Remember Inception? In that movie, Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his team of “professionals” are paid to use unique methods to implant certain ideas in the head of targeted people. They also use various techniques to partially control the dream they are in. As a very entertaining movie, most people dismissed it as a Hollywood fantasy. But what if we tell you this isn’t as much of a fantasy as people believe? Influencing your dreams can really happen – you can use your dreams to truly control what’s happening, to change what is occurring, solve problem and sometimes even put an end to recurring nightmares.
How to Control Your Dreams
Lucid dreaming is a state where the dreamers are aware that they’re dreaming and know what’s happening around isn’t real. Not many people are lucky enough to be able to dream in this manner. So, what should you do?
Controlling your dream begins with being able to know whether or not you’re in a dream. So what can you do? Well, in Inception, Gobb and every single one of his team members have a totem in their pockets, which would tell them whether or not they are in a dream. In dream, all you have to do is notice the little details around you.
If, for example, you’re driving over to a friend’s house, notice the color of the car you are driving in, the color of the sky, the shape of the clouds, etc. Is it the same, or is it slightly or even remarkably different? Or if you’re talking to a friend, try and notice his or her face. Is it clear or always blurry?
Small factors like these seem insignificant in real life but in a dream, they help you understand that you aren’t awake any more. This is the first step of finding out how to control your dreams.
Give yourself some hint
Just before you go to sleep, remind yourself, "Tonight when I dream, I want to realize I'm dreaming." Now you can do this verbally, mentally or even by writing it down (if it works for you). If you’re looking specifically to solve problems in your sleep, focus on the problem before going to sleep so that it’s the last thing on your mind before your eyes shut. For an extra measure, use a visual medium to help remind you of the problem, like the face of a friend you’ve argued with, a mathematical problem written in a notebook, etc.
Maintain a dream journal
Right next to your bed, make sure you keep a pen and a diary at hand. And when you’re done dreaming, wake up and stay still for some time. This helps you recollect your dreams, during which time you should write down as many details as you can recollect. Make this your habit and with the passage of time, not only will this process become easier for you, but also you will recognise patterns in your dreams which will help give you more control over your dreams.
Give yourself “reality checks”
When you think about how to control your dreams, you should make it a habit to give yourself reality checks. How do you do this? Simple. Ask yourself from time to time whether you’re awake or dreaming. The more you ask yourself this question, the higher your chances of realizing that you’re awake (or dreaming). The more aware you are, the more you can control your dreams when it happens.
Take a nap
For some reasons, you’re more likely to have a lucid dream during a power nap in the afternoon than a satisfying 8-hour sleep at night. So the next time you’re feeling tired during the day, just go to sleep!
Wake up and go back to sleep again
This will take some time to become effective, so be patient. If your normal sleep cycle is of 10 hours, then break it to 6-7 hours. And when you’re awake, stay still for half an hour. If you were dreaming, try to remember your dream. If not, try to focus on the thing you wanted to dream about. Then go back to sleep. Ensure that you get at least 90-minute sleep the second time around. Make sure you do this when you’re sure nobody will disturb you from your sleep.
Identify dream signs
Remember that journal you were maintaining? This is where it comes to use. Go through it and look for patterns. See which parts of your dreams are specific, and which ones aren’t. Or you can focus on odd anomalies that only happen in your dream. Once you learn to recognise the patterns, you will have no problem knowing how to control your dreams. The next time you see such anomalies, just remind yourself that you’re dreaming. There. Job half done!
Keep that feeling
When you wake up from a dream, it’s important that you stay put in your bed, preferably without turning on the lights. If you find it difficult to recollect your dream, try to recall the exact emotion you’re feeling. Sometimes, an emotional response to the dream acts as a trigger to remind you of the dream itself. For example, if you had a scary dream but can’t remember even a single frame of the dream, your fear itself and your awareness of that emotion will help bring back memories of that dream.