Electric Dreams

The Lucid Bird's Words
The Six Basic Steps to Lucid Dreaming Step 5: 
 Adding Awareness to your Waking Consciousness

Marc Vandekeere

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

  Vandekeere, Marc (2000 Aug). The Lucid Bird's Words: The Six Basic Steps to Lucid Dreaming -- Step 5 : Adding Awareness to your Waking Consciousness. Column. Electric Dreams 7(8). Retrieved December 31, 2001 from Electric Dreams on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams

This month:

Step Five) Adding Awareness to your Waking Consciousness

The Six Basic Steps by Marc Vandekeere

The following is an excerpt from my manual, The Ultimate Lucid Dreaming Manual Basics and Beyond. I hope it can be used to maximize your lucid dreaming progress. If you find this information helpful you may want to check out my lucid dreaming website for further info, tips, resources and more. The URL of my site is http://how.to/luciddream and if you have any questions, feedback or comments, feel free to send me an email. I'm always happy to hear from other dreamers and love to help out. if and when I can, thelucidbird@mediaone.net . Stay lucid.

So now we've come to the payoff. In order to make this material more user-friendly, the information has been divided into four categories, and there will also be an summarized outline at the end of the manual. By getting an overview at a glance, it may be easier for you to thoroughly learn, absorb and internalize all the information. Hopefully, it will help tighten all the concepts into one working whole.

The Process
Section One - The Six Basic Steps
Section Two - Other methods
Section Three - General tips
Section Four - Tools and Tactics

All these sections have one objective - teaching you how to become lucid in your dreams. After you've learned the process, methods, tips, tools, and tactics, we'll cover the more advanced techniques that you will need to know once you become lucid.

The Process

There are many techniques and methods that you can use for inducing lucid dreams, but there are basically two different ways of becoming lucid. You can either have dream-induced or wake-induced lucid dreams. Stephen LaBerge coined the term D.I.L.D. (Dream Induced Lucid Dream) for dreams in which you become lucid while within a dream. By training your awareness, you will somehow realize that you are dreaming while you are dreaming. This is by far the most common way of having a lucid dream, but it is also possible to directly enter a lucid dream from a waking state. These Wake Induced Lucid Dreams, or W.I.L.D.s, are far more rare, but as LaBerge so aptly labeled them, they are quite an experience. While covering the basics we will be dealing primarily with dream induced lucid dreams. When we move beyond the basics, we will be dealing with the more
advanced techniques that will include inducing W.I.L.D.s. There are many methods to induce lucid dreams, but there is an underlying process behind most if not all of them. I've broken this underlying process down into six basic steps that will serve as our beginning regime. Once you absorb these steps and start following them, it is only a matter of time before you have your first lucid dream. In case you are wondering how long it will take for you to have you first one, just follow through with the steps and have faith that you will have one.

According to statistics, the time it takes for someone to have their first lucid dream averages from three weeks to two months, but yours may be tonight so don't be discouraged if you try for a while and don't succeed. There seems to be an obsession in our society for instant results. If you are one of these people, realize that this is one of your first obstacles to overcome. Only one thing is certain - If you never stop trying, you are guaranteed to succeed.

The Six Basic Steps

1) Doing the Mental Prep-Work - see Electric Dreams 7(4) April 2000
2) Increasing dream recall -FOCUS THIS MONTH
3) Keeping a dream journal
4) Becoming familiar with your Dreams
5) Adding Awareness to your Waking Consciousness
6) Linking your Awareness to your Dreams

Step Five) Adding Awareness to your Waking Consciousness

This step alone could be the subject of its own book. It is almost a method in itself, but used in conjunction with the other steps, it becomes an optimal way to learn lucid dreaming. As a matter of fact, the whole process of lucid dreaming is achieved by training your awareness. The idea is to increase our daily awareness in order to benefit from the carryover effects it will have on our dreaming awareness. If you are more aware during the day, you will become more aware while dreaming. There are many ways to increase our awareness, and we will delve into many of them in this section. The handling and manipulation of our awareness will become one of the central issues for the rest of this manual. Ironically, as you begin to exercise and strengthen your awareness you may just realize that you are not usually aware of how unaware you really are throughout most of your day.

