Lucid dreaming and the butterfly effect

April 8, 2008

I’ve visited the question of the butterfly dream before on this blog. It’s relevance to lucid dreaming has until now been largely left as an exercise for the reader.

Today we’re going to revisit it briefly because there is another important aspect to the question posed by Chuang Tzu:


Paraphrased, the question put by the Chinese philosopher is this: “If I dream that I am a butterfly, how can I be sure which “me” (man or butterfly) exists in reality, and which one is merely a dream?”

Without delving too deeply into the question of what “reality” actually is, let’s take a look at the central theme as it relates to you learning how to lucid dream.

lucid dreaming - butterfly girl


Learning how to lucid dream often introduces people to dream journaling and reality checks. I’ve spoken about this before.

The point is simply this, although it may take a while to sink in:

Whether you’re the man or the butterfly, your reality is whatever you’re paying attention to.

The reason people fail to have a lucid dream despite their best efforts probably has something to do with what they pay attention to most of the time.

Think about it. Right now are you really paying attention or are you just skimming over the text on this page. Did you even make it this far? Does your mind jump from one thing to the next?


Most people unfortunately lack the mental discipline to make lucid dreaming work for them. Unless you can direct your consciousness to pay attention it won’t matter if you’re a man or a butterfly. You’ll be so caught up in your internal dialogue and following your mind as it wanders that you’ll miss the lucid dreaming forest for the metaphorical trees.

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False awakenings, positive lucid dreams

February 7, 2008
lucid dreams - false awakenings

“…so there i was, eating my breakfast as normal, going through my usual morning routine, when the alarm went off, and I found myself back in my bed again. It was… disorienting to say the least…”

This is a typical account of what’s known as a “false awakening”. A person believing themselves to be awake discovers either from visual cues inside the dream or external stimuli that they are still dreaming. In the world of lucid dreaming, the false awakening phenomenon is one of the more interesting. In some cases, false awakenings can be recursive – in other words the dreamer can “awaken” from a false awakening into another dream!

It could be argued that a false awakening is the ultimate lucid dream because the level of consciousness inside the dream is indistinguishable from reality. On the other hand, false awakenings could be considered to be the polar opposite of a lucid dream because there is consciousness without awareness.

So what good are false awakenings? If you’re learning how to lucid dream, a false awakening can be a sign that your unconscious mind is starting to pay attention to your desire to have lucid dreams. They are also a timely reminder of the value of reality checks.

If nothing else, next time you find yourself waking up going through your morning routine, check carefully. If you’re learning how to lucid dream make sure that the world looks and functions like it should.

This will help you, too.

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The Top 5 Lucid Dreaming myths

October 30, 2007

For as long as I’ve been teaching people how to lucid dream, I’ve encountered people who hold some (or all) of these common misconceptions about it.

In the interests of education and public service I’m here to clear them up. Discovering how to lucid dream is easy, fun and once you experience for yourself how enjoyable it is, I guarantee you’ll be wishing you’d known about it sooner.

Myth #1: “Learning how to lucid dream is hard.”

This is definitely the most common misconception I find. Learning how to lucid dream is easy. So easy, in fact, that more likely than not you already know how to do it.

Myth #2: “Lucid dreaming is just some weird new-age thing.”

Far from being a recent phenomenon, lucid dreaming has been known about and practiced in one form or another for many centuries.

Myth #3: “I don’t remember my dreams, so I’ll never be able to lucid dream.”

Another very common reason people give for why not experimenting with lucid dreaming is their inability to recall dreams. Dream recall needs conscious focus. Most people don’t recall their dreams.

More importantly, the ability to recall dreams is not a requirement for lucid dreaming. It’s merely one of many suggested starting points.

how to lucid dream
M.C. Escher – “Another World”

Myth #4: “It’s probably not that much fun // worth all the effort”

It’s also common for people dismiss lucid dreaming as a waste of time. Going to great lengths to learn how to lucid dream in order to spend a couple of minutes flying probably does seem like a waste of time – if you’ve never had a lucid dream before. Once people have experienced full consciousness inside a dream state they regularly report it to be far superior to any waking-life experience or mind-altering drug available.

Myth #5: “It takes too long to master”

The final barrier for most people is the mistaken belief that discovering how to lucid dream takes months – a commitment that many are unwilling or unable to make. Even for the raw novice it is possible to achieve a lucid dream in a mere of 3-7 attempts. Some people can even do it on their first attempt!

