At the Breakthrough programme it is our mission to empower young people. We support our participants in their personal development and in having a positive vision for their future so that they will be progressing into meaningful employment, education or training. How does that work? – It works by providing the opportunity for growth, learning and progress.
The programme is founded upon building positive relationships which involves offering social activities, residential experiences and consistent one-to-one support. Due to the current circumstances regarding COVID-19, we had to be creative and innovative in order to adapt our offers to our participant’s needs. Much of our support shifted to online engagement, group/individual online activities and social media interactions.
Today, we want to give you a positive example of how we were able to follow our mission by offering a “Digital Communications & Journalism Work Experience”. Daviona Plowright, 15, chose to take on this challenge and to upgrade her skills and realize her talent by creating written content in form of a professional blog post. Over the course of six weeks, Daviona researched and wrote about “Lucid Dreaming”. During this time, she demonstrated excellent work ethic and was willing to learn and improve her skills. Daviona got a flavour of the editorial process and video conferencing, became familiar with SMART goal-setting and learned how write a compelling piece of work.
Have you ever wondered if it was possible to control your dreams? Ever woken up once and thought to yourself “whoa that was a good dream?” wishing to go back and continue it?
Well, what if I told you there was a way for you to dream about whatever you wanted, you’ll be in full control with your imagination being the limit!
I want to fly like a superhero – can I?
Luckily, with science’s help, they have discovered the glorious world of lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming, I’d like to say, is an outlet to your world – you can do whatever you wish. That includes connecting to your spirit, overcoming fears, exploring your imagination, and the most popular one, to be able to fly like a superhero.
I’ve never really had a lucid dream although I have kept a dream journal since I was 12 years old. I started to do that so I could have something interesting to read at night since the books I owned were not of interest to me. I figured, since I noticed my dreams were very vivid, why not go back over them as if they were some sort of fantasy novel that I wrote when asleep?
As time went on, I realised that most of the dreams I experienced had somehow come to pass which was fascinating to me. Then I wondered if I could do certain things in my dreams such as hang out with celebrities, travel around the world, or even come face to face with my deepest fears. After that discovery, I found myself on YouTube amateurishly searching “how to control dreams “and it showed me videos labelled “lucid dreaming”.
My initial thought was that it had something to do with black magic but I could not be more wrong! Cautiously, I clicked onto the video and it felt as if a new meaning to “dreaming” had appeared right in front of me. It was so interesting and made me want to become a lucid dreamer right then and there!
In this blog post, I hope you will be able to see how I see lucid dreaming, as a place of escape from either a bad day or even a place to find peace and connect to your soul. It just takes practice and patience. So, without further delay, let’s get started with your lucid dreaming journey!!
What is Lucid dreaming?
Every night, as we cuddle close with our lover, our children, or even just you and your stuffed animals, we all will slowly drift into our little dream world. In this state, our brain is working non-stop. You have certainly heard of REM–sleep (REM stands for rapid eye movement). Interestingly, REM sleep increases brain activity, boosts learning, and best of all creates dreams; this is where lucid dreaming comes in.
Lucid dreaming is a state in which the dreamer is aware that they are dreaming. If one really wanted to, they could have the ability to control their dreams as well as imagine things or people they would want to appear in their dream. Experienced lucid dreamers pretty much can do whatever they wish because they know how to control their dreams. They can do a range of different activities such as walk on the moon, explore the world or overcome fears and phobias. Inexperienced lucid dreamers would normally not spend much time in the dream once they are aware that they are dreaming. As a result, they will wake up and may not even remember the dream after some minutes of being conscious.
“Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you”. – Marsha Norman
The Magic Two
1. Dream memory
To digest knowledge, you need to train your brain. This tactic mainly involves studying because it allows you to remember the information more easily. This is the same with dreams. You need to study lucid dreaming so your brain is used to that information and therefore remembers it.
2. Reality check (how you know that you are dreaming)
Every morning, write a letter, number, or even a little doodle on your hand and throughout the day you should check it frequently and ask yourself “Am I dreaming?!”. This will help you to realize that you are dreaming when you are vs. when you are not. Soon enough it should become such a habit that you will end up doing it in your dream. Be sure to not overcomplicate what you choose to draw on your hand otherwise this tactic won’t work.
For the two main techniques to work you need to do the following routinely:
- Go to bed at the same time every day
- Set an alarm that will wake you up early in the morning (3-5am)
- I recommend you to pick a night that you want to attempt these techniques if you’re a beginner.
Technique 1: FILD (Finger Induced Lucid Dreaming)
This technique is easy and great for beginners.
1) After your alarm has been set off, with little movement stop it and lay on your back or your side (whatever is most comfortable for you). Place one of your hands flat on your bed and imagine you’re playing the piano. The first thing you should be aiming for is to try to get back to sleep.
