A Progressive Guide to Lucid Dreaming

This summary guide can fast-track you to your first lucid dream. For a more comprehensive free ebook on lucid dreaming you can freely download my book entitled, “You Are Dreaming” in PDF format: You Are Dreaming – Free ebook by Ian Wilson

Every person is different, so what works for one lucid dreamer may not work for another. The techniques you use to remain conscious during sleep should be progressive and not rely on any technique which has no return on your investment. Stick with what works, and drop elements of a technique which you feel doesn’t fit right.

Lucid Dreaming is simply being consciously awake during a dream when the body is asleep. You are using attention focusing, intent and affirmations to trigger wakefulness during a dream. Every technique is wraps itself around the very basic ideas of focusing attention and intent.

There are only two paths for achieving lucidity.

  1. Remaining awake as the body falls asleep and let the dream form around you.
  2. Falling asleep into unconsciousness then triggering wakefulness during the dream.

Both paths have their pros and cons.

Remaining Awake during Sleep

Pros:

  1. You remain conscious through the entire process of sleep entering the dream with a high-level of waking awareness.
  2. You can create the dream as you progress through the stages of sleep having rewarding dream experiences that you want.

Cons:

  1. Remaining awake during this shift can keep you awake.
  2. May require relaxation techniques to willfully progress the body into sleep.
  3. The progress through hypnagogic shifts can spook beginners because the transition is very vivid and sensory driven.
  4. You can experience sleep-paralysis.
  5. It is the most difficult for a beginner induce a first lucid dream.
  6. Requires a lot more work and effort.

Waking up in a Dream

Pros:

  1. It is easier for a beginner to achieve lucidity after the body is asleep.
  2. Requires a lot less focus and attention.
  3. Doesn’t require any relaxation techniques, only affirmations.
  4. Won’t be spooked during hypnagogic shifts.

Cons:

  1. Requires being able to question the dream with reality-checks.
  2. The level of lucidity can vary from semi-lucid to fully lucid.
  3. You may not be in the dream you want, and it can be a challenge to shift it to the desired dream experience.
  4. Becoming conscious in a dream can be so exciting it can trigger waking up from sleep.

You can become efficient with both methods over time. Dreaming is a skill and like any skill don’t expect to master the Piano by playing it only once. To be good at lucid dreaming means you need to not only hone in on an effective method, but learn to navigate in the dream state consciously so that being there is the new normal.

The more hours of dream experience, the more skilled and knowledgeable you will be. Don’t judge lucid dreaming based on the first group of successes. First lucid dreams are merely a small sample of something far more rewarding. Just a taste of the potential offered in being conscious during sleep.

Lots of first time lucid dreamers can be disappointed because their expectations are not met. They discover challenges not addressed in the techniques they read. And it can demotivate them to continue.

What to expect in your first lucid dreams?

  1. It may be very short. The newness of the experience can cause lots of emotional responses causing you to wake up, or slip back into unconsciousness.
  2. The quality of the dream may be diminished. It might be fuzzy. Hard to remember.
  3. Being conscious in a dream can be a shock. It’s such a new experience that you might have some irrational fears pop-up.

Our first lucid dreams merely help introduce what it means to be conscious during sleep. The progress into more efficient, rewarding and amazing dreams comes with skill, knowledge and experience. Treat the first wave of lucid dreams as merely the training grounds towards self-mastery as a lucid dreamer.

What are the known and proven techniques?

There has been a tremendous amount of research into lucid dreaming. Dr. Stephen LaBerge of the Lucidity institute has rigorously tested lucid dreaming techniques and has a wealth of practical knowledge that applies to achieving results.

One of the studies conducted by the Lucidity Institute was done on napping. Their research concluded that after having a sleep, and waking up for a period then returning to sleep increases lucid dreaming success by 10x.

It is this research that has led to a sleeping pattern called WBTB, or Wake-Back-To-Bed. This method may not work for everyone, especially people who find difficulty falling back to sleep after they wake up. By itself, it’s not a lucid dreaming technique rather a sleeping patter to better facilitate lucid dreaming. It needs to be combined with a lucid dreaming technique.

For a beginner who can use this method, combining it with a technique known as MILD (Mnemonic Induced Lucid Dreaming ) can be a great combination towards the first lucid dream. Combining MILD with ADA, or All-Day-Awareness also greatly improves lucid dreaming.

