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© Clare R Johnson, PhD

flowers-722800_640Imagine you have just become lucid inside a dream. Everything you are seeing and experiencing is a dream, from the rosy-tipped mountains in the distance to the tiny yellow flowers at your feet. It’s wonderful, more real than reality, but what do you do now?

In a lucid dream there are even more possibilities for action than there are in waking life. In lucid dreams, you can go beyond everyday experience. You can launch into flight, fulfil your sexual fantasies, breathe underwater or teleport to your favourite country or person. You can explore deep space or stunning landscapes, turn yourself into a river, or speak to deceased loved ones. When you become lucid in a dream you can live these experiences with full conscious awareness, and this makes them highly memorable.

I realise that I am dreaming… I arch my head back and look straight up into the air. I see a beautiful eagle, or perhaps a hawk, floating in the air above me, hovering in place with poised, widespread wings. The sky is absolutely clear blue and the rays of the sun filter down through the outstretched feathers of the bird… I feel impressed and joyous at the marvellous beauty of this scene which I savour, fully and deliberately, in every detail. Suddenly I awaken, and I lie in bed with my eyes closed, my mind fully alert, basking in the afterglow of the vision.

– Ken Kelzer, The Sun and the Shadow, pp.18-19

Before you can fully explore the world of lucid dreaming, you need to know how to stay lucid instead of waking up seconds after realising you’re dreaming. You’ll then be able to start practising basic dream control so that you can guide and shape the dream if you want to.

One dream control technique that also helps you to stay lucid is that of setting a dream goal before you go to sleep. Once you get lucid, calmly remind yourself of your goal: ‘I want to practise walking on my hands in a dream’, or: ‘I want to go on a romantic date with X’. As the dream unfolds, remind yourself regularly of your goal. Verbalising your actions encourages them to happen and simultaneously stabilises lucidity so you don’t get so swept up by the emotional intensity and physical sensations of the dream world that you awaken. When things get really intense, give yourself a reminder: ‘I am carrying out my lucid dream goal of merging with the sun’.

Once you know the basics of getting and staying lucid, you’ll naturally start to have more lucid dreams, and longer lucid dreams. At this point, things start to get really interesting. Lucid dreams have their own flexible ‘laws’ of physics and are generally experienced in a dream body, which is a wonderful tool for lucid exploration. Dreams are thought-responsive environments where the thoughts you think and the emotions you have will naturally impact upon the dream, inspiring it to unfold in certain ways. Lucid dreaming is a conversation and part of the wonder of waking up inside a dream is observing the way your dream responds to you. This is your chance to get to know your deeper self, ask the dream questions you’d like answers to, heal phobias, get creative, and discover for yourself the extraordinary potential of lucid dreaming.