What is Lucid Dreaming?
It is the art of conscious dreaming. A lucid dream is a dream in which you think: Aha, I’m dreaming! while you are still sleeping. As soon as you come to consciousness within a dream, interaction can arise, you can direct the dream and start dancing with your unconscious.
Why would you want to dream lucid?
By lucid dreaming you become conscious within your unconscious, and that opens up the possibility of direct communication with your own divine potential, allowing you to see how limitless you really are. Clarity in your dreams leads to clarity in your life. You can learn to awaken – in the sense of: coming to consciousness – in your daily life, just as you can awaken in your dreams. When you can come to clear awareness for just a few moments of your nighttime blackout, it’s such a great conditioning that it can lead to a remarkable clarification of your view of things when you’re awake. Suddenly you notice that you are clear or lucid in situations where you usually sleepwalked around.
You will begin to notice your negative projections, your doubts, and your illusory limitations. You will ‘dream to life’ your destiny and use your full potential simply by daring to dream.
How does lucid dreaming work?
In a lucid dream you don’t wake up – you are in fact still deeply asleep – but part of your brain has been reactivated (the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex to be precise), allowing you to consciously experience and reflect on your dream state . Once you know you are dreaming while dreaming, you gain access to the most powerful virtual reality generator available: the human mind.
It completely changes your relationship with the third of your life that you spend in bed. Suddenly, sleep is no longer ‘wasted time’, as some people see it, but an opportunity for spiritual growth, a laboratory for self-examination that can help you become a lot clearer in your ordinary daily life. Once you gain some sense of what is going on within your unconscious, you come to see that you are limitless, limitless, and so creative that it is beyond your wildest fantasies.
The slumber state: the first stage of sleep
One of the most accessible parts of the journey to true sleep is the slumber state: the transitional phase between wakefulness and sleep. It is the intermediate stage that is often characterized by hypnagogic images: the visual or sometimes conceptual images that you experience as sleep sets in. These hypnagogic hallucinations consist of memories of the day, mental preoccupations and inner images. For most people, the slumber is as elusive as eels in a barrel, but when you befriend it, you can use it to connect with a deep well of creativity.
Every time you fall asleep you go through the slumber state, which means that you have a daily chance to use it consciously. The word “hypnagogic” indicates that the slumber state has similarities to the hypnotic trance state, and my hypnosis teacher, the late Mervyn Minall-Jones once said to me, in his thick Australian accent, “Charlie, mate, you’re twice per day under hypnosis: if you fall asleep to the hypnagogic (slumber) state and if you wake up to the hypnopompic state.’
At the onset of the slumber state, there may be sudden ‘twitching’ or spasms. Some researchers believe this is an evolutionary throwback to the time when we slept in trees: The twitch helps you stay aware of the space you’re sleeping in, so you don’t fall out of the tree.
Most people just get lost in the world and “fall” asleep, but if you really want to get to know the realm of the slumber state, it’s better to drift away rather than fall. Hibernation has enormous potential, but how can you spend more time in it than the 10 or so minutes it usually takes to fall asleep? You can learn to simply hang out there.
Five steps to staying in the slumber state
The purpose of this exercise is to allow you to mindfully remain in the slumber state without entering the sleep state beyond. Rather, this is an exercise in the approach we call the Mindfulness of Dream and Sleep approach (attention to the dream and sleep), not lucid dreaming, but my advice is this: get to know your slumber state well because it is the entrance to the dream. The best way to increase your knowledge of the slumber state is to enter it during the day. And you do that as follows: 1. When you are sleepy but not too tired, find a place to lie down. On top of your bed is fine, but not in it. You don’t want to fall asleep, remember.
2. Set a timer for 20 minutes (in case you do fall asleep), then simply lie on your back with a pillow under your head and close your eyes.
3. In the afternoon hours, most people will enter the snooze state within 5 to 15 minutes. Once you get there, try to stay there for about 10 minutes if you can. Just rest in that state, look at the images and be aware of the waves of drowsiness washing through it. Staying aware of your breathing and the feelings in your body will help keep you from falling asleep.
4. After 20 minutes your timer will go off, then come back to full and alert consciousness.
5. An alternative is to simply go to bed half an hour earlier and allow yourself to intentionally fall asleep more slowly than usual. Find out what works for you and enjoy it.