If you don’t believe me, see for yourself. Get started now with the lucid dreaming kit!

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How to lucid dream: go WILD!

October 9, 2007

Have you attempted to learn how to lucid dream and grown frustrated with continually poor results? Have you tried all the standard “how to lucid dream” techniques and found that you just wake up in the morning with little or no dream recall? Are you beginning to think that you may never have a lucid dream?

Don’t give up: Perhaps this might help.

The bulk of the advice given to people who are learning how to lucid dream is based on the traditional methods. You’ve probably heard them before (I’ve even published them below): You work on developing increased dream recall, regular reality testing and a recognizing your dream triggers. Eventually this will all lead to a lucid dream.


And it’s true. It does work. The problem is that it takes time and effort and the results can take weeks, if not months to show up. Many people give up on their quest to learn how to lucid dream with the mistaken belief that this is the only way to induce a lucid dream. It’s not.

So let’s get WILD.

WILD, or “Wake Induced Lucid Dream” is a totally different way to trigger a lucid dream. All you have to do is train yourself to stay alert and conscious as your body flips the switch from “awake” to “asleep”.

That’s it. No dream journals, no need to memorize a string of your different dream triggers or hope that a reality check might one day cause you to recognize that you’re dreaming.

If you want to know how to lucid dream the easy way, this is it. It’s as easy as learning to meditate.


It can be a little tricky to master. For the first few nights you may find that you simply fall asleep, or your focus my drift away. The key is to practice. The great thing about learning how to lucid dream using this method is that there’s no “homework”. It’s totally experiential, and you only have to do it when you’re going to sleep.

Learning how to lucid dream is all about finding the best method for you. To discover more about the WILD technique, or to find your own personal gateway into the world of lucid dreams, secure your copy of the lucid dream kit today!

Be sure to subscribe to this blog for more information on Wake Induced Lucid Dreams along with other ways to learn how to lucid dream.

Top 10 tips on how to lucid dream

September 24, 2007

For those of you who like to get straight to the good stuff, I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 tools that you can use to learn how to lucid dream. These are so good that you probably won’t need to use any more than two or three before you start having some degree of lucidity.

1. Take naps.

Napping during the day not only means you’ll be less tired (increasing likelihood of lucid dreams), but it gives you an extra chance to practice.

2. Take more notice of your surroundings.

If you stumble through your waking life in a haze, make it a habit to take more notice of the external world. Many people spend a lot of their day with an internal focus. If you habitually pay attention to the sights, sounds and colors of the world you’ll increase the likelihood of spotting something out of place in your dream world.

3. Listen to music as you sleep.

Music has the ability to trigger just about any emotion you can think of. Play a CD or run your iPod through a set of speakers bedside your bed as you sleep. Find some music that triggers strong memories or emotions and intersperse those tracks with relaxing background music. Create a playlist and let it loop as you sleep through the night.

4. Get a voice-activated tape recorder.

Unless you snore heavily, a voice-activated tape recorder put on your bedside table will be able to record any sounds you make during the night. If you’re talking during your dreams or making any sounds, playing back the tape the next morning will help you recall dreams any you may have otherwise forgotten. Not only will this help you learn how to lucid dream, it might give the definitive answer to whether or not you snore once and for all!

5. Eat spicy foods

Consuming foods with strong flavors or spices has an interesting effect on the body, just as taking some drugs or medications can do. These can trigger unusual or vivid dreams, both of which are a good thing if you’re learning how to lucid dream and trying to remember and control your dreams.

“The Dream” – Pablo Picasso (1932)

6. Use affirmations.

Rather than repeat “I am going to have a lucid dream”, try an affirmation like “I recognize and control my dreams” or “I know how to lucid dream and can control my dreams at will”. Write it on a sticky note and put it somewhere you’ll see it during the day like in your car or on your computer monitor. Repeat it before you go to bed each night.

7. EFT.

You dreams represent issues that your subsconcious is processing. You don’t need to understand your dreams to use them for healing. A simple acupressure technique called the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) can be used to clear these issues both while lucid dreaming and when awake. Learning the basics of EFT is free and you can also work with an experienced EFT Practitioner if you need some help healing these dream issues.

