Lucid Dreaming – The Inner World You Never Knew About

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Dreams are a reservoir of knowledge and experience, yet they are often overlooked as a vehicle for exploring reality.

- Tibetan Teacher Tarthang Tulka

Did you know you can use your dreams to solve problems?  Face and overcome your fears?  And even explore the purpose of life?  I didn't, until recently.  But it appears that this scientifically proven practice has existed for thousands of years, dating back to the yogis of Tibetan Buddhism who used lucid dreaming to experience the illusory nature of reality.  So what exactly is lucid dreaming?  It can be understood as the practice of becoming consciously aware during dreaming.  Those that have experienced lucid dreams report amazingly intense feelings of exhilaration, elation and vivid feelings of freedom.  A man from Minnesota for instance, described one of his lucid dreams in the following way:

I was standing in a field in an open area when my wife pointed in the direction of the sunset.  I looked at it and thought, "How odd, I've never seen colors like that before".  Then it dawned on me: "I must be dreaming!"  Never had I experienced such clarity and perception - the colors were so beautiful and the sense of freedom so exhilarating, that I started racing down through this beautiful golden wheat field waving my hands in the air and yelling at the top of my voice, "I'm dreaming!  I'm dreaming!"

- In Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming  by Stephen LaBerge

You're able to control the outcome of your dreams when lucid dreaming.  This means you can fly through the galaxies, bathe in a bath of diamonds and pearls, make love on rainbows (yes, you heard me ;) ), or travel to whatever destination, in whichever era or planet you like.  Basically, the only limit in your dreams is your mind and its level of imaginative creativity.

So, the question is, if lucid dreaming opens up such an amazingly rich and rewarding world - how do you actually become "awake" in your dreams?  You can find out some introductory tips below.


Before you start having and maintaining conscious awareness during dreams, it's important to do some mental exercises.  These exercises will help make lucid dreaming a lot easier to induce.

Experiencing the World 

This exercise will help you sharpen the five senses of sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing.  This in turn, will help your lucid dreams become more vibrant and vivid.  You must practice 

consciousness in order to become conscious in your dreams.  The goal is to become aware of what you experience with your senses.  Every size shade, texture, taste, and nuance.

  • Look -  Attune to every shape, color and movement. e.g. A building, a blade of grass.
  • Listen - Attune to every pitch and intensity. e.g. The wind, a bird.
  • Feel - Attune to every texture, weight, temperature, and feeling. e.g. The soil, your legs.
  • Taste - Attune to the bitter, sweet, creamy, crunchy, smoothness of food. e.g. The sea air, a muffin.
  • Smell - Attune to every odor, whether warm, sweet, bitter, odorous, floral. e.g. Smoke, incense.
  • Become Aware of Yourself - It also helps to become conscious of your emotions, thoughts and breathing.  For example
    "I feel peaceful", "I am thinking about my friend."

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Asking the Golden Question

This is also called Critical State Testing.  It involves asking the question during the day "am I dreaming or am I awake, right now?"  It sounds a bit silly, but really try to justify your answer.  The point of this exercise is to create a habit of testing consciousness in waking life that can be brought over to the dream world.  Essentially, this exercise is about creating a habit.  Soon you will find yourself asking the same question in your dreams, "am I dreaming?"  It's important to plan when you ask the question so that you remember.  For instance, you could always ask "am I dreaming or awake now?" whenever you look into a mirror, climb some stairs, or shut a door.  Planning will help you test your own reality.

Keeping a Dream Journal

Basically, if you can't recall your dreams, you won't be able to remember to become lucid in the dream world.  This exercise is about recording your dreams in as much detail as possible, for maximum dream recall.  It's also about finding peculiarities in your dreams called dreamsigns.  It's recommended that you keep track of your dreams for 14 days in a row before you attempt to lucid dream.  Keeping a dream journal will allow you to collect these dreamsigns, which are essentially unrealistic occurrences in reality.  This will help trigger lucid dreams in the future once you're able to identify your most frequently occurring sign.  Dreamsigns are highly personal in nature.  Your dreamsign could be that the sun is usually purple, or an intimate friend is always a stranger.  Dreamsigns can be many and varied.  For example they could be:

  • Thoughts
  • Emotions
  • Sensations
  • Perceptions
  • Actions (personal/character/object)
  • Form (personal/character/setting/object)
  • Context (personal role/character role/character place/object place/setting place/setting time/situation)

More to Come

Stay tuned for the next article on Lucid Dreaming.  This article will focus on the second stage of achieving the lucid dream, and the indispensable knowledge you must know to maintain, and get the most out of this experience.  If you're interested in knowing more in depth information and research on lucid dreaming, I highly recommend Stephen LaBerge's book Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming.  Most of this article owes its information from this book.

If you've had an experience with lucid dreams, please let me know below!

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  1. mr. nicks says

    just wanted to point out that alot of this is ripped off from the book Lucid Dreaming by Stephen LaBerge

      • says

        Did you read the end of this article Mr. Nicks? I refer to Stephen LaBerge and recommend his book. His book served as an inspiration for these articles, and as I stated in the second last line: “Most of this article owes its information from this book.”

