From Dream Observer To Dream Director: An Introduction To Lucid Dreaming

Every night, you dream. You might sometimes wake up and remember what you were dreaming, particularly if it was emotional or profound. Most people do not remember what they dreamt. Unlike a normal dream, where you feel mostly like a passive observer and where it is particularly difficult to remember subtle details or to control the flow of your dream, a lucid dream appears extremely realistic, is much more intense, and you have a great degree of control over whatever happens. It is like Virtual Reality on psychedelic drugs, but considerably healthier (since sleeping and dreaming are totally natural). This might be familiar to you. You have probably already briefly experienced lucid dreaming at some point, but you might not have realised that it was a lucid dream. Without practise, you would not know what to make of the experience and might dismiss it just as a freaky dream. A lot of people consider it to be a near death or out of body experience. Lucid dreaming is just harmless fun, although it might improve the quality of your real life. It is also a legitimate area of scientific study, with much of the laboratory research into lucid dreaming being conducted at Stanford University in the USA.

There are a number of ways to purposely induce lucid dreaming. The most common way in which people experience lucid dreams is through a DILD (Dream-Initiated Lucid Dream). This is when you suddenly realise that you are dreaming within a dream.

One DILD that I experienced started as a normal dream. It involved a number of people that I knew personally in real life, and also some weirdoes (including an unusually tall man who claimed the unlikely story that he and his wife lived a life of royalty in Afghanistan by bribing corrupt officials), at a formal dinner inside some kind of building, perhaps a Hall of Residence. The bizarre situation continued up until a point when I was running away, trying to escape from somebody, probably one of the catering staff, who caught me trespassing into the kitchens. As I opened the exit to the building and ran outside, I cursed the doors that were slowing me down and thought to myself that I could have escaped from my pursuer if a motorcycle was waiting for me. As soon as I thought that, I realised that this situation was just like a dream and that I was dreaming. I stopped, no longer frightened, and looked down at my hands. Suddenly everything became crystal clear and incredibly vivid. Colours looked sharp, I could think and decide what I wanted to do and not just automatically flow with the dream as usual, and I felt euphoric. I looked around casually and could see it was a nice sunny morning and there were groups of young people, undergraduates perhaps, walking around. I felt the urge to fly and just took off, like Superman, and flew slowly and deliberately, until I saw a group of three attractive young women talking among themselves. I landed close by to them and feeling both confident, because I knew that this scene was effectively an elaborate hallucination created by my own subconscious, and also nervous, because I was unsure what their reaction would be, I introduced myself. They seemed very friendly and introduced themselves. The events progressed a little from there and I leave it to your imaginations as to what happened, but I will assure you that it was fairly innocent. The truth is I found the dream so exhilarating that I woke up shortly before I had a chance to explore the situation much further!

When you go to sleep, you cycle between the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) state of sleep, which is the state in which dreams are most vivid and easily remembered, and non-REM sleep. Each cycle lasts around 90 minutes. As time passes, you spend less time in non-REM sleep and more time in REM sleep. After about 4-5 hours, you stop entering the deeper states of sleep. The following induction technique works by letting you return to light REM sleep after you have slept for enough time that you no longer enter the deeper states of sleep. It is then much easier to remember your dreams and hence become aware you are dreaming thus inducing a lucid dream.

This technique, known as NILD (Nap Induced Lucid Dream), is not guaranteed to induce lucid dreams, but it works with a reasonably high success rate according to experiments. If it does not work first time, do not become discouraged. Try again another night. Try changing your diet to a healthier one (B-vitamins are supposed to be good for dreaming) and give up smoking and alcohol (many drugs, including alcohol and cannabis, suppress REM sleep causing an effect known as the REM rebound). If you want to induce a lucid dream, and you undoubtedly can, you must believe that you can do it.

By trying this experiment, you lose nothing but you may enjoy an incredible and wholly unique experience.

  1. Set your alarm to wake up in 6 hours. 
  2. Go to sleep.
  3. Wake up when the alarm goes off and do some work, watch something interesting on TV/video, listen to music, or read (preferably including something about lucid dreaming, such as this article) for 50-60 minutes.
  4. Set your alarm to wake up in one and a half hours.
  5. Go to bed and lie comfortably.
  6. Remember a dream and tell yourself: “Next time I’m dreaming, I will remember I’m dreaming.”
  7. You need to really mean it. Concentrate on this thought only, and if you find yourself thinking on something else, just let the thought go and return to your intention. Also try to imagine that you are back in the dream, but this time you recognise that you are dreaming.
  8. Look for unusual things that suggest you are dreaming and tell yourself: “I must be dreaming!” Do this with all the unusual things you see from the dream you remember.
  9. Continue with this for at least 10 minutes or until you fall asleep.
  10. Wake up when the alarm goes off and write down what happened in your dream.

Once your dream becomes lucid, you should try to remain calm and if the dream seems to be losing its clarity, indicating that you are waking up, then try spinning around until the scenery changes. This usually prolongs the dream.

Good luck and happy dreaming!

