Sometimes we just want to sleep without dreams to feel more rested in the morning. Sometimes, though, it can be incredibly interesting to find yourself in a lucid dream, directing your actions instead of just reacting to the content of the dream. In this way, you can take the material that comes up naturally from your subconscious and work with it in a more purposeful way. So what are some of the advantages of lucid dreaming?

There are a number of benefits tied to learning how to lucid dream. Here are a few that often get touched on when others in the field discuss this particular experience:

  • Work out problems that have you stumped
  • Work through fears
  • Nightmares
  • Possible enhanced physical healing
  • Personal development

Solving Problems

From time to time people have been able to solve difficult problems in the dream state. With lucid dreaming, you can direct your mind to a problem if you can learn how to work with the powers of the dream state so that the natural problem solving qualities that can often be found in the dream state. It was in the dream state that the Soviet scientist Mendeleyev conceived of the Periodic Table of elements. In Mendeleyev’s Dream: The Quest for the Elements, novelist Paul Strathern describes what happened:

As Mendeleyev’s eyes ran once more along the line of ascending atomic weights, he suddenly noticed something that quickened his pulse. Certain similar properties seemed to repeat in the elements, at what appeared to be regular numerical intervals. Here was something! But what? A few of the intervals began with a certain regularity, but then the pattern just seemed to peter out. Despite this, Mendeleyev soon became convinced that he was on the brink of a major breakthrough. There was a definite pattern there somewhere, but he just couldn’t quite grasp it… Momentarily overcome by exhaustion, Mendeleyev leaned forward, resting his shaggy head on his arms. Almost immediately he fell asleep, and had a dream.

Imagine working on a problem and then going to sleep only to glimpse a solution to that problem. That would be pretty cool, wouldn’t it? Since you are already in an altered state of consciousness, parts of your brain that normally are tuned out in waking are now active and can lead to enhanced problem-solving capability.

Resolving Fears

Perhaps you keep dreaming a dream that has you upset or fearful but you don’t know why. Maybe the dream is dealing with something in your waking life that you haven’t fully processed or worked through. Perhaps you are afriad to do something in waking life and you want to work through the fear in the dream state. In dreaming, you can often find novel approaches to resolving fears. Could it be that simple? Sometimes it is. The waking self, when walking in the dream world, can often clear up fears quite easily, choosing the send signals to the subconscious that it is time to dispense with a fear. HOW you do this probably needs to be in the language of the dream self in order for it to “take.” What this means is using imagery that can communicate to the subconscious self that everything is okay.

In the movie The Prisoner Of Azkaban, the students are taught how to deal with a being called a boggart that would manifest as their worst nightmare or fear. The students were required to imagine something that would turn their fear into something silly or ridiculous, which had the effect of disarming the being of its power over the individual. It is tricks like this that the dream self understands and can work with in a creative way to hep resolve the fear.

Nightmares

Nightmares work much the same way as fears, by being able to disarm them in a creative and visual way. It is also possible in lucid dreaming to offer a suggestion to your subconscious to show you what the source of the nightmare is and then wait. The subconscious does not always respond the way that the more literal logical mind does, and the mind also does not respond the same in a theta dream state as it does in a beta or waking state. Sometimes you have to seed the land of your mind with an idea or directive and then be a little patient. You could also visualize the dreams that were most troubling to you as a cue to the subconscious to begin focusing on whatever the issue actually is, but then be prepared to work with it visually and in a unique and creative way in order to trigger the resolution of the root fear that has been causing the nightmares to begin with. Bear in mind, though, that while the imagery can be quite ornate sometimes, the nightmare always comes down to one main root cause, which is fear. So? It helps to be brave and be willing to face your fear. In doing so, this is often like deflating a balloon because most often the fear itself is worse than the thing that you fixate on. It is more about the unknown, and by facing it, you make it a known. There, now that isn’t so scary, is it?

