Individuals embark on their journey to lucid dreaming for many reasons. For some, they seek a heightened state of understanding and wonder. Others use lucid dreams to achieve one-of-a-kind experiences, satisfy curiosities, and/or discover new perspectives about their lives.
Though lucid dreaming itself is a rather complex neurological phenomenon, its definition is simple: a lucid dream is an episode during sleep when the dreamer is aware that he or she is dreaming.
According to lucid dream expert and teacher Guy D. Matityahu of Dream Merchant, "This awareness cannot be defined or quantified. It ranges from a slight sensation – all the way to a massive broadening of the perspective, and features a surprising amount of control over the actual dream on the part of the dreamer."
Mr. Matityahu explains that a proper lucid dream is an experience, one that can help from a psychological perspective to address circumstances involving stress and chronic fear. It is a journey of exploration into an entirely different reality, which is unlike anything one can experience. "Opening up the universe of lucid dreaming will lead to revelations that are impossible to anticipate," he added.
How does a person learn how to induce a lucid dreaming episode? While it can be assumed that anyone who dreams can also have a lucid dream, the reality is that bringing consciousness to the dream world is a rather intricate exercise. Individuals can achieve lucid dreaming through training, which involves developing specialized abilities that enable them to voluntarily trigger a lucid dream experience.
There are three established techniques for lucid dreaming, each named after the method used to inject consciousness into one's dream. The following explanation is provided by Mr. Matityahu.
WILD: Wake-induced Lucid Dreaming. Those using this technique slip into a lucid dream directly from a state of wakefulness. Lucid dreams achieved through this method are extremely vivid and clear, and the exercise can be performed on demand.
The wake-induced lucid dream technique calls for going into a hypnagogic state from a wakeful starting point. Extreme relaxation is key, which is why this technique is best applied after four to six hours of sleep. Breathing techniques and meditation are needed, together with auto-suggestion. Slipping into hypnagogia is followed by the setting of a dream scene, possible sleep-paralysis, and even a type of out-of-body experience.
MILD: Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams. This method is focused on the induction of lucidity within a regular dream. Dream recall is an absolute must for this method. From this stage, the lucid dreamer progresses on to reality checks, lucid affirmations (a type of self-suggestion), dream visualization, and eventually lucid dreams. While lucid dreams using this method seem more genuine than WILD-induced dreams, their clarity may be lacking and they may be more difficult to bring about.
WBTB: Wake Back to Bed. This approach, which is based on the voluntary delay of REM sleep, calls for the disruption of one's regular sleep schedule. This is accomplished by waking up a couple of hours earlier than normal, getting out of bed, then going back into bed, relaxing, auto-suggesting, and attempting mnemonic induction.
The use of a trained dream teacher is often needed to achieve a proper lucid dream using any of these methods.