This article was originally written in April 2001
From Dream Observer to Dream Director
by Fauzan Mirza on Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 11:13am

From Dream Observer To Dream Director: An Introduction To Lucid Dreaming

Every night, you dream. You might sometimes wake up and remember what you were dreaming, particularly if it was emotional or profound. Most people do not remember what they dreamt. Unlike a normal dream, where you feel mostly like a passive observer and where it is particularly difficult to remember subtle details or to control the flow of your dream, a lucid dream appears extremely realistic, is much more intense, and you have a great degree of control over whatever happens. It is like Virtual Reality on psychedelic drugs, but considerably healthier (since sleeping and dreaming are totally natural). This might be familiar to you. You have probably already briefly experienced lucid dreaming at some point, but you might not have realised that it was a lucid dream. Without practise, you would not know what to make of the experience and might dismiss it just as a freaky dream. A lot of people consider it to be a near death or out of body experience. Lucid dreaming is just harmless fun, although it might improve the quality of your real life. It is also a legitimate area of scientific study, with much of the laboratory research into lucid dreaming being conducted at Stanford University in the USA.

There are a number of ways to purposely induce lucid dreaming. The most common way in which people experience lucid dreams is through a DILD (Dream-Initiated Lucid Dream). This is when you suddenly realise that you are dreaming within a dream.

One DILD that I experienced started as a normal dream. It involved a number of people that I knew personally in real life, and also some weirdoes (including an unusually tall man who claimed the unlikely story that he and his wife lived a life of royalty in Afghanistan by bribing corrupt officials), at a formal dinner inside some kind of building, perhaps a Hall of Residence. The bizarre situation continued up until a point when I was running away, trying to escape from somebody, probably one of the catering staff, who caught me trespassing into the kitchens. As I opened the exit to the building and ran outside, I cursed the doors that were slowing me down and thought to myself that I could have escaped from my pursuer if a motorcycle was waiting for me. As soon as I thought that, I realised that this situation was just like a dream and that I was dreaming. I stopped, no longer frightened, and looked down at my hands. Suddenly everything became crystal clear and incredibly vivid. Colours looked sharp, I could think and decide what I wanted to do and not just automatically flow with the dream as usual, and I felt euphoric. I looked around casually and could see it was a nice sunny morning and there were groups of young people, undergraduates perhaps, walking around. I felt the urge to fly and just took off, like Superman, and flew slowly and deliberately, until I saw a group of three attractive young women talking among themselves. I landed close by to them and feeling both confident, because I knew that this scene was effectively an elaborate hallucination created by my own subconscious, and also nervous, because I was unsure what their reaction would be, I introduced myself. They seemed very friendly and introduced themselves. The events progressed a little from there and I leave it to your imaginations as to what happened, but I will assure you that it was fairly innocent. The truth is I found the dream so exhilarating that I woke up shortly before I had a chance to explore the situation much further!

When you go to sleep, you cycle between the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) state of sleep, which is the state in which dreams are most vivid and easily remembered, and non-REM sleep. Each cycle lasts around 90 minutes. As time passes, you spend less time in non-REM sleep and more time in REM sleep. After about 4-5 hours, you stop entering the deeper states of sleep. The following induction technique works by letting you return to light REM sleep after you have slept for enough time that you no longer enter the deeper states of sleep. It is then much easier to remember your dreams and hence become aware you are dreaming thus inducing a lucid dream.

This technique, known as NILD (Nap Induced Lucid Dream), is not guaranteed to induce lucid dreams, but it works with a reasonably high success rate according to experiments. If it does not work first time, do not become discouraged. Try again another night. Try changing your diet to a healthier one (B-vitamins are supposed to be good for dreaming) and give up smoking and alcohol (many drugs, including alcohol and cannabis, suppress REM sleep causing an effect known as the REM rebound). If you want to induce a lucid dream, and you undoubtedly can, you must believe that you can do it.

By trying this experiment, you lose nothing but you may enjoy an incredible and wholly unique experience.

  1. Set your alarm to wake up in 6 hours. 
  2. Go to sleep.
  3. Wake up when the alarm goes off and do some work, watch something interesting on TV/video, listen to music, or read (preferably including something about lucid dreaming, such as this article) for 50-60 minutes.
  4. Set your alarm to wake up in one and a half hours.
  5. Go to bed and lie comfortably.
  6. Remember a dream and tell yourself: “Next time I’m dreaming, I will remember I’m dreaming.”
  7. You need to really mean it. Concentrate on this thought only, and if you find yourself thinking on something else, just let the thought go and return to your intention. Also try to imagine that you are back in the dream, but this time you recognise that you are dreaming.
  8. Look for unusual things that suggest you are dreaming and tell yourself: “I must be dreaming!” Do this with all the unusual things you see from the dream you remember.
  9. Continue with this for at least 10 minutes or until you fall asleep.
  10. Wake up when the alarm goes off and write down what happened in your dream.

Once your dream becomes lucid, you should try to remain calm and if the dream seems to be losing its clarity, indicating that you are waking up, then try spinning around until the scenery changes. This usually prolongs the dream.

Good luck and happy dreaming!

This article was originally written in April 2001
From Dream Observer to Dream Director
by Fauzan Mirza on Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 11:13am