Saturday, January 31, 2015

Making Sure You're Down the Rabbit Hole

All too often, the dream feels so real that you can’t tell that you’re really dreaming. That can be rather problematic, and instead of jumping out a window to see if you can fly, or shooting a senator to see whether the crowd attacks you or applauds you, use dream signs to verify that you’re dreaming... or not dreaming.

For the practiced dreamer, simple dream signs won’t work, but as you grow more practiced, you will find your own ways to tell whether you are dreaming or not. These in here are recommended for beginners.

Clock and Wristwatches
If you’re wearing a wristwatch right now as you read this, take a quick look at it, turn away, then glance back. I hope you’re awake right now (or I’m really impressed) and the watch should show standard movement. The time will have progressed a few seconds, but other than that, the two sights should be very similar.

In the dream, however, this will not always be the case. Very often, your watch will change between digital and analog, the time may change drastically or be running in reverse, the face may be blank altogether, or you may find that you’re not wearing a watch at all. There are many more variations to this, and they also work for wall clocks and other timepieces. If you're in the habit of checking your phone for the time, it will do as well.

Mirrors
For those who have seen The Matrix, you have nothing to fear: the worst thing that could happen is you might wake up. In dreams, mirrors are unlikely to reflect the world back at you reversed. More likely they will show the world facing forward, or something else entirely. Sometimes, mirrors are actually windows or doors into other worlds.

Go ahead and touch the mirror. Do you see yourself in the mirror doing the same thing? Does the surface of the mirror feel solid?

You can find my experiences with mirrors on DreamCollectier.

Lights and Light Switches
Such a simple concept: in the waking world, flip the switch and something turns on. Flip it again and it turns off. For beginning dreams, more often than not nothing happens when you throw a light switch. Sometimes, a light will come on but it won’t go back out.

Try blowing on the light-bulb. If it goes out, you’re definitely dreaming (or in the middle of a magic trick). Move your hand close to the bulb. If it’s an incandescent, your hand should feel its warmth without touching it. If not, you’re likely dreaming (but don’t actually touch the bulb just in case you’re not).

Flight and Gravity
I’m not going to recommend that you try jumping off a cliff or out your bedroom window. Rather, I’m going to recommend you abstain from any such activities until you’re certain you’re dreaming. Instead, stand still and try willing yourself upward off the ground. Wave your arms or jump if that helps. Be mindful of how far off the ground you rise, and how long it takes you to return to the ground, if you drift down at all.

In the (paraphrased) words of Douglas Adams, flying is simply throwing yourself at the ground and missing. Stand up on your bed. Lean backwards. As long as there is nothing on your bed, even awake you should be able to fall backwards without injuring yourself. Miss. Miss the bed, miss the mattress, miss hitting the ground. Tell yourself you’re going to miss hitting the ground. If you do miss the ground, you’re definitely dreaming (or on drugs, which usually amounts to the same thing).

Summary
There are many more dream signs out there, some unique to yourself and some of these above may not even work for you. As you become accustomed to being aware that you’re dreaming, you will find those that work best for you.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Opening Your Eyes: Methods To Indue Lucidity

There are several different ways to induce lucid dreaming, each of which comes with it’s on acronym, and each is easier for some and more difficult for others.

MILD - Mnemonic-Induced Lucid Dreaming
Even in waking life, mnemonic phrases can be used to concentrate the mind. I myself have used them when playing tennis and badminton, curing my difficulty in serving. This same trick can be used to force your mind to concentrate on achieving lucidity. However, if you have difficulty falling asleep, especially if it is through trouble stopping thinking, this may not be the best method.

WILD - Wake Initiated Lucid Dreaming
Using meditation techniques as you fall asleep, such as tightening and relaxing your muscles one at a time, or focusing on the flame of a lit candle, is another method. However, as you slip into sleep, you may find yourself trapped between states, unable to move but completely aware. There is nothing harmful about this, but it may seem very frightening. This is what is called Sleep Paralysis.

