For decades, neurologists have been interested in discovering the inner workings of the human brain, particularly brain activity as we sleep. As we fall unconscious, our brain continues to work and to develop pictures, ideas, and activities based on events we have experiences or external interests we find extraordinary.
One of the most interesting of these night time cycles we achieve as human beings involves the “dreaming” stage of our sleep, where many find themselves in dire situations like running away from a serial killer with a chainsaw or falling off a climb into a black hole that never ends. Others find themselves believing that the world is a science fiction adventure with Jedi Knights and Dark Lords flying around the universe with supersonic spaceships.
Whatever the weird and absurd nature of dreaming brings to an individual, it is certain that everyone has experienced the art of “dreaming” before in life. Most of these experiences are what scientists like to call “involuntary dreaming” or non-controlled dreams.
What is more interesting is a person’s ability to actually control their dreams – visualizing problem-solving situations, adventures, dream plots, and building fantasy worlds with themselves as characters within the plot. This type of dreaming is called dream control. In order to achieve dream control, a person must understand lucid dreaming and practice dream control on a regular basis.
Have You Ever Seen Inception?
If you have ever seen the movie Inception starring Leonardo Dicaprio than you know, to a small degree, what the movie is based on. Basically, the movie origins stem from the idea of dream control and lucid dreaming, where Leo and his band of extractors jump into people’s minds and steal information only found in one’s dreams. That is really the Hollywood version of what lucid dreaming is but gives great example to what real human beings experience when lucid dreaming.
A lucid dream is a dream in which you know you are dreaming. Typically this happens when the dreamer experiences something strange within the dream and notices that this strangeness could never be reality – in the process of doing this, they are discovering that they are in a dream and accept whatever happens within the dream as false. In the movie (Inception), Leo and his team plan complete opposite of this, were the dreamer actually believes his or her dream is a reality. When the dreamer realizes that something isn’t right within their dream, the ‘dream world’ as they call it in the movie, starts to fall apart. This is the point when people start to realize it is a dream and are in control of the fantasy they are creating.
How do you achieve Lucid Dreaming?
Now that you know what lucid dreaming is, the more important question is: How does one achieve lucid dreaming, which could actually lead to more creativity, control, and mind strength over time. The following are a few simple steps to achieving lucid dreaming:
1. During the day, give yourself a ‘reality check’ – During the day is when you are the most awake and obviously able to comprehend reality as it is perceived around you. These elements that you are remembering through observation, such as an old women walking across the street or a specific building that you see every day on your way to work or school. These are all elements that you will use within your dreams as ‘reality checks’ that you are dreaming.
2. Dream journals are very important – Unless we write things down, we often times forget about them. By jotting down notes, you are more likely to remember specific elements within your dreams, allowing you to recognize what is real and therefore have a foundation to build off reoccurring elements within your dreams, building your dream world as you go.
3. REM sleep and lucid dreams – Lucid dreams are associated with REM sleep, which is the deepest form of sleep within the sleep cycle. Studies have shown that REM sleep occurs right before a person wakes up within the sleep cycle. This is your best opportunity to remember your dreams or nightmares so that you can reenact them or eliminate them as false. Therefore, set your alarm to wake you up either 4.5, 6, or 7.5 hours after you fall asleep, which is at the end of your REM sleep. This is when you will be able to remember as much as possible about your dreams.
4. Visualization – After you have written down the thoughts from your previous dreams, visualize what you will dream about 30 minutes prior to falling to sleep. Make the plot simple and look at something that you will remember in your dreams. Many people look at their hands for 30 minutes prior to lucid dreaming in order to have a real, physical element to relate to their dream world. If they see their hands within the dream, they know that they are lucid dreaming. When thinking about the dream, repeat to yourself, “I will dream of [put your dream here],” and visualize the plot within the 30 minutes prior to falling sleep.
5. When you wake up, repeat – Every time you wake up, think about the 30 minutes prior to falling asleep and try to remember everything that you thought about prior to dreaming while looking at your hands. Practice doing this over and over with the same simple dream and method of relating that dream to a physical element such as your hands. Finally, when you reach a lucid dream, you will see your hands or the physical element that you linked to 30 minutes prior, and realize that you are now dreaming.
6. It is a very cool and different feeling – Being unconscious and able to understand within REM sleep that you are indeed dreaming and able to understand that you are dreaming voluntarily. It will allow you to control the outcome of the dream you are in, and even the physical environment around you. At this point you can experiment with what is possible while you are in this lucid state.
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Matthew Hall is a professional blog writer for Saatva, home of America’s best priced luxury mattress. Matthew lives in Orlando, Florida and enjoys spending his free time watching movies and trying new foods.