The past few weeks, I’ve been experimenting with lucid dreaming. I could give a really great explanation for this, like since I have nightmares, I want to reclaim my dreamspace or I’m testing the boundaries of my conscious mind or, like, hells yeah, brah, it’s cool.
Actually, pretty much anything sounds better than admitting it’s part of my fifteen-step Inception plan to hook up with Alec Baldwin. (Steps eleven through fourteen all begin with the word “tousle.”)
But here’s the thing with lucid dreaming: it’s hard, y’all. The research I’ve done and explanation on e-how got me to the point that I can experience a lucid dream every week or so, but if I could send myself a message in a bottle back through time, here’s what I’d advise:
How to Have a Lucid Friggin’ Dream:
Step One: Take a few weeks to record and observe your dreams, to figure out how to identify your own dreamworld. Mine mostly involves all my teeth falling out, followed by strangely erotic run-ins with my old priest. IMPORTANT: Whatever you do, during this stage, do not actually tell people about your dreams. Nobody cares, dude.
Step Two: Figure out a good time to start dream practice (it works best for me during longish naps); get comfy; work out whatever sleep neuroses you need to. Make sure there are no lobsters trapped under the covers, balance a small pillow over your heart to make sure it won’t make a mess if it beats out of your chest, whatever your dysfunctions are. Look, I warned you I was a fraught sleeper.
Step Three: DO NOT MOVE. This sounds way easier than it is. The second you decide not to move, you’ll suddenly oh my gosh need to scratch your nose or shift your legs. Don’t do it! That’s your brain’s way of checking to see if your body’s still awake. We’re trying to deceive our brains here. Make sure your neck is adjusted so your saliva drips down your throat to cut out all that bothersome swallowing.
Step Four: Relax your muscles and focus on having a lucid brain. Your brain’s going to trick you some more by running a The Ring-esque video of every possible horrifying image you never want to dream about. Stay strong! Don’t move! Aren’t you glad I warned you about the saliva thing?
Step Five: Regret spending the better part of the evening looking up pictures of Hiroshima radiation survivors.
Step Six: As you keep focusing on lucidity, let your brain rest inside your heart. At first, it’s going to reverberate through your body like a timpani with a too-loose drumhead. Gradually, the vibrations of your heartbeat will get shallower and shallower, and you’ll be able to hear them through your skin.
Step Seven: Oh, my b, at that point, you’re already dreaming.
Step Eight: Once you’re situated in some sort of environment, time to check whether you’re dreaming. There are lots of basic tests for this. Close your mouth and plug your nose — can you still breathe? If so, you’re in a dream. Flip a light switch — does nothing happen? If so, dreamland. (Or you’re as lazy about buying lightbulbs as I am.) Look at a clock, then glance away and look back — does it read a different time than it did before? Congratulations! You’re lucid dreaming!
Step Nine: Stop doing tests and start doing cool shit. The world is yours, gumshoe! Party it up, REM-style.
Step Ten: REM the cycle, not REM the band. But whatever. It’s your dream.
*I’m not joking about the pictures of Hiroshima thing. I don’t want to talk about it.
*If you do actually achieve a lucid dream state, prepare to possibly wake up feeling significantly less rested than after a night of boring vanilla sleep.
*If, after finally achieving a lucid dream about your current crush, y’alls start to smooch, then your conscious brain kicks in and reminds you that he has a girlfriend, and you push him away and exclaim: “Darling! We mustn’t!” — not going to lie, you’re going to feel pretty badass for ten seconds. Then you’ll remember you have like five more hours to fill ’til your alarm rings. Regrets. You’ll have ’em.
*Some people like to take advantage of lucid dreams to fly. This is absurd. I can fly on Jet Blue; when the hell else am I ever going to RAMPAGE AN ENTIRE CITY?!
*Good luck! If you decide to try it, hope you find every little thing your weird subconscious heart desires! (Except Alec Baldwin. He’s mine. You can have Billy or Stephen.)