Are you dreaming?
It seems like a silly question and you probably jumped to the conclusion that you're in fact awake, but how do you know for sure?
Questioning reality is one of the many tricks an oneironaut (dream astronaut) employs on his or her voyage to lucid dreams.
Lucid dreaming refers to the experience (and ability) of being aware while you're dreaming. Instead of following a fixed 'dream script', a lucid dream allows you to do anything you want. The only limit is your imagination.
You can fly around your city, talk to old friends and relatives, play the action hero or talk to dream characters and possibly gain some insight into your psyche. In short: fun!
Some of the greatest scientific minds of the twentieth century didn't believe in lucid dreams and for a long time, the study of dreams was the laughing stock of the academic community. Mankind invented the air plane and flew in real life, before science was able to acknowledge the existence of lucid dreams. How sad is that?
Fortunately, the last few decades it has become a valid field of research and as we're learning more about the brain, we're slowly but surely also learning more about the art of dreaming.
Cool, how do I start lucid dreaming?
That's a simple question and a really long answer. We've gathered some tips 'n tricks for you in our latest encyclopaedia article: lucid dreaming.
There are all kinds of techniques with cool acronyms such as WILD or MILD. If you're new to lucid dreaming, it will take some experimentation to find what works best for you, but remember that it's a skill. A skill can be acquired and honed, much like cooking, balancing the hot and cold shower tap or belching the national anthem.
The SSILD technique
We'd like to mention one dream technique in particular: SSILD. It stands for Senses Induced Lucid Dreaming. SSILD combines a few techniques, is fairly easy to perform (especially if you're familiar with meditation) and most importantly can produce results quickly.
SSILD works with cycles of three easy steps that you check: sight, sound and touch.
Sight: with eyes closed, focus on what you see. This sounds vague, but the key is to let something develop naturally. Don't try to see anything, don't visualize, just relax and observe. If you don't see anything at all, that's fine.
Sound: the same deal, but this time you focus on your hearing. It could be a sound outside your bedroom window or the sound of your breathing. Don't worry if you don't hear anything.
Touch: now you focus on your body. do you feel any sensations? Tingling? Lightness or heaviness? Imagine going from your toes to your head and just sense your own body.
The goal is not to experience any particular sensation. Just check these three senses while lying in a relaxed position.
SSILD is a technique that you perform in the middle of the night. Set your alarm to wake up after four or five hours of sleep. Get up and out of bed for a few minutes. If you have trouble falling asleep, keep it short. If you fall asleep too quickly, you can wake up a bit more, but you don't want to be fully awake.
Go back to bed and perform a complete cycle: sight, sound, touch. Do this quickly and 4 - 6 times in a row. Remember it's okay to not see, hear or feel anything in particular. This is just the warm-up.
If you're comfortable with the cycles, it's time to slow them down. Each step of the slow cycle should take at least 30 seconds. Perform 3 - 4 slow cycles and afterwards, assume whatever position you're most comfortable with and fall asleep as you normally would.
And that's it, in a nutshell! At first you're probably either fall asleep too quickly without performing enough cycles or, worse, lose some sleep because you're too awake. Feel free to adapt the basic concept to your sleep schedule.
After doing this for a while, most people will begin to see things, hear strange noises and even experience the sensation of floating while performing the cycles.
It may take some nights before you start seeing results. Keep at it.
For more information on this remarkable technique, read inventor Cosmic Iron's blog on SSILD.
Beware of false awakenings
One pitfall of SSILD is the fact that it leads to many false awakenings (FA's). An FA is when you think you wake up in your bed and believe you've failed, when in fact you're dreaming it. These are often very realistic.
Keep this in mind when you're trying SSILD and always perform a reality check when waking up.
Herb assisted lucid dreaming
Lucid dreaming isn't always easy, but our smartshop offers help in the form of herbs and supplements that make your dreams more vivid and increase your chances of becoming lucid.
What's important to remember is that dream herbs are, despite their name, not a guaranteed success. There's not a single product available that can guarantee lucid dreams 100% of the time. Instead, consider them your training wheels and keep on practising one of the myriad of techniques out there.
Bon voyage and sweet dreams!