Have you experienced lucid dreaming before?
Having a lucid dream is an amazing opportunity for you to unlock something beyond your control. According to Daniel Erlacher, a professor from University of Bern’s Institute for Sport Science, who has conducted surveys of lucid dreamers, people who usually do lucid dreaming use it to solve life problems, spur creativity, overcome nightmares, or practice any physical skill.
Is lucid dreaming something to worry about? Personally, I like having lucid dreams. Lucid dreams are not bad or good, healthy or unhealthy, it’s just a normal happening whenever you are asleep.
Keeping a lucid dream journal is an important step in the lucid dreaming process, but what is lucid dreaming anyways?
Lucid dreaming is the experience of being aware of your dreams while you’re dreaming them.
Think of a recent dream you’ve had; now imagine all the possibilities if you had been aware you were dreaming. If something wasn’t going your way in the dream, you could change course. If something was happening that you really enjoyed, you could keep doing it!
Lucid dreaming gives you the opportunity to explore your dream world. Since your dream world is created by your mind, what lucid dreaming really lets you do is explore your own mind. Not only is lucid dreaming really fun, it’s a great way to overcome fears and challenges in your life.
The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. By practicing lucid dreaming, you can go on any adventure imaginable. Keep in mind, the laws of reality don’t apply in the dream world, so if you want to fly, you can. You can swim to the bottom of the ocean or go some place you’ve never been. All of your greatest fantasies can come true. You can even take your greatest fears or obstacles and fight them out and overcome them.
Sounds fun, right? If you want to explore the world of lucid dreaming, you’re first going to have to start recording your dreams. The best way to do this is to keep a lucid dreaming journal.
A diary where you write down your dreams is a must for any lucid dreamer.
First of all, it helps you to recall your dreams. Otherwise they are forgotten soon upon awakening.
Making a habit of keeping a diary, you also condition your mind to pay attention to details and be more aware of your surroundings in a dream.
You may find keeping a journal difficult at first: dreams are less of a linear story and more like a puzzle you have to put together. But soon you will learn to follow the peculiar ‘dream-logic’ and the number of recalled dreams will increase.
Once you have some entries you can study your dream features, which will help to recognise dreams for what they are. By features I mean situations, places, people or other characters you dream about.
I give each of my entries a short title and keep a table where my dreams are listed with their features.That’s how I can easily check if certain feature is new or recurring or if it is connected with other features; for example, if I dream of people I know from my waking experience, I would find them in a familiar location (my house, my old school, work etc.) You may notice with time, that some places or characters may change and look different in your dreams but there is always a quality or function that stays the same. That means that this feature is recurring.
I’ve found a recurring character (after I went through about 30 entries in my journal) who would change his appearance but somehow couldn’t change his hair and eye color. I nickname such features (i.e. “Eve” or “Big empty building”) and, once you learn how to recognise them, they often induce the state of lucidity.
Another problem we often face is that most of us have to wake up early for school or work. When we go in an instant from the sleeping to the waking state at the sound of alarm clock, a dream often gets “erased” from the waking memory due to abrupt transition.
I looked for a workaround to solve this problem and in the end decided to change my sleeping habits. I taught myself to go to bed early and wake up at 6 a.m. without an alarm clock. That leaves me enough sleeping time to dream and time to wake up slowly, which is most important for my method of dream recall.
Recalling Your Dream
In dream analysis, it is recommended to start recalling your dream while you are half-asleep. It often leads to another dream that continues or even explains the previous. I don’t go back to sleep but try to stay sleepy long enough to remember what I was dreaming about. Then, a little more aware, I go through the key-moments: what places or characters did I see? What was familiar? What was new?
Then you can proceed with your morning routine. I usually take a small notebook with me and write the dream down at breakfast or in the bus, on my way to work.
In the evening, when I have enough time, I put all the information in a file on my computer filling in the detail I’ve missed earlier.
I also mark the level of lucidity of each dream and what triggered it. Comparing the dreams in my table I can easily see what feature is more likely to induce the lucid state.
Other Lucid Dreaming Techniques
Of course there are other techniques. You may keep a notebook near your bed and write just after you wake up. You may use keywords, dictaphone or even draw your dreams or write poetry.
The form, the style, the technique – it’s all is up to you. You just have to experiment until you find what works best. The important thing is to make keeping the journal a habit and write (or record) every day. It won’t help much if you make an entry once or twice a week.
At first, when I couldn’t remember a lot of dreams or didn’t have enough time or will to write, I used a “conditioning technique”: I would write in my notebook just one keyword, anything I could remember (i.e. “school” or “black puppy”). If I was lucky to remember during the day what the puppy was doing or what I saw in the school I would write another keyword. Even if my entry had only one word by the end of the day, I knew that I didn’t skip on my important task and that my dream wasn’t lost entirely.
In fact, I saw that black puppy once more in another dream and suddenly remembered: I have to follow him to complete my entry. For about a couple of minutes I was lucid.
Keeping a dream journal needs patience, time and persistence. Dreaming is an ancient art that has to be learned, and learning demands work. But if you choose to learn, there is a fascinating journey lies ahead. And the journal is the simplest and the most useful tool to explore your own Dreamland, to increase your awareness and master the art of being awake while dreaming.