By Helena Pelsmaekers
For my passion project during the Christmas break, I chose to teach myself how to lucid dream. For those who don’t know what that is: it’s realising you’re dreaming and changing the dream to whatever you want it to be. It sounds a bit dodgy and macabre (and a sham) but when you research it, it does prove to help anxiety, phobias, nightmares,… Normally I can’t remember a lot of my dreams (I think once per month that I can actually retell it in the morning), and because they say you dream every night and sometimes even more than once per night, I do miss out on a lot of dreams if I start to think about it, and therefore potential inspiration or ideas. Another problem I have is that the ones I do remember are mostly nightmares.
So I looked into lucid dreaming. When you read the instructions, it doesn’t sound difficult at all. It just takes practise into being mindful and conscious about the state you’re in: reality or dreaming. During the day, every now and then you have to acknowledge that you’re not dreaming by pinching yourself and saying it. Which makes me feel like an idiot for those few seconds. Right before you go to sleep you have to think about what you can dream of or what you want to dream of. In the morning you have to write down what you dreamt if you remember and find patterns in them. I thought I wouldn’t be able to do the third step of writing down dreams because I thought I “I didn’t have any” for most of the time. But after 2 days of just acknowledging the real world and thinking about what I could dream about, I could remember my dream. And after 5 days my dreams were sort of similar to what I set myself to dream about.
If the lucid dreaming experience would stop right there and just helped me with being a lot more conscious of my dreams, that would be great. I’m not yet lucid dreaming but it does take time. The difficult part is having the perseverance of actually trying to think about the dream very detailed and writing it all down while you’re still half awake. I’m pretty lucky that I’m a morning person. I would’ve liked my coffee first though. But even when you think about something else for a brief moment, the memory of the dream is already falling apart. It does give a strange sense of disappointment in your memory, in the sense that you think you’ll remember it while it only takes a few seconds for your brain to betray that thought.
I’m not seeing the end of Christmas break as the ending of this passion project. I would like to lucid dream at least once and preferably learn to make it a regular thing. But I would say that right now I’m already more aware of my dreams, where before, I just would forget them by not focussing enough on remembering.