Physical Healing

While some physical conditions are the result of environmental conditions, some are caused by imbalances in the endocrine system. This part of the body is subject to feelings and it can be turned around quickly by sending your body the right signals that you want or will feel better. In sleep there are a number of important processes that take place whereby the body goes into overdrive in helping to detoxify blood and to rid itself of waste built up over the day. This can be a great time to spur greater vitality by sending the body the signals that will help boost immunity (which is known to be closely tied to our mental and emotional health as much as it is to environmental conditions). The formation of emotions, for example, the chemical side, are made up of a series of neuropeptides that literally begin to mirror emotional states. It is like the way the body creates the signs of emotion in the body. If you can hack into this system in dreaming it is sometimes possible to trigger conditions that lead to better health. There is an exercise that I used to give to my students when they felt stressed out (the spectrum of epinepherine, norepinephrine, and adrenaline) that was incredibly simple: hold your hands on your hips like Wonder Woman. Do you know that stance? It has the curious effect of combating fear and uncertainty. The body is being tricked into thinking that you are feeling confident and as a result, the body starts to flood the body with the chemical equivalent of confidence instead of fear. See how that works? It’s a hack, literally so, and it can go a long way in helping to change not just your feeling state but your body chemistry. So in a similar way, you can use images like this in the dream state to also change the outcome of those kinds of dreams. You have to think visually, which is the key. Along these same lines, being able to visualize a different physical state is important. You might imagine seeing your blood as suddenly carrying life-giving nutrients all of a sudden, perhaps a special substance causes them to glow, you don’t need to know precisely what you are after, the imagery will help to trigger those changes deeper down.

Personal Development

There are all kinds of thing that you can address from the dream state. You might want to use the dream state to try and do astral projection. I have used this a number of times and I was shocked just how well it worked. Following a suggestion that Lynn Andrews, who wrote the books Medicine Woman and Flight Of The Seventh Moon, she said that providing yourself with a hypnotic suggestion prior to sleep could be helpful. She said to say to your ego, “Ego, I want you to fall asleep and drift off for a bit so I can do some work in sleep that I want to do…” In my case, I wanted to use dreaming as a spring-board to projection. I “awoke” in a dream to find that a Mayan serpent was floating towards me as I could hear the thoughts inside my head telling me that I needed to project my consciousness into the body of the serpent. Amazingly, I found that I somehow had this ability. I began to feel as if these massive wheels inside of me began to turn, a giant machinery went into hyper drive as I felt the inertial forces building inside of me like a rubber band being slowly pulled back that would be released, shooting me into the serpent. I had some issues that I hadn’t worked through in regards to the concept of this Mayan serpent in front of me and called the experiment off out of fear (I should have worked out the fear, oy!). However, this was a potent example of how the dream state can be used for doing things that you haven’t done before. You can learn to get over performance anxiety by pretending that you are speaking before a large audience, or you can work on something that you feel like you aren’t very good at in waking in order to be better at it in the dream state. There are all kinds of novel “hacks” that you can employ to develop more creative ways around all kinds of challenges. You might want to take a vacation, to visit a sunny location, go to the ocean, or fly over the ocean to another country, for example. In a dream, you can do that. In a lucid dream, you can direct more of what happens.

Techniques For Lucid Dreaming

The first technique for helping you to lucid dream more often is to simply become more aware of lucid dreaming while you are awake. You need to know how it works when awake if you are to bring it into your dream state. Another method is to think about lucid dreaming several times each day and do this consistently over a period of about two weeks time. You are seeding your mind with the idea of lucid dreaming as a thing and this needs to get into the right area of memory so that it has a better chance of being activated while you are asleep. Just thinking about it often greatly increases the chances that you will have a lucid dream soon in the future.

Before going to bed, tell yourself that you would like to have a lucid dream, that once you go to sleep and begin to dream that you will awaken within the dream. Another method that works with the REM sleep cycles is to wake up early, around 4:00 a.m., spend some time thinking about lucid dreaming and maybe even reading about it in order to fix the mind on the idea, and then after having awakened, go back to sleep. When you awaken like this and at about this time in the sleep cycle, your body is still craving sleep and it will be easier to go back to sleep but with the suggestion of a lucid dream on your mind.

Finally, there is a device that is supposed to monitor your REM sleep cycle which will send a series of lights into your eyes as a cue that you are now in the dream state. If you can remember that the lights that you see in your dream are coming form the device, it might be enough for you to develop just enough lucidity to wake up in the dream. This device is called the Nova Dreamer. It has since spawned a number of similar devices, and the reviews on them are mixed. While the Nova Dreamer is no longer being made, there are still similar devices like it out there. The reviews are mixed to negative, but some fans of lucid dreaming have had some success with the devices that can detect rapid eye movement, provides a period of time to get the dream state started before sending a light signal to the dreamer. Will it wake you up? Will it serve as the type of signal that you need for inducing a lucid dream? I have never used the device, so I can’t say. What I do know is that there are a number of devices on the market now and I suggest that you read the reviews and read the specifications closely in order to get a device that will do what it purports to do, that is, if you think using a device like this is for you.

So there you have it. Lucid dreaming is something that when you do it enough, you can get the swing of it over time. We also go through cycles in our dream states where we sleep the sleep “of the dead” with hardly any dream activity while in other periods we have vivid dreams and lots of them. It may be that timing with your cycles could be a helpful way to begin to take a step into this very interesting world of the dreaming mind. Sweet dreams!

~P.