A lucid dream is one in which you become conscious that you are dreaming without waking up and therefore gain the ability to control elements of the dream which you wouldn’t normally be able to.
Aside from being an exciting and enjoyable experience in itself, it can also be a powerful tool for self-knowledge and self-mastery. In certain schools of Hindu and Tibetan Yoga lucid dreaming is an important step on the path to enlightenment.(The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep)
For anyone wishing to begin learning this art I would recommend Keeping a Dream Diary as an important first step but assuming that you are already doing this here are some techniques that you can use as triggers to induce the experience:
T E C H N I Q U E S
This involves using everyday objects, events, or actions as ‘cues’ that automatically set off a chain off thought which will induce the lucid dream. This is done by associating the chosen object or action with that particular thought process while you are awake. Let’s say I choose ‘my car’, and ‘walking through a doorway’ as my cues. They are both things that I see or do often, and which are therefore likely to crop up on a fairly regular basis in my dreams too, so they make good choices to use as cues.
The process is then simple: every time I see my car or walk through a doorway I ask myself – “am I awake or asleep?” It feels a bit stupid when you know that you are awake, but try using tests as well, like trying to change the shape or size of things around you, or to transport yourself to a different place.
If you keep this up for long enough then the association between the object / action and the question will start to become automatic, and will then start to happen every time you see that object or perform that action in your dreams, thus triggering the realization that you are in fact still asleep. For many people a few days of doing this will be long enough, but it varies greatly from one person to the next. The key is to remember to ask the question every single time that you see or perform your cue.
When you go to bed at night simply repeat an affirmation over and over in your head, such as ‘tonight I will become conscious that I am dreaming without waking myself up’ as you drift off to sleep. Keep it short, simple and positive. This is a kind of self-hypnosis.
Dropping back In
For some people the most effective method is to use that drowsy half-awake state of the early morning, immediately after waking, as a kind of. Set your alarm early, perhaps 20-30 minutes before you intend to get up, and just allow yourself to doze.
If you remember the dream you were having then you can try to step back into it by replaying it in your mind and imagining that you are back within it. Alternatively you can try visualizing a whole new dreamscape, and imagine yourself inside it, letting go and allowing it to unfold on its own, whilst maintaining the awareness that it isn’t real.
If you are really dedicated then you can use all of these techniques simultaneously, in which case you can be very confident that you will successfully achieve lucid dreaming in no time at all. An if you are having problems remember that the first one is always the hardest, and once you get that far you will be able to start having then regularly with much less trouble.