Hail to the collective consciousness!
Over the last few months, I have been teaching some introductory workshops on Shamanism, and they have been quite well received (which I am grateful for!). One of the topics that have come up in this workshop is lucid dreaming and coupling it with shamanic journeying. This is what I like to call “Dreamwalking”.
Now typically when people do journeying they are in a trance state but they are awake, riding between the cool brain waves between the Delta range and Theta state. These two brainwaves both have excellent uses by the way, so I highly recommend learning about them and using tools such as binaural beats and frequency generators to get yourself there much faster. Anyway, while doing journeying most people use a drum or binaural beats etc. to help focus their brain into these wave ranges in order to achieve a fairly vivid daydream-like state, where they are in control of most of the goings on.
Some people prefer to just let the beat of the drum take them wherever it is that they end up going, but the definition of journeying I am using in this article is essentially a controlled daydream that has a goal and a purpose. An example of this would be wanting to retrieve a broken soul shard, so you would journey to where the piece broke off, and you would go through the trials necessary to get it back and reintegrate it into yourself. (I will eventually do a post on soul parts and soul retrieval, in the meantime google is your friend.)
These journeys or daydreams with intent can be very vivid, very realistic, and feel extremely real to the practitioner once they have done the work to build the skill, and modern science now shows that the brain can’t decipher the difference between what we do in the real world, and the things we do in these journeys, so by creating changes in our minds in the journeys, we are effectively creating real changes in our brainwaves, and in the world we perceive! Super cool right?!
Lucid dreaming is a phenomenon that many people experience naturally at least once or twice in their lives, if you haven’t it usually goes something like this: You’re walking around your house and there are people there that you don’t really know, there’s some music playing, it seems like you’re having a party, but you don’t party do you? Now you’re feeling really weird because you don’t remember inviting people over, or how you got to where you are now, you turn around and one of the weird people is yelling at you and angry, and this is all so vivid you feel like you are in a psychosis, you get angry back at the guy, one thing leads to another and he kills you. boom you wake up in your bed sweating and freaking out and realize, all is safe and well and it was just a dream, but holy shit that was a really vivid dream, it was so REAL! Now that moment you came to consciousness in that dream and began to control it a bit is what many would consider lucid dreaming. A dream that is so real, it is as if you are going about your normal day.Typically I would consider the above a vivid dream or a highly aware dream, not a lucid dream. To me lucid dreaming begins to happen when we learn to take control of the dream, for example, you find yourself in a nightmare so you change the channel to a happy dream, or perhaps you decide you want to fly and you do, or maybe you want to learn about magick so you materialize yourself a teacher or a book that you can learn from. Once you begin to become adept at inducing and controlling your lucid dreams in order to complete specific tasks or journeys, this is what I call Dreamwalking, and in my opinion, it is one of the strongest tools in a magickian or shamans toolbox.
Sounds like fun right? or Maybe it sounds like a lot of work, either way, you are right! So where do you begin? Below I will outline some methods I have used to develop my dreamwalking abilities personally, that I feel will be able to help most people. Please keep in mind if you take sleeping pills, antidepressants, antipsychotics, or you are intoxicated before bed, you may have a harder time with this, but with persistence, you can certainly still develop the skill.
- Step one is to start keeping a dream journal! This is extremely important, and a tool that many new psychonauts scoff at and don’t use. By journaling your dreams you are actually refiring the neurons in your brain that fired when you were in the dream, creating better pathways, thus making it easier to recall dreams and easier to become lucid over time. You might be saying “I never remember my dreams anyway.” that’s fine!Simply write down anything you remember, this can be how you feel such as happy, sad, scared, loved, content etc. Write down any colours you remember, any names you remember, anything and everything from your feelings to your memories. Neurons that fire together, wire together, and this is a very important step in training your brain to not only remember dreams, but become aware, and eventually lucid in your dreams. Some people recall things better if they stay still and don’t move when they wake up, some recall better in the position they were sleeping in such as on their back or side. Experiment and find out what works for you, but begin writing as soon as possible upon waking or you will find the details will begin to fade very rapidly on you. Date each dream entry, give it a title, and write down any keywords that have meaning to you, this will help you to build your own correspondences you can use at a later time to interpret your dreams.
- Step two is to target your two longest REM cycles, for the average person who sleeps 8 hours these are the last 2 hours of sleep. These last two hours are actually two separate sleep cycles, so starting out you can actually have two chances per night to get into a lucid dream. Now what you want to do to target these is set an alarm for 6 hours after you go to sleep, if you are someone who takes a while to go to sleep keep that in consideration and set it for the appropriate amount of time such as 6 hours and 20 minutes after you go to bed. Then go to sleep. Once awake you are going to get up, stretch a bit, maybe get a drink of water or go to the bathroom, spend at least 5 to 10 minutes being awake and out of bed, this gets your mind back into a semi-awake state. Then simply go back to bed with the intent to have a lucid dream, some people repeat over and over in their head something to the effect of “I am lucid dreaming” until they fall asleep, this isn’t entirely necessary but can be helpful. Go back to sleep and you may be shocked to find yourself awake in a completely different spot than your bedroom.If you get no results the first night, simply try again. If you find you aren’t getting good results in the 6 to 7-hour window, try setting your alarm for your last REM cycle, so this would be 7 hours after going to sleep in the 7-8 hour window. Do the same thing, wake up, walk around for a few minutes, and go back to sleep. If you are really a keener, you can set two alarms in one night, one at 6 hours and one at 7 hours to take advantage of both REM cycles. Keep doing this until you begin to find yourself having more and more aware dreams, and find that you are recalling more and more for your journals. Eventually, you will find yourself in a dream and you will be completely aware that you are dreaming!
- Step three is to create a set of reality checks you can perform to determine if you are in fact dreaming, or if you are awake. (Eventually, your lucid dreams will become so real and life like that you will have a hard time telling the difference between your dreams and reality, so this is an important thing to learn.) I will provide a few different methods here, but this is by no means an exhaustive list. My personal favourite that I use many times daily is to take the index and middle fingers of your dominant hand and try to push them through the palm of your other hand, in reality, they will stop and you will feel the pressure on your palm, in a dream, they will go right through. In a dream you can also pass through objects and walls, so pushing against a wall or counter is another useful reality check. You can fly in dreams, so try jumping and seeing if you can float. Often times in dreams checking the time is a great tool as well, usually, the 2nd time you check a clock the time will have changed. A mirror is also a useful reality check, look at your reflection and see how you look, often in dreams, we see ourselves very different than we see ourselves in reality.These are all great tools to use, and you can practice them almost anywhere, which makes them even more valuable. I recommend doing a reality check a minimum of 4 times a day when starting, I personally reality check at least once an hour, not only will this tell your brain you are looking for a dream state, it will help wire it to induce a lucid state, which is after all the goal of a dreamwalker.
- Step four happens only once you have begun to learn how to induce your lucid dreams and reality check to gain full awareness. Once you reality check and you realize you are dreaming you have a whole new universe to explore, so get exploring!
Some fun things you can try in the beginning are:
- Changing the channel: this is where you think of a different place or activity and the scenery changes.
- learning to fly: to fly you simply need to raise your arms up above your head and will it or jump slightly (flying takes practice to get right, keep at it!)
- working with spirits: you will find that there are a lot of NPC’s (non-player characters) in your dreams, these people are kind of just filling in the background but there are also many active “inhabitants” in your dream world that you can learn many magnificent things from.
- travel to new places: travelling can be done by flying or changing the channel or even taking an elevator or airplane or whatever play with it and see what is right for you.