The endless possibilities of a conscious dreaming experience drive people to go to great lengths to achieve and master the ability. It's like a giant sandbox with your own rules, laws, and exciting activities to undergo.
However, the journey of learning the craft can be long and frustrating. Classic methods of recording one's dreams and performing reality checks may prove insufficient for some, leaving them longing for the lucid dream that never comes.
Patience that's unrewarded may easily run out after weeks and months of practice that does not yield any results – and in turn, encourage to quit before actual achievements.
After all, just as some people are more susceptible to hypnosis, the same can be said about the practitioners of lucid dreaming, right?
While it is true that some will find their ability to lucid dream almost inherently present within them while others struggle immensely, we stand by our claim that nobody lacks the power of will and dedication to have such an experience.
The struggle to succeed makes the accomplishment that much rewarding when it finally does happen.
However, that doesn't mean you need to keep trying the same methods in hopes of finally breaking through. There are many different techniques to have a lucid dream, and we are here to explore the variety. Let's dive in.
1. Wake Back To Bed (WBTB)
This technique may prove to be key in having your first lucid dreaming experience. The method works more as a medium to prepare for entering a lucid dream more successfully rather than means of doing it.
It may be extremely difficult to consciously travel into the dream world from a waking state right after going to bed. As you probably already know, sleep occurs in cycles, each lasting approximately 90 minutes. These cycles, in turn, go through 4 stages of sleep. The REM stage is the most important for us, as dreams usually occur in this state, so we will not dwell on the others.
To enter the REM stage, your mind first needs to go through other stages of sleep. Try and enter the dream world right after going to sleep. You'll most likely find yourself failing to keep your lucid awareness and will simply fall asleep, or you'll stay alert but unable to transcend the awake state even if you follow every lucid dreaming-inducing technique to the letter.
If, however, you wake up just before entering the REM stage and try to enter the dream world afterward, there's a much higher chance of succeeding.
For this reason, the WBTB technique is very popular among lucid dreamers. The key to this method is waking up 3-5 hours after going to bed, keeping your mind occupied for 15-60 minutes, and then going back to sleep to induce a lucid dream. It is usually paired with one of the other techniques, which we will discuss further.
Finding out which of the time frames works best for you is crucial. The duration of sleep cycles and the stages within them vary from person to person. It's best to experiment and find out when it is best to wake up for you specifically. How long you need to stay alert before going back to bed may differ as well.
The most optimal time frame seems to be 20 minutes. It would be best if you occupied your mind with staying focused and alert for the time being but not excite it too much. Then, proceed to induce a lucid dream with a technique of your choice.
2. Anchor Technique
Just like a real anchor allows a ship to stay in place in the ocean, this technique helps the mind stay awake while the body drifts off. And no, you won't have to attach a heavy piece of metal to your head.
When going to sleep, find a sound (preferably monotonic) to focus on. It could be a ticking clock or a piece of relaxing music that goes on loop. Try and attach your awareness to this anchor and slowly drift off to the dream world. You may (and probably will) notice your thoughts drifting off simultaneously, so try to control your awareness as much as possible.
Linger on the repeating sound and keep reminding yourself it's your anchor to stay conscious and lucid.
If you follow the guidelines, you will notice the sound begin to distort. It may appear to be more distant or stopping altogether before coming back. It is a sign that you're entering a dream state, and you should let it happen while maintaining your alertness. The anchor did its' job, and now it's time to let go of it. Drift off into the lucid dream you've been waiting for.
3. Focus Induced Lucid Dream (FILD)
This one is quite similar to the Anchor Technique. Rather than attaching your awareness to a particular sound, try focusing on a physical sensation instead. The most common way to do this is to keep awareness of your fingers, particularly your index finger and thumb. Focus your attention on these fingers and keep moving them. This method grounds your awareness in the conscious state while allowing the body to drift off into sleep.
The technique may also prove to be more efficient if you pair it with a reality check.
Choose a narrow time frame (30-60 seconds) and pinch your nose to stop the airflow. Now, try to breathe through your nose. If you're unable to, return to focusing on your fingers yet again and repeat the process regularly. If you find yourself breathing just fine with a pinched nose, you can deduce to be dreaming and can now enter a conscious dream. If it fails, keep performing the "ritual" until you succeed.
Although focusing on your fingers is the most common way to practice FILD, you can just as well do it with any other part of your body. Pay attention to the sensation of your toes while you keep wiggling them. Stay alert of your eyes as you keep clenching them. Try out different parts of your body and see which one works best for you.
4. Impossible Movement Practice (IMP)
This technique is among the most efficient in inducing a lucid dream. After going back to sleep, stay aware of your body's position in bed. It's likely that you sleep in a similar position every night, and it helps for this practice if you do.
