Featured art by Felipe Posada
Lucid dreaming is beyond bizarre to most of us. You are asleep and dreaming yet you know you are dreaming, and many lucid dreamers can affect actions and outcomes in dreams just like they do during waking moments. Only in dreams, you can do much more fantastical things – bend steel, fly, stop bullets, and finally talk to that girl at the coffee shop that always makes you so nervous.
We already know that lucid dreamers have some of the highest brain wave frequencies on the planet, but what if you could induce a lucid dreaming state – known for helping to drastically change your waking life – simply by applying the right electrical current at the right frequency to the brain? What if you could also train your brain to have more lucid dreams?
Scientists are starting to realize that the rabbit hole between our conscious and unconscious worlds is more deeply connected than previously assumed.
Several studies suggest you can even apply tools to create an environment which is ripe for lucid dreaming.
For example, one study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, found that the brains of people with high and low dream lucidity were different.
Subjects with high lucidity had greater gray matter volume in the frontopolar cortex, compared to those with low lucidity. This brain region also showed higher activity during thought monitoring [awareness while in a waking state] in both high- and low-lucidity subjects, with stronger increases in the high-lucidity group.
The scientists concluded that lucid dreaming and metacognition share some underlying mechanisms, meaning that those who are more conscious in their waking state, are better able to lucid dream.
An Oxford study suggests that some people are just “made” for lucid dreaming:
“The neurophysiological correlates of dreaming remain unclear. According to the “arousal-retrieval” model, dream encoding depends on intrasleep wakefulness. Consistent with this model, subjects with high and low dream recall frequency (DRF) report differences in intrasleep awakenings. This suggests a possible neurophysiological trait difference between the 2 groups.”
But that doesn’t mean you can’t make your brain more like those people who dream lucidly with ease.
Recent research found that zapping an electrical current at the right frequency and just in the right place of the brain can induce lucid dreaming about 70% of the time. A study led by Ursula Voss at the J.W. Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, stimulated sleepers’ brains using a weak current set to a particular frequency, in a technique called transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS). Christian Jarrett from Wired explains the study:
“…it turns out that, aside from a small sample, this new dream research is well conducted. Voss and her team tested 27 healthy volunteers (15 women, 12 men, none of whom usually have lucid dreams) on four successive nights. Each night, the participants were zapped with electricity in a different frequency range or – and it’s important they included this condition – with no electricity at all (known as a “sham” treatment). The stimulation was delivered after between two and three minutes of uninterrupted REM sleep. Shortly afterwards the participants were woken and they answered questions about the dream they’d just had.”
Stimulation specifically delivered in the low gamma range, at 40Hz, and to a lesser extent at 25Hz, was associated with a greater experience of lucid dreaming, as compared to stimulation at other higher and lower frequencies or to sham treatment.
Though you can’t give yourself mild electric shocks at home, you can listen to 40 Hz music that helps to create the neural environment for lucid dreams.
You can also do the following things to help create lucid dreams when you sleep:
- Wake yourself up during deep REM sleep, then go back to sleep.
- Write an “A” for awake on your palm before you go to sleep. Look down at your hand and say, “Am I awake?” If you can see the “A” that means you are awake. If you don’t see the “A” when you are dreaming, and you ask yourself that question, you will know you are dreaming and can attempt to alter your dreams with your mental awareness.
- Turn off all cell phones, computers, televisions, or ‘screens’ at least an hour before bed, and meditate instead. During your meditation invite lucid dreaming. Tell yourself, “I welcome lucid dreams.”
- Try waking up but keep your eyes closed. Observe what happens in your “waking” dream state. As soon as you are fully awake, write down what you observed. This trains your mind to be aware in the twilight state between waking and sleeping.
Once you can create lucid dreams at will you can also:
- Pre-program specific dream content and themes
- Change bad habits by dissolving them in a dream state first, then translating that to a waking state
- Visualize your way to a specific lucid dream from a waking state
- Recognize dream signs and symbols that trigger lucidity
- Induce lucid dreams via “out-of-body” experiences
Herbs that help to induce vivid and lucid dreams:
There are also legal herbs which can greatly increase the chances of lucid dreaming, sued for centuries by people all over the world:
- Calea Zacatechichi, also called Mexican Dream Herb
- Artemis Vulgaris, also called Mugwort (not to be used if you are pregnant)
- Heimia Salicifolia, also called Sun Opener
- Celastrus Paniculatus, known as Intellect Tree
- Silene Capensis, known as xhosa dream root, often used for prophetic dreaming
- Nymphaea Caerulea, known as Blue Lotus and used for deeper sleep. It is a mild sedative known for also causing lucid dreams
- Asparagus Rosemosus, also called Tian men Dong in Chinese Medicine, it is known for its heart opening effects and the ability to join one with their dream spirit
- Entada Rheedii, also known as African Dram Bean, it helps you communicate with dream spirits
Just be sure to research the correct dosage and any contraindications when using herbs to create ludic dreams.
Lucid dreaming is really just a transferred state of expanded, quantum consciousness. Shamans have used lucid dreaming as a way to heal themselves and others for centuries. As we all learn to be more aware in our waking states, this too will translate to our dream-time.
This article was originally published on The Mind Unleashed