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Lucid Dreaming

Sunday, January 29th, 2006 by Erin Pavlina

Download MP3: dreaming.mp3

Today I have a special treat for you, because my wife, Erin, will be doing this podcast, and the topic she'll be covering is lucid dreaming. And this is kind of interesting to me, because lucid dreaming was the topic that she and I talked about the first time we met. I found her knowledge of the subject so fascinating that we talked for about two hours straight, just about lucid dreaming.

So what is lucid dreaming?

Lucid dreaming means that you have a dream and you become aware within your dream... that you're dreaming! So you actually wake up within your dream; you become conscious within your dream. The word lucid simply means mentally clear, and you're able to think clearly and logically within your dream.

This means you know who you are, you're able to access all of your conscious memories, you would know what day of the week it was. You might even be able to know what position your body is actually sleeping in!

So you know that, you, at this moment, are in your dream, while your physical body is lying on a bed somewhere asleep — but yet, you perceive this reality almost through your physical senses. It feels just as real as the real world, perhaps even more real. So you could walk around in it, you can interact with characters in your dream; yet all of this is taking place within your own consciousness.

I've had many lucid dreams over the past decade. My wife was the one who introduced me to it back in 1994 — and she's been lucid dreaming since 1984, so she's had more than two decades worth of experience with this. She's far better at this than I am; but I can tell you, just from my own experience, that lucid dreaming is an absolutely fascinating thing to do... and if you've never done it before, I definitely encourage you to listen to the rest of this podcast, and follow my wife's suggestions and give it a try. I think you'll really enjoy it.

So here's my wife, Erin, on lucid dreaming:

Erin's Story

Hello, this is Erin Pavlina. Yes, I'm Steve's wife and this is my first podcast. Today I'd like to talk to you about the subject of lucid dreaming.

Having a lucid dream means you become aware that you're dreaming, while you're still in your dream! Perhaps you've never heard of lucid dreaming before, or perhaps you've even had one or two experiences. Maybe you're even an accomplished lucid dreamer who can have a lucid dream every night.

I first became interested in lucid dreaming when I was doing my science fair project in 9th grade. I chose the topic of dreams in general, and I ended up reading eleven books on the subject (instead of the required three). I was so fascinated by the concept of lucid dreaming that I decided to give it a try, and see if I could learn how to become a lucid dreamer. It was difficult and I wasn't able to have a lucid dream for probably 3 or 4 months after I began trying.

Eventually, I did have my first lucid dream, and it lasted just a couple of seconds... as soon as I realized I was dreaming, I woke up. But it was very intriguing, so I kept working at it.

The second time I had a lucid dream, I was sitting in a dream car in the passenger seat, and the car was driving itself. Something inside me said, "Wait, cars can't drive themselves! This must be a dream." I became instantly lucid. I stayed calm; and then I pinched myself. No feeling. Then I slapped my face. No pain. I got really excited... and then I woke up.

I knew that in order to stay asleep and be lucid, I had to keep calm. So the third time I had a lucid dream, I was aware enough to keep myself from getting too excited. I was able to interact with people in my dream, while still knowing I was asleep in my bed at home. This dream, the third one, lasted for several minutes. After that, I was hooked.

I started having lucid dreams several times a week, and it didn't take long before I could program myself to have a lucid dream whenever I wanted. I learned that I could also affect the storyline of a dream simply by snapping my fingers, and willing what I wanted to happen. Once I learned how to do that, I started pre-programming dreams I wanted to have.

Let's just say I spent many nights as the superhero, flying around, shooting lasers out of my hands, and saving our planet from the evil clutches of Dr. Doom. My nightlife became really exciting. A lot more exciting than trigonometry, I can tell you that. ;)

More Exploring

Other experiences I've had while lucid dreaming include shape-shifting, which actually hurt quite a bit... but it was still an interesting experience.

I've also experienced telekinesis in a lucid dream (nothing feels quite like moving cups and paper weights around the room with just your mind!) It feels so real while you're doing it, you think you can do it when you wake up... but so far, I haven't had much luck.

Another thing I've done while lucid dreaming is what I call phase-shifting. That's when I move through walls, or I can even move through the Earth and fly deep into the core. It's not terribly pleasant there, but I've done it.

I've also spent a lot of quality one-on-one time with people like Johnny Depp, Keanu Reeves, and David Boreanaz. I've been an active member of the Starship Entreprise Crew, and I've also been through the Stargate a number of times. I've even hunted vampires with Buffy; and solved a mystery with Shaggy and Scooby!

Let's just say, the sky's the limit...

If any of that sounds like fun to you, keep listening.

Why lucid dream?

In this podcast, I'm going to tell you how I became an expert lucid dreamer, and get you on your way to having lucid dreams of your own.

First of all, why bother with lucid dreaming? Why learn it at all?

Well, if the thought of flying around like Superman and having superhuman powers doesn't thrill you, then I'm sure you can imagine other things you can't (or don't) do in your waking life that might be a lot of fun in your dream world.

Nothing feels as good as leaping off of a tall building and flying around in the sky, though!

