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What Are Lucid Dreams?
According to research, 55% of people have had at least one lucid dream. Some people seek to have them more frequently, while others take steps to experience lucid dreams for the first time. One way you can experiment with lucid dreaming is through meditation.
What Are Lucid Dreams?
Lucid dreams are dreams in which you are conscious and aware. You know you are dreaming and are aware of your sensations, thoughts, and emotions. You may even be able to control what happens in this type of dream.
During non-lucid dreaming, you see and sense objects, events, and possibly other people. What you cannot do, however, is distinguish between this being a dream as opposed to reality.
Why would you want to lucid dream? Many people are drawn to lucid dreaming simply because it seems fun. Imagine being able to enter a fantasy world, to control it, to feel as if you are there, but to be safe and able to wake up again.
Another big reason people try to lucid dream is to cope with nightmares or sleep anxiety. Sleep and brain researchers don’t fully understand if lucid dreaming is helpful or safe. Some experts suggest that it can disrupt sleep or cause long-term mental health damage.
How to Lucid Dream by Meditating
Meditation is a useful strategy to induce a lucid dream. Keep in mind, though, that no foolproof method to lucid dream at will exists. This may work for you, or it may not. It may work some nights, but not others.
Lucid dream meditation should be practiced regularly for the best results. Studies show that regular meditators have more frequent lucid dreams than people who are new to meditation. With regular meditation practice, you may be able to lucid dream, but you will need to be patient with the process. Start by beginning a regular meditation practice, which will help reduce stress and improve sleep, even if it doesn’t produce lucid dreams immediately. Try these common styles of meditation to find one that is right for you, and then practice daily:
Basics for beginners
Start small if you are completely new to meditation. Sit still in a comfortable, quiet spot. Close your eyes and focus attention on your breathing. Pay attention to each breath in and out for a few minutes.
Sit still in a comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed or distracted. Focus on your senses and thoughts in the moment. Let the thoughts go through your mind without judgment.
Any type of repetitive prayer can be a useful tool for meditation. For instance, pray the rosary, keeping your entire focus on the beads and prayers.
Similar to using a prayer, this type of meditation involves a repeated mantra, often just a sound. Chant your mantra in a quiet place, putting all of your focus on it.
Try meditating while engaged in a repetitive or guided movement. For instance, tai chi or yoga are well suited to focusing the mind and meditating.
As a practiced meditator, shift your attention specifically to the attainment of lucid dreaming. For example, just before going to sleep, meditate on a phrase or a prayer that states your intention to remain aware in a dream.
Pre-bed meditation can also include visualizing your dreams. Meditate on what you want to see, touch, smell, feel, and otherwise sense in your dream.
Other Tips for Lucid Dreaming
Researchers investigating lucid dreaming have found several strategies to be useful in having more frequent lucid dreams. In one study, researchers found that participants who used all three of the following tips increased their lucid dreaming significantly:
Throughout the waking day, check in regularly to ask yourself if you are dreaming or not dreaming.
Wake back to bed (WBTB)
Set an alarm for five hours after falling asleep. Go back to sleep after a few minutes. This should put you in REM sleep, which is when most dreaming happens.
Mnemonic induction of lucid dreams
Also known as MILD, this strategy is the same as wake back to bed, but also involves some focused mindfulness. When you wake up after five hours, repeat a phrase that indicates your intention to lucid dream. Participants in the study used the phrase: “The next time I’m dreaming, I will remember that I’m dreaming.”
Journaling is another strategy that may help with lucid dreaming. Record details of your dreams each morning. This enhances your ability to recall details and may increase dream awareness. You may also try a light timer. If you can set a device to flash a light at you during REM sleep, it may bring awareness to your dream in the moment.
Meditation and lucid dreaming are both about awareness and focus. If you can harness your dreams through meditation, you may experience interesting insights and benefits. Notice how lucid dreaming affects you. If the process begins to cause distress, dial back your efforts.