Since this is such an important aspect, it is crucial to have a workable understanding of these concepts. The ultimate goal is learning how to apply these principles to create results. First, we will deal with the concept of awareness and then we will learn the practical applications. The term awareness as we will be referring to it applies to your consciousness. How conscious are you? It alludes to your current level of self-observation. How aware are you of your awareness? It refers to your level of mindfulness. How centered is your awareness? It refers to your waking mental state of affairs. How truly aware are you? For our purposes here, these questions will culminate in your dreams when you become aware that you are dreaming by asking yourself, am I aware? And ultimately, am I dreaming?

For many people these reflective questions go unasked and in turn they remain unanswered. Most people were never taught that there are differing levels of awareness nor were they ever taught how to cultivate a heightened sense of awareness. To them, either one is awake or one is sleeping. The fact is that you can be fully conscious, semi-conscious, and not conscious at all in your dreams as well as in your waking life. It all depends on your level of mindfulness, your quality of awareness. Do you ever realize you've been listening to the radio yet haven't heard it for several minutes? Do you ever drive somewhere methodically and not remember the drive once you arrive? How about misplacing your keys? Moments of "zoning out" like this occur when your awareness strays from the moment at hand. It is a result of losing your mindfulness, becoming mentally scattered. You may have been daydreaming or planning your day or truly "in a zone", but the resulting experience is that you were not fully aware of your position in your current surroundings.

There is nothing wrong with daydreaming or planning your day. The point is that we often overlook the transition of our awareness from one moment to the next. The thoughts we have often flutter through our minds without us even taking note of them, let alone actively taking part in their creation and guidance. The point is not to be obsessed with your surroundings but to be aware of your awareness. Becoming aware of your thoughts and thinking patterns is just as important as identifying your dreamsigns and dream patterns. Changing your thoughts will change your awareness, and the idea is to have your awareness programmed and locked on self-observant aware mode instead of running on some non-reflective auto-pilot mode.
It is as if we are normally aware of riding the crest of a wave produced by external factors instead of guiding our awareness ourselves. We often react more than we reflect which leads to automated behavior. We become less questioning which in turn reduces our awareness to what we already know, or think we know. We habitually identify with our position on this crest so that after a while we fail to realize that there even are any other ways of viewing it. We overlook our part in the ocean. We disregard the active role that we play in guiding our awareness.

Try to remain aware of your awareness as if you were a bystander just watching where it goes and how it flows. The longer you can sustain this level of awareness, the better. But it isn't as easy as it sounds, and if you think it is, try sustaining it all day long and then realize how often you lose your mindfulness. The fact is that we aren't in the habit of being aware, but this is a habit that must be changed. How is your awareness flowing from one point to the next? How often throughout the day are you aware of your awareness as well as your position in your surroundings? It is this kind of mindfulness that you need to cultivate. It is this kind of centering and grounding of your awareness in awareness that you need to practice and develop until it becomes second nature, or hopefully even first nature.

Practicing meditation is an excellent way to exercise your awareness. Studies done by Jayne I. Gackenbach, a notable lucid dream researcher, show a direct correlation between meditation and lucid dreaming. People who meditate have a greater likelihood of having lucid dreams compared to non-meditators. Both meditators and lucid dreamers "are able to become "caught up" in an experience, and are aware of their inner thoughts and internal processes." (* Dreamtime,Dreamwork, pg244-45) This could be due to the emphasis put on consciously developing one's awareness. By exercising your awareness, you are more able to be "in the moment", an ability that greatly enhances your lucid dreaming ability. "In addition, meditators and lucid dreamers find it easier to recall their dreams and tend to be "field independent" (that is, they could find their way out of a forest more easily than "field dependent" people, because they are not as easily influenced by people or objects in their environment.)" (*Dreamtime/work, pg 245) Other studies by Alexander, Boyle, and Alexander have shown that both lucid dreamers and meditators "have less stress-related personality characteristics" than their non-meditating and non-lucid dreaming counterparts. Less stress means less stress-related dreams, and that results in better dreams as a whole. If lucid dreaming and meditating have these beneficial effects on our waking and dreaming lives, incorporating both practices into your daily routine will produce direct results.

