What are lucid dreams and how can you get better at experiencing them? This is the first question we’ll be looking at in this blog post.
The second one is: Can hypnosis help? Spoiler alert: It can! Keep reading to find out how, or just watch the Youtube video below.
What Is a Lucid Dream?
Simply put, it’s when you’re dreaming and you know it.
When dreaming, we aren’t normally aware that we’re in a dream. If you think back, you must have had dreams where the most illogical things happened, but none of it seemed strange to you at the time.
In that sense, dream logic is, as we’ve explained in this article, very similar to trance logic. If in real life, you found yourself in a canoe rowing down a supermarket aisle, you’d immediately realize something abnormal was going on. Supermarket floors aren’t made of water, and you can’t move a boat on solid surfaces.
In a dream, however, all of it makes sense, and you don’t question any of it. That is, not until you do.
We call it a lucid dream when, for some reason, you realize you’re actually dreaming, and not really awake at all. As we’ll explain further, this realization might occur spontaneously or be provoked.
This occurs along an analog spectrum. You’re not either lucid or not lucid. That’s not how it works. Sometimes you may be only vaguely aware that you’re in a dream, and other times you might become fully conscious of what’s happening. Some people can even feel their physical surroundings (typically lying in bed) while dreaming. Much like hypnosis, lucid dreaming is a highly personal and subjective experience.
Are Lucid Dreams Good?
Experienced lucid dreamers can control whatever happens in their dreams. That means they get to experience anything they want and make it feel completely real. Any superpowers are at their disposal. If they want to fly, they fly. If they want to talk to famous celebrities or loved ones from the past, they can. Naughty bedroom activities? Hey, it’s your dream. We won’t judge you. And even if they choose to battle Thanos alongside Marvel’s Avengers to save the universe, it’s going to happen. There are literally no limits.
But lucid dreams aren’t good just because they’re fun. It’s also proven that they improve sleep quality and, as some studies indicate, might even be therapeutic.
Think about it: In a lucid dream, you get to play around with real things in your life. What do you want to accomplish? You can create that process in your dream and make it succeed. For instance, a person with stage fright might lucid dream speaking to an audience of forty thousand people and hear a thunderous applause, making it a tremendous success.
The brain can’t tell the difference between a real experience and a vividly imagined one, especially one as vividly experienced as a lucid dream. As such, under the right circumstances, these dreams can become positive turning points for various problems in your life.
How Do You Trigger a Lucid Dream?
The main strategy is to approach your night sleep with the intention of having a lucid dream. You need methods to become aware you’re in a dream in order to take control. Let’s dive into them.
The Clock Method
With everything that’s happening while dreaming, our brains have problems keeping everything coherent and consistent. One of the things that may get messed up are watches and clocks. Frequently, you may look at a clock in a dream and see that it’s pointing at a certain time just like normal life. But if you look away for a second, then back at it again, the time will likely have changed in a weird way, or perhaps the hands will spin out of control.
Use a clock or a watch to do this test a few times a day. Acquire a habit of constantly checking whether you’re dreaming. If you keep doing this long enough in real life, you’ll eventually start doing it in your dreams too. That’s when the realization happens and the lucid dreaming starts.
The Fine Print Method
Something similar to the clock happens with finely printed pieces of text.
It’s the same idea: Find something to read on a piece of paper or screen. Then ask yourself if you're dreaming. If the text changes, you’re in a dream.
You can incorporate this as your only method of dream checking instead of the clock or you can use them both. Whichever you prefer is the best.
The Light Switches Method
This one works a bit differently, but it’s based on the same principle: looking for inconsistencies in your surroundings that might indicate you’re in a dream. If you get into the habit of looking for things that are incompatible with reality, you’ll become able to spot them in your dreams.
When you notice a light switch, turn it on. Do the lights simply work as they would in real life? Or are they changing in shape, color or somehow behaving in a strange or unexpected way?