This is how a progressive technique should work. Take what is known to work and combine it with other tested and proven methods to maximize your potential to lucid dream. MILD by itself is good, but combined with ADA and WBTB, it is improved greatly.

Thus, for a beginner, starting here would be an excellent place to start. I’ll break down each method and technique to present a solid starting foundation for anyone new to lucid dreaming.

WBTB – Wake-Back-To-Bed

WBTB applies only to people who find it easy and natural to go back to sleep after waking up. The trick is when you wake up, don’t lie in bed. Rather get out of bed for 30-60 minutes. This gives you time to use the washroom, and don’t load up on liquids before returning. If thirsty just have a small amount so you don’t wake up having to use the washroom.

During the time you are up, you can practice ADA and prepare for lucid dreaming. There is a physical queue from my body that I look for which indicates it’s ready to return to sleep. I’ll notice a drop in energy and feel tired again. As soon as that state is present, I’ll return to bed applying the next set of techniques.

ADA – All-Day-Awareness

Remember how I mentioned first time lucid dreamers may have a poor quality of fuzziness or a poor quality of lucidity? There is a way to help focus your attention into the dreamstate bringing in the same level of memory, awareness and perception that you have during the day.

There are two objectives you want to take from All-Day-Awareness.

  1. Improve your awareness of how it feels to be conscious including perception and memory and transfer this into dreaming.
  2. Preform reality-checks during the day which will transfer over into the dreamstate as a routine behavior.

Why using ADA helps with lucid dreaming? Lucid dreaming is all about the quality and level of awareness. If your awareness is fuzzy, or you are unconscious then the dreamstate is going to reflect a poor-quality experience. If your awareness is equal or greater to how you are aware right now in the dream, what you gain from it is a much more rewarding experience.

We take a mental snapshot of being aware of all the details in our waking life impressing this into our intent to dream equal or greater than this waking model. All the senses to facilitate waking perception directed to our intent to perceive the dream as equal or greater. How we remember, also directed to dreaming.

It can be beneficial just to do this without dreaming as it really sets you up to enjoy and experience reality, to exist in the present. There is so much you can take from life into the dream that ADA can evolve and change in quality.

For example, if you are at a restaurant having a nice dinner take the time to really be aware of how the food tastes, the details of the restaurant, how it feels to be in the current state. Take all the qualities you are enjoying and tell yourself you will dream at this level of detail, awareness and perception. You’ll find in a dream that you may be at a restaurant having a wonderful meal thanks to shaping your intent.

Take a walk and be aware of the sky, the setting the feeling of being you possess. Direct it towards your intent to dream the same way and you’ll find these qualities emerging in the dreamstate.

You are mapping real life perception and awareness into practical dreaming intent. You can watch a movie and pay attention to all the details to find a dream reflecting that movie. Same applies to video games, you can create a genre specific lucid dream by real world influences. This makes dreaming extremely fun and rewarding.

With every pleasant life experience, be aware of it and it’s quality. This is what you want to experience or greater in the lucid dream. You’ll be amazed how effective and powerful ADA can be in how it shapes greater vividness and details from the dream.

Reality-Checks are important in dreaming. If you use MILD and fall unconscious, you need to trigger your logical, analytical parts of your waking self. You need to question the realism of a dream, as for most we believe it to be reality until we wake up, and not a dream. This challenge to all dreamers can only be resolved through rational, logical questioning. A reality-check is your tool of choice to achieve this goal.

There are many reality-checks people use from looking at their hands, holding their nose to see if they can breath in the dream. At the most fundamental level the reality-check is a logical query directed at proving the dream is in fact a dream. You can change the dream to validate this. You can recognize abstract dream symbology that you know is not reality triggering the valuable questioning needed.

In ADA combining a series of daily reality checks creates a pattern which emerges in the dream. That moment to stop and question are you dreaming while awake can cause you to stop in a dream and question the same. Role-playing what it’s like to be in a lucid dream while awake and questioning reality with a reality-check adds to the effectiveness of your lucid dream toolkit.

I walk to work, so use both the walk to work and the walk home to stop and do reality-checks and roleplay that I’ve achieved lucidity and map that intent into my dream goals. I’ll stop and look at the ground and question am I dreaming? I transfer all the waking qualities of perception, awareness and memory into my dream intent.

