Dreaming is something that we all do, even if some people do not remember their dreams. There are many different theories on why we dream. Many believe that dreams are the brain’s way of sorting through memories, working out how to catalogue and store them, deciding which ones to keep and which ones to bin. Others think that dreams are like a safe training ground for our minds, somewhere that we can explore situations and scenarios without risk of injury. Others still see dreams as purely random occurrences, a by-product of sleep, with no greater purpose or meaning. While there is no way to know which theory is right at the moment, it is probably a safe bet to assume each has elements of truth. We probably did begin dreaming as a random process, evolution is not a planned and coordinated event but rather a set of chaotic yet shaped set of developments, so dreaming was probably just a happy accident at first. Now, it is probable that it has been utilised as both a time when the brain can sort through memories and can also test our consciousness in a safe and secure manner.
One thing is for sure, for most people, most of the time, dreams are chaotic and random, they are beyond our control. However, many of us have experienced those moments when we have a degree of control over our dreams, an awareness that we are dreaming and an ability to influence the course and content of our dream. This is often an extremely exciting and enjoyable event, akin to being able to ‘make your dreams come true’. You are suddenly able to decide who is in your dream, where you are in your dream and what you are doing in your dream. Suddenly, a dream turns from a random and potentially frightening or confusing situation into an enjoyable and control event. This is called lucid dreaming.
Here are six ways of controlling your dreams:
1. Keep a dream journal: Every morning, you should jot down the content of your night’s dreams, whatever you remember. At first this might seem strange, pointless almost, as often your memories are mere fragments and random snippets, but as you continue this process, you will find that you remember more and more of your dreams. This is vital as it will help you become aware of your dreams, even as you dream.
2. Plan ahead: Work out what you want to dream about, think about what scenarios and situations you want to explore. Think about them before bed, read about them and look at relevant pictures. This will help your brain set the scene and will provide the sets for your lucid dreaming.
3. Catch yourself dreaming: Set your alarm clock for an hour earlier than you would normally get up. You may still be dreaming and you will have a better chance of remembering your dream. Write it in your dream journal and try to get back to sleep.
4. Put a unique symbol or object in your bedroom: If you put something instantly recognisable and iconic in your room then chances are that you will encounter it during your dreams. This will help you to realise when you are dreaming as you will be familiar with this symbol or object from your bedroom. Its appearance in your dreams will provide a jolt of awareness. If you want to go all out, you could even paint a symbol on the ceiling of your bedroom.
5. Focus on doing one particular thing in your dreams before going to bed: It should be something quite normal, yet something with the ability to expand. The most common is opening a door. When you open doors during your day, concentrate on the process, try to memorise how it feels. Then when you are dreaming, try to mimic that memory of reality, try to consciously open a door during your dream. Eventually, that door can lead to wherever you want it to.
6. While you are awake, ask yourself if you are dreaming: Now this one sounds a little bit crazy, but the point of it is to get used to the idea of checking whether you are dreaming or awake. By continuously doing it awake, you will train your brain and begin to do it while you are asleep as well. It is a form of mental conditioning and over time it can be quite effective.
Good luck with lucid dreaming, remember that it is vital that you stick with it, it takes a while to learn how to do it, but once you have got it mastered it is an extremely enjoyable and amazing process.
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