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Beginner's Guide to Lucid Dreaming

In order to really appreciate lucid dreaming, you'll need to be able to remember your dreams. If you can't remember them it will be like having the best adventure of your life and then having your memory wiped afterwards! What's the point?
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By Stefan Zugor via DreamsCloud

Dreams.
Everyone has them, every night. Not all of us remember them though. Why not?

Practice, mainly, but there are a few other reasons.

In order to have what's known as "lucid" dreams you need to write your dreams down. A lucid dream for those who don't know is the dream where you're aware of what's going on and you can control the dream. They allow you to do all sorts of incredible things but even if you're not interested in controlling your dreams, this will apply to you. Writing your dreams down is good habit to get into because it can improve your memory, and your recollection of what happened during your dream.

The very act of writing them down trains your brain to remember more, and it becomes a cycle: the more you write down the more you remember, and the more you remember, the more you can write down. You would be able to start remembering all of those wild, innovative, and inspiring dreams that you're having every night that would have normally been forgotten!

So, how to actually start? Well, it's simple. To start remembering more of your dreams just start writing down what you currently remember. After a few days and weeks of doing this, you'll find that you can remember more and more details about them. The easiest way to start doing this is to keep a small notebook by your bed, and write down what you can remember every morning when you wake up. This will train your mind to remember more dreams. That's the most BASIC version of dream recall.

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To become a little more proficient at it, here are some other tips:

  1. Highlight the important bits: It's a good habit to start highlighting the important parts of your dreams, so that when you look back on your dreams you can see what was happening at a glance. It will make your life easier when you start looking at "dream signs" and trying to become lucid more often.

  • Leave space for notes and diagrams: Leave a side of paper blank for every sheet you write on, or leave a small space every two pages for pictures, and a line between each line you write on. This way, if you remember something else about the dream later on, you can add notes to it. This will in turn help you to identify your dream signs and work out common themes in your dreams.
  • Use a nice notebook: This isn't essential of course, but I find that using a NICE looking notebook for my dream journal makes the whole experience feel more special to me and helps keep me interested. Of course I'll always be interested in lucid dreaming but having a nice journal makes it that much easier. You want it to feel almost magical when you start learning to lucid dream
  • Use a "dream anchor": This is something, which you psychologically "tie" to a thought or reminder. Pick an object that you see EVERY morning as soon as you wake up. It could be a cuddly toy or a picture on your wall. Now, tell yourself that every time you see that object, you'll remember your dreams. After a few weeks of telling yourself this every day and actually doing it as well, you'll find that just by looking at a certain object you can remember your dream easier. You've trained your mind to do what you want and remember more dreams!
  • In order to really appreciate lucid dreaming, you'll need to be able to remember your dreams. If you can't remember them it will be like having the best adventure of your life and then having your memory wiped afterwards! What's the point?

    Lucid dreams can feel almost more real than reality in some cases. After all, "Dreams feel real while we're in them." (1) Can we say more about waking life? Something to think about for sure.

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    A great way dream diaries can help is that you can look back and see what was going on. As a Lucid Dreamer I find that I often look back on the dreams I've had in the past. I look for things that occurred back then (a year ago, for example), and I compare these dreams to current ones. Is anything different? The same? It helps me to see how I'm progressing as a lucid dreamer and how my dreams are changing. Are the same topics, places and people coming up?

    The one drawback of paper dream diaries is that you have to physically flick through the pages and read your own handwriting until you find what you were looking for. Having an online or digital dream diary will make the process of looking for words easier because you'll be able to search for key terms. With applications such as, DreamSphere or DreamsCloud, logging a dream is easy and very quick. If you've just had a dream about a horse, you can search all your previous dream journal entries for the word "horse". This means you can pick out certain themes, which are known as "dream signs."

    Once you've established dream signs for example, you're someone who dreams about horses a lot. This means you know that normally, when you see a horse (unless you work on a farm or something like this) you're more than likely dreaming.

    When you do a reality check, you create a sort of "tag" in your mind to whatever you were experiencing when you did the check. This eventually appears in your dreams and helps you to become lucid. For instance, some people practice checking their hands often during the day and ask themselves "Is this real or a dream?" and then ask the same question should they notice their hands in a dream.

    I hope you've enjoyed reading these tips and learned at least a little bit about the best way to record your dreams and use it to become lucid more often!

    DreamsCloud is the world's leading online dream resource, with an interactive database of more than 1.9 million dreams. Offering a 360-degree approach to dreaming -- including a real-time global dream map, dream journaling/sharing tools, a massive online dream dictionary of over 5000 dream symbols, and the largest group of professional dream reflectors -- DreamsCloud empowers users to better understand their dreams and improve their waking lives. They also offer a free app for iOS and Android called DreamSphere.

    Stefan Zugor is a long time lucid dreamer and teaches people to control their dreams at howtolucid.com

    References:
    (1) Inception. Dir. Christopher Nolan. Warner Bros. Pictures, 2010. Film

    (2) Laberge, Stephan. Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming. New York: Random House Publishing Group, 1991. Print.

    (3) Waggoner, Robert. Lucid Dreaming - Gateway to the Inner Self. Massachusetts: Moment Point Press Inc., 2008. Print.

    Follow DreamsCloud on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Dreams_Cloud