Have you ever found yourself at your workplace, tapping away at your keyboard and chatting to your colleague, you look down at your hands and they flicker, translucent and ethereal. At this moment, you realise that you are dreaming. What if, on realising this, you were able to take the wheel and influence the way things unfolded within your dream? If these scenarios sound familiar, you may have been ‘lucid dreaming’. There is a good chance that you have. In fact, a 2011 study found that around half of us have experienced lucid dreams at least once in our lifetimes.
What is a Lucid Dream?
The term was conceived in the late 1800s by writer and psychiatrist, Frederik Van Eeden. Dreams occur during the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of the sleep cycle when the body is in a kind of paralysis but the mind is active. Usually, our dreams happen without us being aware of them until morning. But lucid dreams happen when we become conscious that we are dreaming. Of great interest to psychologists is the point at which we are aware that we are dreaming and are able to manipulate things within the dream. In her 2017 TED talk, lucid dreamer Habiba Awada defined the sensation as “Feeling heavenly and being aware of it.” It is this awareness and ability to control what happens in a dream that has great benefit for us in our waking lives.
How can you Trigger a Lucid Dream?
Awada suggests that you keep a dream journal. Every morning, write down your dreams in a diary. Be as clear and accurate as possible. Then look for recurring themes or circumstances. Knowing these will give you the ability to spot the signs that you are dreaming. Start checking for signs that you are awake too. Find constants that do not distort in waking hours, such as the ability to turn off the lights, check the time, pinch your cheek, and so on. This kind of mindfulness will lead to a habit, which will roll over into your sleeping habits as well. The moment that you perceive that you are dreaming is the moment you become lucid.
How can Lucid Dreaming Help You?
Face your fears:
Once you can control events in your dreams, you become able to face your fears and even overcome phobias. If you have a lucid dream about something that frightens you, try to confront it in the dream. Defying whatever it is that you are afraid of in your dream will help to dissipate that fear in your waking life.
We often dream about real life events that are coming up in the future. Becoming lucid in a dream about an upcoming performance, presentation or exam means you can guide yourself to succeed in the dream. Once you see that you can do it in your dreaming state, you will be able to put this into practice in reality.
Become more creative:
Lucid dreaming has famously been a tool for many creative artists, including Salvador Dali, Stephen King and Nikola Tesla. Writing down your dreams can help spark your imagination, and if you are working on a creative idea, it can manifest in your dreams. If you become lucid during this kind of dream, you can iron out any problems you are having, remove creative blocks and get ideas you may never have come up with otherwise.
Ever wanted to fly? Meet your heroes? Dive into tropical waters? Talk to animals? All of this and anything your imagination can conjure up are available to you to experience in lucid dreams. The only limit is the extent of your inventiveness!
As Willy Wonka said: “We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of the dreams”. Maybe lucid dreaming is the answer to your phobia, low self-confidence or creative block, or just a new way to experience life and have fun. Try it!
Monica Varo is a fully-qualified practitioner of hypnotherapy, psychotherapy, and counselling based in West London. She specialises in lucid dreaming, personal and working relationships, anxiety and stress, self-esteem, confidence, limiting beliefs and weight management. Call 07772 467444 for more information.