How to Control Your Dreams

Welcome to the world of lucid dreaming! Despite being simply stated as knowing you are dreaming while you are dreaming, lucid dreaming is much more than that and is not only a cool experience but also one with many benefits. Lucid dreaming allows for complete control and manipulation of anything and everything all while you are fast asleep in bed. You can change colors, locations, objects, relive a memory, and much more.

Lucid dreams are actually quite common, and it is believed that most people can experience them. In fact, lucid dreaming has been around for quite a while, and—apart from some Tibetan Buddhist practices such as dream yoga—the first actual publication that involved lucid dreaming came from 17th century philosopher Sir Thomas Brown. In his book Religio Medici, he claims that he was able to “compose a whole comedy” [1] in his dreams. But it was not until 1960 when someone, Celia Green, began to do research delving into lucid dreams. Many other experiments have been conducted to test these dreams with Dr. Keith Hearne creating a fairly conclusive case. In his experiment, Dr. Hearne gave a lucid dreamer a set of eye movements to signal that he was conscious in his dreams. The dreamer was then hooked up to eye-tracking equipment, sent off to sleep, and after the patient’s eye movements were identified as random—thus identifying rapid eye movement (REM) sleep (A.K.A. when dreams occur)—the patient carried out the set of eye movements proving that he was lucid. Dr. Hearne even claims that lucid dreams can do everything from making you more creative to coping with grief.

Lucid dreams can have a plethora of benefits and can go from helping the dreamer relax and have fun messing around in their dreams, to people being able to practice skills and sports. Not only that but lucid dreams can be used to overcome phobias by using the dreams to understand the phobias are unfounded. Lucid dreaming has even been researched as a potential help in treating post-traumatic stress disorder[2] to the (click here to read about PTSD).  

These dreams occur during REM sleep, and this is because parts of the brain becomes reactivated, allowing the sleeper to become conscious of their dreams. Although all parts of the brain are technically being used in dreaming, the parts of the brain that are most involved in REM sleep and dreaming are the hippocampus and the amygdala. But when lucid dreaming occurs, it is thought that the frontal lobes are more active because they are involved in self-reflection and reality testing while dreaming.

So how can you lucid dream? Well, it can happen overnight, but consistent lucid dreaming takes time. I myself have not yet taught myself to lucid dream, but I have had them in the past[3], but after doing research, I found some of the most common tactics that seem to work. The first tactic is writing down normal dreams in a dream journal because the journal will improve your ability to recall dreams as well as help begin lucidity. Reddit user Ecthelions_Bane claimed that after just one month of recording dreams, he was able to begin lucid dreaming[4]. Another way that people have found great success in is doing reality checks. Reality checks have to be performed in real life, such as looking at a clock, looking away, and then looking back at it and reading it again. After doing these reality checks and making them become natural, it will translate over into your dreams, and when you double look at a clock and see that time has suddenly skipped forward six hours, you will realize you are in a dream, therefore becoming lucid.

Can it be dangerous? No, but it can be unpleasant but not in the way one would expect. Surprisingly there is no more mental strain produced from lucid dreaming and dreamers have even reported feeling more refreshed afterwards. However, there are a few possible negative experiences that can occur with lucid dreaming. One such experience can be a false awakening where someone who is dreaming thinks that they have woken up and begin to function their day normally, only to wake up and realize none of it happened. This can be horrifying to live a day and realize none of it happened, or there can even be instances where a horrific event occurs over and over again with multiple false awakenings until the dreamer truly wakes up. Another negative experience could be as a result of lucid dreams giving you access to your subconscious mind. Because you can access this subconscious, you are able to relive memories that you have experienced, some of which may be locked away, and for good reason (this is quite unlikely). However, there are other fun things to do with your subconscious, like asking questions that can lead to betterment as an individual or overall quality of life. One question that you can ask your subconscious in a lucid dream is “what makes me the happiest?” and chances are you will receive an answer of what truly makes you happy. The response is not necessarily auditory and can be simply an image, or maybe you will be transported to a location or a time in your life.

Overall, lucid dreaming is a safe activity that has many benefits and is just a fun experience in general. Although lucidity is not easily achieved for most, your mind can be trained to make them a more common occurrence which can be an effective tool for practicing life skills, self-understanding, and can improve creativity. Be patient and do not try to force yourself to do so; just follow some of the techniques in this article, and you should be lucid dreaming before you know it! 





[3] I tried to see how well my brain could render a tree!




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