Dreams can feel so real. Because all the emotions we get in our dreams, whether positive or negative, transfer into reality as we wake up.
Our dreams are an expression of us, our fears, vulnerabilities, thoughts and feelings. We don’t really confront them in the daylight, so by nighttime our subconscious has the stories to tell. But wouldn’t it be nicer if you knew how to change the script of your dreams once in a while?
Where dreams come from
When we sleep we move from one sleep phase to another. All the magic happens when we get to the final phase, called the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phase.
Our body starts behaving in a particular way: eyes move around very fast, our muscles get temporarily paralyzed. During this phase our brain becomes highly active and starts producing dreams. It uses our experiences to create the life-like scenarios in the most unrealistic and peculiar settings. It happens partly because the part of our brain responsible for logic is least active at that time.
Often dreams simply mirror the events of the day or the emotions we experienced not so long ago. You can try to decipher them or learn how to control your dreams.
The dream factory
We still don’t know for sure how to interpret our dreams—if it’s at all possible. There are many theories, of course. Sigmund Freud, for instance, believed that our suppressed emotions and thoughts as well as unresolved issues are reflected in our dreams or nightmares in a very abstract way. He was sure that if you look into your dreams, you can see what’s going on in the back of your mind and can control what you dream about.
Conscious dreaming means that at some point inside a dream you’re able to realize it’s not real. You start thinking like your unconscious mind. Thus, you’re able to take control over it.
When you become more aware, you see that dreams are not at all what they appear. It’s easy to take them for what they are now—the world you create with the power of imagination. It means that no normal rules of physics or logic apply. Realizing that helps you add some special dream logic when you’re in the middle of a dreamscape. Like, for instance, you can open the door that wasn’t even there, become someone else or even travel through time and space. Your mind is the limit.
How to have the dream you want
These tips will help you experience lucid dreaming:
1. Put your mind to it
Closely focus on the desired subject or a question you want to get an answer to moments before falling asleep.
2. Have your say
Utter an affirmation or a mantra that is relevant to the subject of your desired dream.
Example: ‘I want to travel to Italy and climb on top of the Tower of Pisa’.
3. Be more present during the day
You need to constantly remind yourself that you’re not dreaming throughout the day in order to understand—by power of contrast—what it feels like to dream.
4. Use a physical reminder
If possible, choose a token that strikes an association with what you wish to see in a dream. For instance, if you want to talk to a particular person, place her or his photo on your bedside table.
Learning to apply the above tricks comes down to the most important one:
Meditation is a trusted tool that can help you make it possible to control your actions when you’re dreaming. Because what you’re actually doing is controlling your brain. Awareness in dreams that comes with meditation is access to a vast amount of information. You can even send messages to your subconscious mind. And similar to the images that somehow imprint on our memory these messages will later be translated to our dreams.
- Start your meditation practice about 15 minutes before falling asleep as your entire system becomes more tranquil and relaxed. This is when your subconscious mind is ready to receive ‘instructions’.
- Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose—exhale slowly through your mouth to encourage your mind to relax. Deep relaxation is necessary to set your mind on something you wish to see or change inside your dream.
- With every inhale be specific. Your mind may find it confusing if you focus on different things simultaneously.
- It is very important to pay attention to the moment of falling asleep. Concentrate on a positive ending to a bad dream, shift the events or simply create a positive image right when your eyelids become heavier. If you manage to "fall" into a dream with the thoughts about it, you can see exactly what you’ve "ordered".
It doesn’t happen straight away, of course—it all comes with regular practice. By learning how to be in the state of awareness inside a dream you will be able to choose what you dream about, improve the quality of your sleep and of life.
Sleep tight and have sweet dreams!