Meditation and lucid dreaming are intimately linked. By learning more about meditating and practicing it regularly, you will be stacking the odds in your favor when it comes to lucid dreaming. Many of the principles involved in meditation have a direct bearing on lucid dreaming. Meditation can be used to induce profound states of relaxation, and these relaxed states are extremely beneficial for inducing lucid dreams. Also, the goal of many meditational approaches is to silence the mind. Creating inner silence and stopping one's internal dialogue is an important technique we will cover when we discuss some of the methods of inducing lucid dreams.

Meditation also develops the ability to have a detached awareness, an awareness that allows itself to operate like a slightly removed observer. Once again, this ability to have a detached awareness will be extremely useful when attempting many of the lucid dream induction techniques. Meditation also requires developing a certain amount of control over your awareness. Since this is a major prerequisite for lucid dreaming, it is highly advisable to incorporate meditation into your lucid dreaming regime.
Now that you have an understanding of these concepts, the best way to create results is to apply them toward our goal, lucid dreaming. In order to learn to lucid dream, you must be able to differentiate between what is "reality" and what is a dream. You must develop a questioning awareness. While awake you should be regularly doing "reality checks". There are two parts to a reality check. The first part is asking yourself if you are dreaming or not, and the second part is testing your surroundings to verify if in fact you are dreaming or not.

These reality checks should be done frequently throughout the day. The idea is to engrain this habit into your daily routine so that it will spill over into your dreams. If you practice this consistently, it is just a matter of time until you perform a reality check while dreaming, and if you test your surroundings carefully enough you will realize you are dreaming. In the beginning, I would set the alarm on my wristwatch to go off every half hour as a constant reminder to do my reality checks. Another technique is to write one letter on each hand or wrist and each time you notice the letters you perform a reality check. You could use an L on one and a D on the other to stand for Lucid Dream or B and C for Become Conscious. The letters themselves mean very little. It is remembering to do the reality check that matters, and if this is a method you use regularly, it will surely make its way into your dreams to remind you to question your surroundings.

Asking if you are dreaming is the easy part. The trick is to be able to distinguish whether you are really dreaming or not. One word to sum up your analytical approach would be scrutiny. The idea is to look for strange or illogical things that could only occur if you were dreaming, but sometimes it is hard to tell so scrutinize your whole environment for clues and cues. For example, the idea of pinching yourself to make sure you are not dreaming does not hold that much weight in the dream realm. You may actually feel the pinch in your dream, and this may lead you to believe that you aren't dreaming unless you perform other tests.

For some reason, we are much more accepting and much less analytical of inconsistencies while dreaming so performing multiple reality checks maximizes the odds of becoming lucid if in fact we are dreaming. It is also very helpful to always assume that you are dreaming even if the tests indicate otherwise. You should keep testing and keep trying all of the different reality checks until one works, and only after you have exhausted all options should you conclude that you are not dreaming. From scrutiny to lucidity, you will learn which reality checks work best for you. As you get some experience, you will see first-hand how important it is to be questioning and persistent, but luckily with all the recent research into lucid dreaming, reality checks are no longer a hit or miss scenario. Many of them show wide-ranging effectiveness among all dreamers.

Here is a list of the most effective reality checks:

1.) The Common Sense Test: This is the first and most obvious check. Examine your surroundings for anything that should not logically be there. Ask if this could happen in your normal life. Look for inconsistencies. Are you somewhere you have never been before? Are you with people who live on the other side of the country? Is there an elephant in your kitchen? These are the kinds of discrepancies that can spark your lucidity.

2.) The Reading Check: This is one of the most effective checks. Simply look around and find something to read. After reading it, look away and then look back again to reread it. Do this several times. If you are dreaming, the text or numbers will usually change after several glances. It may become garbled or may have changed completely or it may not remain stable while you are reading it. Anything containing words or numbers will work: a book, a street sign, or an address. Many people use the dial on their dream watch. This is an extremely effective technique and seems to work for the majority of dreamers.

