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7 Steps to Start Lucid Dreaming

7 Steps to Start Lucid Dreaming

Lucid Dreaming is consciously being aware within your dream. When you are dreaming and you become conscious that you are dreaming you can start to control your dreams and the direction they go in.

Lucid dreaming can help with recurring nightmares, solving creative problems, speaking with loved ones who have passed on, anxiety, and problem solving. It can be an exhilarating experience and the feeling of euphoria after your first few lucid dreams can last for days. <!–more–>

7 Steps to Start Lucid Dreaming

1. Remember your ordinary dreams.

A lot of people say ‘I don’t dream’, everybody dreams, whilst you may not remember them you still dream. To start remembering your dreams try this simple technique.

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Each night before drifting off to sleep repeat the phrase ‘I will remember my dreams as soon as I wake up’. Say this phrase over and over until you fall asleep, after a few days you will start to remember your ordinary dreams.

2. Keep a dream journal

This can be tedious but it’s well worth the effort. Even writing a few short sentences about your dream is enough. This will get you into the habit of remembering your ordinary dreams and to start looking for dream signs within your dreams. It can also be a tool to analyze your thought processes.

3. Pick out dream signs

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A lot of your ordinary dreams will have objects or people in them that could act as a cue to you waking up in your dreams. For example if you regularly talk to ‘Elvis’ in your ordinary dreams this is an obvious dream sign and can be used to ask yourself if you are dreaming because you know Elvis is dead.

4. Notice your waking world

To be conscious in your dream world means you have to be conscious in your waking world. That might sound crazy, as you are conscious when you are awake. However what I mean is ‘consciously focused’ . For example you are consciously focused when learning a new task, you are thinking about every action you are taking to get the right steps. When you have learned the new task you no longer have to focus as intently as you did when learning it. Being consciously focused means looking around you and saying what you see, feel, hear, smell and touch and voicing it. This has the added benefit of being in the moment and can help you to inner calmness, it’s almost zen like.

If you start to consciously focus on the world around you, you will carry this over into the dream world.

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5. Ask yourself; ‘Am I dreaming?’

Ask yourself just now ‘Am I dreaming?’. Your obvious answer is to say no, of course you are not dreaming. How do you know? Don’t just say; because I know, try and think about why you are not dreaming. For example you could say if I was dreaming I would be able to fly. When you are dreaming you cannot read text for longer than a few seconds, so try reading text to prove to yourself you are not dreaming.

This again will carry over into your dreaming world and you will start asking the same questions in your dreams which can turn into a lucid dream.

6. Your first lucid dream

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Many people have their first lucid dream simply by reading about it. You might find that you become over-excited and lose the lucid dream however, you first lucid dream will be remembered for years to come.

7. Staying lucid

I have used different techniques to stay within a dream however by far the best one is calming myself down with self talk and dream spinning. If you find that you are losing your lucidity you can talk to yourself to calm yourself down and just start noticing the things around you in your dream.

Dream spinning is when you feel you are losing control of your dream you mentally spin like a tornado to stay within your dream. This is focusing the mind on staying lucid.

Have you ever had a lucid dream? If you have why not tell us about it by leaving a comment.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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