Electric Dreams

The Lucid Dreamer's Manual: Part I

Lee Holmes 

(Electric Dreams)  (Article Index)  (Search for Topic)  (View Article Options)

Holmes, Lee (1996 April). The Lucid Dreamer's Manual: Part I. Electric Dreams 3(3). Retrieved from Electric Dreams July 27, 2000 on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams  

This guide is designed to assist both the novice and expert Lucid Dreamer. It is designed to get to the heart of the matter; if you wish to learn modern theories on dreaming or the definition of a lucid dream, one of the many Lucid Dreaming FAQ's will be better suited to your taste. With the earth's population nearing 6 billion, it is obvious that no single method can work for everybody. That is why I've made this manual multi-faceted: each section outlines several techniques, so you can choose the one best suited to you. If you don't believe in a method, or it doesn't work for you, don't use it!

Step 1: Improving your Dream Recall

The first step to becoming more proficient in your Lucid adventures is to improve your dream recall. As common sense dictates, "If you don't remember your dreams, how can you remember your LUCID ones?" The other reason for developing your dream recall comes from the school of thought that if you learn to recognize the material that makes up your dreams, you will tend to recognize more often (while dreaming) that what you are seeing is dream material. This step is one of the most important ones, and it is often suggested that if you cannot remember AT LEAST one dream per night, then persist with this step until you can. One essential step to dream recall is the analysis of these dreams afterwards. If you notice that a certain "dreamsign" is repeating itself in your dreams, you can use that knowledge to cue lucidity the next time you see the symbol.

i) Make sure to allow yourself plenty of time to sleep. If you are getting a good amount of sleep each night, your mind will be more finely focused towards your goals and intentions while you are sleeping. Secondly, if you are getting plenty of sleep, you will not mind waking up in the middle of the night as much to record your dreams.

ii) Be verbose! While honing your dream recall abilities, an essential step is to write down every dream you can remember, no matter how fragmentary.

iii) Plant an auto-suggestion. Before sleep, tell yourself to remember your dreams. One method is to tell yourself that "In the morning, I will remember all the dreams which I have tonight so that I may write them down". In the morning you would ask yourself before anything else, "What did I dream last night? What was I just dreaming?". Once you have recalled as many dreams as possible, pick up your dream journal and write them down. The only thing that should occupy your mind from the time you wake up to the time you write down your dreams, is the recall of your dreams! This method is advantageous for those who find that they cannot wake up during the night, or find that their dream recall is much better in the morning than at night.

The second method is to tell yourself before sleep, "After each dream tonight I will wake up so that I may write it down." Each time you wake up at night think to yourself, "What was I just dreaming?". After you have remembered everything possible pick up your dream journal and write the dream down, noting the time. When you wake up in the morning, try to recall any dreams you may have missed by saying, "What was I just dreaming? What did I dream last night?". Write any new dreams down in your dream journal. This method has several advantages. One advantage comes from the fact that your brain is spending a greater amount of time on the subject of lucid dreaming than it would if it slept straight through the night. This tends to enhance the chances of a lucid dream. A second advantage is that your dream recall is much higher and more accurate when you awake immediately from a dream. Thirdly, this method lends itself to planting many auto-suggestions per night, such as the "M.I.L.D" method created by Stephen LaBerge.

iv) While recalling a dream, normally a sketchy storyline forms in your head. In order to enhance your memory, try remembering what happened "just before" the part you can remember first, and build your dreams back up in reverse order. Try to remember colors, smells, and sounds as well. After the dream is as complete as possible, write it down.

v) If, in the morning, you have trouble recalling your dreams, try to prod yourself with phrases such as "I was walking and..." or "I was just about to..."

vi) If, during the day, you recall more dreams, write them down and transfer them to your dream journal when convenient.

