In our waking life, we normally experience several levels of awareness. We can be fully self-aware and conscious, partially self-aware, or unconscious. Just as in waking life, there may be different levels of awareness in dreaming. The goal of lucid dreaming is to develop the ability to become conscious enough in a dream to be aware that you are dreaming and to interact with your dreams to affect desired outcomes. Having the ability to lucid dream creates positive effects in your waking life of feeling more empowered and self-confident to interact with the content and process of living in your daily life. Here are some of the tools for lucid dreaming and a self-hypnosis process you can use to program yourself to have and activate lucid dreaming skills. You will combine these new skills with the basic skills of doing dream work. My previous articles on dreams, "Dream Work and Hypnosis" and "Self Hypnosis for Dream Incubation", will give you basic guidelines for remembering and journaling your dreams.
Lucid Dreaming Skills
The first skill of lucid dreaming is mindfulness. It begins by asking yourself, when in a dream, "Am I dreaming?" Here are some specific things you can do after asking the question, "Am I dreaming?"
Look at a watch, and look again. In dreamtime the numbers or face of the watch may have strange numbers, images or be distorted. Or, look at your hands. In a dream they may not be recognizable as your own. Or, look in a pool of water, a window or mirror to see your reflection. In a dream the reflection is often distorted, blurred or unrecognizable. Or reading something in a dream may have content or writing that changes while you read.
You can prearrange and hypnotically practice using a symbol in your dream as a signal that you are dreaming. One dreamer, Susan, uses her power animal, a butterfly, as a cue to realize that she is dreaming. An experienced lucid dreamer, Jay, uses the sound of his favorite instrument, a flute, as a clue to become aware that he is in a dream. Choose a signal or cue for yourself and practice responding to it in your self-hypnosis for lucid dreaming.
If an anomaly occurs in your dream, you can use it as a signal that you are dreaming. For instance, experiencing that your body is flying; grooming a bear; exploring Saturn in a convertible; or playfully swimming in a pool with sharks; would be good indicators that you are having a dream.
The second skill of lucid dreaming, is being able to recognize dream signals that let you know that you are dreaming. One way to recognize your dream signals is to look carefully at your past dreams for themes or patterns, things that commonly re-occur in your dreams. For instance, do you have dream themes of doing activities like talking on the phone to someone who has passed, or cleaning house, or planning a class you will teach, or playing catch at a particular beach? Recognizing your dream signals will help you remember your dreams and can be a cue to ask yourself 'am I dreaming? Practice asking yourself this question during the day to become more lucid in your wakeful state and you will condition yourself to ask the same question and become lucid in your dreams. By comparing your wakeful perceptions to those in dreams, you will begin to notice distinctions, intrinsic to wakeful versus dream reality.
Sometimes dreamers awaken from a lucid dream prematurely. Stephen LaBerge, a well known lucid dreamer researcher, proposes two ways to prolong a lucid dream: The first is to rub your hands in the dream to activate the brain in producing the sensation of rubbing hands rather than the sensation of lying in bed coming into awareness. The second is to spin your dream body to engage the brain in activating rapid eye movement which can extend a phase of rapid eye movement sleep, the state of sleep consciousness most directly related to lucid dreaming. In hypnosis you can skill rehearse successfully using all of these lucid dreaming tools so that when you are in the dream state they will be more readily available in dream consciousness and you will be more able to access the skills.
About Self Hypnosis for Lucid Dreaming
Using self-hypnosis will help you amplify your intention and cultivate your skills for lucid dreaming. In a hypnotic state, you can program mindfulness and rehearse the lucid dreaming skills you want to use to become interactive in your dreams. Using self-hypnosis before you go to sleep, you can program your subconscious with suggestions, and hypnotically practice asking, "Am I dreaming?" You can program yourself with the suggestion, "the next time I dream ______________ (fill in the content of your common dream theme) I will become aware that I am dreaming." You can also have a hypnotic dream in which you practice all the skills of lucid dreaming and you experience what it will be like to have mindfulness and be interactive in your dreams.
Before doing the self-hypnosis process, take some time to write down some suggestions for lucid dreaming that you will give yourself. Write the suggestions using the pronoun "I" and in present tense. Keep the language in your suggestions positive and simple. Here is a basic induction and outline for self hypnosis. Read the script over several times to become familiar with the sequence of the process or record it with your own voice to listen to while in bed. When doing the self hypnosis, go slowly through the process to allow time for your inner responses.
Self Hypnosis for Lucid Dreaming
Be persistent and patient in using this self-hypnosis and you will cultivate the skills, benefits, and joys of lucid and interactive dreaming into your dreamtime.
Lie in bed after preparing for sleep. If you are comfortable to do so, lying on your back is ideal because your body is open and receptive.
Close your eyes.
Take a few deep, clearing breaths.
Imagine that you are walking down a path in nature. Each step will support your relaxing and letting go.
Take in the details of your surroundings. See, hear and feel as you move down the path. Have fun exploring with all of your senses.
As you continue to walk on the path, notice a growing sense of relaxation and comfort.
At some point you discover a bench where you can sit and rest. You close your eyes while you rest and as you relax even more, you begin to have a dream. Let the dream unfold.
You ask yourself, "Am I dreaming?"
You look down at your hands or you use any of the other actions to check if you are dreaming.
The signs that you are dreaming are clear and you become interactive in your dream.
Once you are aware that you are lucid dreaming, you rub your hands together or begin spinning, knowing that these dream activities will support you staying in the dream state so you may continue to lucid dream.
You give yourself all of the positive suggestion you want to support this hypnotic experience in transferring into your dreamtime. The more you use self hypnosis for lucid dreaming, the easier it is to activate the skills while dreaming.
Now, you naturally move from this hypnotic dream into sleep and lucid dreaming.
When you awaken in the morning, to reinforce your commitment and intentions to lucid dream, you journal your dreams.
Holly Holmes-Meredith is a Doctor of Ministry and a licensed Marriage family Therapist who trains hypnotherapists at HCH Institute in Lafayette CA. Learn more about hypnosis and its many therapeutic uses by reading her other blogs on Past life Therapy, Spirit Releasement Therapy, Manifesting your dreams and more.
Visit www.HypnotherapyTraining.com to learn about HCH Institute and its California state approved and registered certification trainings and classes for personal growth in hypnotherapy, energy therapy and parapsychological studies. And listen to her pod cast and samples of Holly's Hypnosis CDs which are available on-line.