Dream Techniques Studied

courtesy of Brian Pressler.


Design Your Own Dreams






Most people don’t realize they’ve been dreaming until after

they’ve awakened and the dream has come to an end. Some people,

however, are conscious that they’re dreaming. These people —

called LUCID dreamers — can literally direct the content of a

dream, scientists have discovered, deciding perhaps to talk

physics with Einstein, woo and marry a movie star, or assume the

powers of Superman. For those who have acquired the knack of

lucidity, the benefits can be enormous:

Lucid dreaming gives one the chance to experience unique and

compelling adventures rarely surpassed elsewhere in life. These

experiences can enhance self-confidence and promote personal

growth and self-development. By facing fears and learning to

make the best of the worst situation imaginable, lucid dreamers

can overcome nightmares. Because recent scientific studies have

demonstrated a strong connection between dreams and the

biological functioning of the body, lucid dreams might facilitate

physical as well as mental health. And finally, because lucid

dreaming allows us to tap the power of the unconscious, it may

also be useful for creative problem solving.

After nearly a decade of piloting these daring nocturnal flights,

2 psychologists — Stephen LaBerge of Stanford University and

author of LUCID DREAMING [Ballantine], and Jayne Gackenbach of

the University of Northern Iowa — have begun to develop a series

of techniques aimed at helping ordinary dreamers “turn” lucid and

lucid dreamers gain greater control over the woolly behemoth of

night. These special techniques, still under development, have

never before been presented in a public forum. To direct your

own nightly dream-time show, please attempt exercises one, two,

three and four as outlined below. LaBerge and Gackenback suggest

that you do the tasks as often as possible over a 2-week period.

Some people may succeed in having a lucid dream the first night

they use the techniques; others, the researchers note, may need

Page 1





to practice for several weeks before getting results.


A number of techniques facilitate lucid dreaming. One of the

simplest is asking yourself many times during the day whether you

are dreaming. Each time you ask the question, you should look

for evidence proving you are not dreaming. The most reliable

test: Read something, look away for a moment, and then read it

again. If it reads the same way twice, it is unlikely that you

are dreaming. After you have proved to yourself that you are not

presently dreaming, visualize yourself doing whatever it is you’d

like. Also, tell yourself that you want to recognize a nighttime

dream the next time it occurs. The mechanism at work here is

simple; it’s much the same as picking up milk at the grocery

store after reminding yourself to do so an hour before.

At night people usually realize they are dreaming when they

experience unusual or bizarre occurrences. For instance, if you

find yourself flying without visible means of support, you should

realize that this happens only in dreams and that you must

therefore be dreaming. If you awaken from a dream in the middle

of the night, it is very helpful to return to the dream

immediately, in your imagination. Now envision yourself

recognizing the dream as such. Tell yourself, “The next time I

am dreaming, I want to remember to recognize that I am dreaming.”

If your intention is strong and clear enough, you may find

yourself in a lucid dream when you return to sleep.


Many lucid dreamers report dreams in which they fly unaided, much

like Superman. Some lucid dreamers say that flying is a

thrilling means of travel; others, that it has helped them return

from one of the more harrowing dream experiences — the endless

fall. Flying is so important because it’s a form of dream

control that’s fairly easy to master. It gives the dreamer an

exhilirating sense of freedom. And it’s a basic means of travel

in the dream world. During the 2-week period of your experiment,

try to focus on dream flight. If you’re falling, turn that fall

into flight: Remember, there’s no gravity in dreams. And if

you’re simply going from here to there, do it with flight. This

simple activity will cue you in to the fact that you are, after

all, in a dream.

How do you make dream flight happen at all? We suggest that

before you retire for bed, you simply repeat these words:

“Tonight I fly!” Then, while still awake, imagine that journey.

If you find yourself flying, it will be a clear sign that you are

in a dream. In any case, when you realize you’re dreaming,

remember that you want to fly. When you actually feel yourself

flying, say, “This is a dream.” Make sure you start modestly, by

simply floating above the surface of your dream ground. As you

gain confidence both in the notion that you are dreaming and in

your ability to control that experience, you might experiment

with flying a bit more. Run, taking big leaps, and then stay

aloft for a few seconds, so that you resemble an astronaut

walking on the moon. Try sustained floating and then flying at

low altitudes.

Page 2





As your confidence increases, so will your flying skills. While

asleep, work on increasing your altitude, maneuverability, and

speed. As with speed sports, you should perfect height and

maneuverability before speed. Of course, you couldn’t really

hurt yourself — it’s only a dream. But you COULD get scared.

After you have become proficient in dream flying, remember to ask

yourself these questions: “How high can I fly? Can I view the

earth from outer space? Can I travel so fast that I lose

awareness of my surroundings and experience the sensation of pure

speed?” Throughout your efforts in dream flight, remember that

you’re in a dream. With this in mind, your fear will be held at

bay, and your control over the dream will be greatly enhanced.


Even if you’re a frequent lucid dreamer, you may not be able to

stop yourself from waking up in mid-drem. And even if your

dreams do reach a satisfying end, you may not be able to focus

them exactly as you please. During our years of research,

however, we have found that spinning your dream body can sustain

the period of sleep and give you greater dream control. In fact,

many subjects at Stanford University have used the spinning

technique as an effective means of staying in a lucid dream. The

task outlined below will help you use spinning as a means of

staying asleep, and, more exciting, as a means of traveling to

whatever dream world you desire.

As with dream flying, the dream spinning task starts before you

go to bed. Before retiring, decide on a person, time, and place

you would like to visit in your lucid dream. The target person

and place can be either real or imaginary, past, present or

future. Write down and memorize your target person and place,

then visualize yourself visiting your target and firmly resolve

to do so in a dream that night. When following this procedure,

it’s possible that you might find yourself visiting your target

in a nonlucid dream; you will be aware that this has happened, of

course, only after you awaken. Nevertheless, you should strive

for lucidity by following the techniques outlined in exercise

one. Then proceed to your goal.

To do so, repeat the phrase describing your target in your dream,

and spin your whole dream body in a standing position with your

arms outstretched. You can pirouette or spin like a top, as long

as you vividly feel your body in motion. The same spinning

technique will help when, in the middle of a lucid dream, you

feel the dream imagery beginning to fade. To avoid waking up,

spin as you repeat your target phrase again and again. With

practice, you’ll return to your target person, time and place.

When spinning, try to notice whether you are moving in a

clockwise or counterclockwise direction.


Up until now we have had little control over the occurrence of

creative dreams. But with lucid dreaming it may be possible to

intentionally access the creativity of the dream state. You can

help determine the feasibility of this idea by attempting to

solve a problem in a lucid dream. Before bed, decide on a

problem you would like to solve. Frame your problem in the form

Page 3





of a question. For example, “What is the topic of my next book?”

“How can I become less shy?” If you have an illness, you might

consider the problem, “How can I regain my health?”

Once you have selected a problem question, write it down and

memorize it. When doing the lucid-dreaming introduction

exercises, remember your question and see yourself looking for

the answer in your next lucid dream. Then, when in a lucid

dream, ask the question and seek the solution. You might be most

successful at problem solving if you try a direct approach. For

instance, if your problem is health, try to heal yourself in your

dream. Then reflect on how your dream solution relates to the

waking problem. It may help to question other dream characters,

especially if they represent people who you think might know the

answer. You can even combine this task with the dream spinning

and flying tasks, visiting an expert on your problem. You can

also just explore your dream world with your question in mind,

looking for any clues that might suggest an answer.