Sleep can be such an enjoyable part of the day…or not! Vivid scary dreams and nightmares can leave you exhausted in the morning and afraid to sleep at night. Nightmares may be a part of a response to some trauma you experienced in the past. Other times, they may seem to come on for no reason at all. Your clinicians have many tools they can use to help, one of them involves lucid dreaming.
What is Lucid Dreaming?
Simply put, lucid dreaming means that you are aware that you are dreaming while in the dream state. Many spiritual traditions have used this technique for thousands of years. More recently science became interested in this technique. In the mid-1970s this interest led to studies in sleep labs that documented a person’s conscious awareness while sleeping during a lucid dream. More recently fMRI studies have documented normal sleep activity and simultaneous activity in the frontal and fronto-lateral portions of the brain during lucid dreaming.
What this means to you is that you can have at least some greater influence on what is happening to you during a dream. Robert Waggoner and Caroline McCready in their book, "Lucid Dreaming: Plain and Simple" discuss the following possibilities during a lucid dream:
- You can consciously decide what you want to do in a dream.
- You can become free of wake-state limitations e.g. you can fly!
- You can interact and converse with dream figures.
- You can experiment.
- You can explore the contents of your subconscious mind.
- You can work on improving waking skills for sports, business and more.
- You can change outcomes of dreams/nightmares.
How to Use Lucid Dreaming to Your Advantage
My wife has lucent dreams and for no apparent reason began struggling with a particular dream where rats were chasing her. This was not pleasant, so we decided to do something about it. We went through her dream and decided on a point in the dream where she would stop running, turn and tell the rats to “get out of here!” She practiced each night as she was going to sleep and after a few nights the dream reoccurred. She was prepared and at the designated time she turned and yelled at the rats. Not too sophisticated but, is was effective! They never returned.
Robert Waggoner shared several other possibilities in a podcast we recently completed. My wife could have turned and asked the rats “Who are you?” She also could have asked, “Why are you chasing me?” This would have been more explorative allowing her to understand what her mind was working on. Another option would have been to stop and simply ask the mind, “Why is this happening?” Here you would be establishing a direct connection to the maker of the dream - your subconscious mind.
Making contact with those who have died is another use of lucid dreaming. Your subconscious mind is reaching for your loved ones and often this plays out in your dreams. My wife, a much better lucid dreamer than I, explored this use with very positive results. A dear uncle who had passed appeared in her dream and so she asked, “Where’s mom?”. He turned to reveal her mother smiling at her, turning as though to show her that she was perfectly fine. Then her mother simply stood before her, looking deeply into her eyes. Mr. Waggoner explained that this intense connection was significant. My wife certainly enjoyed it!
Studies show that approximately 70% of people report having had a lucid dream. A person usually dreams about 5-7 dreams a night and “active lucid dreamers” have approximately 1-8 lucid dreams a month. Given this, the plans you make to alter or explore your dreams will take a little time.
How to Increase Lucid Dreaming
What can you do to increase your lucid dreaming?
- Keep a dream journal by your bed and record your dreams as soon as you awake. The more you recall your dreams, the more likely you will experience lucid dreams.
- Develop the habit of asking yourself, “What was I just dreaming?”, every time you awake.
- Jot down at least a few words about the dream in your journal that will help you to remember more in the morning.
- Date and journal as much of your dream as you can immediately each morning.
- Allow enough time for sleep. As the night progresses, your dreams lengthen providing more opportunity for your dreams to become lucent.
- Allow your dreams to come alive by correlating what you experience each day with the explorations of your mind while dreaming each night.
- Have fun with it!
Enjoy my podcast with Robert Waggoner and ... happy lucid dreaming!
For more ways to tap into the power of your subconscious mind, sign up risk-free for the Grow in Oneness course.