which most of our vivid dreams occur. This is also called "REM", or Rapid Eye Movement, sleep. During this time, our eyes are darting around beneath the lids and looking about at the world we are seeing in the dream. The length of dream sleep increases with each cycle throughout the night, which partially accounts for the fact that we often have our most memorable and vivid dreams when we have had a longer time to sleep.
Without the right attitude towards any learning experience, you will get nothing out of it. If you pay thousands of dollars to sit in a university class, but don't pay attention, don't respect the teacher, don't like the class, and don't do the homework, you will never learn anything. This is especially true for dreaming. The attitude that you have means everything to the success of your lucid dreaming, because it is all in your mind.
First and foremost, it is important that you have at least a mild curiosity in learning to have lucid dreams. You must want to do this, or else you will never have the motivation to commit any effort to the task. Lucid dreaming requires some commitment of time and concentration. You must want to learn enough that you are willing to put effort into the learning process. Whatever you believe will happen, probably will. If you believe that nothing you are reading in this book will work, it won't. If you believe that you won't be able to have a lucid dream, then it will, in fact, be very difficult for you. You must believe that you can succeed. This may sound silly, and perhaps it would be if we were talking about running a marathon, but since what you are trying to achieve concerns only your own mind, your willpower and belief in yourself will have a massive effect upon your success. Don't be too skeptical. Believe that lucid dreaming is easy, and that anyone can do it.
You must be willing to devote time to your dream life. This does not mean giving up all your free time, but simply making a small effort. You must be willing to take a few minutes out of the day to concentrate on certain tasks, to record your dreams, and to practice exercises. I suggest that you take a moment right now and decide that you want to do this, you believe you can, and you are willing to commit to it.
These next pages will help you to strengthen and develop five basic skills that are a foundation for learning how to have lucid dreams, and for being successful in later techniques: discipline, awareness, willpower, concentration, intention, and memory. It is key for you to spend some time and effort on these exercises, or else the later techniques may not help you much at all. You should use them for at least a week or so before moving on, and continue to practice them as you learn more techniques. There is, of course, no set time period for how long an exercise may take to help a person, so don't be discouraged if your efforts don't pay off right away, or if certain exercises don't help you at all.
In order to be successful in training yourself towards lucidity, you must become comfortable with discipline and routine. The most important element of discipline for a dreamer lies in recording your dreams. You need to develop a routine of recording your dreams every day. You must discipline yourself into thinking about your dreams when you awaken, and write them down, no matter what. The moment you begin to allow yourself to skip days and to be lazy, you begin to lose valuable material and experience. Recording your dreams on a regular basis will also teach you the discipline that you will need to be successful in many other techniques. Begin this daily routine tomorrow morning, if possible. Once you get into the swing of it, recording dreams becomes no problem at all. The hard part is getting started, so just do it.
Discipline also figures into almost every other technique you will learn. You must have the self-discipline to carry out sometimes tedious activities, and to commit time from your day to these activities. Discipline is one of the blocks that your success will be built on, and although you may not like it at times, it is necessary.
Since the goal of lucid dreaming is to become aware while dreaming, developing your skill of awareness about yourself and your dreams while waking is key to your development of awareness in your dreams.
Developing awareness of your dreamsigns is a simple activity that centers around the main ways that you will become lucid in your dreams. A dreamsign is "a peculiar event or object in a dream that can be used as an indicator that you are dreaming" (Lynne Levitan, A Thousand and One Nights of Lucid Dreaming). Or, in essence, a signal to you in a dream. For example, if a pink elephant walked in the door right now, you might conclude that you are dreaming. This pink elephant would be considered a dreamsign.
While we are dreaming, however, we don't often recognize our dreamsigns as being unusual. For example, if you were in a dream right now and you saw a pink elephant, you might not think anything of it and keep on reading this. If we read our dreams and find the dreamsigns that we have had previously, however, we will become aware of our typical signs and therefore more easily recognize them in our next dreams. There are four main categories of dreamsigns as developed by Dr. Stephen LaBerge:
Action - You, another dream character, or thing does something unusual or impossible in waking life.
Context - The place or situation in the dream is strange.
Form - You, another character, or thing changes shape, or is oddly formed /transforms. This may include the presence of unusual clothing or hair.
Awareness - A peculiar thought, a strong emotion, an unusual sensation, or altered perceptions.
After you have recorded a dream, go back and reread it. Locate unusual things or occurrences within it that could have given you a clue that you were dreaming. Then try to place these signs in one of the four dreamsign categories. A helpful way to distinguish these is to highlight, underline, or circle each type of dreamsign in a different color. For example, you might decide to highlight all action dreamsigns in pink, all context signs in yellow, form signs in green, and awareness signs in blue. This will help you to easily see these signs, and their categories, when you look at the dream later.
