Introduction to Lucid Dreaming

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Literature Text

"Not all lucid dreams are useful but they all have a sense of wonder about them. If you must sleep through a third of your life, why should you sleep through your dreams, too?"
Stephen LaBerge

       The concept of lucid dreaming is not at all a new one. The first recorded instructions for learning how to lucid dream come from an unnamed Tibetan yoga master from the eighth century, the author of “The Yoga of the Dream State.” The next also originates in Tibet, Atisha, who described lucid dreaming as “being simultaneously awake and asleep” in his “Seven Points of Mind Training.” But no scientific research was performed until the 1960s and 1970s, including P.D. Ouspensky’s “A New Model of the Universe”, in which it’s called a “half-dream state”; Don Juan’s “Journey to Ixtlan, which taught cues for becoming conscious in and stabilizing dreams; and Carlos Castaneda, apprenticed to Don Juan. In the fall of 1975, Stephen LaBerge, one of the current leading researchers in lucid dreaming today, was introduced to lucid dreaming. Currently, he works in the Stanford University Sleep Research Center, where he proved that lucid dreaming is indeed possible and that virtually anyone can be taught.
       Essentially, a dream is lucid if you are aware that you are dreaming. Depending on the control, experience, and/or natural talent of the dreamer, you may be able to influence the dream, changing it to your own desires. However, any attempt to alter the dream creates a chance of waking up. (Lucid dreaming, wikibooks)
       It is difficult to describe lucid dreaming without causing some confusion, so the following list of terms is provided to, hopefully, clarify.
  • The term “dream state” or “dreaming” refers to the period one experiences during rapid-eye movement (REM) periods of sleep.
  • Lucid dreaming, or cognizant dreaming, refers to a state where the sleeper is aware that they are dreaming, and may or may not have control over the dream state, the “storyline” of the dream, and its contents.
  • Dream recall refers to the ability to remember dreams experienced upon waking up. Dream recall can be trained to be more vivid
  • The term “real life” refers to the waking state, the “real” world, regardless of how “real” the dream state appears, and how “fake” the “real” world appears.

       There are many ways to achieve and improve your lucidity, from mind strategies to uses before and while going to sleep, to food, dinks, plants, and drug. Technology in the forms of gadgets and software to simulate and improve lucidity have also been developed. Regardless of your budget, you can find enhancements to aid in your attempts for lucidity.
       Strategies for achieving lucidity can be confusing, difficult, complex, and unreliable, or they can be very simple. Use caution when using these strategies, as some may disrupt your sleep cycle.
       WBTB (Wake-Back-to-Bed) requires waking yourself up a few hours after you fall asleep, then going back to bed. During the interim, it may help to do something involving lucid dreaming, either reading about it, or performing another method to induce lucidity, such as autosuggestion, MILD, or VILD.
       Autosuggestion is perhaps one of the simplest and requires the least preparation and can still be as successful as any of the others with practice. Autosuggestion simply requires that, as you lie in bed, tell yourself that you will dream, and that it will be lucid. If there’s anything specific you want to dream about, that can also be included.
       MILD (Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams) was developed by Stephen LaBerge. It requires that you repeat a mantra to yourself as you fall asleep. For example, “Next time I'm dreaming, I will remember I'm dreaming.” (Wikibook)
       WILD (Wake-Initiation of Lucid Dreams) can involve lying in bed on your back and tensing/relaxing your body, very similar to meditation techniques. This may create a sleep-paralysis state where you cannot move your body, and feel fully conscious but are indeed asleep. There are many ways to accomplish this, simply by trying to stay awake while falling asleep.
       LILD (Lucid Induction of Lucid Dreams) requires that you have a lucid dream in the first place. While in that dream, according to Wikibook, “you have to do something in your dream that will help you become lucid the next time you are dreaming.” This will not work for those who have not had a lucid dream.
       VILD (Visual Induction of Lucid Dreaming) requires that the dreamer visualize what they want to dream about as they fall asleep. This method may not work for those who have trouble falling asleep due to constantly thinking.
       Vitamins in food and drink and naturally occurring hormones in the body can enhance lucidity in ways that aid the mind strategies. Included in these are Tryptophan, which is present in warm milk, Vitamin B6 and other B-group vitamins, and the hormone Melatonin. (Wikibook)
       Plants and herbal resources can be used, either by use of a “herb pillow” that can be placed inside one’s pillow at night, or ingested. Artemisia vulgaris (mugwort) is a hallucinogen, and acts as a substitute for marijuana and tobacco. It can increase intensity, recall and control of dreams. Hypericum perforatum (St John’s wort) is commonly used to treat depression, and contains serotonin. Calea zacatechichi (Dream herb or bitter grass) can increase frequency and recall, and is commonly used by the indigenous Oaxaca Chontal of the Mexican state of Oaxaca, and in oneiromancy (divination through dreams. The dream herb is legal to grow and sell in the US, except for Louisiana, and has no apparent side effects or hangover. (Wikipedia)
       There are two primary gadgets that can influence the mind and lucidity. Caution is advised when using these devices, be sure to read all warnings and operating instructions before using the following devices.
       The NovaDreamer was originally produced by Stephen LaBerge and the Lucidity Institute, but is now only available through independent distributors. It is an aid, but is not essential to learning to develop and control lucidity. The NovaDreamer detects when one enters REM, and provides a cue that allows the dreamer to become aware in-dream. (Lucidity Institute)
       The Kvasar is very similar to the NovaDreamer. However, the Kvasar is not available for sale. Instead, it was developed for those who may not be able to afford the NovaDreamer, and instructions to build are available online. (Kvasar)
       Software programs for computers have been developed to help control, generate and improve lucidity. However, not all programs will work for all people. Among those currently available include the Brainwave generator, which plays binaural noise files that may or may not do everything from improving creativity to concentration; Liquid Dream II; Reality Check; and SBaGen. This is by no means a complete list, as new software is continually being developed.
       Drugs can be used to enhance the dream state, vividness, control, and frequency of dreams, but as with plants, use with caution. The following list, provided by Wikibooks, included chemicals natural to the body in small doses, and legal and illegal drugs.
  • Serotonin
  • Amanita muscaria
  • Ayahuasca
  • DMT
  • DXM
  • Ketamine
  • LSD
  • Mescaline
  • Morning glory seeds
  • PCP
  • Psilocybe mushrooms
  • Salvia divinorum (in larger doses)

