How often do you dream? Do you always remember them? Are they always good dreams
that you remember or do you only remember the nightmares? Have you ever had that weird sensation of dreaming, and knowing that you are dreaming? That’s what has been termed “lucid dreaming.”
Lucid dreaming was coined by Frederick Van Eeden in 1913. Van Eeden was a psychiatrist (big surprise!) who recorded many of his dreams and claimed to be able to actually direct the content and action of some of his dreams.
Centuries before Van Eeden, the Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote something that seems to indicate he had lucid dreams even if he didn’t have the modern term for them. Aristotle wrote about how there is something in the dream that stirs our consciousness to declare that we are in fact experiencing a dream. And that is what separates the regular dream from the lucid one. In most dreams, everything seems real and we aren’t really aware that it’s not. Something is triggered in the lucid dream that makes us aware of this non-reality.
Most often, this trigger is simply something happening that could only happen in a dream. In other words, something so ridiculously impossible that we instantly understand, hey, this is only a dream! Sometimes the trigger may be huge, such as being able to fly, but sometimes that trigger is just a minor component of the dream, like seeing a fictional character riding by in a car.
Lucid dreams are often compared to virtual reality. Van Eeden claimed to be able to control his dream and many other lucid dreamers report the same ability. Once you know it’s all a dream, you can decide where to take it. And the great thing is that there are no boundaries. Like the saying goes, if you can dream it you can do it. Well, in a lucid dream, you can do whatever you want. Break all the rules, those of physics as well as society.
Of course, the tough part is getting to that point. Is there a trick to turning a dream into a lucid dream? There are a few things you can try:
1) Before you go to bed, think about what you really want to dream about. Repeat the theme or the idea or a scene in your head. It may sound crazy and you don’t even have to do it out loud, but it’s not been known to fail every single time.
2) Rehearse! Yeah, actually go over what you want the dream to be about and what happens in it before you go to sleep. Nobody really knows for sure what dreams are so you might just be able to drift off right into that rehearsal. It may take a different direction at first, but something ought to come along to remind you it’s a dream and you can try to take over.
3) Meditate. Just simple relaxation techniques before bedtime. Believe it nor, but studies have shown that people who meditate regularly are more likely to have lucid dreams on a regular basis than those who don’t.
One possible effect of lucid dreaming that you might not have counted on is self-improvement. Once you can get a handle-if you will-on lucid dreaming, you can begin to picture yourself in all kinds of situations, looking at the subject of your dreams, which may or may not be equivalent to the subjects of your life, from alternative points of view. Most lucid dreamers report themselves as feeling a stronger sense of individuality after they’ve accomplished this admittedly difficult task.
Why not start tonight? It’s as good a time as any.