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How to Have a Lucid Dream? The Beginner’s Guide

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Are you the kind of person who has a million dreams, but is desperate not to be able to control them consciously?

No problem! Here is our guide to help beginners achieve their first lucid dream experience and dream about what they want.

Lucid Dreaming: A Definition

First of all, what is a "lucid dream"?

Defining lucid dreaming is not that simple, as there are many debates about what it exactly is (because, you know, since “ what is consciousness” has been a philosophical debate going on for centuries). But what many researchers agree on is that lucid dreaming is when a person dreams consciously during the REM sleep phase.

lucid dreaming definition

By "consciously", we mean that the person can interact concretely with his or her dream, instead of being a simple spectator as in a movie.

It is in this sense that the psychoanalyst and dream language specialist, Tristan Moir (link en French), defines lucid dreaming: "It is the fact of becoming aware of one's dream. The dreamer takes a step back, and does not lose a critical sense”.

What Is the Point of Lucid Dreaming?

Beyond being a classic dream, lucid dreaming can have many benefits. It helps a person to have an inner dialogue with his or her subconscious mind, which can be very interesting psychologically.

It is not every day that one comes face to face with the subconscious part of one's mind.

Getting Control of Your Dreams Can Do Many Things, Including:

  • To offer better emotional control to those who have a lack of self-confidence;

  • Confront nightmares with full awareness (knowing that they are harmless), instead of watching them in a state of helplessness;

  • To offer an exceptional creative framework. In a lucid dream, not only can the dreamer control his or her dream, but he or she can also build everything that’s going on in it;

  • To (re)discover one's inner resources and to feel better adapted to face certain problems in our lives. People with anxiety disorders or certain social difficulties may find themselves better equipped following lucid dreaming;

  • To train. Lucid dreaming is a great playground to practice various situations, without having a real impact on our life. You can experiment with different life scenarios and imagine their conclusions (for example: telling your boss what you think about him or her, and imagining how he or she might react);

  • To improve one's physical performance. Lucid dreaming can be similar to the "visualization" technique often used by high-level athletes. By repeating a movement in a dream, we help our brain to understand it, to deconstruct it, thus improving our technique in real life.

  • To help treat certain psychological problems. We can think for example of anxiety, post-traumatic syndrome, certain phobias, depression, etc.

A Lucid Dreaming Technique:

lucid dreaming technique

Before Going to Bed:

  1. Before going to bed, make sure to turn off all your electronic devices at least 1 hour in advance. Blue light is known to interfere with quality sleep. It can therefore also decrease your chances of having a lucid dream;

  2. Find a small notebook and a pen, and place them on a bedside table or somewhere that will be easily accessible during the night. This will be your dream journal! We recommend that you choose a blank notebook that you can dedicate to your lucid dreaming experiments;

  3. Set an alarm to wake you up during the night. Try to go to bed early (if possible no later than 10 pm) and set your alarm 4-6 hours later (for example around 4 am);

While Preparing for Bed

  1. Once in bed, make sure you relax as much as possible. Do a little bed meditation session or do some Yoga Nidra positions;

  2. Take several deep breaths until you feel relaxed. If necessary, use the conscious breathing technique to help you;

  3. Close your eyes and think of a dream you had recently. Imagine that you are back in it. Recall the settings you were in, think about who was there, how you felt, etc. ;

  4. Then, when you are well immersed in this memory, pay attention to all the signs that remind you that this is a dream and not the real world;

  5. When you fall asleep, you must convince yourself that what you are dreaming about is a dream and not reality. If necessary, say it out loud: "the next time I dream, I'll remember it's a dream". The idea here is to remind your conscious and subconscious minds that what is coming is really a dream. This is called "mnemonic induction".

During the Night

  1. Dream. Here no problem, it is the subconscious part of your mind that does the work;

  2. While dreaming, try to take a step back and observe your environment. If you manage to detach yourself from your dream "scenario", to be in full consciousness, it is because you are having a lucid dream. To know if you are lucid dreaming, get used to asking yourself “Am I dreaming?”.

  3. Wake up to your alarm. Take a few moments to recall as many details of your dream as possible;

  4. Take your notebook and write down all those details;

  5. Get up for 30-45 minutes. Reactivate your left hemisphere (rational, logical brain) by becoming aware of your environment. If necessary, turn on the light, splash some cold water on your face, drink a glass of water or read a few pages of a magazine;

  6. Then, go back to sleep and repeat to yourself that you mustn't forget to become aware when you dream again.

Upon Awakening

  1. Try to remember your dreams. Then, think back specifically about your last dream;

  2. Reread the notes in your notebook;

  3. Take a minute for autosuggestion. Remind your subconscious mind that the upcoming night, you will dream consciously.

The Importance of Repetition to Have a Lucid Dream

How to dream about what you want

You know, lucid dreaming is not usually done on the first try. It takes practice. You have to train your mind.

So don't hesitate to repeat this exercise several times a week. With practice, you should be able to do it once, then once more, and another time, etc. 

To begin with, you should not expect to have lucid dreams every night. But the frequency will increase as you continue to practice.

***

We hope this guide helps you understand how to have lucid dreams. Feel free to share your experiences in the comments!

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