Every night when you go to sleep, your body goes through what is known as a REM cycle, in which dimethyltryptamine is secreted from the pineal gland in the center of your brain, creating vivid hallucinations in the process. From being able to fly, transfigure your body into a sea-otter, talk to dead relatives and ask for advice, or playing instruments that havent been invented yet—lucid dreaming opens portals to new worlds of endless exploration; most of the time, unfortunately, we sleepwalk through these dreams and don’t remember them upon waking.
If at the end of your life you were to look at a pie chart breaking down the time you spent doing things—all the time spent preparing food, waiting at a stop light, dancing, poking around on the internet—the activity that would take up the most space is invariably sleeping.
We spend 1/3 of our entire lives asleep, but what exactly is going on under the hood while you’re asleep? We certainly feel the effects for a good nights rest, and even worse, know the contrary from a night lacking there of, but what exactly is going on and why is it important to you?
An Introduction to Lucid Dreaming
Lucid dreaming is a dream in which one is aware they are dreaming. I’ve had a passion for learning about dreams and the effects they play out in waking life for as long as I can remember. I have been recording my dreams for about 4 years now, and the self-physcosis has led to some various observations and conclusions.
1) Lucid dreams offers a fresh canvass to creative design and problem solving more so than any other technology or means known.
2) Dreaming helps with learning and memory consolidation. Lucid dreaming can lead to a stronger influence and choice in the things your brain ingrains in it’s wiring and remembers.
3) The fact that your brain can produce seemingly real simulation while dreaming implies the fact that similar simulations could theoretically be created in waking life.
What’s Going On During Lucid Sleep
Lucid dreamers have long fascinated scientists with what activity is occurring throughout their brain. During normal dreaming, we experience perceptions and emotions, but we are not aware of them. It is very reptilian, so to say, in how they occurred but not consciously recognized. Remember, 1/3 of our life’s pie charts are dedicated to sleeping. That’s a long time spent in a basal state!
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), scientists have observed the measurable spike in the neo-frontal cortex during the instance of a lucid dream. This is the same area we associate with self-assessment, providing a meta-insight into one’s own cognitive thought. These are the same regions we associate with consciousness; and what we commonly attribute the distinguishing characteristic between human beings from other animals and species.
The difference between consciousness during waking life, and consciousness achieve during dreaming is that in dreams, you have immediate access to creating and summoning abilities. Things like breaking the laws of physics, talking to famous people, learning how to snowboard are all immediately accessible. Could this provide a small preview to what the afterlife is like? A shot of what God-like abilities to create are like? I think so, but we’ll save that discussion for another blog post. For now, let’s get you started on experiencing your first lucid dream.
How to Do It
Lucid dreaming is by no means something that take place over nights. It can take years of practice before someone experiences their very first lucid dream, so know going in that if this is something you are really interested in learning, that it is going to take some practice and effort on your behalf.
The juice is worth the squeeze, though, as you’ll be able to play any instrument of your choosing, meet the celebrities of your dreams, planet hop across the galaxy, and talk to love ones and even those who are deceased for guidance and advice.
The single best way to lucid dreaming is starting a dream journal. This can either be a physical notebook, or a note pad your smartphone. It has to be the very first thing you do every morning. Before checking Instagram, reading email, writing on Facebook, or anything else, you must record your dream.
This will put lucid dreaming as the very first thing you think of every day after waking up. After a while, you’ll start to notice patterns of either dream characters, events, or common themes. These can become triggers in your future dreams to look out for as catalysts to obtaining lucidity.
Recording your dreams will also get you in the habit of putting dreaming into the forefront pre-cortex of your mind. By making a habit to reflect on your current mental state, you’ll increase the chance of striking lucidly while asleep.
The second best thing to do is perform frequent dream checks. This is doing thing like stopping and asking yourself, am I dreaming? Again, what you are trying to do is develop the habit of performing self-analysis on what things your brain is processing, increasing the chance you’ll do it in your dreams.
You can also perform dream checks by attempting to bend the laws, such as melting a cup or jumping. Other methods that work are looking at a clock or some written text, glancing away, then looking back. If the numbers or letters changed, you’re dreaming!
A Future In Dreaming
We’ve heard all the attention on the importance of having a good diet and exercise and taking those seriously, but you don’t often hear people talking about taking their sleep seriously. Why is that if it’s something we theoretically spend 1/3 of our life doing? Instead of viewing sleep as a passive activity that passes over you every night, use it as a moment to practice public speaking, rehearse asking your boss for a raise, or learning a new instrument.
As dreaming becomes more understood, more technology will be developed to help individuals achieve lucidity every night. While there is no telling how far ahead this may be in the future, there us no better way to get started then the two tips posted above.
1) Create a dream journal that you write in first thing every day
2) Perform frequent reality checks
Keep it simple to start with. Read how you can build habits that stick. Reflect back to just how much time you spend asleep. What do you hope to achieve in those hours? Whatever those desires may be, whatever those wishes are waiting to be fulfilled, there is always room to dream a little bigger.