What is a lucid dream, and how to have a lucid dream?

Usually, in the dream-state, the subconscious mind is active while the conscious mind is temporarily switched off.

However, sometimes the conscious mind also becomes active during the dream and when this happens the dream is called a lucid dream.

In other words, a lucid dream is a dream in which you’re aware that you’re dreaming. Many people, when they become aware that they’re dreaming in their dreams, tend to wake up. But in a lucid dream, even when you realize that all of it is just a dream, you continue to dream without waking up.

Ways to induce lucid dreams
Many people experience lucid dreaming accidentally but it can also be deliberately induced by using some techniques…
Reality checks
This is perhaps the most popular method of inducing lucid dreams. What you do in this technique is that you repeat an activity several times a day or for a few days, as required, so that it becomes a habit. The idea is that ultimately you’ll carry out this habit in your dream. 
When you do the activity in a dream, you’ll notice some change that will make you realize that you’re actually dreaming. At this point, if you’re lucky enough not to wake up, you’ll experience a lucid dream.

For example, you can write something on your hand and check it frequently during the day. If you do it enough number of times during the day, you’re likely to do it in your dream. When you check your hand in the dream, you may not find anything written on it and that’s when you’ll know that you’re actually dreaming.
It’s just like that spinning top that the protagonist uses in the movie Inception. In fact, you can use the same reality check to induce a lucid dream. If you spin a top frequently during the day or for a few days and watch it wobble to a halt, then, in your dream you might notice a different kind of behavior by the same top.
You might see that the top doesn’t stop spinning or that it moves in a lateral direction or that it flies. Any unrealistic behavior of the top that is inconsistent with the laws of physics will immediately let you know that you’re actually dreaming.

That’s the point of all reality checks. They work on making you realize that the dream world you’re currently experiencing isn’t real. But since our conscious mind is usually inactive during sleep, we do not realize that we’re dreaming.

With these reality checks, we are able to activate our conscious mind while dreaming and thus experience lucid dreaming.

Suggestions
Suggestions are commands that you give to your subconscious mind so that it performs an activity or forms a belief. They can be anything ranging from an image or a phrase to an intention.

When you say to yourself, “I’ll experience a lucid dream tonight” or “I’ll be conscious in my dream” over and over, you increase your odds of having a lucid dream.

The highest rates of success in inducing lucid dreams via suggestions have been observed when a person wakes up in the middle of the night or a couple of hours before the morning and then goes back to sleep with the intention of lucid dreaming.

My lucid dreaming experience
I have had a lucid dream two or three times in my life and during one of those times, I had a full blown lucid dream that’s still hard to forget.
I was in my house, moving around from room to room when I realized that I was actually dreaming. I don’t know how exactly I realized that because I hadn’t induced the lucid dream in any way and so it was purely accidental.

Knowing that I was dreaming, I felt this sudden overpowering awareness that I had never felt before, not even in my waking life.

It turns out that during a lucid dream our brainwaves are of the highest frequencies, greater than what we experience during our normal waking state.

I later found myself convincing my family that I was actually in a dream but they were skeptical. I also remember telling them, rather amusingly, that I had come from some another time in the future.

To convince them I grabbed a pen and a notepad and started writing down the events that I knew would happen in the near future.

After that, I remember just walking around and enjoying this high-level awareness that I had been bestowed with. It just felt more real than reality. In the back of my mind, I knew that I was dreaming and this made the experience even more exciting.
Eventually, it felt like some curtain was being slowly lifted and my awareness was gently being pulled back to reality until I finally woke up.

It hardly felt like waking up in the normal sense where you first experience this semi-conscious state where your conscious mind slowly recovers till you’re conscious enough to muster the strength to get out of bed.

Instead, it felt like I switched from one reality to another. I woke up fresh and fully conscious.

In another lucid dream that I had, I tried flying and was successful. I had seen people say on social media that most people, when they experience a lucid dream, prefer flying.

People even claim that you can change the weather of your lucid dream at will, talk to your dead relatives, change landscapes, swim in the sea, and fly to the moon.

I guess there’s a lot to explore.

References:

Voss, U., Holzmann, R., Tuin, I., & Hobson, J. A. (2009). Lucid dreaming: a state of consciousness with features of both waking and non-lucid dreaming. Sleep32(9), 1191-1200.

Filevich, E., Dresler, M., Brick, T. R., & Kühn, S. (2015). Metacognitive mechanisms underlying lucid dreaming. Journal of Neuroscience35(3), 1082-1088.

La Berge, S. P., Nagel, L. E., Dement, W. C., & Zarcone Jr, V. P. (1981). Lucid dreaming verified by volitional communication during REM sleep. Perceptual and motor skills52(3), 727-732.

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