Talk on lucid dreaming has been steadily on the rise within the last few decades, and for good reason. With talk of spiritual and mental exploration and growth, traveling to other dimensions and not being traumatized by nightmares again sounds like something we’d all enjoy doing.
But the real question is, is it just a figment of the imagination that has been taken to the extreme by metaphysical enthusiasts, or is it real and genuinely possible? And even so, how can we accomplish it? In this guide, we will go more in-depth and answer the question that so many want the answer to and more.
What is Lucid Dreaming?
When the average person dreams, the events and scenarios that are being played out before them is out of their control. We can’t differentiate what is real and not, which is why nightmares are so unbearable to us. And, once it’s over, we hardly ever can recall what happens, with only the feeling we experienced being left behind.
On the other hand, lucid dreaming is the ability to be aware that you are dreaming while you are dreaming. Some have even gone past the awareness level and gained control over the narrative within it, while others have merely realized that they were dreaming and woke themselves up.
The reason why so many have been skeptical about this occurrence is that, until recent times, there was limited research on the topic. In the past, the only thing that people could go off of was the memory of the people that claimed they had experienced it, which can make anyone scratch their head. But there is now evidence that it is a very real phenomenon.
The Scientific Lowdown
Dreaming occurs during the REM stage of sleep, which stands for rapid eye movement, and is also the stage where a quickened pulse and fast-paced breathing occurs.
During this stage, the front part of the brain, the frontal lobe, is almost completely shut down, and this is the area that provides you with your sense of self.
This is the main reason why for most of us, it is hard to tell whether a dream is real or not while in the moment. You could have a dream that you were someone else completely, and in the dream, you believe it to be real.
In a lucid dream, there is an increase in blood flow to this area of the brain that is usually offline, which activates and makes you conscious. Scientists know when a subject is lucid dreaming because of this. It is not a normal occurrence when areas of the brain that are inactive during the REM stage of sleep to be reactivated.
One of the first scientists that made a breakthrough and proved that lucid dreaming could indeed be scientifically proven was Keith Hearne in the ‘70s. He found a way to communicate with a subject while he was sleeping to show that he was conscious.
This is done through the eyes by telling the subject to perform a sequence of eye movements, as this is the only part of the body that is not affected by the paralysis the body is put through during sleep.
It was successful, but was still resisted by the majority of the scientific community and wasn’t fully accepted until other scientists like Stephen Laberge performed similar experiments with similar results.
It became more of the truth when, in recent years, scientists have done MRI scans on participants, providing them with a live view of the activity of the brain, further supporting the theory. If you are still skeptical about whether lucid dreaming is real, there is always the option of trying it for yourself.
How to Lucid Dream
If you are not one of the lucky 20% of the population that reportedly lucid dreams naturally, you may need a little help in inducing it and experiencing it for yourself. The first thing that you need to do is practice mindfulness while you are awake.
The main reason why so many of us aren’t able to lucid dream is that we are more like robots throughout the day. Being in autopilot for the majority of the time, we are barely able to differentiate reality and make-believe when it is right in our face.
Mindfulness brings you into the present moment and allows you to incorporate awareness into your daily life, making it easier to achieve while you are sleeping. Keeping a dream journal is also a great way to start so you can keep track of what is happening in your dreams, bringing even more awareness. It’s best to write them down as soon as you wake up to ensure you don’t forget.
The next thing to do when it is near the time that you are going to sleep is to meditate before bed. This calms the mind and puts you in a state of relaxation. It will be much harder to accomplish the task if you are entering the dream state anxious, nervous, or with any other negative emotion.
After that, ensure that you have two alarms set on your phone, one to wake you up 3 to 6 hours ahead to wake you up right at the lightest stage of sleep, depending on your sleeping cycle, and the other 5 to 10 minutes after the first with very soft nature sounds.
After the first alarm goes off, go back to sleep. Before doing so, reaffirm to yourself that when the second alarm goes off, you will be in a lucid dream. When the second goes off, you will slowly move away from the noise while continuing to affirm that you are dreaming, holding onto the awareness, and then it will eventually happen.
This method is called the Rausis method, created by the psychotherapist John Rausis. The great thing about lucid dreaming is that there are many tried and true methods out there to choose from, so even if this one may not work for you, there are others to try out to be able to prove this phenomenon for yourself.
With the amount of scientific evidence that has been developed in the last few decades, lucid dreaming has been proven to be a real phenomenon that a wide variety of people experience, whether they are aware of it or not. Even if these solid scientific findings are not enough for you, there are thankfully many methods and teachings out there from seasoned lucid dreamers themselves.
Be sure to do your own research on the benefits of lucid dreaming, as there are many other reasons to try it out than to prove that it is real. We hope that this article was helpful to you in learning more about lucid dreaming.