Mastering the art of conscious dreaming — also referred to as lucid dreaming — involves learning to become aware that you are dreaming while the dream is taking place. Once the dreamer has learned to recognize that he or she is dreaming, the possibilities are endless.
Dreams can be fun and exciting, offering the opportunity for adventures limited only by our own imagination, but the entertainment value is not the only benefit to learning to control our dreams. Dreams can also be an important tool for personal growth and for improving mental and emotional wellbeing. They provide us with a glimpse into the inner workings of our unconscious mind, bringing us closer to understanding ourselves.
Throughout history, various cultures have recognized the value of dreams. In ancient Greece, visitors slept within temple chambers in the hopes they would be blessed with a conscious dream that would provide information to guide their actions in waking life. Tibetan yogis recognized the significance of dreams and developed a set of techniques known as Dream Yoga specifically for the purpose of mastering the art of conscious dreaming. Native American tribal shamans used dreams for the purpose of physical and psychological healing, while the Australian Aboriginal peoples describe the Dreaming as a powerful force that underlies all of waking reality.
Many authors, scientists, philosophers, and even inventors have reported experiencing bursts of insight within their dreams. 17th century French philosopher Rene Descartes, author Robert Louis Stevenson, and sewing machine inventor Elias Howe all reported that their most important theories and ideas first occurred to them as dreams. Albert Einstein claimed the inspiration for his Theory of Relativity came to him while in a dreamlike state, and Dmitri Mendeleyev, a 19th century Russian chemist, reportedly fell asleep at his desk and awoke after conceiving the Periodic Table of Elements in a dream.
There are many valid reasons for learning the art of conscious dreaming. Dreams provide us with access to previously untapped resources for personal growth and exploration. By becoming more consciously aware of your mind’s activities in the dream state, you are creating a more active connection between your conscious and unconscious mind. That connection will aid you in uncovering the underlying source of mental and emotional issues, and can then help you to overcome or integrate those issues in order to create a more positive and beneficial waking life.
Dreams may also be used to rehearse events and prepare for situations in waking life. You can practice social interaction for business purposes by rehearsing a speech or presentation. You can determine your best course of action in a situation by rehearsing various scenarios and outcomes. You can even practice specific skills within your dreams. A study published in theJournal of Sport Behaviour found that runners who practiced in their dreams reported significantly faster times than non-dreamers.
Dreams can be used for problem solving and creativity, or to discover the answers to important life questions, such as, “What is my purpose in life?” or “What am I here to accomplish?” By posing questions to ourselves, we can receive insight from our unconscious mind via our dreams.
Conscious dreaming techniques may be used to overcome nightmares or to discover the meaning of recurring dreams. By learning to observe our dream activities and to discover our personal dream symbols and cues, we can uncover new and insightful details about why we dream the things we dream.
Dreams may also be used for physical healing. By envisioning a healthy body within our dreams, we can encourage the body’s natural healing process. For some, dreams may also have a spiritual purpose. Dreams are used by many people as a way to connect with the spirit or higher self.
Dreams can also provide entertainment value. By learning how to have conscious dreams, we can learn to create any dream environment or events we choose and can take the starring role in the adventure of our choice.
This post is Part 1 in the series Mastering the Art of Lucid Dreaming.
Read part 2 here – Misconceptions About Lucid Dreaming