       Lucid dreaming can be very useful in many cases. According to Stephen LaBerge, they can be used to deal with stress, aid in problem solving and decision making, improve creativity, and deal with phobias and nightmares.
       In the dream world, one can potentially do anything, be anyone, see anything, go anywhere. Using that ability, one can deal with stress in ways impossible or illegal in the real world. Tormenting someone who torments you, injuring someone who has to you, among other things. There is a word of caution on this, however. Be certain that you are dreaming, and not really participating in the real world when performing such activities.
       Lucid dreaming can also help when it comes to solving problems. Trying to redecorate, but don’t know where to start? Trying visualizing what you want to see when you dream. Build the furniture in your mind. Create, invent, discover.
       Some artists and writers have been known to use lucid dreaming to create and inspire art. For writers dealing with writer’s block, they may enter the dream and ask their characters what happens next, what decisions they make, such that the writer may form the story true to their characters and not polluted by their own point of views.
       For those who experience nightmares and phobias, lucid dreaming can be used to control and squash those fears. One may take control of their nightmares and turn them into comedies. For those with phobias, desensitization therapy in-dream is free.
       There are some things to be cautious of when introducing and immersing oneself in the worlds of lucid dreaming. In some ways, LD can be dangerous, and in others, it has the potential to be greatly beneficial. Among there are addiction, alienation, disassociation, and religious caution. (Wikibook)
       Lucid dreaming can be a wonderful way to escape the world and the pressures of life, but like all escapes, it can become addicting. Spending more time asleep may not show a problem, providing that there are no problems appearing in real life that stem from lack of attention. Using lucid dreams to solve problems is one thing; using them to live your life is destructive.
       Simple alienation can also be a problem. Lucid dreaming is not a concept many people are familiar with, let alone willing to comprehend. There is nothing abnormal or “wrong” with lucid dreaming, but people may not perceive it as such.
       There is no solid evidence that too much lucid dreaming is a bad thing, except in cases of addiction and disassociation. The following list, provided by Wikibooks’ “Lucid Dreaming,” contains symptoms of disassociation.
  • Ability to ignore extreme pain or what would normally cause extreme pain
  • Absorption in a television program or movie
  • Remembering the past so vividly one seems to be reliving it
  • Finding evidence of having one things one can’t remember doing
  • Not remembering important events in one’s life
  • Being in a familiar place and finding it unfamiliar
  • Seeing oneself as if looking at another person
  • Other people and objects do not seem real
  • Looking at the world through a fog or haze
  • Not recognizing friends or family members
  • Finding unfamiliar things among one’s belongings
  • Finding oneself in a place but unaware of how one got there
  • Finding oneself dressed in clothes one doesn’t remember putting on

       Finally, there is the religious aspect. Accidentally encountering spiritual entities may or not be a problem depending on one’s religious standpoint. For those who are deeply religious, you may encounter in your dreams your significant spiritual entity, or their adversary. Depending on your beliefs, you may believe that this manifestation is genuine, or that it is just an object created by your mind. Tread cautiously.
       Lucid dreaming can do many things for everyone. It can help dealing with stress, solving problems, decision making, and phobias and nightmares, as well as  provide inspiration and improve creativity. But, as with many of treatments for dealing with these things, there are dangers. For some, these dangers may be inconsequential, for others, entirely worth the benefits, for still others, potentially serious. Anyone can be taught to lucid dream, but lucid dreaming may not be for everyone.

Most recent project. Recently, I have become interested in Lucid Dreaming, and here is the result on my research.

Critique on organization, grammer, punctuation, clarity. Comments only on content. Thank you.

