Lucid dreaming, or the act of becoming aware as you dream, is possibly the most elusive of the metalearning skills to develop since unlike mnemonic skills, there’s not a direct correlation between time in => usefulness of the skill. Outlined below is the basic “wake back to bed” technique that most people use to learn basic lucidity techniques – at the end of the page are links to pages that go into detail about other lucid dreaming techniques as well as lucidity related resources.
Step 1: Create a dream diary
Pretty straightforward. Keep a dream diary for a month, listing major characters, events, settings, and bizarre inconsistencies in your dreams. You may not be able to remember your dreams very well at the beginning, which is perfectly okay – the act of journalling your dreams will help with dream recall, which in turn helps your dreams become more vivid and memorable.
At the end of the month, review your journal looking for trends – characters that commonly appear in your dreams that you don’t ever see in the waking world, consistent inconsistencies (i.e. your bedroom being laid out differently in your dreams).
Step 2: Develop and implement reality checks
The next step in the process of becoming lucid is to develop a “reality check” (a check to see if you’re awake or dreaming) based on the common symbols that you see play out in your dreams. Once you’ve figured out one that works, make it a habit in the waking world – no matter how stupid it may seem. The goal is that by creating a habit in the waking world, eventually you will do a reality check in your dreams (out of the same habit), and realize you are dreaming.
Okay, I’ve achieved lucidity. Now what?
Now you can begin to use lucid dreaming to learn – either about yourself, or to help acquire skills faster. For self learning, simply pay attention to what you see in your dreams, and intervene only to create circumstances that you can directly ask questions – for example, if you notice that there’s a common representation of the female/mothering archetype in your dreams, then take a moment to ask her “Are you here to tell me about something that I need in my life? What is it that I need?” You can also use this as a way of safely exposing yourself to your fears, to understand what it is within those scenarios that makes you afraid. I’ve also heard of people doing round-table discussions with their subconscious, but that requires time to cultivate lucidity as a habit.
To learn more “real world” skills, create circumstances that force you to practice the skills you want to learn. Lucid dreaming is an ideal procedural memory device – so learning processes vs. facts. A short list of things you can use lucid dreaming to help learn faster …
- Movement disciplines, including gymnastics, martial arts, parkour/freerunning, and balance training. Since all of these are high-risk endeavors in the waking world, taking control of your dreams to practice these skills in a zero-risk environment will help both with confidence and committment, as well as learning new movements
- The arts – since all of the humanities (outside of writing) are procedures, you can use lucid dreaming to practice specific procedures, or create a work of art inside of your head. An ideal place to practice the riff from Master of Puppets, to learn complex brush strokes, or to get over the stagefright of opening night.
- Languages – by making all the characters in your dreams speak the language you’re trying to learn, you will experience more immersion, and thus it will integrate more.
Alright! I get it – lucid dreaming is awesome. Where do I go from here?
Learning more advanced lucid dreaming techniques (specifically one of the variations of Wake Induced Lucid Dreaming, or WILD for short) will allow you to learn both meditation and to gain more control over the dream itself. Check out Lucidipedia for their articles on lucid dreaming – and there’s loads of informations on the forums at LD4all. Practice makes perfect with these techniques, so if you try to learn how to WILD and don’t succeed at first, don’t feel too discouraged – these techniques take time to master.
This is also a good point to remind you that lucid dreaming isn’t about the destination – once you achieve lucidity, you will see that there’s always a greater degree of lucidity to be achieved through sharpening your focus, and that learning via lucidity in your dreams is always a fun journey.
If you have any more thoughts about general lucid dreaming topics, feel free to post in the comments below! These pages are all a constant work in progress, and are updated with information posted by the users.
Dreaming can be a very refreshing process, REM and memorizing dreams, like light exercise, can give you energy. Memorizing lucid dreams too long or too often, like exercising too hard or too often, can result in the need for recovery, as a large bank of memories require processing. You must realise memory processing will require more REM, which can lead to an over-training effect!
Memorizing and focusing on lucid dreaming can result in a REM-recovery/REM-debt loop from the constant memory-processing/memory-accumulation. This may result in fatigue if you are also expending energy or accumulating REM-deprivation from other activities or stressors. This model might be too simple in explaining dream fatigue, but it describes the phenomena none the less.
When you are polyphasic sleeping, napping often can result in dreaming often, and dream fatigue can set in. Dreams may start to inflict on your every day life, as memories of your dreams keep surfacing in everyday situations, frustrating, or perhaps confusing you. You will be getting lots and lots of REM throughout your days, but any amount feels like it just isn’t enough!
If you are stressed or wanting to focus on other things throughout the day but you are dealing with dream fatigue, try not to memorize 3 or 4 or 5 dreams in one day! You should be able to continue to memorize and record one dream a day so you do not go out of practice, but when you have your one dream for the day perhaps you should consider forgetting the rest and relaxing from your dream diary so you do not push your capacity for memory retention.
Later, when you are less stressed, or wanting to focus on lucid dreaming and your conscious experience, you can practice lucid dreaming until dream fatigue sets in, and keep pushing it (combining with meditation and other meta-learning skills) to increase your mental capacity. Just be aware you can overtrain practicing dreaming and memory retention as easily as you can overtrain at the gym exercising with weights.