Lucid Dreaming

Lucid Dreaming is a dream where you are aware that you are dreaming.  Many people experience this at least once in their lifetime.  For some it occurs naturally with some frequency.  It has been studied scientifically for over 20 years, and from what I have read anyone who wants to learn how to do this can learn.  I have been able to do this my entire life.  I can remember lucid dreams that I had while still sleeping in my crib!  I don’t remember how old I was when they took the crib down, but I know it was long gone by the time I was three.  The ability to lucid dream spontaneously runs in my family.  My brothers and sister can do it as could our mother.  My father didn’t talk about it much, but I know he had a couple near the end of his life because they were shared lucid dreams with me.  My son can lucid dream, and my sister’s granddaughter.

Lucidity is A Sliding Scale
There are degrees of lucidity.  Sometimes I am 100% aware that I am dreaming and I can decide exactly how I want to interact with the dream imagery.  Other times I am only partially lucid – aware that I am dreaming but too emotionally invested in the dream to pull back and really think about how I want to respond.
Lucidity is A Skill That Can be Developed
There are many excellent resources out there to help those who practice lucid dreaming try new things.  Important skills to learn are:
  • Emotional Control – get too excited and the dream will end, or you will loose lucidity.
  • Focus – the ability to remember what you want to do in the dream and stay on task despite the tempting dream imagery requires practice.
  • Intent – being clear about what you want to do and why is critical to success at higher levels of lucid dreaming.
  • Expectation and Beliefs – in the dream world, your own beliefs limit what you can do.  If you believe you cannot walk through walls, you will bounce off the wall or get stuck in it!  However if you believe you can walk through a wall you will be able to do it.
  • Surprise!  Some people think that lucid dreaming is about “dream control”.  This is a recipe for boring dreams!  Rather than trying to control the dream, interacting with it in a thoughtful way results in unexpected results and learning new things.
  • Dreamsigns – certain dream imagery can act as a trigger to lucidity.  For example, when I see a dead person I immediately become lucid.  As a child I had multiple dreams that took place in the same dream places, and once I realized that I’d never actually been to these places, they became dreamsigns.
  • Reality Testing – this becomes a habit for the frequent lucid dreamer.  One of my favorites is looking at a clock, looking away, then looking back again.  If I am dreaming the clock will show two entirely different times.  Reading a sentence of text in a dream twice produces similar results.  There are many reality tests that can be used.
Lucid dreaming has been studied in sleep laboratories for over 20 years.  Some of the earliest research took place at Standford University by Dr. Stephen LeBerge.  I remember reading about this in Junior High – back in the day when I realized that this stuff didn’t happen to my friends, so I went to the library trying to find out more about it.
Now, of course, there is a weath of information about this topic on the internet and may books available.  The Lucid Dreaming Resources page lists some of my favorites for those who would like to learn more.