A wake initiated lucid dream, or WILD, is when you enter a lucid dream directly from the waking state, and are aware of the transition from wakefulness to dreaming. Most recorded lucid dreams are “dream initiated,” stemming from an ordinary dream. Studies have shown that wake initiated lucid dreams are more likely than dream initiated lucid dreams (DILDs) to include the sensation of out of body experiences, floating, or flying. They may be more vivid than dream initiated lucid dreams. Cultivating WILDs requires practice and patience, and may be easier for people already skilled in DILDs or in meditation.
Practice dream recall
. Encourage yourself to remember your dreams by writing them down. Keep a journal by your bed that is only for dreams. You can begin writing immediately, or you can take a minute to sit and remember the dream in its entirety before you begin writing. Practice both strategies to see which lets you remember more.
Reread your dream journal frequently.
Check for “dream signs,” or repeated themes and objects in your dreams.
Memorize the places, objects, characters, and situations that recur in your dreams.
Write down your lucid dreams! If you manage to have a lucid dream, whether wake-initiated or dream-initiated, it is especially important to write it down.
Every hour or so during the day, ask yourself if you are dreaming or not. Even if you are sure you’re awake, test it. Try checking the time, putting your hand through a wall, or looking in a mirror. Pinch yourself! Check for dream signs.
Learning this habit will give you a tool you can use to affirm when you are dreaming.
Do reality checks.
As you go to sleep, silently repeat a phrase about dream recall or about lucid dreams. Focus on this mantra alone while you repeat it in your head. For example, you might say:
“When I dream, I will remember my dream.”
“I’m about to dream.”
“I will be lucid in this dream.”
After you have recited in your head, as you are growing sleepy, imagine a dream you recently had, or a dream you would like to have. Picture yourself in it doing something you would like to do, such as fly. Check for dream signs. If you enter a dream in this way, you are having a WILD.
Try going back and forth between picturing your dreams and reciting your affirmation.
Be prepared to do this many nights without obvious results. Your initial goal should just be remembering your dreams.
Cultivating the habit of lucidity can take months, or longer if you do not normally remember your dreams.
Picture your dreams.
Set your alarm an hour to an hour or an hour and a half before your normal waking time. Go to bed at your usual time. If you don’t have an ordinary wake time, try to estimate how many hours you typically sleep. When you go to bed, set an alarm for that number of hours, minus an hour to an hour and a half.
You need these extra 60 to 90 minutes to help relax your mind and aid in lucid dreaming.
Get up early.
When you wake up early, stay awake for 90 minutes. You can do what you want with this time, but there are certain activities that may help you have a lucid dream. Spending time reading about lucid dreams or reading your dream journal can be helpful.
Some people report reading, writing, or meditating of any sort is effective, while others might eat breakfast or snack and have an ordinary morning.
Stay up for an hour to an hour and a half.
You can lie back down in bed or wherever you wish to dream. Try lying in corpse pose, or however you feel most relaxed. Take ten deep, slow breaths. Remember, your goal is to ease yourself into a dream while remaining conscious of the process of falling asleep.
The corpse pose is where you lay on your back, your arms loosely at your sides and your feet shoulder-width apart.
Try not to think too much about your pose when laying down. You can to be as comfortable as possible.
Lie down and relax.
Once you have been awake for at least an hour, return to bed or to the place you would like to have your lucid dream. There, you may recite something to yourself such as “I will have a lucid dream” or “I am about to enter my dream again.” Imagine a recent dream, or slowly invent a dream you would like to have. Picture it in layers, starting with the outline and filling in the details.
Alternatively, try counting yourself to sleep. Say to yourself “One, I’m dreaming, two, I’m dreaming, three…”
Another method is to relax each part of your body systematically. Start with one hand or foot and slowly relax each muscle.
Spend ten minutes or so thinking about your dream.
As you start to sleep, you might see flashing and color. Watch it dimly, without focusing, as focusing might wake you up. Keep your eyes gently closed. Scenes may form. Let them go by you.
Don’t try to create or make up this imagery. Rather than forcing your mind to picture flashing lights, let whatever images your mind decides to create come naturally.
Encourage hypnagogic imagery.
As you drift off, your goal is to remain conscious of the transition to sleep. Be attentive to the auditory and physical phenomena of falling asleep. You may feel vibrations, which mean that your limbs are beginning to sleep. You may hear a buzzing.
Keep your eyes lightly closed and continue to be attentive to images and sounds from within.
Feel your body fall asleep.
As scenes form, try picturing more details, or interacting physically with the elements you are seeing. Imagine doing something active, such as riding a bike, climbing stairs, or swimming. Involving your senses in the dream will help you move from your physical body into your dream body.
As you picture these details, the dream may feel more realistic. For example, you may feel the cool temperature of the water against your skin.