  2. Stijn says

    This past month I had several lucid dreams. (Without trying it, because I’m not good at forcing those things.)

    One dream was a nightmare where I realised I was dreaming. My fear went away in an instant. Another one was earlier this week, when I saw the yellowgreen eyes of a dragon (reptile) staring back at me. No fear, just curiousity.

    Next time, if I remember to think of it, I will strike up a conversation and see how far I can steer what happens.

    • says

      Stijn, that is amazing. I’ve only ever realized that I was in a dream once without trying, and that was when I was about 12 years old and dreamt that aliens landed in my backyard. If you do manage to strike up a conversation, let me know how you go!


      • Stijn says

        So far the conversation has mostly been me, shouting, things like: “What do you think you are doing here?” If this is part of lucid dreaming, how can you have a conversation? As far as I’ve understood, you’d be having a conversation with yourself, right?

        • says

          You’d be having a conversation with your unconscious mind, yes. This can be very revealing and beneficial if approached in the right way. Many people receive long sought-after answers to questions. You’re lucky to have such a skill come to you so easily!

          All the best,


  3. William says

    I’m still new to lucid dreaming. I attempted it a few years ago without success, but tried again this year and I’ve been doing it for the past few months. I still have a LOT to learn and I started with minimal directions. The main one being, just think about what you want to dream about. I myself can usually tell I am dreaming. I’ve never had that problem, but I would always have zero control over what I was dreaming about as well. I still struggle with full control, but I am able to change what I am doing or I can have some basic control of what I want to dream about. Sometimes I will dream something I had zero desire to dream about, but being able to change it up. One example; I was dreaming that I was working in a really crowded airport. Why, I don’t know. It wasn’t a “bad” dream, but I was working in my dreams. When I realized I was dreaming and not actually at work, I stopped working and then started walking around wherever I wanted. I turned around and the owner of Dogfish Head beer was giving away samples at a kiosk. I woke up shortly after that, but I was able to turn boring it to something much better. I’ve been able to have a few sex dreams, but I don’t have the control that I want.

    The best part is, I can tell I am dreaming more often. Almost every night. Sometimes I forget everything right away, but I can tell what I was dreaming about shortly after. I will have to try writing them down more often and using some of the tools suggested. Lucid dreaming is great and I’m pretty new at it and I still have a long way to go. I can only imagine how good it can be if I have much more control of my dreams. I’ve yet to try other worlds, travel, etc.

    • says

      You’re making some exciting progress William. :)
      I still struggle with becoming fully aware of dreams while they are happening, but lucid dreaming is certainly a fascinating past time, full of lots of potential.

      All the best with your dreamscaping,


  4. Luna says

    I was just wondering about this article. What if I can’t recall my dreams at all? Whenever I wake, I can’t remember my dreams, and it seems as though I just slept through pitch black and no dreams. I wish I could, but I don’t know how. How can I lucid dream if I can’t remember my dreams?

    • says

      Hey Luna. Sol (co-author) has similar problems, and finds that whenever he takes Valerian (a herbal supplement) he manages to recall his dreams. I am not an expert in Lucid Dreaming by any means, but you may find this to be one option. I’m not sure whether you’ve heard at all of Valerian, but it is non-addictive, and non-harmful, acting as a mild sedative and relaxant. Valerian can usually be found in any supermarket or chemist for around $6-$10.

  5. Antoine Martin says

    I talked to a friend of mine about lucid dreaming. I was slightly distabilized when she said “Why would you want to that?”. She said she doesn’t want to be able to be control her dreams. Because to her the act of controlling her dreams removes the surprise aspect of them. And I’d be inclined to agree that you cannot really dicypher a dream that you control.

    I think emphasis needs to be put on being an observer rather than an controller. Or rather, being able to know your dreaming, but still not be able to control your dream. So you become a participant

    Any thoughts on that matter?

    • says

      Nice thoughts Antoine.
      It really depends on the person, for instance, some people prefer being able to control their dreams every once in a while for practical reasons (helps them to figure out problems, practice athletic moves, rehearse speeches etc.), while others enjoy the invigorating sensation of being able to do and wish up whatever they desire. Other people enjoy gathering symbolic and psychologically revealing information (as in the case of dream interpretation), and this really requires the person to be a passive observer, as you say. So there really is no one right or wrong way to approach Lucid Dreaming. In the end, it is really dependent on the individual person and their needs. Does this make sense?

    • William says

      The reason for lucid dreaming is to learn the power of the mind and control it. The power of the mind has been completely lost on western civilization. What some people claim the mind can do can sound down right like hippy gibberish. I for one have witnessed and practiced mere basic levels of lucid dreaming, medication, positive thinking, etc and it is changing everything. I will spend the rest of my life trying to control my own mind.

      The reason for controlling your mind is it can effect your health, lively hood, the meaning of life, etc. Lucid dreaming is just a small step, but if you can control your dreams, you get empowered to change your life how you want it.