Step 2: Reality Testing

This technique sets up a critical frame of mind; the more often
you question reality in your waking life, the more you will question it in your dream life. The best way to begin reality testing is to ask yourself, "Am I dreaming?" whenever you think of it. If you ever find that something seems "weird", or you find yourself thinking about dreaming, or find yourself looking at your "anchor", then do a reality test.

i) Set up an anchor. Pick something that occurs often in your life, such as your pager going off, or hearing your watch beep on the hour. When your anchor occurs, it will be your cue to do a reality test. ii) Do reality tests. Whenever it occurs to you, ask yourself the question: "Am I dreaming?" The secret to asking this question is to truly think about it. Look around for anything out of place. Try to change something (make your watch go backwards, for example.)

There are several ways to test your reality, and here are two that work well:

"Past Recall Method", created by Lee Holmes
In this method, when you wish to do a reality check, or suspect that perhaps you are dreaming, attempt to recall your actions in the past few hours. I have always found that I do not have a past in my lucid dreams, or I've got a past that defies reality. (Ie: I just got back from an alien convention) In normal life, your past makes complete sense, so it is obvious that you are not dreaming.

"Hand Breathing Technique", created by James L. Guinn
In this method, you test your reality by attempting to breathe through your hand. Obviously, in waking reality this is impossible if you attain a proper seal. In dream reality, however, one CAN breathe through their hand, even if a proper seal is attained. To use this method, simply squeeze your nose between the sides of your thumb and index finger, and cover your open mouth with the palm of your hand. With a proper seal, the only time you will be able to inhale will be when you are dreaming.

"Control the Unchanging", created by Lee Holmes
The purpose of this method, simply, is to change something that should not be alterable in normal waking reality. Two tests I use are attempting to change the sunlight (reverse night and day), and trying to stop my heart. When stopping your heart, place your hand on the middle-left hand side of your chest. You can feel your heartbeat so try to stop it by force of will. Since it is an autonomic process, you will only be able to change it in your dreams.

iii) If you are SURE that you are not dreaming, then ask yourself, "what would it be like if I were dreaming?" and visualize yourself acting as though you were dreaming. Visualize yourself bending a lamp post, for example. Take this chance to mess around with reality and visualize yourself doing other things as well.
iv) After your reality-bending, pick something you would like to do in your next lucid dream. Visualize yourself flying, for example. You must attempt to visualize every possible detail; the wind on your face, the trees beneath you, and the sky above you. Say to yourself, "The next time I am (flying, etc), I will KNOW I am dreaming."

One reality test that works particularly well is the process of remembering your past. In most dreams, by trying to remember what has occurred over the last few hours, you will realize that your memory of them is non- existent. The realization of this will trigger lucidity.

Step 3: Adopt a Sleep Schedule

In recent research done by The Lucidity Institute, it has been determined that certain patterns of sleep are favorable for lucid dreaming. In their studies, they found that altering your sleep schedule so that you wake up an hour early, read for an hour, then nap for an hour greatly increases your chances of having a lucid dream. In their studies, they found that lucid dreams occurred 10 times more often in the early morning "naps" then they did in the preceding night-time sleep. This may be partially due to the increased amount of REM activity in the latter portions of the night, but one cannot disagree with favorable odds! As with waking during the night, this method also lends itself to increasing lucidity further. If, for example, the material you read during your wakefulness is related to lucid dreaming, your chances of having a lucid dream will increase as well. Additionally, the M.I.L.D technique to be discussed in Step 4 lends itself to this method (and is recommended).

Another sleep schedule, recommended by Seth (through Jane Roberts), recommends a 2/2/4 type shift. The sleep periods are most effective when spread evenly throughout the day, so this method lends itself almost implicitly to the self employed or those between jobs. When the sleep periods are distributed this way, it gives you two benefits: one is that your dream recall is increased (consistent with waking up after each dream at night), and the second is that the Lucidity Institute has found a greater chance of lucid dreaming during naps than during normal night-time sleep. (As mentioned above.)

Next issue - Techniques for inducing Lucid Dreaming!