Alan, a 32-year-old living in Texas, got into lucid dreaming during a particularly nasty bit of depression. “I wanted some way to escape this reality. Leave my world and my life behind,” he tells MEL.
Eventually he “stumbled upon lucid dreaming somewhere on the internet” and was shocked by people’s stories of having control of their existence. Alan was immediately hooked. “How could we create an environment that could let us manipulate reality?” he asks. However, after diving into all the research and techniques, he came up short. “I practiced all the steps it told me to. … But they didn’t work and I eventually bailed [on] it.”
A few days later, Alan finally had a breakthrough. “One fateful night, I had a dream where I was in some sort of university. I looked at my watch and saw it was broken and I felt pity for myself. Then, I looked for a bit then I looked at my watch again to figure out how I could fix it and that’s when I saw that it changed! I realized that it was a dream. I did a reality check to confirm this discovery, and yes! I was dreaming!”
“I was really happy,” he continues. “I then tried to create a scene where I could woo a lady — and obviously people know what would happen next — but I would accidentally change it to a different scene. Later I woke up.”
Ever since, Alan regularly escapes his reality into his dreams, where he’s in total control.
He and other lucid dreaming devotees, or “oneironauts,” congregate on the subreddit r/LucidDreaming, a forum dedicated to discussing the different approaches to lucid dreaming (represented by a whole host of acronyms), experiences, and general discussion about controlling sleep. They keep dream journals and publish their lucid dreams on DreamJournal.net, a website dedicated to sharing, rating and commenting on other lucid dreamers’ experiences.
I reached out to a few of these lucid dreamers to hear their craziest lucid dreams to date, and also to learn a little strategy — what they do to “wake up” in the dream world.
Alan, 32, Texas
One fateful night, I had a dream where I was in some sort of university. I looked at my watch and saw it was broken and I felt pity for myself. Then, I looked for a bit then I looked at my watch again to figure out how I could fix it and that’s when I saw that it changed! I realized that it was a dream. I did a reality check to confirm this discovery, and yes, I was dreaming!
I quickly calmed myself because I knew it would wake me up, then I took a deep breath and tried to feel lightness and the wind hitting my face… I was trying to fly! Many people say that it’s difficult to fly in your first lucid dream but I actually did! I opened my eyes and I was flying! I did a backflip and eventually lost my balance and fell down. I was really happy, I then tried to create a scene where I could woo a lady — and obviously people know what would happen next — but I would accidentally change it to a different scene. Later I woke up.
This was my first and best lucid dream. It may not sound amazing, but in dreams it feels much more amazing and intense. Now I regularly have lucid dreams, even to the point of seeing recurring DCs [dream characters]. For example, I have a recurring DC who’s a girl with whom I always fall in love.
If you want to lucid dream, I would tell you to practice your reality checks — basically, some actions that you do to confirm if you’re dreaming or not. For example, try plugging your nose and trying to breathe in. If you can, you’re in a dream. Or count your fingers: If your hand has the amount … you actually have in real life, you’re not dreaming; but if it has more or [fewer], then you’re dreaming.
Next would be to write down your dreams every morning in a dream journal or a notebook. This improves your dream recall, and if you can’t remember a dream, how do you know you if you had one? It also helps you to see a dream pattern, which is the reoccurring objects or situations that occur in your dream. Once you find that pattern and you encounter it, do a reality check and you might see that you’re in a dream.
Lucid dreaming has become a big part of my life, and I’m sure it can become a part of other people’s lives too.
Paul, 20, Illinois
My process for it is the boring part. Ever since I was a child I knew I was dreaming but had constant nightmares. All I had the power to do was wake myself up. One day, I figured I could just turn the nightmares into fun parallel lives. That’s what I did. The Wake Back to Bed method [a strategy of waking up, then focusing on planning a dream as you fall back asleep] is the only method that helps. Not with being lucid but with being aware of when the dream starts. Most of the times the dream puts you in a situation with zero explanation and WBTB helps me be aware of that.
One of my favorite dreams started off with me and a friend. We were on holiday together and decided to visit a cathedral. The cathedral was gigantic and filled with people who were seated on multiple levels near the walls. In the centre was an altar and a priest performing some sort of religious ceremony. My friend and I made our way to the altar to see the ceremony first hand. That’s when the priest lost it. He started shouting curses at me and was calling me Satan and “false god.”
My friend turned to me baffled and asked, “What’s this guy on about?” I explained I am the god of that particular reality because my mind was forming it and that sometimes religious people get super-worked-up over it since they want their god to be the only god.
That is mostly because I do not provide any guidelines to the people in my dreams. No meaning or purpose. But people love their value system and want to go to heaven so religious people don’t like me in my dreams.
The people in the congregation were asking me all sorts of questions about my powers after that and I had to tell them I didn’t really like being called god because technically everything in the dream was me. So everything in the dream was “god” technically. One of the people stood up and asked, “Me too?” Logically I answered positively. Then everyone got up and began shouting: “And me!”
The cathedral began to shake and the roof cracked in half. Bits of rock fell on the people. I turned to my friend to be met with a horrified melting face. He grabbed onto me before dissolving completely and draining through the cathedral floor. At that point I didn’t want to be part of that universe anymore. I flew up through the crack in the cathedral roof and into complete nothingness.
It’s what I call in my dreams the space between universes.
I flew for a while toward nowhere until little light could be seen inside glass enclosures. I could open the enclosure and see universes. If I looked close enough I could distinguish planets and even people. I kept looking through them. At one point I stumbled upon a universe that had Superman in it. I watched Superman punch a few criminals and then decided to wake up.
The reason I decided to wake up is because I can tell in my dreams what time it is in waking life. I have a good biological clock and when I was done looking at universes I noticed it was near the time my alarm would go off. I enjoy waking up before my alarm whenever possible. Especially if the dream was as interesting as the one I have just described. No need to drag a good dream out.
Bobby, 18, Colorado
I started actively lucid dreaming about two months ago. In real life, we are constantly surrounded by normality. Dullness. It’s quite boring, actually, and so I was trying to figure out ways to make it more exciting, and looked at lucid dreaming. I’ve always had an interest in it, but until recently never actually [gone] after it with considerable effort.
The easiest way to know when you’re dreaming is to do a reality check. Of course, those don’t work for everybody, and so sometimes you’ll have to actually “look” at the dream itself and find details that don’t match up with real life. I’m lucky enough to naturally have an enormous amount of control over them as well.
I’ve recently made a breakthrough in the WILD technique [“carrying your awareness from wake state to the dream state,” according to Reddit]. I figured out how the transition feels, as well as how to properly let thoughts slip away and focus on just entering the dream world.
Dreams are not only a way to escape reality, but also make it significantly better. Think about it. If you want to go visit an alien world, or even another universe, or even just have a feast you could never manage to eat in real life, just have a lucid dream! The possibilities are ridiculously endless. You can act on any of your wildest fantasies, from climbing a tree to punching a god.