Can Lucid Dreaming Be Therapeutic?
Ever had a dream feel so real, it was as if you were aware you were dreaming, but you still were able to control the outcome of it? If yes, then you’ve experienced a lucid dream. Lucid dreaming is a fascinating phenomenon studied by scientists as being a powerful tool in treating a host of conditions, including anxiety and phobias.
According to estimates, about 50% of people have experienced lucidity in a dream at once. There are some that are particularly skilled at it, giving them the ability to interact with the dream and accomplish things that would be impossible in reality, like flying. While lucid dreaming, you become aware that the images you are seeing are being constructed by your mind, so researchers pose the following question: why not use the mind to construct whatever you want?
Several studies have shown that lucid dreaming can effectively treat post-traumatic stress and any chronic nightmares that may be associated with it. The studies have involved rehearsing a particular scene with the patient during the day and constantly visualizing it. By imagining an alternate ending to the nightmare, you are training the mind to project a different outcome when you fall asleep. While studies are still in its infancy, the early results are quite promising.
Not only has this technique resulted in a reduction in chronic nightmares, but it has also had a profound impact on patients’ daily levels of anxiety. The benefits seem to trickle down from the unconscious levels of the mind into their daily lives, giving them a reprieve from past traumatic experiences.
It’s important to note that lucid dreaming can be achieved by anyone with a little bit of work. It is not something relegated to sleep labs and controlled situations. If you want to begin to explore lucid dreaming, start with these three tips.
1. Practice awareness
Dream awareness can be achieved through the use of a dream journal. Try jotting down what you remember from a dream the minute you wake. This will help you strengthen your memory of dreaming, and increase your overall awareness when you are in a dream state.
2. Tell yourself “I will be aware when I’m dreaming”
Affirming this phrase before falling asleep can help train your mind to be more aware while you drift into unconsciousness
3. Truly relax
To enter into a dream state, you need to be relaxed physically and mentally. Try laying on your back and relaxing every muscle in your body. After you’ve done this, concentrate on the darkness behind your closed eyes, and let your mind wander.