8. Set your alarm

Wake yourself up during the night. Get out of bed and walk around for ten to thirty minutes before returning to sleep. This is similar to napping. The return to sleep from a recent awake an conscious state leaves what can best be described as “consciousness remnants” in your dream state that makes it easier to lucid dream. This is called WILD, or Wake Induced Lucid Dreaming. The alarm is best set for 3-4 hours into your sleep – the period when REM sleep usually occurs.

9. Do a reality check when you wake up.

Sometimes you’ll awaken within a dream and be still asleep. Great horror movie fodder, to be sure. For lucid dreamers, the fear or concern is that the recognition of a dream may result in the dreamer waking up. It’s possible that “waking up” will be a false awakening when it really represents a loss of control over the dream as the unconscious mind takes over. Get into the habit of doing reality checks every time you wake up, and you can prevent this from happening.

10. Get help!

If you’re struggling to do it alone, spend a few bucks and invest in some professional tools that will help you. Think of it like spending money on a DVD that you can make into any movie you like! Grab the lucid dreaming kit today and you won’t even need to spend extra on popcorn!

Finally, dont give up! Persistence is also an important part of learning how to lucid dream. Not everyone will achieve success with the same tools or in the same time. It’s important to recognize that a dream is usually a conversation with your unconscious mind. To know how to lucid dream is understand how to be in tune with yourself. That means paying more attention to things in your waking life that you normally do not.

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More tips on how to lucid dream

September 3, 2007

I’ve had a lot of positive feedback from my initial post “how to lucid dream“. For as long as I’ve been involved in lucid dreaming I’ve been interested to see how other people manage to trigger a lucid state. I’ve compiled some tips that others have used that you may find helpful. Thanks to everyone who has told me that my page on how to lucid dream has been helpful to them. If you haven’t had a lucid dream yet, don’t give up! It will happen with practice!

I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was: man is but an ass, if he go about to expound this dream.

— William Shakespeare – “A Midsummer night’s dream”

Here are some more tips that may help you learn how to have a lucid dream:


  • Sleep more during the day, or take naps regularly in the afternoons. It can be easier to blur the lines between waking and dreaming if you are drifting into a nap during the day versus deep sleeping overnight.
  • In addition, if you sleep more your dreams are often clearer.
  • Set your alarm to awaken you during the night. Not only will this often interrupt a dream allowing you to write it down in your dream journal, but it can also allow you to slip back into the same dream. As you have just been awake, it can be easier then to become aware that you are, in fact, dreaming.
  • Additionally, as you return to sleep if you do awaken during the night, as you drift back off to sleep, say over and over in your mind “this is a dream”. This is less useful as you are going to sleep as it usually takes up to 90 minutes for REM sleep to occur if you have not already been dreaming.

Reality Checks:

  • Regularly review your reality. See if you can check off how you came to be doing what you are doing. See how far back you can go. Did you just appear in the middle of the street/building/park with no clear idea how you came to be there?
  • Use the act of turning the lights on or off as a reality check. Inside a dream it is unlikely that light levels will vary as dramatically as they do in waking life.
  • Try holding your nose and breathing through it. If you are asleep, you’ll be able to do this since you won’t be physically able to hold your nose.

Last (but definitely not least!), some people have reported great success with this.

How to lucid dream

August 27, 2007

Perhaps you want to know how to lucid dream because you’re interested in experimenting with alternate reality. On the other hand maybe you have recurring nightmares or dreams where you feel as though you are helpless in the face of sinister forces or events and you want to take control.

“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart so long.
If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can play together all night.”

–Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes

A lucid dream is different from a vivid dream because the dreamer is in full control of the experience of dreaming. In a lucid dream the dreamer not only realises that he or she is dreaming, but makes a conscious decision to change the course of events in the dream itself. Whatever your reason for wanting to learn how to lucid dream, there are many methods available to help you in your quest. Few people have the ability to lucid dream at will. For most learning how to lucid dream is a skill that takes time and effort to develop.

Dream recall

Chuang Tzu told a story of a time when he dreamed he was a butterfly. In the dream he had no awareness of his existence as a human being. He was only a butterfly.



When he awoke he wondered, “Was I a man who dreamed he was a butterfly, or am I now a butterfly who dreams he is a man?”

Have you ever gone about your daily business and had some small event trigger complete recall of a dream you had the previous evening? Or perhaps you’ve woken from a dream in the middle of the night and been unable to recollect what it was you were dreaming about. If you’re like most people, the chances are that this has happened to you on more than one occasion.

