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Lucid Dreams: What They Are and How to Experience Them - Complete Unedited Sleepopolis Interview

Have you ever delved into an article, only to ponder what essential insights were left on the cutting room floor during editing? Fear not, The Lucid Guide is here to quench your curiosity!


Lucid dreaming eye

The Lucid Guide is committed to providing our readers with full, unedited access to any interviews conducted for other media outlets or publications.


Today, we present you with the exclusive and uncut interview of lucid dreaming expert Daniel Love, as shared with Sleepopolis for their captivating article, Lucid Dreams: What They Are and How to Experience Them.


Dive in and uncover a wealth of knowledge, straight from the source:



a woman lucid dreaming

1. What is lucid dreaming?


Lucid dreaming is a somewhat misunderstood and often misrepresented subject, but it's certainly one of the most fun and interesting things you can do in bed!


Lucid dreaming is a unique hybrid state of consciousness that occurs during REM (dreaming) sleep. A lucid dream is when a dreamer has the following traits during a dream: they know they are dreaming, understand what that knowledge means (that the entire world of dreams is an illusion), and have mental faculties similar to that of an awake mind, such as critical logical thinking.


A lucid dream can occur in two ways: a dreamer can realise they are dreaming during a normal dream, or less commonly, one can fall asleep consciously while maintaining awareness.


Many people will have spontaneous lucid dreams throughout their lives, often this is common in our childhood and teens, and the quality of lucidity can range from a vague sense that one is dreaming (which technically isn't a true lucid dream, but is related) all the way up to feeling as if one has "woken up" in an entirely different universe.


When lucid, a dreamer may choose to control the nature of the dream, but dream control itself is not a defining characteristic of lucid dreaming, and this can allow for all manner of fascinating and otherwise impossible adventures and wish fulfilment.


So, if you've ever wanted an entirely realistic experience of travelling into outer space, visiting the past or future, or hanging out with any famous people you'd like, lucid dreaming can offer exactly this and much more!


Importantly lucid dreaming is a scientifically verified and learnable skill, and it's my role as a lucid dream teacher and author to help others unlock this wonderful and exotic state of mind.



lucid dreaming steps


Can you walk us through the steps to lucid dreaming?


Lucid dreaming, like any other complex skill, takes time and patience to learn. So, there are no single "hacks" that will guarantee lucid dreams (and be very wary of anyone claiming otherwise!), but there are steps one can take to slowly but surely unlock the world of dreams.


Most people can experience a lucid dream within the first three months of practice, however "mastering" the ability takes roughly the same timespan one would expect when learning a new language or musical instrument. After all, we're essentially learning the language of dreams, and to play the instrument of the mind!



 


The essential first steps for learning how to lucid dream are as follows:



1) Prioritize 7-9 hours of sleep each night:

In order to lucid dream, one must first be certain one is getting quality sleep. The majority of REM (dreaming) sleep occurs in the final hours of the night, so it's important to get a healthy quota of sleep. Without it, learning how to lucid dream will be incredibly difficult.




2) Become familiar with your dreams:

Keeping a dream journal is an absolutely vital and non-optional step when learning how to lucid dream. A dream journal is used to become familiar with the nature of your dreams. In essence, lucid dreaming is learning how to "spot the difference" between waking life and dreams, and of course that's going to be nearly impossible if you do not become familiar with the "personality" of your dream world.


Be sure to record all elements of the dream, your experiences, your emotions, your thoughts, all important details.


Over time you will become considerably more aware of the nature and events of your dreams, and this will increase your chances of spotting when you are dreaming.




3) Learn to question the nature of your state.

We spend roughly 10% of our conscious activity dreaming, so this means that any given experience has a 1 in 10 chance of being a dream.


With this knowledge in mind, would-be lucid dreamers learn to regularly question their state, seriously asking themselves "Could this be a dream?".


We do this whenever waking life events resemble dreams, even if only slightly. This could either be through peculiar events, strong emotions, coincidences, or whenever anything happens that is similar to the nature of your dreams (which one establishes by keeping a dream journal!).


By building this habit, eventually it will transfer into the dream world and you'll ask the question within a dream, and hopefully you'll realise you're dreaming!




4) Testing your state

When things occur that are dreamlike, you can (and should) also perform certain tests to establish if you are dreaming.


Never rely on your gut-feeling, as the very reason our dreams are not always lucid, is because we're in the habit of always assuming that we're awake. We're terrible at spotting the difference.


The easiest "reality test" is to pinch your nose and attempt to breathe through it, during waking life you'll obviously be unable to breathe. However, during a dream you'll have the uncanny experience of breathing through a pinched nose. A sure sign you are dreaming!


There are many other tests similar to this, some more reliable than others. You can find a more extensive list and instructions in my book "Are You Dreaming?: Exploring Lucid Dreams: A Comprehensive Guide".




5) Lucid dreaming techniques:

There are many techniques that aim to induce lucid dreams. However, it is best to not assume that there is a "right" or "perfect" technique, in much the same way that no one piece of clothing is "perfect".