Once you have marked all the signs in several dreams, you should begin to record your dreamsigns in a table. One is provided for you on the next page, but you can easily just draw your own in your dream journal, or in another notebook. Recording these in a table not only helps develop your awareness of dreamsigns in and of itself, but will also allow you to determine what type of dreamsign most often causes you to gain lucidity. Learning about your dreamsigns will help you with visualization of your dreams in later techniques.
To determine your most effective dreamsigns:
Add up the total number of dreamsigns in each category. Add up the number of times this category was recognized.
Recognized / Total = % effectiveness
Willpower is the fuel that will make your efforts pay off. Without will to succeed, no technique, no advice, and no knowledge will ever improve your dreaming. You must focus your intent and learn to use the power of your mind. The subject with which we are concerned, dreaming, is within your mind. It is of your mind and it is controlled by your mind. Therefore, your own thoughts and will have complete control over your dreams.
The power of suggestion is a dreamer's ultimate tool, and is a part of most all lucid dreaming induction techniques. Other cultures have varied techniques for inducing certain types of dreams that have no scientific basis for working. Yet among these people who believe in them, these techniques do work. It is willpower, the power of self-suggestion, that causes these sometimes bizarre techniques to work for those who believe in them.
As you go to bed, try to relax completely. Then simply tell yourself that you will have a lucid dream and you will remember it. Repeat continuously in your head (any similar phrase with the essentially same meaning will also work):
"I will have a lucid dream and I will remember it."
Keep thinking this and do not let your mind wander to any other subject. You must have the willpower not to let your mind falter. Repeat this statement in your mind until you fall asleep, concentrating not just on the words, but on their meaning. Above all, believe your words. Believe that you will have a lucid dream and you willremember it. Believe is always a powerful word in the vocabulary of a dreamer.
Concentration is also a key element in being able to effectively use concepts such as autosuggestion. Keeping your mind set on one idea. Not letting your intentions falter. These are skills that will help you greatly.
An easy way to practice concentration is to focus on an object. A candle flame works well, but anything else that you are comfortable with may also do. As well as improving concentration, this exercise will also help you with visualization of objects, which is useful in dream control. Light a candle, and sit comfortably in front of it. Stare at it and concentrate on the flame. Allow no other thought than the candle to enter your mind. When you feel your eyes straining, close them and sit quietly for a few moments, imagining the flame before you.
You may want to begin doing this for a period of five minutes or so, adding length each time you practice. Try to work your way up to 15-20 minutes. Although it is a great effort of concentration, this should be a relaxing exercise. Make sure you are comfortable, and do not allow yourself to become too strained.
Carrying Out Intention
It is not enough to simply intend to do something. In order to accomplish a task, you have to develop your intention to do something, and then remember to carry out your intention at an indefinite point in the future. If you want to have a lucid dream, you must remember this intent and carry it out while you are dreaming.
Practice carrying out these random acts:
- Write 100 times "I am dreaming"
- Walk around the perimeter of a room 10 times
- Untie and retie your shoes 5 times.
Do this over a span of three days. Start doing just one action on the first day. On the next day, do this same action plus one other. On the third day, carry out all three actions. If you forget to do one or more on any of the three days, start the process over again. This exercise may seem to be pointless, but it will help you to 'remember to remember' that you are dreaming.
Remembering your dreams.
Remembering to carry out your intentions.
Remembering that you are dreaming.
These are important things to be able to do in lucid dreaming, and while not easy, a well-practiced memory adds significantly to a person's ability to do them.
Prospective Memory Training is a valuable exercise developed by Dr. Stephen LaBerge. It is designed to be carried out over the span of one week. Each day, you will have a list of specific "targets", which are everyday occurrences (listed on the next page). At the beginning of the day, memorize your day's targets. Try not to look at your other targets until you reach the day that they are assigned. Your goal is to recognize the target when it occurs and perform a state test. You perform this test simply by asking yourself "Am I dreaming?" Look around for dreamsigns, think about it, and answer the question logically. If you remember to ask yourself this question when the target event occurs, you have made a "hit". If you forget to ask yourself this question when the target event occurs, it is a "miss". Keep track of how many targets you hit during the day, and how many you missed. Continue this exercise until you have improved your ability to hit these targets.
The next time I see a pet or animal.
The next time I look at my face in the mirror.
The next time I turn on a light.
The next time I write anything down.
The next time I feel pain.
The next time I hear my name spoken.
The next time I see a traffic light.
The next time I laugh.
The next time I hear music.
The next time I eat a vegetable.
The next time I see a red car.
The next time I turn on a television.
The next time I hear a phone ring.
The next time I check the time.
The next time I read something other than this list.
The next time I see the stars.
The next time I use a toilet after noon.
The next time I open a closed door.
The next time I watch a commercial.
The next time I run.
The next time I unlock something.
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