There is a lot to say about lucid dreaming but as a beginner’s guide I thought to keep it to the true basics.
Most beginner guides I came across do the same thing. Most of them go through all the methods that Stephen LaBerg has come up with in his years of research and detail them one by one (which include Reality Checks/Tests, WBTB, MILD, WILD, and many more). But as valuable and groundbreaking as they are, I found them to be overwhelming to most people who are new to lucid dreaming practices. Some of these techniques require disrupting your sleep, auto-suggestion, repeatedly checking if you are sleeping throughout the day and other, not so simple, methods. I will expend on those later on in blog articles, but I believe those are not the place to start with if you have limited time or don’t have the mindfulness/ability to use them.
I am a big proponent of the 80/20 rule (emphasized by the likes of Tim Ferris) which states that 80% of the results are most often caused by 20% of the efforts. In applying this to the practice of Lucid Dreaming, trying all the methods right off the bat might not increase your chances by all that much but will increase the amount of effort you’ll make by a lot, often to a degree that will feel overwhelming and will likely stop many from really trying to begin with.
So I propose to start with the most basic component (and the most crucial one) of cultivating lucidity, writing down your dreams.
A dream journal is used most often to increase dream recall in order to remember your dreams better and find cues that can be used for reality checks and lucidity triggers. But I would like to suggest that done consistently, writing down your dreams in and of itself is the single most effective method to achieve lucidity as well as turn it into a regular occurrence. This may sounds like a big or perhaps strange claim but I will soon explain why I believe this works better than anything else and the evidence that supports it. It might not be easy but I promise it will be simple, all it takes is consistency.
First and formost, how can you know you are dreaming if you can barely remember your dreams? People’s dream recall (how well they remember their dreams) varies wildly whether they write their dreams or not. There are many things that affect dream recall such as the quality of sleep, your nutrition or diet, and many other factors. But writing down your dreams over a period of time always increases dream recall. Now for those of you who are thinking “I don’t dream at all” or “I can’t remember any dream so how can I write them down?”, the answer is simple. Plan to write down your dreams, put a paper and pen next to your bed and say to yourself before going to sleep “When I wake up and I am going to remember my dreams and write them down” and this alone in most cases will suddenly cause you to remember even a little piece of a dream. Intention is a strong thing, especially when it comes to the mind. Try to write down anything, even if it is a fraction of an image or a feeling. In the second or third night you’ll remember a little more and eventually start recalling entire dreams and multiple dreams.
I went from remembering a couple of “scenes” from one dream to remembering 6 – 7 dreams per night in just a couple of months. If you write down as much as you remember every morning, this will inevitably happen to you, as long as you keep at it. Now if you have read about any other techniques you may wonder “how is this going to make me achieve lucidity? I’m going to remember my dreams really, great, but at what point do I become lucid?”.
Writing down your dreams every morning, will sooner or later cause you to spontaneously become lucid. Lucidity is the inevitable progression of dream recall, and here is why. Intending to and writing down your dreams brings conscious awareness to your dreams, it does so in an exponentially increasing way as you continue to do it. It is your conscious awareness, your daily awake awareness that remembers your dreams when you wake up. This is why you go from remembering very little to a little more to much more to a lot more of your dreams. It happens progressively because you practice and increase your conscious attention and awareness to your dream’s content. As you increase conscious awareness in your dreams it reaches a level where you become, well, conscious while dreaming.
My first Accidental Case Study
The way this concept first came to me was by accident, as I myself started actively practicing lucid dreaming by trying ALL methods at once hoping that doing every method known to men would get me there faster, so I didn’t just write down my dreams and suddenly started lucid dreaming. But many years after I started my practice I had a random conversation with my mother and told her about lucid dreaming and to my surprise she not only said this happens to her but she went on to very nonchalantly say that this happens to her every night. “Are you sure you are lucid dreaming?” I asked again. “Yes, I know that I am dreaming and I am still dreaming. I can even control the dream if i wanted to”. I started asking her a series of endless questions to try and figure out how come she was blessed with such a natural ability to lucid dream daily, while I had to work so hard for maybe one lucid dream per month! Did she not pass along the lucid dreaming gene??
After many questions it turns out she started to write down her dreams on a daily basis as part of her study of psychotherapy years ago. Writing and analyzing your dreams in an integral part of the course she was taking. Only she felt such a benefit from doing this that she decided to continue to write down her dreams longer after her course was over. In fact she continued to write them down to this day. And according to her, quickly after picking up this habit her dream recall increased tremendously all the way to remembering full 8 – 9 dreams per night, way more than she had the time to write down before work in the morning. But more importantly, she one day realized she was dreaming while she was dreaming, and as she continued to write down her dreams this started happening more and more often until eventually it started happening practically every night. From doing nothing more than writing down her dreams. She never heard of luci dreaming or of any of the methods to try to bring it about.
After hearing this I’ve realize that even though I was trying different methods on a regular basis, I have been neglecting my dream journal at that time, as I was already remembering enough of my dreams as well as feeling I was making plenty of effort and didn’t feel like writing my dreams every morning. In addition to that, when telling this discovery to some people who share my passion for lucid dreaming, it started to become obvious that others experience might indicate that a stronger dream recall is somehow key to lucidity.
I’ve continued to research more about this and found that those who are “natural” lucid dreamers have either a natural strong dream recall or have been writing their dreams on a regular basis just out of their fascination or curiosity regarding the content of their dreams, something that is fascinating to many.
If you are just starting out and want to try all of the methods right away, I will not tell you not to, but if you wanted to do it in the most simple way that would be the most efficient, Start A Dream Journal. If out of all the known ways to induce lucid dreams you could only do one, Write Down Your Dreams. Do it as much and as often as you can. If you wake up in the middle of the night and can remember and write your dream even then, do it, but at the very least write as much as you can every morning on a daily basis. If you don’t have the time or energy to write them down, pick up your smartphone and record your dream into the voice recorder app. All you need to do is spend 5 – 10 minutes per day to do this. And if you do this consistently, you will sooner or later start lucid dreaming spontaneously.
Sweet & Lucid Dreams,
The Lucid Sage