Very simply put, a lucid dream is a dream in which you are aware that you are dreaming. So long as you remain conscious of this fact you remain lucid (‘lucid’ is synonomous with ‘aware’ or ‘clarity’.) Lucidity is a sense or more a ‘knowing’ of your participation in dream reality, brought about by the realization that you’re dreaming.

The degree of your lucidity will vary between lucid dreams. You may be dimly aware that this is a dream, you may be consciously participating in a ‘normal dream’, you may have partial recognition and control, or you may be fully aware and awake inside your own dream world. This last is what most lucid dreamers aim for.

You’re likely to experience each of these in stages as you learn lucid dreaming, and each experience is a kind of breakthrough into greater awareness. As you increase this dreaming awareness, the more fully lucid dreams happen more regularly. For this reason lucid dreaming does get easier every time, just as with any practice you can get good at.

Lucid Dreaming implies a certain degree of dream control, though this also develops over time. Mostly because it takes a while for it to sink into your conscious awareness in a usable way that you can do anything, that you actually are control. But once you ‘get’ that, the possibilities are limitless!

I’ve spoken to plenty of people about lucid dreaming, and it’s interesting to hear how many people have had lucid dream experiences spontaneously. It’s a lot more common than one might think, simply because it’s not something everyone talks about that often. Not many people realize it’s something you can learn to do intentionally and regularly, mostly these short lucid dreams get passed off as curiosities and aren’t very well developed.

There is usually a brief recognition that you’re dreaming, and without knowing what to do with it, you often end up just falling back into ‘normal dream’ mode. It doesn’t seem all that significant in the dream itself, and as a result is not always a very clear lucid moment when one wakes up. It’s really an unfortunate thing that we are taught dreams are not really important or significant. Most people don’t know what they’re missing out on because their ‘lucid moment’ didn’t result in anything particularly special.

So whether you arrive at that lucid moment in your dreams spontaneously or intentionally, the thing to remember is that it is *significant*. It’s *highly* important! You are doing something amazing, and you need to realize how amazing it is while you’re doing it, so you stay lucid, aware and conscious. You are experiencing a new form of consciousness! It isn’t every day you get to blend your dreaming and waking selves into a new identity that can be so self-aware inside a dream you know. Well, it isn’t every day to begin with, but it can be, and if you make it your quest, it will be.

This is why the attitude of ‘it’s just a dream’ will ruin your chances of becoming an expert dreamer. It makes dreaming seem unimportant. It derides the value of your own consciousness and makes a mockery of your own direct experience. You wouldn’t take half your waking life and say ‘nah, it doesn’t matter what I do so I think I’ll just wander around like a zombie’ (plastic people aside.) But this is exactly what one does to one’s dreaming life if it simply isn’t *valued*. Start valuing it and it will take you a long way..

Question from Anton: I just read your article on the web where you talk a lot about astralplane, lucid dreams and OBE. Can you identify and clearly articulate the difference between lucid dreaming and astral projecting? If not, why would one use different terms? Also if you are familiar with gates of dreaming concept by Castaneda, do you think that the state when you are dreaming and able to look at your body (which is meant to arrive to the 3rd gate) would be OBE? What is not clear then is how it’s possible to never come to the first 2 gates and arrive to the 3rd at once in case dreaming and astral projecting is the same or very close?

I think the main difference is that in a normal dream you are experiencing an environment you are creating through subconscious projection, in lucid dreams you are experiencing the reality that you are creating through conscious projection, while in astral projection you are in an environment that is already ‘there’, a plane that exists that you are projecting into. As far as the third gate, being in your bedroom or seeing yourself asleep, I think this is where these two experiences overlap. I go with the name etheric projection but I think the etheric body and the ‘dream body’ as synonymous. The etheric itself environment is an overlap of the physical and astral planes, so it is ‘already there’ but to whatever degree it is modified by your own perceptions and potential astral influences too.

I see the first two gates of dreaming as training exercises. Of course you can go to gate three or beyond first either intentionally or spontaneously, but without learning stability and concentration first these experiences will probably be instable and short-lived. For myself by the time I got to this stage I had already learned a lot of stability techniques and was able to prolong my first experience for a longer time and transition to the astral plane too.

Looking at your hands seems extra powerful as a lucid dreaming and stability technique and that’s why it was chosen I think, though there are other ways. (Incidentally, I had my first lucid dream this way.) Don Juan also mentions being able to wake up in your dreams is a ‘safety valve’ for indulgence in later experiences, allowing you to return and stop your dreaming or projecting in any circumstance. I once had a lucid dream that went for so long I eventually decided to wake up to make sure I could!

So ‘dreaming’ and ‘projecting’ are indeed very close, pretty much the same thing in many respects, but terms that can be used to better distinguish different circumstances of consciousness, both internally and externally. In another sense you could say it’s the difference between fantasy and reality, or between creativity and exploration.

