by Daniel Love: Lucid dreaming, like any advanced skill, requires a considerable investment of time, energy and dedication in order to master…
Yet, as a lucidity researcher, I’m regularly asked by those new to the subject, for an easy and low-effort technique, something that will give a curious newcomer their first taste of lucid dreaming.
I, like many other teachers who are asked this question, generally default to techniques such as MILD or WBTB while also mentioning the importance of keeping a dream journal and performing regular reality tests. These are, after all, the staples of the world of lucid dreaming.
Yet, this has always seemed somewhat messy, while these may seem a low effort to those of us dedicated to lucid dreaming, for a newbie they still require some not insignificant lifestyle-changes.
The Problems With Lucid Dreaming
So, I decided to tackle this problem head on. In doing so I asked myself two questions:
- What exactly would a simple and low effort technique look like?
- Moreover, could such a technique be useful to more advanced lucid dreamers?
In order to address this problem, I established that there are two unresolved problems facing lucid dreamers:
- Techniques place the onus on the dreamer to invest a great deal of time and mental energy into developing various skills.
- Lucid dreaming is a very private hobby that lacks a social dimension.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could find a way to make the world we live in do the work for us, to train us to become lucid dreamers?
Even better if, in doing so, we could also share our interest in dreams socially.
The Psychological Power of Social Behaviour
Curiously, the solution to both these problems lay in the social dimension.
When we humans interact on a face-to-face social level, the activity in our brains lights up across the board. Social interaction is a deeply complex and ancient behaviour that requires a great deal of our mental processing power. Interestingly, many of the areas required for processing, mentalizing and regulating the emotional aspects of social interaction, namely the ventrolateral, dorsolateral, precuneus and medial prefrontal cortex; are areas that are subdued during dreaming sleep.
If we could develop a lucid dream training during our waking hours that would involve these and the other social areas of our brains, perhaps such an experience would help trigger their activation during our dreams. After all, a great deal of dream content involves the processing of social interactions from our waking hours – especially surprising or emotionally charged events.
The Socially Triggered Awareness Reality Test (START)
I’ve spent the past few months field testing a new technique with my students that addresses and solves these problems. It’s incredibly simple, low effort and impressively effective. I call it START – short for Socially Triggered Awarenss Reality Test,
In our casual field testing, the results have been impressive with 9 out of 10 students experiencing multiple START induced lucid dream within two weeks. It’s a small sample size and further testing is needed but these preliminary results are very promising. Moreover, the principles have a firm foundation in our knowledge of the dreaming mind.
Based on the concepts outline above, the technique is as follows:
- Before engaging in a social activity, prepare an item that can be worn, with the words “Ask me if I’m dreaming” printed clearly upon it. For example, you could use a sticky label that can be worn, like a badge, displayed prominently on your clothing (or you could purchase one of our START technique items of clothing).
- Go about your daily business and social activity wearing your sign.
- Every now and then a friend or stranger will comment on your sign, ideally asking “Are you dreaming?”
- When this surprising interaction occurs, take a moment to perform a reality test (also known as a reality check) – such as the effective nose pinch test – simply pinch your nose and attempting to breathe through it (If you’re able to breathe, you’re dreaming, if not you’re awake.)
- Once you’ve established if you’re dreaming or not, explain to the questioner what you’re doing. This will give you a chance to discuss and share your interest in lucid dreaming.
Making Your Life More Lucid
As you can see this is an incredibly simple technique that requires minimal effort, yet it engages one of the most powerful principles for creating memories and behaviours that are likely to influence and transfer into your dreams – surprise and novel social interactions.
Unlike standard reality tests, that are self-generated and which occur when your mind is already focused and clear, the START technique is designed to catch you, off guard, at random and unpredictable moments, times when you otherwise may be lost in thought, distracted and generally lacking in awareness.
Even better, you’re signalling to the world that you’re a proud lucid dreamer – it’s a great way to meet and connect with other like-minded dreamers.
Lucid Dreaming in Style
Even though this technique can be performed absolutely for free, I’ve made the effort to create a series of t-shirts and other items designed for use with this technique; for those of you who are uncomfortable making and wearing a sticker and who would like to invest in this technique a little more seriously. These are the same t-shirts my students and I have been using and have been very comfortable and effective. Even better, each sale directly supports future lucid dream research, content and events.
In fact, I’m looking forward to spotting fellow lucid dreamers and coming over to say hello and “Are you dreaming?”.
Should you decide to support our work and invest in a START technique shirt, don’t forget to share a photo of yourself online wearing your shirt. Add the hashtag #luciddreamtshirt so we can easily find your photo!
You can buy your START technique t-shirt from www.thelucidshop.com
A Final Hint
In our trials, we discovered that those who also wore their signs or t-shirts to bed were considerably more likely to experience a lucid dream. It would seem that the act of wearing the t-shirt while sleeping creates the mental expectation that you could be asked if you are dreaming at any point in the future. This is a great way to really ensure you “hack” your dream characters into helping you to become lucid.
Remember, the START technique is not a replacement for traditional lucid dreaming methods, it’s simply a powerful introduction for newcomers and a useful addition to an experienced lucid dreamers arsenal of techniques. It’s a brand new way to instigate a DILD and a unique way to meet local lucid dreamers!