1. Improving dream recall-
- Use autosuggestions - "Tonight I will remember my dreams" or a similar statement. It should be simple and phrased positively (no use of the words "no" or "not"). Say this out loud or in your head, firmly and with full attention.
- Keep a dream journal. Either record it or write it down. You can also write down keywords and write it out later. Analyse your dreams and try to recognize patterns, which can help you recognize them in the dream as well.
2. Attaining lucidity
Once you have improved your ability to remember your dreams, and you are able to remember a few, you are ready to start working on becoming lucid. You can use these techniques:
- Once again, autosuggestions. You can add a phrase to your already existing autosuggestion from the previous step. So instead of just saying "I will remember my dreams tonight," you can add the words "and when I am dreaming, I will know I am dreaming." Keep it simple and avoid using negatives ("no," "not" in your autosuggestions (the subconscious mind ignores these words, or so I've been told).
- The second technique is using reality checks. When dreaming, you generally don't realise that you are dreaming, even if something bizarre is going on. You want to create the habit of checking what reality-state you are in outside of the dream-state, so that it carries over into the dream state and helps you become lucid.
Throughout the day, whenever you can remember it, ask yourself the question "am I dreaming?" Try to ask yourself this question sincerely, remembering that you never actually know for sure, unless you check! There's a few things you can do to actually check it. Common reality-checks are looking at the time and looking again to see if it changes. Digital clocks may look warped. The same kind of instability also occurs in printed text. My favourite reality-check is the nose-pinch. Close your nose with your fingers and try to breathe in through your nose. If you can't, you're probably not dreaming! Use whatever reality checks you want to use. I like the nose-pinch cause I can do it anywhere, any time, and I tend to have a lot of false-awakenings (where I wake up from a dream in my room, but am actually still dreaming) so it doesn't cost much effort when you're still half asleep, too comfy to move.
- A third technique that is extremely effective is the WILD (Wake-induced Lucid Dream) technique. This involves waking up after 4-6 hours of sleep, staying awake for 15-30 mins (or up to an hour) and going back to sleep with the intention of having a lucid dream. This causes a REM-sleep rebound effect that allows you to go straight into REM-sleep, thus making it easier to acquire and maintain lucidity. You might have experienced this REM-sleep rebound effect before, waking up and going straight back into a dream. During the time spent awake, avoid bright lights or screens. Light a candle, meditate, set intentions... get your mind awake and aware, but not distracted. I do this alot because I usually automatically wake up after 4-6 hours, but if you have trouble waking up for this, I suggest you do it once or twice a week or so. Don't lose any sleep for this!
- Another technique involves using herbs. Calea zacatechichi, silene capensis and mugwort are known oneirogens (dream-enhancers). I have heard of people using melatonin,especially in conjunction with the WILD technique as well. A friend of mine even told me that smoking a very small amount of bufo before going to sleep works too. I like mugwort especially, cause it grows absolutely abundantly here in Holland (and all over the Northern Hemisphere afaik)! Don't overuse mugwort though, no more than a week straight to avoid possible toxicity (not sure if the toxicity thing is legit though).
3. Deepening lucidity
Once you have attained lucidity, it probably won't be that easy to maintain it, most of the time. You may become overexcited and wake up, which used to happen to me alot. The key here is to keep at it! In time you will become more used to the state. Once you are lucid, the best thing to do when you are starting out is to deepen your awareness of the dream body.
- Rubbing your (dream) hands together, looking at your dream body, feeling it, meditating on it. These are all ways of increasing your awareness. The more aware you are of your dream-body, the more control you will have over it. In due time you will learn to fly, move through walls, etc. Sometimes you may be more easily able to move around in the dream world (especially if you attain lucidity deep inside a dream), but practicing this will help alot. Another thing that happens to alot of people is a kind of "astral blindness". Vision may become blurry, or disappear. I've found that I can kind of force my dream-eyelids open with my hands, but it's far better just to be patient and try to bring more awareness and focus to your vision. Just wait, patiently, and it will probably come back.