A Novice’s Exploration of Lucid Dreaming

The experts say it’s easy, the uninformed think it’s phony, the curious find it challenging, and the dreamers find refuge in lucidity. But how?! How the heck do they do it? I’m not here to tell you I know the way, or that there is an easy solution allowing you to author your own dream world. Lucid dreaming is a puzzling phenomenon that many have grasped and countless others struggle with. I sleep with the latter.

My first introduction to lucid dreaming…

Back in high school, 11th grade, my English teacher showed us a film over the duration of a few classes. I fell asleep and so began my first lucid drea… just kidding! The movie was called Waking Life, by Richard Linklater, and I definitely stayed awake for its entirety. Waking Life teases the boundaries of reality and illusion, following a boy who encounters a number of strangers through this waking dream state he is experiencing.

One segment of the movie shows the boy talking with a man, and he is posed with a question: “Are we sleep-walking through our waking state or wake-walking through our dreams?” The man, celestial and in the flesh, shares his knowledge on the lucid experience. Watch in the clip below! This is what prompted my interest in lucid dreams, though I have had only little success, but success nonetheless. ?

What is lucid dreaming?

The most basic definition of lucid dreaming is “being aware you are dreaming while dreaming.” – Dictionary.com

For the sake of keeping the viewpoint of a novice, we are going to work with this definition as to not get too heady with the discussion (but if you want to go deeper, you can). So how does one become aware they are dreaming…while they are dreaming? Well, I like to think curiosity is a fantastic jump-off point. Ask questions (to yourself and others) about dreams and don’t stop, especially because the answers will likely be insufficient. There isn’t exactly a guidebook or concrete regulations that allow one to become lucid. Remember – we are dealing with the greyest of grey areas here.

Dreams are already a muddled up and foggy landscape when it comes to recollection. It is important to be aware of these terms in order to (hopefully) become aware of the dream. Recognizing the state of consciousness, or unconsciousness rather, is the challenge at hand. This opens up a portal to the mind, however, security is on watch and getting through proves to be yet another demanding task.

Photo by Harmonic Light
Photo by Harmonic Light

What happens after I become aware of the dream?

It’s kind of like walking on a tightrope or slackline. You may have stood up and began to balance, but now you have to walk across without falling. In other words, standing up is becoming aware and mastering the balancing act is lucid dreaming. Once you’ve identified the dream, it can be confusing or even scary, at which point many people wake up: they’ve fallen off the rope.

In my experience, I’ve been woken up far more times than I’ve remained in the dream and somewhat in control. But the few times success was found (two to be exact) were seemingly just flukes as I certainly haven’t discovered the “power” to lucid dream on command… yet.

Photo by Marisa Pfenning
Photo by Marisa Pfenning

It appears as though that will take much trial and even more error. But the takeaway from this is the following: keep trying. Get back up on the tightrope and fall as many times as you need because lucid dreaming is a muscle that doesn’t get used often, just like the stabilization muscles used in balancing. Dream on my fellow dreamers!

Comment below and keep the discussion going! Tell us about your lucid dream experiences, tips, tricks, even failures!

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