Here's How You Can Learn to Control Your Dreams

Do remember as a child you had dreams where you could fly? This kind of experience is known as 'lucid dreaming', and it's something that kids do all the time. As grown-ups, however, we tend to lose the ability to manipulate our dream environment. But since the release of the film 'Inception', the idea that we can control our dreams has gone through a massive resurgence in popularity.

Lucid dreaming basically means that you recognise you are dreaming, but you can 'control' that dream. Most adults have to relearn the process of lucid dreaming, but with enough practice, you should be able to use the technique to have the dreams you want to have. Here's how to do it:


Step One: Prepare for your lucid dream

The first step is to improve your ability to remember your dreams and to become more aware of dreaming in general. You can do this by telling yourself each night before you go to sleep that you will have a lucid dream and you will remember it when you wake up in the morning. Repeating this to yourself over and over again will significantly improve the chances of it actually happening. Get into the habit of keeping a dream journal in which you make a note of all the dreams you have and which will help you keep track of any reoccurring themes, images and scenarios you experience in your dreams.


Set an alarm clock to wake up a few minutes earlier than usual as this helps you to recall your dreams more clearly. When you wake up, lie still for a moment and try to remember all the details of your dream before you get out of bed. Remember, you can have as many lucid dreams as you like, but if you can't remember them, you're defeating the object. Starting a course of supplements such as vitamin B6 for example, or melatonin and 5-HTP can help improve the vividness of your dreams.


Step Two: Be aware you are dreaming

We've all had times when we've had dreams, but we aren't really sure if we're dreaming or if we're awake. But you can train yourself to recognise signs that you are actually experiencing a dream. Anything you dream that is impossible in real life, like breathing underwater, flying through the sky, are telltale signs you're not awake.


Actions like pinching yourself, looking at your hands, at the face of a clock or a page of text, looking away and then looking back again are all reality checks. In a dream, your hands, the clock or the text will appear different and more and more blurry each time you look. Also, by simply asking yourself if you are awake or not can serve to determine your state of consciousness.


You can start by performing these reality checks during the day when you are sure you're awake. This will get your mind into the habit of posing the question and will increase the probability of you asking it when you are dreaming. Sometimes, realising that you are in a dream can come as quite a shock, and can even make you wake up. But with practice, you will learn to carry on dreaming, and even take control of your dream.


Step Three: Taking control of your dreams

Once you've learned to recognise you're in a dream state, it becomes possible for you to actively manipulate the environment of that dream. For example, if you repeatedly dream that someone is chasing you, lucid dreaming may give you the ability to control the dream to such an extent that you turn around and confront your pursuer.


The Three Techniques of Lucid Dreaming

The most common way for people to have lucid dreams is when lucidity occurs while they are in the middle of having a typical dream; suddenly they become aware they are dreaming. This is called the Dream Initiated Lucid Dream, or DILD. Basically what happens is that you become lucid by adding awareness to your dream. The second technique is called Wake Initiated Lucid Dream, or WILD. This is when you go directly from being awake to being in a dream state. Or in other words, dreams are added to awareness.


The third technique is called WBTB and is the most straightforward technique for beginners to learn. Wake Back To Bed means waking up in the night and going back to bed. When you fall asleep, you travel through different sleep cycles. The REM (Rapid Eye Movement) is the cycle during which dreaming occurs. WBTB works by stimulating your brain at a time when you would typically be in REM sleep anyway. During this period, your mind is closer to being awake than during a cycle of deep sleep, which increases the possibility of you realising that you are dreaming. The most prolonged REM period starts about six hours after falling asleep.


Here's how the WBTB technique works:

Set your alarm and go to bed as usual. Sleep for six hours. If six hours constitutes an average night's sleep for you, then set your alarm for four hours. When the alarm goes off, wake up and get out of bed. This will delay your REM sleep. Remain awake for about 20 minutes and focus on whatever it is you want to dream. Then get back into bed. If all goes well, you will drift quickly off to sleep and go straight into the REM state. With enough practice, you should begin dreaming almost immediately.


Some final words on lucid dreaming

A lot of lucid dreamers claim that not only can they control their own actions, but they can control the actions of other dream characters too. It's also possible to take control of scary dreams and nightmares and transform them into something much more pleasant and enjoyable. If you can't induce a lucid dream on your first attempt, don't worry. With regular practice and a little patience, most people can develop the ability to experience lucid dreaming whenever they wish to do so.


Good luck and sweet, lucid dreams!





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