In any area that your feel deficient in your dreams be it awareness, perception or memory you can use ADA to improve those areas thus improving the quality of your dream.

MILD – Mnemonic Induced Lucid Dreaming

This method of lucid dreaming involves programming your intent to dream before you fall asleep. It uses a series of affirmations to program that intent. You can modify any of the affirmations and custom-tailor them to address goals, improve perception, improve memory. We have Dr. Stephan LaBerge and his research team for this powerful lucid dream induction technique.

MILD addresses Dream Recall, Reality-Checks, Affirmations and Visualizing the dream.

As you have read regarding all-day-awareness we are already shaping our MILD technique addressing memory, reality-checks and awareness. Hence why the synergy with these techniques combine to give you a greater success rate than without them.

The affirmations are simple logical instructions that you are using to program your intent for the benefit of lucid dreaming. We address the fundamental basics with focusing our attention and intent through these affirmations. We are telling ourselves what we want to do, so that we remember to do it.

The affirmations I use address everything we’ve already covered in ADA.

    1. I am allowing myself to be as conscious and awake as I am now when by body is asleep and while I am dreaming.
      • This addresses mind-awake/body-asleep with the intent to be awake and conscious in the dream.
    2. I am allowing myself to perceive the dream in full vivid detail equal or greater than how I perceive my waking life.
      • This addresses perception directed at the dream, instructing myself to maximize dream perception.
    3. I will remember my dream as vividly and clearly as I remember details in my waking life.
      • This addresses the muchly needed memory as without it we enter amnesia and can have no dream recollection.
    4. I am going to sleep, if I find myself in any new setting other than my bed then I will know I am dreaming.
      • This sets up the desire to question and rationalize the change from waking to dream knowing the dream is going to take place. It sets up the reality-check.

These are my 4 main affirmations, I would custom tailor any additional ones specific to dream goals such as what I want to dream about. If I’m having poor vision, I will add an affirmation that instructs better perception and vision in the dream. You can use this to address fears, anxieties and concerns as well.

  1. I will dream about a beautiful beach vacation.
  2. I will not be afraid of anything presented in the dreamstate, dreams are harmless experiences that cannot hurt me.

It’s very easy to custom fit an affirmation linked to your needs, wants and desires to shape and control the dream content.

When you wake up from your sleep, before you exit the bed. Take the time to try to remember any detail of the dream. Even if you don’t remember dreaming, just focusing on recalling any detail can trigger a series of dream memories. This review of the dream improves memory and you can further enhance your dream recall by writing the dream down in a journal. The dream journal is just a memory tool to enhance recall, but it’s also nice to go back and re-read some of the more entertaining and exciting dream adventures.

This concludes a very comprehensive set of techniques for the beginner to the advanced using ADA/WBTB and MILD.

Work with this system and know the first series of lucid dreaming is just orientation to help you learn to be in this new focus state. To have full conscious awareness, and how to balance and control yourself while in that state.

As you become comfortable with this method, you can move on to more advanced dreaming techniques such as WILD (Waking induced Lucid Dreaming).

WILD (Waking induced Lucid Dreaming).

If you want to explore WILD as a method, then there are certain key points to be aware off when moving from a fully awake state, and progressing through hypnagogic shifts.

What is Hypnagogia? This is a pre-sleep effect that occurs as your senses shift from external perception and invert towards the dreamstate. For example, as you allow the body to sleep you may start to see images and patterns. These visual thoughts are natural and occur when you maintain wakefulness during the progression towards sleep.

You mind is now inverting your visual perception to start to perceive visually the dream. What is really happening is you are starting to think in visual forms at a subconscious level. The images you begin to see are nothing but visual thoughts which are starting to shape the dream environment.

During this shift, even audible sounds can emerge. You might hear talking, music or environmental noises like loud popping sounds. For me, the sudden loud audible sound can be surprising as it can be as if you were wearing headphones. The key here is to understand you are starting to dream and this audible response is natural and normal. How else will you hear in a dream if you don’t start hearing feedback as the dream emerges? All safe, all natural. Allow it to progress.

The next surprising hypnagogic shift can be tactile. You might start feeling vibrations, or buzzing sensation. Like Sight and Hearing, the mind is now shifting tactile perception into the dream. These tactile responses are going to happen, allow them. Don’t be afraid because it can be so strong a sensation.

