I have come up with a new plan for dream incubation and lucid dream induction that suits our modern lives. It has worked like a charm in my own life and in the experiences of a groups with whom I have been testing it.
We need to recognize that very often, when we first fall into bed, our most immediate need is to rest and restore the body. We may be overburdening ourselves and failing to satisfy that need when we set dream intentions or try to embark on lucid dreaming right away in the first period of bed time. It is actually fine to let the first cycle be "industrial sleep", allowing ourselves simply to restore and regenerate the body.
Of course, spontaneous dreams will come during this phase, and may trigger lucidity as well as lively dream recall. So we want to be open to dream gifts during the first cycle of sleep. But we do not want turn the pursuit of dreams, or the quest for lucidity, into a job of work during this part of the night. We never want to turn the dream adventure into another of our chores, or stress ourselves by setting objectives that are unrealistic given the body's need for rest and restoration.
The prime time for pursuing dream intentions and embarking on lucid dream odysseys is right after the first cycle of sleep. People's sleep patterns vary, but chances are you will awaken - and know you are awake - three or four hours after going to sleep. Maybe you need to go to the bathroom or have a glass of water. Fine, do it. Maybe you have dreams, or at any rate elements of dreams, from the first sleep cycle. Jot them down. Titles or key words may be enough.
Maybe you want to putter around for an hour or two before going back to bed. That's fine, too, as long as you leave yourself time for more nocturnal adventures before you need to go out on the business of the day.
Now: settle back in bed. Lie on your back, or on your right or left side, whichever position is most comfortable but do not lie on your stomach (unless you want to be seriously grounded). This is the time to set, or reaffirm, an intention for your dreams.
If you have a dream with some juice from your first sleep cycle, you can make it your intention to reenter that dream, explore the dream space, and carry on with the adventure you were having before.
You may find you are in a space where communication with an inner guide is possible. The most important spiritual dialogues of my life have unfolded here, in contact with wiser intelligences I have learned to trust.
You may find that an inner light comes on, as bright as the sun would be. Once you resist the tendency to open your eyes and check whether someone turned on the lights, you may find that this rising of the inner light can carry into a state of greatly expanded awareness and creativity, where you can find solutions to previously intractable problems, and much more.
Or you can simply lay yourself open to the images that will rise and fall on your inner screen in this liminal state between sleep and awake. Chances are that one of these will catch your attention and grow into a living scene that you can enter. This will be your portal for a lucid dream excursion if you set the intention to remain conscious you are dreaming as the action develops. The chances that you will fall into sleep without memories are reduced because you have already received your essential rest.
I dreamed up an acronym for this simple approach:
O=open to experience
SO-WILD, and it works!
We will be experimenting with this new technique in my next course for The Shift Network, "Active Dreaming: The Essential Training." Classes start on January 25.
Photo: Skylight at Mosswood Hollow by Oana Calin