2) Move your fingers gently, relax your body, and visualize where you want to be. Don’t make the place you want to be too extreme, because it will overwhelm your mind then make you come out of that state.
3) The repetitive movements in your fingers will slowly become less and less noticeable, you’ll feel like you are drifting back to sleep. Relax even more and clear your mind, allowing every thought to pass by.
4) Now you should be transitioning from reality to your dream, in 30 seconds you need to perform a reality check to make sure that you are dreaming. To do this just think to yourself “am I dreaming” or try to point out something unusual while you’re going into your dream.
Note: This technique stimulates a part of the brain that keeps your mind alert but your body asleep so it’s perfect for wanting to lucid dream even for the first night!
“You never know. Maybe when we’re dreaming…we’re more lucid than when we are awake.” ― Katherine Angela Yeboah
Technique 2: WILD-Wake Induced Lucid Dreaming
This technique is more difficult and great for advanced lucid dreamers.
1) Keep your eyes closed, position yourself so that you’re lying on your back and make yourself comfortable, focus on your breathing (in through the nose out through the mouth).
2) When you feel completely relaxed lie completely still, within a few minutes you should see little patterns of lights, maybe even hear sounds. This is known as the hypnagogic stage and it’s completely normal, so do not panic.
3) If you don’t hear or see anything then you might not be in your REM stage of sleep or you could just be overly excited and that then prevents the brain from going into REM sleep. So, be patient and allow it to come naturally. If you’re lucky enough to get to this stage, then I cannot tell you how close you are!
4) You may feel vibrations across your body but do not panic. It is common sleep paralysis, perfectly normal, and it will last for just a few seconds. After this, you should be sinking into your lucid dream. During this, keep your eyes closed, try to relax and think of where you want to be. And lastly, if you hear certain noises or you happen to open your eyes and see figures, remember it is just your brain playing tricks on you.
Things to look out for when attempting WILD:
- Random twitches
- Swallow reflexes
- False awakening
All you need to do is allow them to pass; do not try to suppress them, otherwise you will wake up. With false awakening, you may be dreaming that you are in your room. This will confuse you, then making you wake up – but you can prevent this by doing reality checks in your dream.
Other techniques you can check out on YouTube:
“You must learn how to control your dreams or your dreams will forever control you”– anonymous
Benefits of Lucid dreaming
There are millions of benefits to lucid dreaming; it does not just stop at the fun you can have. Most importantly, it can have benefits for people who suffer from mental illnesses as well as those who have trouble in their lives and cannot find ways to fix them just yet. Lucid dreaming can help you find solutions and peace. It can help with:
- Psychological healing (That being phobias, trauma, confidence)
- Physical healing
- Exploring your unconscious mind
- supporting people with PTSD and nightmare integration
- Increasing your creativity
- Enhancing learning and allows you to remember past experiences
- Connecting you to your inner self
Sleep paralysis is the inability to move or speak whilst asleep or even coming out of sleep, but while you are aware of your surroundings. This is a frightening experience for many because their mind plays tricks on them by making them see things like black figures, demons, etc. These can seem very real, but they are not – it is just the brain playing tricks. Weirdly enough, this actually can help you to lucid dream. This is because sleep paralysis and lucid dreaming are alike. In both cases, you are stuck between your mind being awake and your body being asleep, which is the transition you have every night into your dream. This is perfect for people who want to lucid dream. Although the experience may be uncomfortable, this time they can become aware that they are about to experience a lucid dream. Sleep paralysis often is predicted by poor sleep quality (e.g. being stressed, overwhelmed, disrupted sleep schedule). Lucid dreaming, on the other hand, is likely to happen after a positive day and if the dreamer’s vivid sensory memory is working well.
Weird lucid dreaming facts:
- Scientists are not sure what triggers you to realise you are dreaming and become lucid
- Lucid dreams are more likely to happen to younger people (4-22)
- The first lucid dream was recorded by Ancient Egyptians
- One in five people lucid dreams every month or more
- If you close your eyes in a lucid dream, you will wake up
- Time moves slower during a lucid dream
- People who lucid dream regularly may have a different brain structure compared to people who do not.
Last but not least, the most important thing I can say is that consistency is key and without that, you will not have much success at experiencing a lucid dream. So, if you wish to lucid dream continue studying and stay positive.
In this blog, I gave you my personal insight into how lucid dreaming will impact your life. Even in these uncertain times with so much going on and mental health being a top priority for everyone, lucid dreaming can be a way for you to escape from reality. Dreams are yours; no one can take them away from you or control what happens in them, apart from you!
Thanks for reading and remember dreams are far more beyond the pillow.
Sources used – Explore Lucid dreaming (YouTube channel)