I had been fascinated with the idea of lucid dreaming ever since watching the 2001 animated film, Waking Life. In the film, the main character, Wiley Wiggins, experiences a number of dream-like realities in which he encounters people, both familiar and unfamiliar, who engage in deeply philosophical conversations with him. Much of the film centres on Wiley’s desire to gain some meaning from his lucid dreaming experiences.
I’d experienced vivid dreams from a young age and the idea that the dreams had some deeper meaning constantly played on my mind. When I was finally able to participate in my dreams through lucid dreaming, what I learned led to a permanent and profound change in my own world view.
What are Lucid Dreams
A lucid dream is broadly defined as a dream in which one is aware that one is dreaming (wiki link). While normal dreams provide an escape from reality with little control over what happens, lucid dreams allow you to control what happens in your dream.
How I Learned to Lucid Dream
I first learned how to lucid dream by practising Stephen LaBerge’s MILD technique, which is explained in Amanda Leigh’s article on How to Lucid Dream Tonight. I also experimented with a number of lucid dreaming devices, including iPhone apps and two different sleeping masks which are worn during your sleep. Unfortunately the idea of using an electronic gadget to trigger lucid dreams seemed unnatural and none of the devices worked for me. After a lot of frustration, I found that discipline, regular practise of a reality check routine and keeping a thorough dream journal were the keys to lucid dreaming for me.
My First Lucid Dreaming Experiences
My first lucid dream took me by surprise. Although I’d trained religiously, I’d grown accustomed to falling asleep and observing my dreams as a helpless spectator. It wasn’t until my dream-self, sitting in an imagined classroom, noticed an analogue clock on the wall which changed every time I looked at it that I realised – hey, I must be dreaming!
It’s impossible for me to explain just how brilliant that first experience was for me. I imagine that it would have been like taking psychedelics for the first time. The colours were so vibrant, and I could touch, smell, taste and feel every second of it. I had taken control of my own body within a dreamscape that my subconscious mind had imagined. It was almost like being drawn into the most immersive virtual reality experience one could ever imagine – almost like being plugged into the Matrix.
How Lucid Dreaming Changed My Life
When I was searching through online resources trying to learn how to lucid dream, I found one of the common motivators behind people learning how to lucid dream to be a desire to live out some kind of fantasy. I have to admit that I was somewhat tempted by the promise of being able to have lucid dreams at will about driving sports cars and travelling to exotic locations with male models, but after my first 3 months of lucid dreaming, I realised that the pursuit of fantasy was not the point of lucid dreaming, nor was it even possible within the realm of lucid dreaming – at least for me.
There was a certain fear factor to lucid dreaming; an instigation of one’s fear of the unknown. I remember walking into a church only to find everyone’s backs turned to me. Somehow, I knew that if they turned around to face me, something bad would happen. I recalled how long it had been since I had set foot in a church and I immediately felt like I walking into a place where I didn’t belong. As I stepped backwards, I knocked over a metal jug and immediately, everyone turned to look at me with glowing, demonic faces. The shock was so severe that it startled me awake. With my heart racing, I immediately jumped out of bed and went to the bathroom to splash cold water on my face. At the same time, I continued to question whether I was really awake or still dreaming, and I pondered the need for an Inception-like totem to validate my reality.
Lucid dreaming had proved to be a powerful practise and one which I abused in the first few months. I wanted to push the boundaries of lucid dreaming and I didn’t respect the practise. As a result, I was punished and pushed out of the realm of lucid dreaming. From that night on, I vowed to view lucid dreaming as a window to my own subconscious mind, rather than a trip to Disneyland. Once I changed my mindset, the types of lucid dreams I started to have changed dramatically. They became much more measured and philosophical, not unlike Wiley’s dreams in Waking Life. A few weeks later, during a particularly turbulent time in my life, I had a lucid dream that would change my life forever.
Check back soon for Amy’s unbelievable account of the lucid dream that changed her life.