This doesn’t happen with lights only. In a dream, clocks and pieces of fine print may also change in color and shape, and start moving around in a weird way. This is exactly what surrealist painter Salvador Dalí depicted in his most famous work, The Persistence of Memory (1931), which features several clocks that appear to be melting.
It’s no wonder Dalí used sleep to foster his imagination. When it was time to paint, the man would sit on his chair with his eyes closed while holding an object like a spoon or a ball. The purpose of this was for the object to drop from his hand and wake him up as soon as he started to fall asleep. This gave him access to a kind of semi-awake state where he got inspiration for his most notable works.
Surreal and irrational things are always present in our dreams to some degree. Once you’ve become accustomed to looking for, and noticing them, you’ll always have a degree of lucidness while dreaming. And with practice, you can eventually become fully lucid in most of your dreams.
How Do You Trigger a Lucid Dream With Hypnosis?
The method of using hypnosis we found the most efficient was to induce what we call a hypnagogic state. This word can mean either:
1) a transitional state between fully awake and in hypnosis, or
2) a transitional state between fully awake and totally asleep.
Even though hypnosis and sleep are completely unrelated processes, a couple hundred years ago, people thought hypnosis was some special kind of sleep, hence the similar words.
But by using self-hypnosis, we can actually access a hypnagogic state (in this case, meaning half-asleep) similar to the one Salvador Dalí, obtained to gain inspiration for creating surreal paintings. Only in our case, we’ll use it to provoke lucid dreams.
Drawing from our CEO Chris Thompson’s experience, a good time to do this is after waking up in the middle of the night.
After getting up at 2AM to go to the bathroom, Chris lay back down on his bed and began using self-hypnosis to help him fall back asleep. This wasn’t Chris’ intention, but he soon found himself having a lucid dream in a hypnagogic state he had drifted into using self hypnosis. Chris could very distantly feel his own eyelids and the weight of his body on the bed beneath him, but at the same time, he was having a lucid dream he had full control over.
What Chris discovered that day was something the lucid dreaming community had already known for years. Waking up in the middle of the night, staying awake for a while (usually 20 to 30 minutes) and going back to sleep is a powerful way to cause lucid dreams. But in addition to that, Chris had the power of self-hypnosis to fully amplify the experience.
Easy Self Hypnosis
Self hypnosis isn’t just useful for lucid dreaming, it’s one of the most powerful tools for personal development and self improvement. Click here to check out our Easy Self Hypnosis course.
Causing Lucid Dreams With Direct Suggestion in Hypnosis
In addition to self hypnosis, if you really want to experience lucid dreams we highly recommend seeing an actual hypnotist.
Find someone who's really good at hypnosis and ask them to put you in a trance and give you positive suggestions to let your unconscious mind cause you to recognize that you're dreaming.
Aditionally, when you've experienced hypnosis a few times, one of the most powerful ways of going into trance is by pretending. When you lie in bed, use NLP co-founder Richard Bandler's method: pretend you're in a hypnotic state, then pretend you're not pretending anymore.
Then, just watch as the hypnotic state you've created turns into a lucid dream. Observe the images that play across the inside of your eyelids and welcome them. Follow them. Then watch yourself slip from a hypnagogic state into a lucid dream.
If you're a hypnotherapist, this is a very powerful technique you can use. By giving them the instructions to then and there, dream the solution to the problem. This works because our brains work symbolically and metaphorically. By doing this, you invite the unconscious mind with all of its resources to bring out all the information you need.
Give your client the direct suggestion to have a lucid dream during the session, and they'll only wake up when they've learned from their unconscious mind all they need to know, through a lucid dream, about the solution to their problem. And as ecology always comes first, pre-frame that they'll wake up feeling refreshed, well and awake.
To learn more awesome hypnosis techniques like this and become a fully capable hypnotist or hypnotherapist, check out the Mike Mandel Hypnosis Academy.
Click here to get a 14-day free trial.