If you allow all of these shifts to occur, the dream will emerge rapidly. There is a period when the body hits sleep and this shift snaps you into the dream. It is a quick shift, can happen in seconds. You just pop into the dream with this method.

One of the known phenomena that can occur is sleep paralysis. This is when the body has fallen asleep, and you may feel stuck in it. Unable to move the body. This means you are in the dream, just it’s producing a type of false-awakening effect. During sleep our mind releases a metatropic called GABAb and an ionotropic GABAa/Glycine which switches off receptors in the body causing paralysis. This is so your body doesn’t suddenly act out the dream as you might see with a dog lying on it’s side trying to run physically while dreaming.

And of course, this effect is new, so it will be strange, even scary if you don’t understand that a couple of neurological chemicals were just released causing paralysis. Should you be frightened now that you are conscious of this nightly effect? No, but lots of beginners can be scared when aware of this state. It’s just new, learn to accept and allow it knowing it’s all part of the process of natural sleep.

As you gain experience and knowledge from this shift, it becomes easier and much more natural. An expected part of WILD, and helps indicate that the dream is emerging.

The other challenge with MILD is the body is very sensitive to how we think while focused on it. Any attention on the body can keep you awake. It is here where we may need to use relaxation techniques to progress the body into sleep. The better you are at relaxation into sleep, the better you will be at achieving consistent lucidity so learning to relax into sleep can be very powerful as a tool, but it’s not as easy as it sounds.

There are a lot of techniques from self-hypnosis for sleep disorders that we can capitalize on to become more successful lucid dreamers. But as it requires work, and many of us are lazy we may get half way then just get bored hence why MILD tends to be more effective for those who want all the reward without all the hard work.

One of the methods that I have had success with is worth detailing.

The first step is to focus your attention to a single point directing it outside of the body in the visual space, the reason is so your attention focus is not on the body rather this point. This keeps attention away from the body as it falls asleep, you just let it do it’s natural thing maintaining this attention focus.

To better facilitate it, you can use this process of telling the body in stages to relax and sleep.

I start with the toes and instruct them to relax and sleep, the muscles and nerves to relax and sleep. I feel the relaxation and intent to sleep flow into the toes, move into the feet continuing to instruct each muscle group that I sense to relax and sleep. Move it up through the legs, to the hips, to the torso, to the arms, the neck and finally the face. Then tell the whole body to relax and asleep, and feel the sensation of relaxation and sleep over the whole body.

Once that is complete the focus becomes the point and the allowing of the shift into hypnagogia. I allow the visual, audible and tactile shifts to occur, and keep moving my awareness further away from the body and more into these shifts.

There is another technique we can apply here to better shape the hypnagogic shift into something more controlled. In that focus space, visualize a flight of stairs and feel yourself walking on the stairs. Imagine each foot touching a stair and the sensation of walking. Feel the wall, or the rail and listen for the footsteps. Allow this to become more vivid. When you start to see the stairs, feel the stairs and the motions of moving, you are very close to dreaming. You are in a controlled pre-sleep hypnagogic construct. Then create a door at the end of the stairs.

I’ll throw rocks at it, and listen for the rocks hit. If I can see, hear and feel the door I am already in the dream. I open the door and walk into the dreamstate.

Using a construct to shape hypnagogic shifts prevents the more random and noisy shifts from happening. It can be a ladder, a path, or even rock climbing. Something that makes use of a variety of visual, audible and tactile feedback.

You can add in addition to this MILD so that the affirmations help shape intent, as well, the MILD technique can act as a kind of safety-net if you fall asleep at any point through this process.

I usually give myself about 30 minutes to attempt WILD, if I’m still awake I stop everything, resort to MILD as fallback and just let go into natural sleep without maintaining focus. The problem is now being entirely dependent on waking up from unconsciousness during the dream rather than just consciously entering it.

This is why having a progressive technique that caters to your sleeping patterns and lifestyle draws on many known techniques. All that remains is keeping a daily routine repeating these processes until you become more skilled and proficient at them.

The reward, a whole new realm of experience and adventure awaits you.


Hopefully this will helps some of you new to lucid dreaming. I wanted to have a no-nonsense guide that focuses on the most effective techniques and issues we may encounter while learning to lucid dream.

Let me know if this is beneficial and helps you achieve lucidity.