When the first spark of lucid realization illuminates your mind and you gleefully announce, “Hey, this is a dream,” what happens next?
For many beginning lucid dreamers, their success will be determined by how they respond in the first 15 to 30 seconds. In those initial crucial moments, taking four important steps can set you on the path to an exciting and lengthy lucid dream. These are the steps: 1) modulating your emotions, 2) elevating your awareness, 3) maintaining your focus, and finally, 4) establishing your intent.
The joy or euphoria that often accompanies your lucid dream realization will lead to its quick demise, unless you rein in the emotional intensity. Lucid dreaming newbies quickly learn to modulate their emotions, since intense emotions lead to the collapse of lucid dreams.
Lucid dreamers deal with intense emotions in a number of ways. Some visually focus on something boring, like their hands or the floor, since visually neutral stimuli serves to decrease any emotional upsurge. Others mentally tell themselves to “Calm down,” before their emotions get too high. While others begin to concentrate their energies on other tasks, which naturally reduces the level of sensed emotion.
Once the emotional level has stabilized, you will want to elevate or clarify your awareness. Some do this by performing a “reality check” (they levitate, put their hand through a wall, etc.) to re-confirm that they exist in the dream state. Some engage in a solidifying ritual, such as rubbing their dream hands together to ground themselves and spark the kinesthetic senses. You can take this further by shouting out a suggestion to the dream, such as “Greater clarity now!” or “More lucid awareness!” These vocalized intents normally show immediate results.
An elevated awareness makes the next goal of maintaining your focus much easier. Newbies frequently discover that their focus will wander, and suddenly they will get intrigued by some aspect of the dream. If not careful, this new aspect can become so interesting (or en-trancing) that your lucid awareness vanishes, and you slip back into regular, unaware dreaming.
Maintaining your focus requires an “active” realization of lucid dreaming. Many lucid dreamers perform repetitive actions to remind themselves that they are dreaming. They may repeatedly announce, “This is a lucid dream” or perform reality checks at certain intervals.
One caution about focus involves staring at objects in a lucid dream. For some reason, lucid dreamers find that staring fixedly at something for more than a few seconds often causes the dream to feel shaky and then collapse. Some lucid dreamers notice the shaky feeling and immediately look back at their hands or the ground to stabilize the dream state. Others have discovered ways to create a new dream scene (by closing their eyes for a second or spinning around); however, for inexperienced lucid dreamers a new dream environment may feel bewildering.
In my book, I suggest that the easiest way to maintain your focus involves establishing an intent or goal to accomplish, and then establishing a new intent or goal immediately after the initial accomplishment. You can think of this as the “active focus & re-focus” technique. By re-focusing on a new goal, you maintain an active state of awareness. Without an active focus on a goal, new elements will spontaneously enter the dream and capture your attention. Within seconds, your focus will likely become en-tranced by these new elements and you will lose lucidity, as you slip back into unaware dreaming. By habitually establishing goal after goal, you keep your awareness active.
Of course, a lucid dreaming goal may be a very simple thing, such as “I wonder what is around the corner?” or “I now want to walk through that door.” Each goal focuses your awareness and keeps conscious activity engaged. By stringing these simple goals together, a beginner can maintain lucid awareness, and have a surprisingly long lucid dream.
Each of these four crucial steps to successful lucid dreaming—1) modulating your emotions, 2) elevating your awareness, 3) maintaining your focus, and finally, 4) establishing your intent—requires your focus. With practice, these steps become second nature. Once established, you can confidently and lucidly explore the incredible beauty and creativity of your larger Self and the inner lands of the Psyche.
May 4, 2009