Once a month or so I have a lucid dream. It used to happen much less often, maybe only a few times a year. Less often, I’m able to recognize that I’m dreaming and consciously move the storyline in any direction in which I want it to go. Eventually I’d like to lucid dream at least once or twice a week and learn some good techniques for changing the plot of a dream if I dislike where the story is headed.
I haven’t figured out how to have a lucid dream on command yet but I have discovered a few ways to determine if what is happening around me is a dream. Asking “does this make sense?” can sometimes focus my attention on any portions of the dream that couldn’t actually happen in real life: walls, doors and windows whose physical structure seems to change position each time I see it, everyday objects that don’t look, feel or behave like they typically have in the past or friends or family members whose appearance or demeanour is radically different from how they acted or looked the last time we saw one another.
Paying close attention to detail is another fairly reliable indicator of a probable dream-state. If the words in a book or the numbers on a clock are blurry or completely indecipherable, I’m either dreaming, trying to read something written in a language other than English (or, to a certain degree, Spanish) or have forgotten to wear my glasses.
By far the most reliable method I’ve found so far is to ask myself, “how did I get here?” I began by periodically asking myself this question during the day. I’d start with whatever activity I was busy with at the moment – exercising, grocery shopping, writing, talking to friends – and work my way back through the last 24 hours or so, especially when encountering a situation that seemed at-all out of the ordinary. Eventually it became such a normal part of my thought-process that I started doing this in dreams that either didn’t make sense or were giving me with fuzzy clocks and unreadable blocks of text. Almost without fail, if I’m dreaming I will eventually come to a point where I can’t remember how I ended up at a particular location or involved in a certain activity . That blank period of time is often what triggers my mind to realize that I’m asleep.
Of course, some dreams are so deep that I don’t realize that they were dreams until after I wake up again. As I am slowly dreaming lucidly more often over time I hope that one day I’ll be able to recognize any dream that takes an alarming (or dreary, or commercial, or just-plain-tedious) turn as a dream and manoeuvre into something more pleasant. Yes, that means that every now and then I have dream-commericials. The most recent one was either for a mop or for the cleaning solution that the mop was sloshing around on a linoleum floor. The jingle wasn’t particularly clear on that aspect of it.