This was originally published on Huffington Post… However, in updating my links I’ve found that Huffpost were redirecting straight to their main page instead of letting people actually read my article! Not being pleased at being used like clickbait, I have deleted the links to Huffpost and instead reproduce the original article here.
Lucid Dreaming is the art of becoming aware that you are dreaming, whilst dreaming. When you experience this you find your dream-life instantly becomes more exciting. For some it becomes a new resource of creativity; for others, it is the first step on a new path to Spiritual unfolding. Others yet again see it as an opportunity for wish-fulfillment: to indulge in epic adventures, exercise Matrix- or Inception-like superpowers or pursue limitless romantic and sexual pleasures.
A minority of people experience lucid dreaming spontaneously. What may not, however, be generally known is that you have the power to develop the ability to dream lucidly on a controlled repeatable basis. The first step in doing so is to remember your dreams when they occur.
Many people have difficulty remembering their dreams: some mistakenly believe they do not dream at all. In fact, remembering your dreams can be as simple as employing a few easy-to-learn strategies, which I outline below. Curiously, the act of wanting to remember your dreams serves to make your dreams more memorable, and ultimately more vivid.
Keep a Dream Journal
Get a new notepad and a pen, and keep them on your nightstand. Then, whenever you wake up either in the middle of the night, or to get up in the morning, note down whatever you can remember about what you were dreaming. Chances are that the first time you attempt this, you will not be able to write much. However, by persisting every night, after a week or less, you will find you are filling up whole pages at a time! By taking the trouble to keep a journal, you are reinforcing your unconscious desire to remember your dreams – to which your dreaming mind will then respond.
Practice Meditation Before Going to Sleep
This is based upon a Buddhist practice, although similar meditative techniques can be found in Christian mysticism (e.g. St Thomas A Kempis). Before lying down in bed, sit upright with your spine erect. Breathe slowly and evenly, and allow the events of the day to replay before your mind’s eye in reverse, i.e. starting with the present moment and going back in time, as far as you can go. Practice this every night. This leads to not only an improved dream-memory, but also an improved waking memory as well. It also leads to a curious effect: because the hold which the day’s events have on the mind is released during meditation, the dreaming-mind is then free to explore other more exotic realms of memory during the night.
Emile Coue, who coined the phrase “Every day in every way I am getting better and better,” observed that the time immediately before going to sleep is the best time in which to implant an affirmation into one’s unconscious. The state in which one finds oneself whilst drifting off to sleep shares certain similarities with a hypnotic trance. Take advantage of this by repeating an appropriate affirmation to oneself as one drift’s off to sleep, such as “I can remember my dreams in detail” – repeat this at least twenty times in one go (the number twenty was determined by Coue himself, apparently arbitrarily).
Finally, I recommend that if you have the least trace of artistic talent, you can leverage this by drawing the contents of your dreams, instead of just writing them down. Writing your dreams is a left-brain skill: drawing them, however, is right-brain. By representing your dreams in pictorial form, you are therefore making use of parts of your brain which you might not otherwise use! Carl Jung made a point of not simply describing his active imaginations, but by illustrating them and turning them into an illuminated book for his own private use (see: The Red Book). More recently, the 17th Karmapa (Ogyen Trinley Dorje), the Tibetan spiritual leader, employs an artist to sketch his dreams for him. Great artistic skill, however, is not absolutely necessary – even simple sketches, line-drawings and diagrams will suffice to stimulate the visual capacity of your right-brain.