What’s one of the easiest ways to explore the unconscious? Through our dreams. Dreams are primarily created and sourced from the unconscious mind, so to explore our dreams is to explore our unconscious.
Lucid dreaming takes this exploration a step further because, as hypnotherapy expert Valerie Austin once told me, it allows us “access to this data straight from the unconscious without it being edited by our rational, conscious mind.”
Most people have had a lucid dream at some point in their lives, but through the process of learning the art of lucid dreaming we can come to experience this amazing phenomenon intentionally and at will.
In fact, the term ‘lucid dreaming’ is a bit of a misnomer—it should really be “conscious dreaming,” because it’s the aspect of conscious awareness that defines the experience, rather than its lucid clarity, but for now we’ll stick with it.
Most people have four or five dream periods every night, but not everybody remembers these. I believe the main reason is simply because we don’t try to remember them.
At the first lucid dreaming workshop I ever ran, I met a gentleman who was convinced that he didn’t dream because he hadn’t remembered one in years. I tried to explain to him that everybody dreams, but he didn’t want to hear it.
However, after just one week of setting a strong intention to remember his dreams, he told me, “Charlie, I realize that I’ve been dreaming for 62 years, I just never cared to notice!”
So, if we set a strong intention to recall our dreams, and if we “care to notice,” most of us will be able to recall at least part of them without too much difficulty after just a couple of nights.
- Set your intention to recall your dreams before you start dreaming. Before bed and even as you’re falling asleep, recite over and over in your mind: Tonight, I remember my dreams. I have excellent dream recall.
- If you want to remember your dreams, try waking yourself during a dream period so that the dream is fresh in your mind. How do we know when these occur? The last two hours of your sleep cycle are when your longest dream periods occur.
- Often, the memories of our dreams are felt in our bodies rather than our minds, so don’t forget to explore any feelings in your body that you wake up with. Sometimes my recollection of a dream is as simple as: Can’t remember much of the dream but I woke with a feeling of happiness in my belly.
- If you can recall just one fact or feeling from your dream, you can work backwards from that point, eventually gathering the rest of the dream. As soon as you wake up, ask yourself some questions: Where was I? What was I just doing? How do I feel?
- Don’t give up on your dream if you can’t remember it straight away. Often, my dreams come back to me while I’m having a cup of tea over breakfast, or sometimes even as late as the following afternoon when I become drowsy and my mind edges back to the dream state. Give yourself space to remember.
The most important of these five steps is the first one: as you fall asleep strongly set your intention to remember your dreams.
Adapted from Lucid Dreaming: A Beginner's Guide to Becoming Conscious in Your Dreams by Charlie Morley. Hay House 2015. Posted with permission.