With clothing one needs to dress according to the weather and events, lucid dreaming techniques are much like this; sleep is full of variables, and we must adapt the techniques we use to fit the circumstances.




THE MILD TECHNIQUE

A common technique used by lucid dreamers, should they naturally awaken during the night, is called MILD or the Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams.


This is where a dreamer recalls their previous dream, rewrites the script in their imagination so that they imagine that they recognised they were dreaming during the dream. After doing this a couple of times, they then tell themselves, in much the same way that you would tell yourself to "remember to buy milk" on the way to the store, "the next time I'm dreaming, I want to recognise that I'm dreaming".


This is using something called "prospective memory", or in simple terms, that part of your mind that lets you remember to do things in the future. Once you have performed these steps, allow yourself to drift back into sleep.


There are many other techniques, you can find these over on my website www.thelucidguide.com, or on my YouTube channel Lucid Dream Portal.




6) Be consistent, experimental, and patient.

Lucid dreaming takes time and patience. So don't give up if you don't have a lucid dream the first night of trying.


Remember, this is a skill that takes roughly the same amount of time as learning a language. You'll get more proficient the more time and energy is invested.


Try to learn as much as you can from reputable sources (avoid those who talk about astral projection, reality shifting, or dream healing - these are red flags for unreliable sources) and then put what you learn into practice.




 

Can anyone lucid dream?


Can anyone lucid dream? Are some more successful at it than others? Why is that?


It's not known for certain if everyone can learn to lucid dream. This is a very young subject and there is simply not enough data to make a statement on that with any certainty. However, it is likely that the vast majority of people can.


As will all human traits, there can be great diversity among individuals. Some people are tall, some short, some people creative, others analytical.


The ability to lucid dream is likely to be as varied in individuals as almost any other trait. That said, in my many years teaching lucid dreaming, I have yet to meet a student who was unable to learn. Yes, some people take longer than others, but I'd expect the same if I was teaching French!



Is reality shifting lucid dreaming?


Is lucid dreaming the same as shifting?


No, not at all. Lucid dreaming is a scientifically verified state of consciousness. It is founded upon known and established scientific and psychological principles. Reality shifting, on the other hand, is a very recent new-age belief system that grew in popularity on the TikTok platform.


It is the strange, and entirely scientifically nonsensical belief, that humans can "think themselves into an alternative dimension". Of course, it's an appealing premise, but quite bonkers.


That said, many people may experience a very vivid dream when attempting to "shift" and mistake this vivid dreaming for visiting another world. This is how such absurd beliefs gain traction, a misunderstanding of perfectly natural, but very convincing, psychological hallucination.



Common lucid dreaming techniques


Can you briefly describe the most common techniques used for lucid dreaming?


There is no single common technique for lucid dreaming, in the same way that physical fitness requires a wide range of exercises, lucid dreaming also requires a wide range of psychological "muscle building".


However, the single most important practice is the regular recording of one's dreams in a dream journal. In fact, the very first book written on the subject, way back in 1867 was written by someone who managed to attain the state purely through regular dream journaling.


However, questioning and testing your state, through what is known as a "reality test" (also sometimes called reality checks), is another vital element. See the "how to lucid dream" section for more details.



Why do people lucid dream?



In your experience, why do people purposely engage in lucid dreaming?

Is it just for fun? An escape?


The reasons for people wanting to learn lucid dreaming are hugely varied, but there are a few common themes that seem to draw the most attention.


Curiosity, self-discovery, philosophy and spirituality, are all common themes. Surprisingly few are drawn by escapism, and those who are are soon put off, as the work required to learn lucid dreaming rarely aligns with the personality types that look for distractions. Equally, learning how to lucid dream requires a closer relationship with one's mind and reality, so in many ways it is the polar opposite of escapism.


Many start off with a particular wish, something they'd like to experience, but those who become skilled lucid dreamers are those with the spirit of an explorer or scientist - driven by the chance to explore one of the few untamed frontiers, the inner cosmos of consciousness itself.


The best way to think of lucid dreaming is to consider it as a form of creativity, much like writing. We can use the written word for fiction, poetry, science, philosophy and much much more. Dreams are equally broad ranging, only rather than using words as our creative tools, we explore ideas within the infinitely malleable universe of the mind.



is lucid dreaming difficult?

Is lucid dreaming difficult? Does practice make perfect apply here?


Experiencing a single lucid dream can be very easy, in fact many readers are likely to experience a lucid dream simply by reading this article. This "beginner's luck" is common, and demonstrates the power of suggestion. However, learning to regularly lucid dream is not as easy, and is more akin to learning how to speak a new language.


You'll develop slowly at first, and in direct proportion to the effort you invest. In time you'll be able to speak short phrases, or in other words, have short lucid experiences. Depending on your effort and aptitude, eventually you'll become fluent in the language of lucid dreaming - how long this takes is impossible to predict - but for most people, a ballpark figure of 19 months seems to be the average timespan it requires for reasonable proficiency.


It may take time, but it is absolutely worth it. Imagine having your own genie able to grant any wish. That's the world of lucid dreaming!

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