Further Reading and Resources:
Revised Lucid Dreaming Guide
Additional Readings
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OrpheusEx's avatar
I was wondering; in a lucid dream, is it possible to take say, an OC, put it in your dream and have your subconscious deal with how they'd react? Or do you have to actively control "sentient" constructs?
TheRedSweaterGhost's avatar
Hi, I know this comment is almost a year old but I noticed you never got an answer.
Yes- if you know the personality of your OC you can have complete conversations with them and they would act as they would usually do with their personality type.
MadeleineArmy's avatar
After reading this I now realize that my "sleep problems" is not that, but infact lucid dreaming. I am a lucid dreamer and I had no idea. I would wake up every few hours thinking that I had gotten no sleep because I was aware I was dreaming the whole time, now that I know what the "problem" is, I'm going to start exploring this new world :) 
BittyKitty1's avatar

Uhh... Question about Lucid Dreaming:

   Is it possible to *accidentally* have a Lucid Dream? Because I'm pretty sure that happened to me a few nights ago. I had no idea what was going on, at the time, but when I woke up I honestly looked like this: "O____O?!" And now that I've found people usually have Lucid Dreams on purpose, I've been curious if there's a way to accidentally fall into a Lucid Dream.

divby0's avatar
It's absolutely possible. That's how I started before I learned that it was a "thing," and it's how I suspect most people start.
BittyKitty1's avatar

Ohmygosh- Thank goodness. I thought I was weird for a sec- Wait.


Thanks for the quick response ^3^ Love the Icon!


/floats away

DrowsyDoormouse's avatar
Wow very cool! I've been researching lucid dreaming for two years now in a pretty obsessive way so I'm really happy that I walked away from this article with new information- that doesn't usually happen to me anymore. I've never heard of VILDs or LILDs.

LILD sounds fascinating. I used to do VILDs all the time as a child without realizing that was what I was doing, but I've never even thought of setting up the next lucid dream while inside a lucid dream - very interesting. I have no idea of how I'd do that though
SatsuTheSlugma's avatar
What of melatonin?
divby0's avatar
What about it?
900bunny's avatar
pretty helpful!at first i was scared out of my mind of lucid dreams turning into nightmares and i was almost afraid to fall asleep for fear of a nightmare!!!but now i REALLY want to try it :) and i have dreams often it's just that most of the time,later in the day i'll remember an element from it then recall more of the dream but not much.but this whole lucid dreaming thing sounds great and i'd like to give it a try!by the way,i've had mild depression for the last 5 months now but it is much better and more subtle so is there any danger of addiction for me?thanks for any help~!
divby0's avatar
"addiction" to dreaming is not something you should be terribly concerned about unless you start negleting your waking-time responsibilities and/or starting dosing yourself with chemicals that will help you sleep longer and dream more vividly.

I used to suffer from regular nightmares until I started lucid dreaming. with lucid dreaming, I was able to defeat those nightmares and their hold over me.
900bunny's avatar
okay good.thank you!
chiyochan64's avatar
I am having a bit of trouble with the hypnagogic imagery, and being pulled into a dream.
It is harder for me to see the hallucinations of the color, and to visualize correctly, so I find it much harder to lucid dream. Even when I focus on where it is I want to be, I am never sucked into a dream. I am already in Sleep Paralysis when it happens.

Does being in sleep paralysis mean that you are already asleep? When I try to open my eyes, I always end up opening my real ones.

May I please have some tips, and some help figuring out where I am going wrong?
Thank you!
divby0's avatar
To my understanding, hypnagogia (where sleep paralysis occurs) is a transitional state where you're not quite awake, but not quite asleep.

Unfortunately, I have no experience with this state. I go directly from wakefulness to sleep with no identifiable intermission, and back the same way.

I have tried (and continue to try) to enter this state, but have been unsuccessful. I'm sorry.

If I do make any headway, I will definitely post anything I learn.
chiyochan64's avatar
It is hard for me to find it, and it normally occurs with colors or flashes of light for me.

The hard thing is, is that I normally still feel the sensation of lying in bed.

What method do you think I should use instead?
divby0's avatar
For initiating lucid dreaming, I exclusively use WBTB. It is the only method that works for me.
chiyochan64's avatar
I don't completely understand it. What do I do when I wake up?
divby0's avatar
I have an alarm that goes off about an hour before I actually have to get up. I shut it off, roll over, and when I shut my eyes, I can drop immediately back down into the dream I was roused from.

Some people who use WBTB recommend getting out of bed and walking around, maybe drinking some water, and staying up for anywhere from ten to thirty minutes. For me, any activity other than rolling over prevents me from going back to sleep.
chiyochan64's avatar
Ah, I will try to do that tonight! Thank you!
xBefore-IDie's avatar
i didnt know it was called that...or had a name. ._. apparently i have lucid dreams all the time. and every dream ive ever had is as vivid as real life. but this does explain many things. thank you.
kalkris's avatar
You, my friend, are a wonderful person.
divby0's avatar
simkaaa's avatar
Really incredible!

I just find the whole concept of dreams amazing.
I would really love to study something about psychology/ the human psyche... any suggestions?
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