You can find my own successes using WILD on DreamCollectier

VILD - Visual-Induced Lucid Dreaming
As you drift to sleep, think about what you want to dream about. Picture it in your mind. Visualize yourself succeeding, and when you fall asleep, you find yourself dreaming lucidly successfully. At least, that’s the idea. This is another method that may not be the most successful for people who have difficulty falling asleep because their minds won’t stop whirling.

LILD - Lucid-Induced Lucid Dreaming
Lucid-Induced means what it sounds like: you have to tell yourself whle you’re dreaming lucidly that you’ll dream lucidly again. I’ve heard account of people who have used this very effectively, but it does require that you’ve succeeded in dreaming lucidly already.

WBTB - Wake, Back-To-Bed
This is the most effective for me, and I use it regularly, especially when I am having a nightmare, a dream that is taking an unfortunate turn. The few books that mention this method typically recommend that you get out of bed, get something to drink, read something that refers to dreaming, and then go back to bed between 30 and 60 minutes later.

For myself, though, I just roll over. Since I sleep on my side, rolling over gives my mind the idea that I’m switching to the other side of the dreaming coin: I’m going from a victim of the dream to the controller, turning my subconscious on the defensive. Also, it allows me to sleep in the same spot on my mattress, but to feel the sheets freshly, allowing me another metaphor on my assault.

You can find my own successes using WBTB on DreamCollectier.

There are two ways to wake yourself up while dreaming:
First, going to sleep at the same time every night will allow you to learn precisely when you dream. As your cycle through the layers of sleeping (Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3, and REM) is typically very regular, you will be able to set an alarm to wake yourself up while in the middle of a dream.

Second, when you start to feel frightened in a dream, you can teach yourself to wake up. My dreams more often than not start as non-lucid, and then when I return to them, they are lucid. Depending on how much my subconscious fights for control changes how much control I have over the dream, as well as how my control manifests itself.

In my own bad dreams, I have protected myself using everything from god-like powers to bubbling myself. Killing myself has also saved me on more than one occasion, giving me an astral-projection-like experience (entirely within the dream, not actual projection through the real, waking world).

Many books never mention this method, and many of the dreamers I have spoken with have never heard of it.

Summary
The most important thing is to find a method that works best for you, whether it is just one of the above methods or a combination, or something else entirely. I know I’ve covered WBTB more thoroughly than any of the others (only because it is the method that I am most familiar and effective with), and I do recommend doing further research on any that sound like they may be best for you.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Before You Can Get Started Lucid Dreaming

What a lot of dream guides seem to skip is the starting steps. They assume you can already remember at least some of your dreams, except not everybody can.

Some people start with poor dream recall, make the decision, conscious or unconscious, for any of a number of reasons, that they don't want to remember their dreams, and after perpetuating that decision, they stop remembering them all together.

This doesn't mean you've stopped dreaming. Everybody dreams.

There's a simple enough countermand. You just have to decide you want to start remembering your dreams again.

I'm not going to tell you it will happen right away, because it won't. It will take time. I'm also not going to tell you when the details finally start to come in that they're going to vivid, or that they're going to linear, or that they will make sense. The first details that start to come in might not even be images or words: you might get scents, or colors, or emotions, or textures. Regardless what it is that you get, record it.

Now, most people say "Keep a dream journal." Essentially, that is true: you should keep a record of what impressions you have when you wake up, which is a quiet message to your brain telling it to remember those sorts of things, and not let them slip away like it's used to doing. Regardless what level of a dreamer you are, regardless whether recall comes to you naturally or not (some people are just that lucky), you should keep a record of your dreams.

But calling it a "journal" sometimes seems to imply like you're writing a story or keeping a diary or a shopping list of all the things that happened in the dream, and it's not like that at all. You can draw in your "journal;" you can have building plans in your "journal;" you can record scents, textures, sounds, you can have three-dimensional designs that you've built in a CAD program. The nature of the material in the "journal" isn't important, the matter of whether or not you have one is.

If you'd like an example of a dream journal, you can find mine at DreamCollectier.blogspot.com.