The art of “waking up” in your dreams is known as lucid dreaming. To achieve lucidity, you must realize that you are dreaming yet continue to dream. The experience will be every bit as vivid and clear as waking life, except that impossible things can happen. But is it safe? Here we’ll explore lucid dreaming in more detail, as well provide some lucid dreaming tips to make sure you stay safe.
Lucid dreaming is a skill that can be learned with a moderate amount of consistent effort. The first phase of learning lucid dreaming is keeping a “dream log.” Keep a pen and paper by your bed, write down your most recent dreams every time you wake up at night, and review this log regularly. The purpose of this exercise is to increase your dream recall. After several weeks of this it will be time to move on to the second phase.
The second phase of learning lucid dreaming is to perform state tests. State tests are based on the fact that you probably cannot read anything while you are dreaming – if you try to focus on written material you will find it too blurry to read. To perform a state test, ask yourself the question “Am I dreaming?” Ask this question not as a formality but in the spirit of true inquiry. Next, attempt to focus on the nearest written material. If you can read it, you’re awake. If you can’t, you’re probably dreaming. Perform dozens of state tests every day for several weeks until it becomes a habit. One of these days your new habit will spill over into your dream life – you will perform a state test while you’re dreaming and fail it. This failure tells you that you are dreaming and should trigger lucidity.
Learning to become lucid in your dreams is just the beginning. Over time you can even learn to control your dreams, a skill than can offer some very practical uses. You might use lucid dreaming, for example, to practice anything from giving a business presentation to shooting free throws. Practicing these skills in the privacy of your own dreams can lead to measurable improvement in your performance of these skills when you’re awake.