Enter your dream.
Perform a reality check, such as turning the lights on or off, checking the time, or pushing your fingers softly through something that should be solid. If the time is impossible to read or is inconsistent, or if you can’t change the lighting, but can poke your fingers though your hand or the wall, you are in your lucid dream.
Lucid dreaming allows you to take control of your dream. Turning a light on or off is a prime example, but you can also take control of things like physics (i.e.: pushing your finger through a wall).
Check that you’re dreaming.
Sleep paralysis occurs when your body is starting to fall asleep, and causes you to be temporarily awake but unable to move. Recognize the first signs of sleep paralysis to avoid becoming frightened when it occurs. Sleep paralysis is unpleasant for most people, but it’s actually a helpful jumping off point for lucid dreams, if used correctly.
Feel for buzzing, numbness, heaviness, or the sensation of falling. A feeling of heaviness or numbness moving up or across your body can also signal the onset of sleep paralysis.
Listen for unpleasant or repetitive buzzing or droning. This tinnitus-like auditory hallucination may mean you are falling asleep.
You may hear words, such as your own name, inside yourself or very nearby. Try not to be startled.
Notice the onset of sleep paralysis.
Welcome sleep paralysis as a platform for lucid dreaming. Embrace your awareness of your body’s descent into sleep by noticing every stage. If you become frightened, remind yourself that it is sleep paralysis, and that you are falling asleep. It is common to hallucinate a presence during sleep paralysis, often a menacing or oppressive one.
Remind yourself that you are dreaming, nothing can hurt you, and you are in charge.
If you are frightened, and embracing your dream isn’t working, try gently wiggling your fingers or toes.
Relax into it.
Move from paralysis to lucid dream by moving dreamily. Instead of trying to move your limbs, which feel paralyzed, try instead to float out of your body, sink through your bed, or sit up out of your body. Alternately, tell the room around you to change. Say “Now I am transporting to the beach,” or some scene you frequently dream.
If there is a presence in the room, tell them you are dreaming and you want to be taken to the dream.
Expect that they will take you, and they will.
Float, sink, or sit up out of your body.
If you feel frightened by any of the hallucinations you have while entering a WILD, or if your dreams are frequently nightmares, you may be too fearful to take control of your dream and may instead wake yourself up. Train yourself in confidence while you train for lucid dreaming. Recite affirmations such as “I am safe in my dreams” or “I choose my own dreams.” When you practice reality checks, remind yourself that you are safe: you are either safely awake, or safely dreaming.
If you run into something frightening as you fall asleep or dream, remind yourself that you are a trained dreamer.
Wake yourself up if you want. If you are in an out-of-control bad dream and your techniques aren’t working, wake yourself up. Similarly, if you are too frightened by sleep paralysis, wake yourself up. Wiggle your toes and fingers, and try coughing, blinking, and making small movements.
Dream through your fear.
The visual and auditory hallucinations that occur when you are falling asleep lucidly can be captivating, distracting, and even frightening. You may find you wake yourself up by paying too much attention to flashing or swirling colors, sounds you hear, or phantom presences. Practice detachment as you fall asleep. When you see or hear something and you aren’t fully asleep, give it a mental nod and relax further into your dream.
If you pay attention to the hallucination, you will end up focusing too much on it and wake yourself up. Let whatever it is that you are sensing float towards the background.
Look past your hallucinations.
You may find you wake up while attempting a WILD because of twitching, itching, or built up saliva. When attempting a WILD, lie mostly still. Lie in the position you would like to fall asleep in. Lie on your back, or lie the way you normally do when falling asleep. If saliva builds up, swallow it: you do this reflexively when you are asleep.
If you have an itchy feeling early in your meditation, gently scratch it. As you progress, you will want to avoid waking yourself up with movements.
To avoid scratching, detach from the feeling. Imagine it is something else. Visualize the itch as a plant rubbing you, for instance.
Don’t open your eyes. You may be tempted to check your progress by looking at a clock or looking around the room. Keep your eyes closed. Your “dream eyes” will open on their own.
Lie mostly still.
If you have been training for months without a lucid dream, try changing your methods. Adjust your sleep schedule and experiment with different wake up times. Try sleeping without an alarm on days you don’t work.
If you have been trying many methods, every day and night, try using just one, or none at all, for a few nights. You may be trying too hard.
Try different methods.
It’s easy to get excited in a lucid dream and wake yourself up, or get sucked into the dream’s reality and lose lucidity. Focus on a lucid dream once you have it. Engage physically with your surroundings. Pick things up, move things, do physical activities, and look around. Remind yourself that you are lucid every minute or so.
If you find yourself doubting, waking up, or losing control, focus on the dream.
The more you engage with the world you find yourself in, the more you can prolong your lucid dream.