I woke up from a rather disturbed sleep. I checked the time- 1 A.M. I can’t stop thinking about what Emily said last evening, that she had a dream and controlled it. It is very fascinating, so I decide to hop on the computer and search ‘a dream you can control’ and apparently, there is an actual, literal term for it- Lucid Dreaming. Lucid dreams are ones where the dreamer is aware that he/she is dreaming. In some scenarios, one might be able to control them and even build ‘dream characters’ by increasing their level of consciousness and then manifesting the character they want in the dream, with the help of visualized expectancy (like expecting a specific figure to be ‘around the corner’ or ‘behind a door’).
Lucid dreams can potentially reduce nightmares, relieve stress and improve a person’s scope of innovation. Over the years, many scientists have researched this subject and enunciated ‘induction techniques’ to help people control their dreams, which include MILD (Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams) where one consistently tells oneself to have a lucid dream and WILD (Wake Initiated Lucid Dream) where you enter the REM sleep stage while maintaining consciousness. However, the most commonly used one is WBTB (Wake Back to Bed) where the person is supposed to wake up after five hours of sleep and then try to sleep back again, as this will ensure consciousness of the brain during the REM stage of sleep, which usually occurs after four-five hours.
But how do we know if we are dreaming? Several reality testing techniques have been listed, like nose pinching and if one can still breathe, it is a dream. If your reflection is a mirror looks distorted, it also means you’re dreaming. And finally, the most common one, pushing a finger through the palm. Instinctively, I take a finger and poke it through the other palm, which seems to be going through it…Beep Ding Beep! The suddenness of my alarm tone brings me to the real world, making me realize that it was all just a dream.
Researchers have been digging to find out more ways the human brain is affected by lucid dreams. While normal dreams can occur during any sleep cycle, we usually experience lucid dreams during our REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep when the dreamer can dream vividly and the psychological state is quite close to that of an awoken person. During a lucid dream, all brain areas related to higher cognitive functions, including attention, working memory, formulation and self-consciousness experience increased activity. Levels of self-determination have also been observed to be higher as compared to normal dreams. While certain other aspects of the brain mechanism behind lucid dreaming remain a mystery, what makes it even more intriguing is the hybrid state of consciousness featuring both being awake and dreaming.
Although frequent lucid dreaming is quite rare, around 51% of people have experienced one or more lucid dreams in their lifespan. The content of the dream, however, can differ on the basis of diet and nutrition. A person consuming a healthy diet is more likely to remember the details of a dream. Keeping a dream journal might be helpful to recollect and further control one’s dream. Along with this, meditation ensures the stability of consciousness of the mind, making it easier to interpret whether one is dreaming or not, while also ensuing positive and stimulating features into one’s dreams.
So why limit ourselves? Use this intriguing concept of dreaming for personal growth, self-development and facilitation of your inner creative being! And rather quite literally- Dream On.