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In the previous article I mentioned that remembering and journaling your dreams is a good way to begin lucid dreaming. Consciously remembering and writing down your dreams has the effect of programming your mind to stay more conscious during the dream state. Sometimes this exercise alone is enough, after some time, to start lucid dreams. But there are other tricks that you can use to hurry the process along a bit.
Some people find pre-sleep programming effective. You simply repeat to yourself,just before going to sleep and any time you awake at night, “I will be lucid in my dreams”. Repeating this for as long as possible before going to sleep will often help.
Another system that is successful for many, but requires some discipline and time, is to program a cue for checking your state of wakefulness. For example, you might wear a ring, and make it a habit that every time you notice your ring, you will ask yourself, “Am I awake or asleep?” This has to revolve around some sign that you will see several times a day. Once asking yourself this question repeatedly becomes an ingraned habit, you will begin to ask the question in your dreams. And when you do, it can snap you into the realization that you are dreaming and begin a lucid dream.
Anything that changes the sleep cycle seems to increase your chances of lucid dreams. Going to bed when especially tired, or when not really tired at all sometimes helps. Various herbs or suppliments which affect sleep, such as valarian root, kava kava, catnip, or B vitamins has been known to have an effect. In the home temple, gardina and jasmin essential oils, applied to the crown, forhead and throat chakras are used to incubate vivid dreams.
Finally, you can go high-tech with machines that will use cues, such as flashing lights or sounds, to partially awaken you when you begin to dream. If done properly, this can induce lucid dreams. The more expensive of these devices, such as the Nova dreamer, actually detect when you are dreaming by detecting your eye movements under your closed lids. You can also find information for constructing these devices yourself. Often the home-made versions forgo trying to detect dreams, and simply fire off at regular intervals. You can pretty much count on it eventually catching you while dreaming.
I’ve also tried a simple computer program, DreamScape, which is somewhat effective for me. You simply leave your laptop on near your bed, and the program will play a sound at a programmed interval, either through the speakers or (if you need to keep it silent) thorough earphones. It is a bit awkward to get used to having an earphone in your ear while sleeping, but eventually it works out.