Ever think that your life is spiraling out of control? Do 21st century technological innovations leave you feeling like you’re in the Dark Ages? Or if you’re like me, the Stone Age. Before clothing. And that if you don’t understand them soon you’ll be left to spin round and round like a fly stuck in the toilet bowl? Wouldn’t you rather be the one with your hand on the flush lever than the fly? Yeah, in your dreams.
No, I’m serious. In your dreams, where there’s now a way to turn technological oblivion into triumph. Or revenge, if you prefer. Forget virtual reality games and headsets. Lucid Dreaming takes escape from reality to a whole new level, to a world without rules, time, boundaries, or the My Pillow guy. (Not everyone needs help to escape from reality.)
Simply put, a lucid dream is one in which you are aware that you are dreaming, and taken further, can even control the dream. In lucid dreaming you can go anywhere and do anything, subject only to the limits of your imagination. Of course, for many of us our imaginations aren’t what they used to be, thanks to TV and social media. So don’t blame me if you find that you can only dream of a world with a new smart phone. For the rest of us though, it is now possible to beat Serena Williams at Wimbledon, climb El Capitan like Alex Honnold, or to ‘boldly go where no man has gone before,’ like Captain Kirk, or Hugh Hefner.
Research suggests that about half of all people have had a lucid dream at least once in their lives, and that a lucky 10% or so are able to thumb their noses at reality more frequently. Now, however, there are books, guides, and even apps that can help you take charge of your dreams and explore the fanciful dreamworld of your choosing, or to finally turn the tables on the demons of your subconscious. Won’t they be surprised. Just be advised that reality can keep score, and is perfectly capable of inventing some impressive demons of its own. Dream proof ones too. Think no further than the nightmares of QAnon, Hallmark TV, or New Math.
So about now you’re probably wondering either what sort of drugs you’ll need to take to enter this magic realm, or what sort of drugs I’m taking to be writing this nonsense. Learning to be a lucid dreamer however is an entirely natural process that relies on a kind of mental training. If you already practice mindfulness, you’re off to a good start. If, like many, your mind is generally pretty empty, it’s probably a good time to instead consider a run for some public office or other. Think of it as a public service. We dreamers, after all, need realities to escape from, or it’s all rather pointless.
To give beginners the best chance of experiencing lucid dreams, experts suggest the following first steps before trying more advanced techniques:
- To ramp up your connection with the dream world, begin keeping a journal of your ordinary dreams. If your ordinary dreams are nightmares, you’re probably sleeping on a pillow from the My Pillow guy. Switch pillows.
- Throughout the day, practice your “reality checks” to test whether or not you’re dreaming. With time, this practice will seep into your dreams and trigger dream awareness. You might, for instance, try to punch your hand through a solid wall. If you’re dreaming it will pass easily through. If you’re not dreaming, you may find that other people will try to perform this reality check on you.
- Set your alarm for five hours after you usually go to sleep. After you wake, wait a bit before going back to sleep. This “waking back to bed” technique should immerse you immediately into REM sleep, the sleep phase where you are most likely to experience a lucid dream. If all you want to do in this new dream world is go to sleep, you’re probably on the right track.
Once your dream becomes lucid you are free to manipulate it any way you choose. Say your desire out loud and the dream will oblige. Summon dream characters and visit dream locations, real or fictional. Adopt superpowers and take revenge on your enemies, real or fictional. If your enemies still sense that your superpowers are more fictional than real, experts recommend mooning them before disappearing through a “dream door” to a new scene. You are in control and anything is possible.
Just remember that in your lucid dream, your conscious and your unconscious minds are in essence colliding, so the beginner may experience a bit of turbulence. Experts suggest tightening your seatbelt and telling your conscious mind in no uncertain terms to take a different flight. This one is for hedonists only. Reality can wait at the airport lounge and find its escape in a bottle like the rest of the frequent flyers.