Think of the ways that your body can't move – for example, bending your knees, elbows, or fingers backward. If you like to sleep on your palm behind your pillow, clenching your fist can also prove to be an impossible movement.
Depending on your sleeping position, you may think of more impossible actions.
Next, keep imagining your body performing the motions that you've deduced to be impossible, all while staying alert. After a while, you may find yourself actually succeeding. That's the indication of transcending into the dream world, and you may then transition into a lucid dreaming experience.
5. Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreaming (MILD)
This technique requires some preparation. Vividly remembering your dreams is essential to the method. That's why it is key for you to record all of your dreams in a journal. It helps to distinguish reality from the dream world and allows you to focus on particular aspects of your dreams.
When going to sleep, repeat a mantra in your mind several times. For example:
- Mind awake, body asleep.
- I will have a lucid dream.
- I am dreaming.
- The next scene I see will be a lucid dream.
Next, try and remember the last dream you had in as much detail as possible. Focus on the things that differentiate the dream from the real world. Maybe you saw a talking animal. Keep thinking about them and try to relive the experience. Do whatever you would in a lucid dream.
Even though it will only be in your imagination, the method can help you smoothly transition into a conscious dreaming experience. You may suddenly find yourself to be actually dreaming, rather than just imagining it!
The technique works best if you have a vivid imagination, but it's not an essential component.
6. Senses Initiated Lucid Dream (SILD)
This technique requires you to pay attention to your senses – particularly sight, touch, and sound. It is key to pair it with the Wake Back To Bed (WBTB) technique. Otherwise, it will not work.
After waking up and going back to sleep, go through the process of focusing on your senses:
- Pay attention to your sight. You do not have to keep your eyes open for this. Focus on the pitch darkness that you see. Do this for 20-30 seconds. Rather than counting, try to feel when the time has passed.
- Next, move on to your hearing. It's extremely rare to be surrounded by no sounds at all. Listen to the wind, the rain, or the clock ticking on the wall. If no sounds are present, you'll likely hear a ring in your ears. Focus on that. Keep your attention for the same time as you did with your sight.
- Finally, focus on the sensation of touch. Feel your body as it touches the blankets. Feel your head as it lies on the soft pillow. Feel as your heart beats and your chest rises with every breath. Do this for 20-30 seconds and move back to step one.
Repeat the process yet again. You may lose your focus but gently return to the practice each time. After several cycles, you may begin to experience various sensations – strange sounds and hallucinations, falling or exiting your body. It's an indication that the technique is working. Give into the novel sensations while trying your best to stay alert. You may soon find yourself entering a lucid dream.
7. Visual Induction of Lucid Dreams (VILD)
Just as MILD, this technique is best suited for those with vivid imaginations.
Work on a detailed but simple scene that you can imagine as vividly as possible. For example:
- I am sitting in my room. I check the time on my wristwatch. It's 2 PM. I check the time again and see that it's 4 PM. I realize that I am dreaming, as this is not possible in the dream world. I step out of the room.
Although the scene is simple, try and add as much detail to it as possible. Think of what you're wearing. What's in front of you? What color are the walls? Build this scenery into your mind.
After performing a WBTB technique, go to sleep and keep imagining the scene you've been working on. It is now your target dream, and you're working to induce a lucid dream using it. Keep visualizing the scene and return your focus if it drifts off for whatever reason. This requires patience and dedication but will prove to be sufficient if you do not lack them.
8. Counting Technique
For those who struggle with creating vivid images in their mind, this technique is a life-saver. Similar to some of the other techniques, you must pay attention and focus on a particular task.
In this case, it's counting. There are several different methods of the counting technique:
- Count from a hundred. Stay focused on the numbers and pay attention as your body becomes heavier and heavier with each one, while you, in turn, become more and more relaxed. 100... 99... 98... ...84 and so on. Keep going, and you may find yourself slowly transitioning into a dream state.
- Count 1 to 10. Similar to the previous practice, focus on the numbers and count to ten. Then, start back at one. This may prove to be more efficient and set a monotonous tone which can help you stay alert and focused, similar to the Anchor Technique.
- Count by 3. Start at a hundred and subtract. 100... 97... 94, and so on. This method requires that extra step of alertness in order to do your math properly and stay focused. If 3's prove to be too easy, try 6 or 7. Find your own rhythm.
If you find yourself losing focus, keep returning to the exercise. Dedication is key.
We hope that these techniques will help you tremendously if you're struggling to have a lucid dream. Try not to get frustrated if you don't succeed right away. Keep trying, and you will eventually enter a conscious dream. The experience is extremely rewarding when you finally achieve it. Good luck!