The following is excerpted from Lucid Dreaming: A Beginners Guide To Becoming Conscious In Your Dreams, to be published by Hay House Basics in February, 2015.
“What is lucid dreaming?”
Lucid dreaming is the art of becoming conscious within your dreams. A lucid dream is one in which you realize, ‘Aha! I’m dreaming!’ while you’re still asleep. Once you become conscious within a dream, you can interact with and direct it at will, partner-dancing with your unconscious mind.
It allows you conscious access to the deepest depths of your mind, and the opportunity to guide your dreams at will. In a lucid dream you’ve not woken up – in fact, you’re still sound asleep – but part of the brain has reactivated (the right dorsolateral pre-frontal cortex, in case you’re wondering), allowing you to experience the dream state consciously with self-reflective awareness. Once you know that you’re dreaming as you’re dreaming, you gain access to the most powerful virtual reality generator in existence: the mind.
For me, one of the most revolutionary aspects of lucid dreaming is that it makes sleep fun! It completely reconfigures our relationship with the third of our lives that we spend asleep. Suddenly, sleep is not just ‘wasted time’, as some people see it, but rather a potential training ground for psycho-spiritual growth and a laboratory of internal exploration that makes us more lucidly aware in our waking lives too.
In fact, the term ‘lucid dreaming’ is a bit of a misnomer – it should really be ‘conscious dreaming’, because it’s the aspect of conscious awareness that defines the experience, rather than its lucid clarity, but for now we’ll stick with it.
However, given that there’s so much misunderstanding around what lucid dreaming actually is, it’s worth taking a moment to look at what lucid dreaming is not…
It’s not a half-awake/half-asleep state. In a lucid dream you’re in REM (rapid eye movement) dreaming sleep and out for the count, but part of your brain has become reactivated while you’re dreaming, allowing you to experience the dream consciously.
It’s not just a very vivid dream. Although lucid dreams are often super-vivid, high-definition experiences.
It’s not an out-of-body experience (sometimes called astral projection). This point is still being debated by many lucid dreaming practitioners, but as I see it, a lucid dream is happening primarily within our own personal mindstream, whereas in an out-of-body experience we’ve moved beyond these boundaries.
Lucid dreaming is a dream in which you know you’re dreaming as you’re dreaming. I’m glad we’ve cleared that up!
“So why would we want to dream lucidity?”
So many psychological problems have their source in the fact that we don’t know ourselves. We don’t know our minds; we’re unmindful and unaware. Through lucid dreaming we get to truly know ourselves, and to become more mindfully aware in all states of day and night.
Our unconscious minds hold a wealth of wisdom – about both ourselves and the world around us. This treasure trove is rarely accessed in the waking state but once we become lucid we gain access to a library of insight that resides in our dreaming mind. Through lucid dreaming we become conscious within the unconscious. This opens up the possibility of directly communicating with our own divine potential, and witnessing just how limitless we actually are.
“What are the actual benefits of lucid dreaming?”
There are so many benefits to lucid dreaming but in a nutshell, once you become conscious within your unconscious mind you can (much like through hypnotherapy) make lasting changes to your body and mind while you sleep.
A few of my favorite benefits of lucid dreaming are:
Psychological healing (phobias, trauma, confidence)
Spiritual practice while you sleep
Exploration of the unconscious mind
Treatment of PSTD and nightmare integration
Increasing and tapping into creativity
Preparation for death and dying
Enhanced learning and access to past memory
Lucid living and waking up to your full potential
Having fun (it’s the most fun you can have in your pyjamas!)
“Sounds great, but how do I actually do it?
Now comes the fun part! You can actually train yourself to have lucid dreams. It takes some effort but here are a few tips to get started with
The first step is start remembering your dreams,
Step two is to write them down as a way to learn and familiarise yourself with their content.
And step 3 is to start spotting patterns. Once you notice that “Oh look, I often dream of being back at school” you can set a trigger in your mind telling yourself “the next time I’m back at school, I know I’m dreaming!” Then the next time your dream of being back at school you’ll think “Hey! I must be dreaming!”
Those are just a few tips to get you started but if you really want to learn check out my new book which will teach you how: Lucid Dreaming: A Beginners Guide To Becoming Conscious In Your Dreams out Feb 2015 and available for pre-order now!