Recalling our dreams is not something that comes naturally to most people. Lucid dreaming will occur when you are consciously aware that you are dreaming. If you’re going to be able to differentiate between “reality” (the man) and “dream” (the butterfly) it is important to first be able to recall your dreams.

Not to mention that if you can’t recall your dreams you won’t remember actually having had a lucid dream when it happens!

Here’s some tips to help you with dream recall:

  • Keep a dream journal beside your bed. Write down any dreams that you have immediately as you wake from them. Don’t worry if you can only remember a few fragments, just jot down whatever you can recall. The longer you leave this, the less you will be able to recall so it is important to get into the habit of writing in the journal as soon as you are aware that you have had a dream.
  • Focus on dream recall as you go to sleep. As you are getting ready to go to sleep, focus your mind on recalling your dreams. It may help to prepare an incantation or an affirmation beforehand that you will repeat to yourself as you fall asleep. Tell yourself that you are going to recall your dreams and record them in your journal. If you find yourself waking during the night, repeat the process.
  • Focus on dream recall as you wake. When you wake up you’ll probably find that your mind begins to race at a hundred miles an hour, preparing you for the day. As you wake in the morning make it a habit to focus on recalling any dreams you have had the night before.

Remember – the more dreams you can recall, the more familiar you will become with how your dreams work: common themes, imagery, locations sights and sounds are all things that will help you differentiate dream from reality.

Reality testing

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.

— Albert Einstein

Reality testing is just what it sounds like. Take a look around you and ask youself: “Am I dreaming?”. We could debate what exactly reality and consciousness are for hours on end, however I think most people have an intrinsic understanding of the concept.

Get into the habit of regularly stopping and assessing whether or not you are dreaming. Here’s some thing to watch out for:

  • Written words: Unless a particular sign or piece of text is relevant to a dream, any written text you encounter in a deam state is likely to change as you look away and back again. Take notice of signs, newspaper headlines, bumper stickers – anything that jumps out at you throughout your day. Once they’ve grabbed your attention for a moment, look away and then redirect your focus to them. Notice any differences.
  • Unusual physics: Are you able to hover above the ground, or perhaps fly? Can you teleport from one place to another? For many people one of their goals in lucid dreaming is to be able to accomplish things that are physically impossible in their waking lives. Don’t worry about whether or not you know how to actually fly, just see whether or not you can.
  • Look at your watch: (You are wearing one, right?). Pay close attention to the time – can you make out the numbers? Do they change as you look away and back again? If you are wearing an analogue watch, do the hands elongate as you look at them, or do they perhaps move irregularly? Does the time on your watch match the level of light and surroundings in your environment? Is it bright daylight at 1am?
  • Does it make sense? Is there anything that seems out of place in your surroundings? Dreams by their nature distort reality. If your current environment was totally a construction of your own mind, would it look like it does right now? (How would you know?)

Once you have got into the habit of peforming regular checks, you will be better equipped to notice any dreams you may find yourself in. You may feel a little foolish at first as you see whether or not you can fly while you’re waiting in the line at the grocery store, but remember it’s the process which is important – directing your conscious mind to be aware of a dream state.


Some people find it useful to have a series of triggers that they can use that will cause them to perform a quick “reality check”. Quite often in daily life we are in a trance-like state. For example – driving a car or walking down the street. Having a trigger to remind ourselves to stop and refocus ourselves on our environment is a skill that can be very useful when trying to notice whether or not we are dreaming.

For this to work effectively it helps if the triggers are:

  1. Unique: Something that only happens in a given set of circumstances, in a specific place or at a specific time.
  2. Regularly occuring: Happening more than 3 or 4 times each day.
  3. Meaningful: Something that triggers a memory or reminder of something.
  4. Visceral: Something that triggers an intense emotion is more likely to be useful as a trigger to interrupt your regular thought process.

Some examples of triggers that people have reported using include:

  • Looking in the mirror
  • Opening a door
  • Seeing a particular symbol – a company logo, tattoo or street sign.

Dream triggers

Another use of triggers is to notice commonly occuring themes that you have encountered when filling out your dream journal. For example, you may find that certain people, places or things regularly occur in your dreams.

You may for example see a red car, or hear a particular song. If that happens you may choose to be on the lookout for those particular triggers in your waking life and using them as a trigger to perform your reality checks.


Once you’ve practiced these techniques, you should be well on your way to your first lucid dream. Good luck! If you’d like to accelerate the process, click here.