Last night I flew to the moon, teleported back to my childhood home, explored the depths of the ocean on the back of a dolphin, passed through a portal into another dimension, ran through walls, jumped off skyscrapers, and observed what the world would look like 1,000 years from now.
And it was all just as vivid as real life… If not more so!
I’m not a lunatic – I’m a lucid dreamer. When I was 14 years old I discovered the art of lucid dreaming: the ability to become self aware during the dream state. While the body remains asleep, the conscious brain wakes up, injecting the dream with vivid sensory input and empowering you with the ability to control your actions within the dream – and even control the dream itself.
The History and The Science of Lucid Dreams
Consciousness in dreams is a concept that has been documented for at least a thousand years when it was practiced by ancient Tibetan Buddhists in the form of Dream Yoga. They described it as “apprehending the dream”. They had discovered not only a wonderful form of escapism, but the ability to observe consciousness in its purest form, without the distraction of any external physical or conceptual stimulus.
Many lay people stumbled onto lucidity in their dreams over the centuries and there are examples of this happening all throughout history. But it was not until 1968 that the term lucid dreaming was coined by Celia Green, a philosopher and psychologist known for her extreme skepticism.
In her book, Lucid Dreams, Green predicted that conscious dreaming would be found only during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. She also speculated over a two-way signaling system between a lucid dreamer and a waking observer, using pre-determined eye movements while dreaming. This was later scientifically documented by two separate lucid dreamers in their university laboratories: Alan Worsley at the University of Hull in England, and Stephen LaBerge at Stanford University in California.
Lucid dreaming is a very real phenomenon.
The Benefits of Lucid Dreaming
Why would you want to learn how to lucid dream? Is it really worth the effort?
Absolutely! Lucid dreams can be life changing experiences, not merely providing the allure of wish fulfillment, but providing us with a vivid alternate reality playground for our personal development.
When fully conscious in your dream, you can enhance your problem solving skills in extraordinarily creative ways. Take Friedrich Kekule’s discovery of the structure of the benzene molecule; Otto Loewi’s experiment on nerve impulses; and Elias Howe’s invention of the sewing machine. These scientists and inventors highlight the stunning power of the subconscious mind, which we can tap into directly via lucid dreams.
Lucid dreaming is an exceptionally powerful way to improve your creativity, too. Painters like Salvador Dali, William Blake and Paul Klee created famous artwork inspired by dreams. Some lucid dreaming artists walk through dream art galleries to find inspiration for their next work. Even musical composers – like Mozart, Beethoven and Wagner – pointed to dreams as the source of their inspiration. In fact, some of the beautiful music I ever heard took place in my lucid dreams. They reveal our most creative side because of the free-flow of ideas arising from the subconscious mind.
As lucid dreamers, we can actively pursue the types of dreams we want, and seek answers to questions in any way our subconscious wants to present them! You are not even limited by your conscious imagination – far from it.
Another exciting benefit of lucid dreaming is the ability to face your fears in a controlled but realistic setting. If you are afraid of heights, why not jump out of an airplane!? In the alternate reality of lucid dreams, you can slow down time for a controlled fall, and float gently to the ground. Once you have done this at 10,000 feet you will be surprised how you feel about heights in the waking world.
By the same token, you can practice new skills in lucid dreams. In Exploring The World of Lucid Dreaming by Dr Stephen LaBerge, a lucid dreaming surgeon explains how he would review his surgical cases for the next day before going to sleep. Then he would practice them in precise detail in his lucid dreams – he had a solid reputation as a surgeon because of this, being able to refine and polish his techniques and perform procedures much faster than average. Similarly, lucid dreaming has been shown to improve the procedural memory of your muscles, so you can practice martial arts or piano playing while lucid, and you will be physically better at it when you wake up.
For me, one of the biggest breakthroughs of lucid dreaming was learning how to speak to my subconscious mind in the dream. After reading Robert Waggoner’s Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self, I found I could speak to dream figures and ask what part of me they represented – as well as sending direct requests to my subconscious dreaming mind, like “Show me something amazing!” Even through years of meditation, I have never encountered the kind of opportunities to connect with my subconscious as I do through lucid dreaming.
Can Anyone Learn to Lucid Dream?
Yes, I believe so. Lucid dreaming is the result of dreaming and being conscious at the same time. Since we all dream every night (you just may not remember it) and we are all conscious during the day, becoming lucid is the simple act of combining the two states of mind at the same time. Once you understand and implement the techniques for becoming lucid, it is really not that difficult to achieve at least one lucid dream per week.
The more you practice lucid dreaming, the more you will learn about the power of the human brain and connect with your inner self. It will only get more exciting as you master this psychological art. My next article will discuss the best ways for a beginner to start lucid dreaming on demand. Until then – sweet dreams!
About the Author
Rebecca Turner is a keen lucid dreamer and has been researching the nature of dreams and consciousness since her teens. She is the author of World of Lucid Dreaming, a popular website which teaches anyone how to lucid dream on demand, as well as a joint-author of Lucid Fiction, the world’s first collection of short stories entirely dedicated to lucidity and alternate realities. The book has been praised for helping beginners induce lucid dreams at will using the subconscious incubation method.