It’s actually quite tricky to use words to describe the sense of wonder that comes with a fully lucid dream… Well, let me try to explain anyway…

Once you’re lucid, the whole feeling and experience of your dream reality changes. All the colours become bright and vivid, and the sounds become crisp and clear. Both your mind and body are buzzing with inspiration and energy, and your dream world has amazing detail and clarity! Everything is as real as waking life, or more so.. The transformation is beautiful and instantaneous… The feeling of a lucid dream is nothing short of exciting, empowering and envigorating all at once!

Of course, not all lucid dreams are like this, the quality of lucidity varies, especially for beginners. But the great things is, as you have more and more lucid dreams, your dreaming focus and dreaming attention will improve consistently, which basically means just about every lucid dream you have is better and clearer. This kind of development stays with you, and once developed, will produce awesome lucid dreams on a regular basis!

Imagine the wonder and joy of waking up inside your own dream reality simply by realizing that you’re dreaming – knowing you can consciously create whatever experience you desire… and doing it, instantly. Now that’s what lucid dreaming is all about!

Have you heard the latest song by Franz Ferdinand called ‘Lucid Dreams’?

Pretty cool! And here’s the Lucid Dreams lyrics:

Sweep slides on my stereo
Short wave ’round my rodeo
Became from that of Savalon
But I’m flying to Istanbul
Oh so why don’t you meet me there?

There is no nation of you
There is no nation of me
Our only nation lives in Lucid Dreams
Lucid Dreams
I’m living in lucid dreams
I’m living on short based dreams tonight

I’ll dial Alexandria
If you dial into Ithaca
South fisher, German bite
I skate on the world tonight

Oh so why don’t you come along?
There is no nation of you
There is no nation of me
Our only nation lives in Lucid Dreams
Lucid Dreams
I’m living in lucid dreams
I’m living on short based dreams tonight

I’m gonna give my aimless love
My angry heart
My desire
I woke with wings from lucid dreams
I knew the reason I felt hollow
Was it I may never know
If there is some great truth or not

There is no nation of you
There is no nation of me
Our only nation lives in Lucid Dreams
Lucid Dreams
I’m living in lucid dreams

I’m living in a short wave stream tonight
Lucid dreams
I’m living on lucid dreams
Now there is just plain mystery

It should really be emphasized that there is quite a difference between the realism of normal dreams and lucid dreams. Many people assume that because their normal dreams are often vague, dim, cryptic, even unpleasant, or otherwise just ‘unreal’ seeming, that lucid dreams are equally as ‘unreal’. This is definitely the wrong conclusion to jump to, and yet how many people dismiss dreaming practices as a result on the basis they are ‘just dreams’?

Fully lucid dreams are as real as waking life. We must simply understand it is a different reality, a different dimension of experience. Imagine if you went through waking life being drugged and were half-asleep like a zombie all the time, would you call your life ‘unreal’? If you stopped being drugged, you’d exclaim how real it is but you just didn’t know it! Can you see the parallel? The point is that no one can call dreaming reality ‘unreal’ until they’ve experienced it for themselves in an aware state.

Consider, all our senses, emotions, thoughts, feelings and responses in a dream are as though the dream were ‘actually’ happening. It is! Only upon later (poor) reflection we may call an experience ‘just a dream’. It’s not less real, but it is a more dynamic and fluid reality. And, when we become lucid, we usually find the acuteness and sensational aspects of the experience increase many times over, similar or beyond peak alertness while awake. Dreams are real, and we find this out directly by becoming aware in them.

“Some dream events are more vivid than waking ones. It is only when the personality passes out of the dream experience that it may seem unreal in retrospect.” – Seth, Seth, Dreams and Projections in Consciousness p.219

There is a major difference between normal dreams and lucid ones. Normal dreams are usually something that ‘happens to you’ while lucid dreams are dreams that you are making happen. It is really a direct parallel to waking life. Is waking life ‘something that happens to you while you’re making other plans’? Or are you choosing to be aware of the choices you’re making to create that life how you choose?

Lucid dreams aren’t just for fun or entertainment (even though they’re some of the most fun you’ll even have!) They have many practical applications, and they are also a tool for increasing your spiritual awareness in day to day life. The sense of freedom and self-empowerment you experience through lucid dreaming carries over into waking life, where you find yourself making conscious decisions with greater confidence and clarity.

Becoming lucid is not just a skill or a hobby. It can be a path of awareness too, a path that is available to all people regardless of any other beliefs they may hold; scientific, religious or otherwise. Because everyone dreams! Dreams are a common reference point between all people, and thus lucid dreaming is an accessible practice that can truly help anyone improve or enjoy their life.

Or should I say lives..? We have both a waking and a dreaming life, but how aware are we being in either? Most of us don’t even remember much of our dreaming lifeā€¦ and when we think about it, our memory of waking life often isn’t up to scratch either. When we don’t remember something, it’s like it didn’t happen at all! What is a waste of our awareness. The choice is clear. GET LUCID!