Speak to your subconscious

The second benefit to lucid dreaming is that you can bypass all the symbolism in your dreams and find out exactly why you're dreaming what you're dreaming. If your subconscious is trying to tell you something, why not ask it directly?

I remember one time I was having a dream that I was back in grade school, and I couldn't remember where my classroom was. (Haven't we all had that dream?)

I became lucid, marched into the principal's office, and said to the startled dream workers: "Okay, everyone just stop. I want to speak to the person in charge of this dream."

They tried to maintain the illusion, but I was firm.

"Look, I know I'm dreaming, so you can just stop all this nonsense. I'm not in fourth grade, I know I'm a grown woman, now I want to speak to the person in charge."

And you know what?

The dream workers disappeared, and someone else came out of the principal's office, smiled at me, and said, "Well, all right then, let's talk."

And I spent the rest of the dream talking to my subconscious directly about what it wanted me to know. When does that ever happen in waking life?

The Last Reason

The last reason to become a lucid dreamer is... do you have anything better to do while you're dreaming?!

You spend seven to eight hours a night sleeping (unless you're polyphasic like Steve). That's your time, your life — claim it back! Do something with that time!

You know that, one time, I was studying for a test... I remember it was on the Krebs Cycle, it was a biology class. I was really tired and I wanted to go sleep, so I programmed myself to dream about the Krebs Cycle. And I did! I had a nice lucid dream that I was studying, and I actually think it helped me on the test.

Now, how do you do it?

Step One

You need to realize that you have four to six dreams every night! If you don't remember four to six dreams every night, then you need to start there. Being aware and remembering your dreams is a really important step.

Every night before you go to sleep, just put out the intention to remember your dreams. Keep a pad of paper by your bed and in the morning, jot down all the dreams you can remember. You don't have to write a lot of detail if you don't want to, just jot down some notes. You should get to a point, though, where you can remember every dream you have each night.

After doing this for a while, you should be able to remember your most interesting dreams days, weeks, months, and even years after you have them. I remember dreams going all the way back to (probably) age 7.

Step Two

To have a lucid dream, all you have to do is become conscious while you're asleep. That might sound tough, and that's because it is. It is a really hard thing to do, so you're going to have to work at it.

The way I did it was to lie on my back, arms to my sides, and try to catch myself falling asleep. Here's an exercise that might work for you; it works really well for me. Do this on a night when you're really tired and ready to go right to sleep:

Lie down on your back and keep your eyes open. Don't strain to keep them open; just look up at the ceiling. Go ahead and blink when you need to, but make it your directive to keep your eyes open.

Eventually, after several minutes of doing this, your lids will become heavy, and they'll want to stay closed. As long as you are conscious, you must continue to open your eyes every time you notice that they've closed... even when you don't want to... even when you realize sleep is just seconds away... try to open your eyes.

Don't jerk them awake — you're not trying to stay awake — just open them easily.

After doing this for a while, you will fall asleep, and not even remember it happening. That's good! You stayed conscious until the moment you fell asleep. You'll take a little bit of that consciousness into the dream with you...

How? I'm not really sure of the mechanics, I only know it works, so try it.

You may need to do this for weeks, but it's easy, and you don't really have anything better to do with that time, do you? This exercise will help your conscious mind to wake up while you're dreaming.

Step Three

Now that you can remember your dreams every night, and now that you can remain conscious until the moment you fall asleep, you will probably have a spontaneous lucid dream. Don't freak out! Too much of a consciousness jolt will wake you up. Try to remain calm.

Once you have firmly established that you are lucid, try willing something into existence... your favorite pastry, perhaps! Enjoy your experience, cause it won't last long... but it gets easier after you've done it.

The next time you find yourself in a lucid dream, you might even try flying. Just do it like Superman. Get a nice running start and leap into the air... miss the ground... and you're flying! Don't be discouraged if you're flying slowly or just bobbling along just a foot off the ground — it's still something you can't do while you're awake. You will make progress the more you do it.

I've gotten to the point where I can pretty much fly at the speed of light. It's a great experience... it feels amazing... it's certainly something we can't do here!

Step Four

Try programming a dream. Think about what you want to dream before you go to bed — imagine the whole dream in your head first.

When you become lucid, start snapping your fingers and will the entire dream that you thought about in advance, into existence. It's your dream and it will respond to your commands if you show it who's boss!

Before long, you'll be having the time of your life.

Anything you can dream, you can achieve... in your dream... instantly!

Summary

So in summary... if you want to become an expert lucid dreamer, and have the time of your life while you're dreaming, follow these four steps:

  1. Remember as many dreams as you can, each night.
  2. Practice staying conscious as you fall asleep, and you'll carry some of that consciousness with you.
  3. When you realize you're having a lucid dream, stay calm. Start willing things into existence.
  4. Try programming the dream you want to have. Just imagine it in your mind first.

Soon you'll be looking forward to going to sleep every night, so you can don your cape and help save the world!

Look me up when you get there!

Until next time,

Dream consciously.