Have you ever heard about people who can control their dreams, like their own little virtual reality? It may sound spiritual, but according to scientific research everyone should have the ability to do it. Scientists have termed this event ‘lucid dreaming’ and supposedly it occurs during the so-called ‘rapid eye movement’ phase of dreaming. When you dream, the majority of your body and facial muscles are relaxed and static, except for your eyes. Your eyes begin to follow the events in your dreams, as if you were watching a soccer game, so remain active throughout the dreaming process.
You may be wondering how lucid dreaming actually works. According the science, it may be much simpler than we think. Researchers say that you must be conscious of the fact you are dreaming whilst you are dreaming. There are several techniques to achieve this desired state, one of the most popular being Paul Tholey’s 10 step ‘reality check’. He claims you must question if you’re dreaming five to ten times a day and if you’re not dreaming then why aren’t you. The end goal is that this so-called ‘reality check’ naturally becomes habit. Eventually when you are sleeping, you will subconsciously ask yourself if what you are experiencing right now is real or not.
Another way to generate a lucid dream is Stephen LaBerge’s WILD method (Wake-Initiated Lucid Dream). This method proposes a complete contrast to Tholey’s, advocating a conscious awareness of falling asleep in order to bring about lucid dreams.
Keeping a diary can also be an effective way to induce lucid dreams. It can often be hard to remember your dreams throughout the day, so writing in your dream diary first thing in the morning can help you to recollect them more frequently and with a clearer image. I decided to give this a go to see if it would actually encourage lucid dreaming and found it was difficult at first to find the right words to describe what it was I had experienced in my dreams, however it was always funny and total surreal.
But what is it that happens when you finally have a lucid dream? Well, I certainly wasn’t prepared for it but I’ll blame that on the fact I was so surprised and overwhelmed by the fact it actually works I accidentally woke myself up from it. The advice I would offer to anybody trying this for the first time would be to first envisage where it is you imagine yourself to be, from flying to a remote island or going on an endless road trip with your best friends. You want it to be an enjoyable experience and not a total freak out, like mine. Its possible that you may have already had a lucid dream without even realising, in which case, congratulations! There are times when people have reported suffering from a nightmare and have actually been able to wake themselves up from it, knowing full well what they were experiencing wasn’t real.
On the whole it may not be a thing for everyone and for some people it is easier or harder to get to this point, where you can really control your virtual reality in your head. In addition some studies came to the conclusion, that the creativity part of the brain, of people who had lucid dreams often, was bigger. Until now it is still unclear if those lucid dreams caused more creativity or if creative people are more likely to dream lucid.
Overall, I would highly recommend pushing yourself and challenging your brain into entering its own virtual reality. Doing so can prepare you for an upcoming situation which may appear daunting and scary. Experiencing it a number of times beforehand can help you feel more relaxed and ready for what is to come.
For more information I would suggest researching the two most popular scientists on this topic; Stephen LaBerge and Paul Tholey.
Text: Antonia Janke