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..
It might seem a little strange to consider that you have more than one identity at first, but when we look at identity we realize it’s not a fixed thing anyway. Are you the same person you were yesterday? What about five years ago? As we see, identity changes over time. When we make the transition from waking to dreaming, we also transit from our waking self to our dreaming self so that we can operate proficiently in dreaming reality.
To ‘get’ this, let’s use an analogy. If you hold both hands out wide, one hand is your waking self and the other hand is your dreaming self. If you turn your head and shift your focus from one hand to the other and back, is either one ‘less you’ or ‘less real’? Of course not. Both exist simultaneously and are equally valid. So when we switch between our waking and dreaming selves, we are just changing focus. We may or may not remember we have another ‘hand’, another identity while we’re busy using the other one! And in the same way, your waking and dreaming selves are both still ‘you’.
One of the many benefits of lucid dreaming is that by training our lucidity, we are opening channels between our waking self and dreaming self identities, blending them in a way that will enrich the experience of both. We are integrating into a more whole being. We bring more of the creativity and knowing of our dreaming abilities into waking life, and the sharpness of conscious focus, intent and reflection into the dream world. And in the process, we get to explore lots of new ideas and have a whole heap of fun!
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!
The degree of lucidity you have in a lucid dream can vary according to a number of different factors. We must always remember that lucidity is awareness and it is not something that is ‘on’ or ‘off’, it varies as much as your waking consciousness does and often more so.
First, what is the strength of your conscious focus? Are you brightly aware or dimly? Do you feel tired or groggy, or have you never been more awake in your life? Both of these can happen and anywhere in between in a lucid dream, and can affect your ability to make lucid decisions. The sharpness of your focus can be affected by your mental energy.
Second, is the dream stable? If you are having to spend your time and attention on stabilizing a lucid dream rather than doing anything, it can be quite distracting. That said, it is undoubtably a necessary distraction if you want to stay in the lucid dream! Training your dream stability also trains your lucidity as you stay focussed on the fact you’re dreaming while using stabilizing techniques.
Third, how present is your critical faculty? Do you accept things at face value, or do they engage your curiosity and attention? Are you aware of what is possible in a dream? Are you able to form logical or complex thoughts? It is all very well to be aware that you’re dreaming sometimes, but when you want to use it for more indepth applications, learning to awaken your critical faculty more can be important too.
Fourth, how is your memory? Can you remember who you are in waking life? How you got where you are in the dream? Perhaps even what other dreams you’ve had recently. If you consciously exercise your memory while in a lucid dream, this will help you increase later recall by opening memory channels to your waking memory from the ‘other side’.
Finally, what is your ability to take control of the dream itself? Can you do ‘anything’ or are there things you don’t believe you can do. These beliefs can affect your dreaming abilities and dream control. What, you can float but you can’t fly? How strange. You can lift that trashcan with your mind, but you can’t lift that building? Hmmm… Maybe you aren’t as lucid as you think then… Remind yourself it’s a dream and you can do anything!
Sometimes people become lucid in a dream seemingly without any particular reason, just suddenly realizing that they are dreaming. But mostly, lucidity is triggered by an incongruity which would not occur in physical life, such as flying, or being unable to turn off a light switch, or words rearranging themselves, or anything that ‘cannot’ happen in the physical world.
If you’d like to have more lucid dreams occur by themselves, you need to start taking note of anything strange in your daily life and ask yourself if you’re dreaming. Does that person really have five eyes? What do you mean you’re leaving me, we’re not even a couple?! Look, I know the price of food is going up, but $50 for an ice cream just doesn’t make sense does it?
Things like this happen in dreams, and we just ‘take them for granted’. Why? At core it is nothing less than that we take life for granted. Are we stopping to appreciate each moment for what it actually IS, rather than passing it off as a repeat of something that’s happened before? Being in the moment and observing accurately is a skill we can train to assist in having more lucid dreams, besides the fact that if we did it all the time, life would never be boring again!
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 life… 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!