Today we're going to explore one of the most powerful and a uniquely social lucid dream induction techniques. It's also a lot of fun.
This is a great place to start lucid dreaming and is one of the most effective methods available.
It's perfectly suited to those who are new to the subject - who want their first taste of a lucid dream - but also offers a great deal of room for experimentation for experienced dreamers.
This is a technique that isn't often discussed, as it does require a little preparation. But when the circumstances are right, it offers room to explore lucid dreaming in a great deal more depth than other methods.
It's essentially your own miniature sleep laboratory!
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Here's the full video transcript...
Overview – Partner Assisted Lucidity (PAL)
If we're completely honest, lucid dreaming isn't really known for being the most social of interests. In fact, often it's a lone pursuit - just you, your dream journal and the landscape of your mind.
But this technique called PAL (or Partner Assisted Lucidity) breaks down that wall and turns lucid dream exploration into a social event.
Now to be fair, the strength of this technique is also its weakness. It requires working with a partner -something that may not always be suitable for your circumstances.
So, don’t consider this a personal technique for nightly lucid dreaming. Instead think of it as a power technique that can be used occasionally and with great effect.
So, if you get the chance, it's well worth putting in the effort.
The information and feedback that you'll gain will far outweigh the effort involved – and it's also just a lot of fun.
There's a good scientific basis behind the process. So before we get into the technique itself, it's important to understand the principles behind it.
The scientific principals
Essentially (and without wanting to get too technical) studies have shown that in standard, non-lucid dreams a section of your brain called the prefrontal cortex is mostly shut down or subdued.
However, in a lucid dream, the activity of the prefrontal cortex is very similar to that when awake.
Therefore, it could be argued that in order to have a lucid dream we need to “kickstart” the prefrontal cortex to "wake it up" while still dreaming.
The prefrontal cortex is at the front of the brain, basically just behind your forehead.
To overly simplify its role, think of it as the seat of reason, logical thought, complex cognitive behaviours, personality expression, decision making and (importantly in the case of this technique) moderating social behaviour.
In essence, this is the "modern" area of the brain, where a great deal of what differentiates humans from the animal kingdom occurs.
So why is this important?
Well, when attempting to induce a lucid dream, we're trying to activate an area of the brain that is normally dormant in dreaming. And we know that among its functions is the moderation of social interactions.
So, we can make an assumption that if we place ourselves in a situation that requires these social functions, then we'll have an increased chance of engaging that entire area - and hopefully this will act as a springboard for a lucid dream!
That's an oversimplification - but it gives you the general idea. So onto the technique.
Finding a partner to assist
Firstly - and this is kind of the difficult part - you'll need to find a dream exploration partner.
This has to be someone you spend a regular amount of time with and shares your interest in dreaming. Someone with whom you are comfortable enough to (and have the opportunity to) sleep in the same bed as.
A close friend or romantic partner are good choices. If you already share a bed, that's ideal.
Daytime Practice – “The Game”
During your waking hours you'll play a “social game” together. Agree this with your partner.
You can play this game for a single day, or extend it over the course of weeks. It's up to you, but the longer the better.
The game is as follows:
During your time spent together, each of you will occasionally try and slip a phrase into the conversation.
You'll both be trying to say the phrase without the other noticing. At the same time, you're both trying to catch the moment when the other uses it.
A perfect phrase would be "You Are Dreaming?" or "Are You Dreaming?"
You win each round of the game if you say the phrase without being noticed, or notice the phrase being said by your partner.
Whichever is the case, if you win, you must stop the conversation and point this out to your partner!
So, say you're out for a coffee, and your friend mentions the phrase in passing. You catch them doing it, so you let them know you've caught them!
At this point you both have to perform what is known as a reality check.
This is a simple check to establish if you're dreaming or awake. The simplest being the "nose pinch test", where you'll pinch your nose and try to breathe through it. If you can breathe through your pinched nose, then you're dreaming. If you can't, you're awake!
Now, if you want, you could up the stakes of the game and focus your minds a little more. For example, whoever loses the most in one day buys the other a coffee.
This adds a little extra motivation and excitement to the process.
The point of all of this is that you are both aiming to keep the other's mind focused and attentive.
You're also creating a connection with the phrase "You Are Dreaming" and a reality check. So you're building a habit and increasing awareness. You're also giving your prefrontal cortex a bit of a workout.
Night time practice – Spotting REM and speaking the phrase
This is where the lucid dreaming occurs.
So, if your dream partner is already your romantic partner, you probably already share a bed (which is ideal).
If not, then arrange to sleep in the same space on a weekly basis – or whenever is convenient.
Your aim is to wake a couple of hours early the next morning. Then one of you will return to sleep for a nap, whilst the other acts as an observer.
Of course, you'll have to decide between yourselves who will play which role.
Just be sure to be fair and take equal turns in future attempts!
So, if your role is to sleep, then you'll simply be returning to sleep. Make sure to use a position that will allow your dream partner to observe your eyes.
The observer will carefully watch your eyes as you fall asleep.
They should look for the familiar rapid eye movements (REM) that signal dreaming has begun.
They will then occasionally (although quietly) start to say out loud the agreed upon phrase. In our example, "You Are Dreaming?".
Rapid Eye Movements are very easy to spot, so the observer should have no trouble doing this.
The goal here should be obvious. With your previous daytime training, the sleeper's mind has been trained to recognise this phrase and then perform a reality test.
Of course, when they do this in the dream world their test will inform them that they are indeed dreaming -and this will instigate a lucid dream.
This is the premise of most modern lucid dream induction devices - only here we have additional elements working in our favour.
Combined with the social pressure (that will hopefully keep the prefrontal cortex in a more aroused state) and the fact that you've woken early (giving your mind the opportunity to enter a more engaged state of awareness) this should give you a very high likelihood of entering a lucid dream.
So that's the basics of the technique.
It sounds a little more complicated than it really is. In practice, it's a huge amount of fun!
In fact, even just the Night Time Practice part of the technique -without the daytime practice - can be effective on its own, but to a much lesser extent.
What this process also allows for - which is singular among lucid dreaming techniques - is that the observer has the opportunity to discover and record your unique sleeping habits.
Perhaps you enter REM rapidly - or maybe it takes a long time. Whichever the case, this is one of the only ways to learn this. This information can be applied to your private lucid dreaming practices.
Therefore, it's useful for the observer to make notes about these and any other details they notice.
So that's the Partner Assisted Lucidity technique.
I highly recommend giving it a try!
It's great for couples, friends, and a great chance to demonstrate lucid dreaming to those who have yet to experience it.
It also has lots of room for development. For example, you could decide upon certain eye movements that will act as signals from the dream world to the observer.
This is a common procedure when studying dreams in the lab. So from there on, there's huge room for creativity and experimentation.
You could in the (extremely) rare position of being able to say that you have sent a communication between the dream world and the waking world!
If this is a technique you'd like to try, why not share this article with a potential dream partner and see what they think?
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I'm Daniel Love: The Lucid Guide - and until next time - sweet dreams.