Lucid dreaming, the phenomena of the dreamer becoming aware they are dreaming while still in the dream, might seem like a rare occurrence. However, up to 50% of the population will have at least one lucid dream in their lifetime. This wondrous intersection between consciousness and sleep invites all sorts of questions about the nature of reality and science of the brain. While this remains an understudied phenomenon, there is ample information available for you to begin your own lucid dreaming practice. This article offers tools and techniques for you to begin your own journey of awakening within your dreams.
1. Binaural Beats
Binaural beats are a modern way of inducing lucid dreaming using sound. With this method, the listener hears two different frequencies: one frequency in the right ear and another in the left ear. The two frequencies create patterns and the brain tries to recalibrate the difference, allowing you to alter your mood, induce feelings, and ignite sensations in the body. The level of frequency, measured in Hertz, changes while you sleep. You cycle between Alpha, Theta and Delta waves. For optimal lucid dreaming, you want to be in the Theta range (4HZ- 8HZ), but it is important to have a boost of Alpha waves intermittently to help you wake up in the dream. Listening to binaural beats for lucid dreaming aids the brain in producing the optimal frequency for becoming conscious in your dream. A good app for Binaural Beats is The Dreamer. This app will play short binaural beats while you sleep to trigger you to wake up while still dreaming. You can also find free binaural beats for lucid dreaming to listen to before going to bed on YouTube or purchase tracks from Ennora Binaural Beats and Hyni Sync Binaural Beats.
2. Dream Journal
Keeping a record of your dream is important when practicing lucid dreaming. Recording your dreams over time helps you to become familiar with your usual dream landscapes and establish anchor items that can trigger you to wake up in the dream. When you write down your dreams, do so in present tense, as you experienced it in the dream. Writing from this perspective helps you to be back in the dream living the experience and can prompt you to remember more details. Be as descriptive as possible in your entries. Include the colors, smells, sights, and sensations you experience. Notice whom you are with and the setting of the dream – these things are important if you are also interested in dream interpretation. The more details you can recall, the stronger your ability to go lucid in a dream becomes. You can use the app Dream Journal to record and store your dreams. It has a privacy feature that will not allow others to access it. A dream journal also allows you to record if your dream was lucid and track the technique used.
3. Reality Checking
Reality checking is often the first step in cultivating lucid experiences. It is a simple technique that can be done with minimal effort and yield good results. Every two to three hours, you ask yourself “Am I dreaming?” This practice helps you to train your mind to be aware of the thought process happening. Over time, your metacognition and awareness of self strengthens enough that you can become aware of your thought process while dreaming. When you do a reality check, look at objects such as your hands, mirrors, and time on a clock to see if they appear normal or not. With practice, you will be able to do reality checks while dreaming and induce lucidity. The app Reality Checker is useful to download for this practice. It will remind you to do a reality test at different intervals.
4. Herbs and Supplements
Lucid dreaming might seem more like a mental feat, focused on technique and timing, but there are plenty of natural supplements that can be beneficial to your training. Herbs, vitamins, and supplements will provide your body with additional support. Mugwort and Ginkgo Biloba make it easier to remember dreams. Valerian Root, Peppermint, Melatonin, and DMAE make the dreams more vivid and clear. There are even natural supplements specifically made to aid in lucid dreaming that can easily be ordered online. The most popular ones are LucidEsc, DreamLeaf, and Claridream.
5. Hypnosis & Guided Meditations
Hypnosis and guided meditations are good practice for entering lucid states. Since you do not usually fall asleep all the way, you are able to experience the sensation of being between asleep and awake. There are plenty of free guided meditations and self-hypnosis videos available for free on YouTube. As you practice, let your mind wander and feel the sensation of your conscious awareness drifting away from your physical settings. Practice staying very still and remaining in the visualization. In this liminal realm, you will feel the physical sensation of being deeply relaxed while remaining mentally alert. The experience of easing your body into a state of “sleep,” or deep rest, while focusing your consciousness on visualizing the prompts is a great exercise for achieving lucidity.
6. Purposeful Sleep Paralysis
Many people fear the sensation of sleep paralysis, which has long been associated with demonic possession. However, purposeful sleep paralysis and induced out of body experiences are methods to prompt lucid dreaming. The trick is to have your body fall asleep, while your mind remains awake. This can be a challenging process at first because you must learn to surrender control of your body as it falls asleep, while remaining conscious and aware. The app Paralyzer is useful for this method because it stimulates your mind and helps your body to relax. The key difference between the terror of sleep paralysis and the wonder of lucid dreaming is the focus of your awareness. If it’s in the physical world, you might experience terror of not being able to move, but if your focus is in the dream world and your body is there then you can achieve lucidity and begin to control your dream.
7. Lucid Dream Incubation
Dream incubation is the process of programming your subconscious mind to have a certain dream. It is often used if you want to solve a problem or continue on with a memorable dream. While awake, you can offer pre-sleep suggestions to your mind about what it will see in your dreams. Dream incubation can be used to subconsciously plant the idea that you will become lucid in your dreams. To make this more likely, it is beneficial to use the visually incubated lucid dreaming technique before going to sleep. With this technique, you rehearse a dream scene you’ve decided you want to have and include a reality check in the scene. The scene will be familiar when you awake in the dream because you designed it. Since you are familiar with the reality check, you are able to achieve lucidity with ease and stay in it rather than blacking out and physically waking up. It can be good to draw out the dream you intend to have so you have a visualization to concentrate on while awake.
8. Wake Back to Bed Lucid Dreaming
Wake Back to Bed (WBTB) lucid dreaming is a great technique for lucid dream beginners. Lucid dreams happen during REM sleep, but it can take 2 to 3 hours to reach this state of deep sleep. Without a lot of practice, it is very tough for a beginner to reach this level of sleep and also remain awake mentally. The Wake Back to Bed method is the best way to avoid the problem of trying to remain awake mentally while waiting to reach the REM sleep stage and it’s very simple. All you do is set your alarm for 2 to 3 hours before the time you usually wake up. When the alarm goes off, do not move out of bed and try to stay very still. Turn the alarm off; make your mind awaken, but stay in your sleeping position and drift off to sleep. Remain focused on your dream world. Soon, you will drift back to sleep with your mind awake to experience lucidity.
9. Wake Induced Lucid Dreams
Wake Induced Lucid Dreaming (WILD) is one of the hardest techniques to master. Tibetan Buddhists have practiced this method for over 1,000 years in a practice called Dream Yoga. When the Tibetan Buddhists finally achieve the ability to go into lucid dreams directly from a waking state, it is taught they can travel to different places in the astral realms, talk to enlightened beings, and shape shift. To be able to put the body into a state of relaxation enough to prompt lucid dreaming requires great focus that is only achieved through concentration and meditation. This technique is best to try after you’ve gotten 6-7 hours of rest. Upon waking, do an activity for 5-30 minutes. Then lay down in an uncomfortable position, such as upright. Close your eyes, focus on the darkness, do not move, do not react to any sensations, and relax all parts of your body. Remain here breathing slowly and calmly for up to an hour. You will notice subtle changes in your awareness as you enter an altered state. Continue on until you enter a void state, where you might feel like you are awake at your house or seeing lights. Try reality checks and ensure you are dreaming. If so, you are lucid and can go explore the limitless world of your dreams!
Alanna Kali is a wanderer by nature with a strong desire to explore all the ins and outs of this world. She is a liberation psychologist, astrologer, and avid researcher in the fields of feminine spirituality, philosophy and ancient history. Switching paradigms is her favorite past time.