Before Inception hit theaters last year, many people were already having the types of dreams the movie focused on. At one point or another, we’ve had a dream inside a dream or somehow mustered up enough energy or creativity to change the course of our dreams. Believe it or not, there are people who can do this frequently and at will. In fact, Tibetan Buddhists began practicing this type of “dream yoga” more than a thousand years ago to attain a purer consciousness by being aware of their dreams.
This type of dream manipulating phenomenon is known as lucid dreaming. In a lucid dream, the dreamer is aware that he or she is dreaming and can manipulate the plot and outcome of the dream, kind of like a video game or choose your own adventure book.
How to Have A Lucid Dream
As you can imagine, there are a variety of techniques you can use if you want to start being able to control your own dreams. One thing you can do is mentally prepare throughout the day and before you go to sleep. Remind yourself that you want to be aware of the dream while you’re dreaming. You should also use “reality checks” when you’re dreaming. You can do this by reading numbers or letters and then checking them again a moment later. If you’re dreaming, the letters or numbers will have changed or appear funny. You can also visualize yourself in a dream and then image yourself doing an activity in the dream. If you are awake, nothing will happen.
For more techniques, check out these two links: http://www.wikihow.com/Lucid-Dream and http://www.consciousdreaming.com/lucid-dreaming/how-to-lucid-dream.htm
Although lucid dreams are fun and can help alleviate the shock of nightmares and night terrors, it can be dangerous. Just like in Inception, having trouble distinguishing a dream from reality and believing that dreams are more vivid than reality could be a sign of serious mental illness. Just remember that although dreams seem real, they aren’t.