3.) The Flying or Levitation Check: This is another very effective check. See if you are able to fly. If you are not able to fly, try to levitate or hover slightly above the ground. As you become more skilled at lucid dreaming, this may become your favorite check, as it is mine. The only downside is that at times you may try this and be unable to fly or levitate, yet you still may be dreaming. Always remember to use this in combination with other checks unless of course it immediately works which in most cases it will.

4.) The Light Switch Check: This is usually a quite reliable check. Find a light switch and turn it on and off. If it malfunctions then the odds are you are dreaming. Try it several times and pay close attention to when it should be on and when it should be off. It usually will not take long before it malfunctions or operates correctly while in the wrong position.

5.) The Memory Check: This is a very effective but largely unknown method. Simply backtrack in your mind where you have just come from and what you have been doing. Keep thinking back as far as you can and eventually you may find that there are inconsistencies in your memory. By backtracking your dream memory, you may also become aware of something illogical that has happened which you had overlooked at the time. You also may find that you have an amnesia-like block that prevents you from remembering accurately. In all of these cases, you can safely assume that you are dreaming.

6.) The Mirror Check: This is not only an extremely effective method but as an added bonus, it usually results in quite a remarkable experience. Find a mirror and while gazing at yourself, ask if you are dreaming. You may become startled by your reflection. You may be younger or older or have different hairstyle or different hair color, or you may even be someone different entirely. Any of these inconsistencies would be an obvious indicator that you are in fact dreaming. Plus, if you incorporate this check into your morning routine you will be more likely to transform any of your false awakenings into lucid dreams.

7.) The Self Observation Test: This is also a very useful check. Just take a look at yourself. Examine your hands, arms, legs, and clothing. Usually you will immediately be tipped off that are dreaming because you will be wearing clothes that you do not own. Other times, simply looking at your dream body will spark your lucidity.

8.) The Penetration of Matter Check: This is not the most reliable method but it has helped me on many occasions. Simply try to push your finger through something solid like a wall or a door or a glass. At first, it may not work but if you believe that you can do it, you eventually will be able to pass your finger right through any solid if you are dreaming. As an added bonus on this check, you are also developing your ability to allow your beliefs to directly influence your experience.

9.) The Gravity Check: This is a somewhat reliable check. Find something that you can throw into the air and catch safely. Start tossing it up and down and you may just find that it isn't obeying the laws of gravity that it should if you were in "reality". To maximize the success of this check, while tossing it into the air try to effect the object's rise and fall with your mind. You could also try jumping up and down to produce the same results.

10.) The Questioning of Dream Characters Check: This may not be the best thing to try while awake but sometimes it can be effective if in fact you are dreaming. In "reality" if you asked people if we were in a dream, their response would be to accuse you of being insane, yet in the dream realm, it is sometimes a different matter. Usually the dream characters will deny that it is a dream, but they deny it in a strange manner without ever questioning your sanity, and in some cases, they don't even understand what you are saying and disregard you entirely. Most dream characters will deny it is a dream, but the key to this test rests in how they deny it. Also, on rare occasions, someone in your dream will admit that it is in fact a dream.

11.) The Friend Check: This is a very useful check. Simply perform a reality check whenever you encounter any of your friends during the day. Whether it is your best friend, your mother, or your pet, whenever you see them take a few seconds or as long as needed to determine if you could be dreaming. Since the odds are that you will often have friends in your dreams, this check is very effective as long as you consistently practice it during the day.

As mentioned earlier, these reality checks should be practiced regularly throughout the day. The more they become embedded into your daily routine, the sooner they will appear in your dreams. If there were one word that sums up what you need to develop in order to speed up the lucid dreaming process, it would be awareness. Working on your awareness will have direct carryover effects into your dreams, and once you become more skilled at lucid dreaming you will realize that your awareness combined with your intent is your passport into the dream realm.