As we all know, sleep is not a very interesting phenomenon, though we need it everyday and a restful and rejuvenating sleep has so much positive impact on our body, mind and the quality of our living. Everyday, as you lie down on your bed and close your eyes, you lose control of yourself completely as you drift off to sleep. Our sleep cycle revolves between several phases of REM(Rapid eye movement) and Non-REM sleep. In the REM phase of sleep, you see dreams. There are many dreams which you are not even aware of, when you are awake. If the dreams are of stressful nature, they eat up all of your energy and you wake up feeling exhausted and tired even after eight hours of sleep.
Normally, sleep just gives rest to your body and mind to refresh you and make yourself ready to face the new day. But, it can do much more than that if you could have conscious control over your dreams. That is all about what lucid dreaming is. Is it possible to have control over your dreams? Is it possible to fully participate in your dreams and lead them consciously according to your choice?
I won’t believe it is, unless I had this experience myself, on the path of my spiritual journey, long before I knew that this is termed as ‘lucid dreaming’. I used to exercise my will to direct the outcome of an event in my dream so that the dream situation would move in the direction of my choice. It seemed wonderful and I used to be amazed at this when I woke up. Now I know that it is an art that everybody can and should learn to improve the quality of their life and sleep.
With a little practice and sustained effort, it is possible to control all aspects of your dreams. How ? There are many ways of accomplishing lucid dreaming. You as the dreamer can become aware that you are in fact dreaming, and then you take control over the dream.
We’ll discuss many aspects of lucid dreaming later. But for now let me summarize some quick steps that you can practice from today itself.
- Prepare yourself by believing that you can and will be conscious while you are dreaming. Repeatedly say to yourself that you will be conscious while dreaming. Do it just before you sleep instead of just going to sleep without any preparation. The mind tends to pick up the suggestion you give it just before you sleep. If you suggest to it that you’ll remain conscious and remember what you will dream, it will act upon it accordingly. This is called autosuggestion and its power is tremendous. Just try it for yourself, and you will know within a short time.
- Try to remember your dreams when you wake up. The first few moments of waking up, making the transition from sleep to wakeful state is very important. As you wake up, do not be in a hurry. Just lie down still without making any movement and do not open your eyes. Then try to recall your dreams. Don’t try too hard. Let it be a fun. It is just like pressing the rewind button to go back on your mental screen. If you practice in this manner, within a few days you’ll be able to remember your last dream.
- Keep a journal and a pen on your bedside table. If you can remember any dream, write it down immediately. You do not need to put down the minute details. Only a rough outline of the story(dream) will do. Do not postpone it for doing at some other time. If you do that you will probably forget the feelings and details of the dream. As you go through your daily chores the memory of dreams fade out. Keep this journal personal and do not discuss it with any other person. As you do it for a few months, you will notice many interesting things. You will notice that you have dreamed a same dream many times. You’ll get to know the contents stored in your unconscious. As these are brought to the daylight of awareness, they are released. You will feel more lighter and relaxed during the day and if the same dream recurs, there is all probability that you will know it as a dream, even when you are sleeping.
- On weekends you can go back to sleep after you wake up in the usual time in the morning. Have your alarm wake you up after you have a comfortable 6 to 7.5 hours of sleep. Set an alarm with a gentle sound. When the alarm sounds, do not rush to press the button. Do not open your eyes. Try to recall what you were dreaming. If you remember anything, fine. Otherwise just go back to sleep, while repeating; “Now I’ll remember whatever I dream.”
Try these techniques for a few months. Do not give up, if nothing happens. Try to be mindful in your daily activities in your daily hours and ask yourself ‘Am I dreaming, or is it real?” Practicing mindfulness meditation does make it easier to become aware when you dream. As you practice mindfulness, you become less and less forgetful and this awareness even penetrates within your sleep.
Practicing in this way, one day you find yourself knowing a dream as a dream, when you dream! Then you can even control the dream events. You have the power to choose, which dream you would like to see and even to change it, just like you change the TV channel when you do not like a certain program. This is the sheer joy of lucid dreaming. Nightmares and the stressful memories stored in your subconscious vanish gradually and as a result, the quality of your sleep improves tremendously. You feel more energized and happier when you wake up. It will take regular practice and determination, no doubt. However, it is worth a try.