Ever had a dream, in which you knew you were dreaming? Ever had a dream that you could control completely, bending both the will of others and the laws of physics with the power of your mind? Does this sound interesting?
Lucid dreaming can be defined as a dream where you know you're dreaming. I'd define it as a dream where you realize that you are dreaming, by various means. The absolute definition is a matter of viewpoint, but the core concept remains the same - you are aware of the fact that you are in a dream. Wikipedia has a few articles related on the subject of Lucid Dreaming.
Why should you care about Lucid dreaming? Well, if the idea of controlling your dreams doesn't intrigue you, then perhaps you should stop reading. This is what a lot of people like about it. The second biggest reason would be to explore your dreams and the dreamwold. Endless possibilities indeed, some even use lucid dreaming for self-exploration or self-improvement. You are free to believe that this state of mind can do wonders if you want, and it might really be so. However, that would be outside the scope of this article.
How: The lazy way
Most people have already experienced one or more lucid dreams, but as all dreams they are easily forgotten. By reading up on the subject, you will increase your chance of randomly having another lucid dream, and remembering it. You can have one from this very night, as a matter of fact. The likelihood increases with effort, focus and belief. The laziest way to have a lucid dream would be to read this article, and then think about lucid dreaming a few times a day. It won't be very effective, but it requires the minimum effort.
How: Getting started
If this sounds interesting, and you're willing to spend a few minutes every day on this, then it's time to get started. There are multiple approaches, but I'll cover the most simple one as this is the basics. The first thing you need to do it to commit to doing this. Lucid dreaming is not hard at all, but the work it requires varies from person to person. There is also a couple of mental factors - if you think it's hard or that you can't do it... then you will be right. The mind makes it real. The rest of the article will cover getting started.
The first step would be to remember your dreams. It's said that remembering one dream per night is a good start. If you can't recall your dreams, recalling lucid dreams would be impossible. That said, it's often easier to remember lucid dreams.
There are a number of factors determining how clearly you can remember your dreams. The biggest one is practice. With training, you can recall a lot of dreams in great detail. Dreams fade with time, and this is the reason why you sometimes can remember an entire dream in the morning, but only recall a few details in the evening. Writing your dreams down will be one of the most efficient tools you have. Dreams can also fade during the night, and writing them down when you wake up (during the night) will help you remember them later on. A few short notes also work.
The majority - if not all - who uses a dream journal will improve their dream recall rate to at least one per night. It's surprising in a way, because writing down what you remember doesn't change your sleeping pattern, but it does change how much you remember. When writing in your dream journal, try to cram in as much detail as possible. Everything you remember should be in there. It's important that you write every day, even if you don't remember anything.
Writing down a few notes when you wake up won't reinforce the memories to a great extent, but the notes themselves will aid you in remembering. Sometimes a few key words can jolt your memory. Try this out.
Personally, I take voice notes with my phone when I wake up. I don't have the time to write an entry in my dream journal right away, and it's a lot faster speaking the dream in comparison to writing it. Then I consolidate the material into my journal, later on.
Dream logic means seeing is believing. Extraordinary things can be rationalized with gibberish. Sometimes you will realize that you're dreaming by seeing flaws in the world around you, but this might happen very rarely. If you constantly question reality, then this will happen more frequently. The easiest way to realize that you're dreaming is to do a reality check (RC). Anything could be used as a reality check. The point is to create a simple test that can give a real- and dream-like outcome. For example: can you fly? If you can, then you're obviously dreaming. Can you push a finger through your palm? Can you pinch your nose and still breathe?
Reality checks work because they make you question reality. Being able to fly is impossible in the real world, yet we can fly in dreams and not think twice about it. We can see numerous impossible things and still think it's normal, and this is the reason why questioning it is so important. If you question reality, and see something impossible, then you will realize that you're dreaming.
Another important thing about RC's is expectation. You need to expect the dream-like outcome, or the impossible result. Dreams can be as real as the real world, but they can also be weird and fake. If you expect something to act like it does in real life, then it will do so in dreams. If you expect it to work like in a dream, then it will do so. Of course, real life can't mimic the dream-like outcome. This is the point.
Keep on reading
This is the very basics. I advice you, if you are still interested, to search for more information on the subject. Read up on techniques, abbreviations and success stories. I'll do some more in-depth articles later on.