How to Control Your Dreams (While You're Sleeping)
Imagine being free of your physical body, leaving behind silly things like gravity. Picture yourself flying, and doing so in the literal sense, feeling the air rushing across your face, the weightlessness of your body, breaking every Newtonian law out there. Imagine seeing and conversing with the natives of the dream, who provide valuable insights and knowledge about your life. Hidden in this place you can find wisdom and guidance that could change your life.
Keep a journal for a few weeks, and you'll begin to see patterns. A dream sign is personal to you. You might have a recurring dream sign that's been with you your whole life, such as a fear of snakes. Dream signs might change frequently as you yourself change, such as suddenly including your new boss. Find a highlighter, read through your dream journal and start underlining the objects, places, people and themes that pop up more than once: a large mansion, owls, your brother Joe, the park, embarrassment. Keep a list of all these dream signs.
Locating and identifying dream signs will train your subconscious to spot them the next time they appear. If you recognize that you often dream about your old girlfriend, for example, you can use this as a trigger for becoming aware that you're dreaming. Tell yourself before bed, "The next time I see my ex-girlfriend I will realize that I am dreaming." Knowing that your dreams speak a familiar language with recurring places, people or themes will be one of the easiest ways to recognize that you're dreaming.
By asking yourself the question, "Am I dreaming?" throughout your day, you will begin to ask the same question while in a dream. Your suspicion of reality will echo into your sleep, bouncing around your mind until—voilà!—you find yourself within the mecca of your own psyche. Reality checks are another cornerstone of lucid dreaming.
If you stop and think about it, you can usually tell if you're dreaming or not: The trick is stopping and thinking about it. It may sound crazy to ask this question when you know for sure that you're awake, but your feelings of lunacy will be justified when you have your first lucid dream. Soon enough, you'll perform a reality check in a dream and realize: "Wait a second, it worked! I am dreaming!"
When it comes to lucid dreaming, one of the simplest but most interesting experiences is walking through solid objects. In the dream world, obstacles only appear to be in your way. A window, a brick wall, a rock face—these things are only illusions, projections from your mind. They are not physical. Objects may feel solid when you touch them, but they feel solid only because you expect them to feel that way. Think of the object as air, and you will pass through it effortlessly.
In a lucid dream, you can create anything. Nothing is off-limits—no object, creature or contraption is out of reach. Your creation can be as large as a mountain or as complicated as a living organism. If you could create the impossible, what would you make?
This slideshow is an adapted excerpt from A Field Guide to Lucid Dreaming: Mastering the Art of Oneironautics by Dylan Tuccillo, Jared Zeizel, and Thomas Peisel.