Exercises for Lucid Dreaming

I've always been fascinated by lucid dreamers. I feel like if you could do it and find a way to control the narrative, it could be a really powerful experience. I knew I couldn't be the only one who wanted to take advantage of this psychological power, so I looked to the magical internetz for answers. 

After a little research, I found an Omni article with a few exercises you can do to create lucid dreaming. Stephen LaBerge of Stanford University, author of LUCID DREAMING (Ballentine), and Jayne Gackenbach of the University of Northern Iowa have been working on these techniques for awhile now. I'd like to share with you these exercises so you can attempt them in your own life. (Disclaimer at the bottom of the article.)

Exercise 1

Photo courtesy of LifeHacker

Photo courtesy of LifeHacker

A number of techniques facilitate lucid dreaming. One of the simplest is asking yourself many times during the day whether you are dreaming. Each time you ask the question, you should look for evidence proving you are not dreaming. The most reliable test: Read something, look away for a moment, and then read it again. If it reads the same way twice, it is unlikely that you are dreaming. After you have proved to yourself that you are not presently dreaming, visualize yourself doing whatever it is you’d like. Also, tell yourself that you want to recognize a nighttime dream the next time it occurs. The mechanism at work here is simple; it’s much the same as picking up milk at the grocery store after reminding yourself to do so an hour before.

At night people usually realize they are dreaming when they experience unusual or bizarre occurrences. For instance, if you find yourself flying with no visible means of support, you should realize that this only happens in dreams and that you must therefore be dreaming.

If you awaken from a dream in the middle of the night, it is very helpful to return to the dream immediately, in your imagination. Now envision yourself recognizing the dream as such. Tell yourself, “The next time I am dreaming, I want to remember to recognize that I am dreaming.” If your intention is strong and clear enough, you may find yourself in a lucid dream when you return to sleep.
— Stephen LaBerge and Jayne Gackenbach, OMNI Magazine

Exercise 2

Photo courtesy of Instructables

Photo courtesy of Instructables

Many lucid dreamers report dreams in which they fly unaided, much like Superman. Some lucid dreamers say that flying is a thrilling means of travel; others, that it has helped them return from one of the more harrowing dream experiences —- the endless fall.

Why is dream flying so important ? It’s a form of dream control that’s fairly easy to master. It gives the dreamer an exhilarating sense of freedom. And it’s a basic means of travel in the dream world.

How do you make a dream flight happen at all ? We suggest that before you retire for bed, you simply repeat these words: “Tonight I fly !” Then while still awake, imagine that journey.

If you find yourself flying, it will be a clear sign that you are in a dream. In any case, when you realize you’re dreaming, remember that you want to fly. When you actually feel yourself flying, say, “This is a dream.” Make sure that you start modestly, by simply floating above the surface of your dream ground. As you gain confidence, both in the notion that you are dreaming and in your ability to control that experience, you might experiment with flying a bit more. Run, taking big leaps, and then stay aloft for a few seconds so that you resemble an astronaut walking on the moon. Try sustained floating, and then flying at low altitudes. As your confidence increases, so will your flying skills. While asleep, work on increasing your altitude, maneuverability, and speed. As with speed sports, you should perfect height and maneuverability before speed. Of course, you couldn’t really hurt yourself —- it’s only a dream. But you could get scared.

After you get proficient in dream flying, remember to ask yourself these questions : “How high can I fly? Can I view the earth from outer space? Can I travel so fast that I lose awareness of my surroundings and experience the sensation of pure speed?”

Throughout your efforts in dream flight, please remember that you’re in a dream. With this in mind, your fears will be held at bay, and your control over your dream will be greatly enhanced.
— Stephen LaBerge and Jayne Gackenbach, OMNI Magazine

Exercise 3

Photo courtesy of Daniel Love

Photo courtesy of Daniel Love

Even if you’re a frequent lucid dreamer, you may not be able to stop your- self from waking up in mid-dream. And even if your dreams do reach a satisfying end, you may not be able to focus them exactly as you please. During our years of research, however, we have found that spinning your dream body can sustain the period of sleep and give you greater dream control. In fact, many subjects at Stanford University have used the spinning technique as an effective means of staying in a lucid dream. The task outlines below will help you use spinning as a means of staying asleep and, more exciting, as a means of traveling to whatever dream world you desire.

As with dream flying, the dream spinning task starts before you go to bed. Before retiring, decide on a person, time, and place you would like to visit in your lucid dream. The target person and place can be either real or imaginary, past, present or future. For instance, Sigmund Freud, Vienna, 1900; Stephen LaBerge, Stanford, the present; or the president of the solar system, Galaxy Base, 2900. Write down and memorize your target person and place, then visualize yourself visiting your target and firmly resolve to do so in a dream that night.

When following this procedure, it is possible that you might find yourself visiting your target in a non-lucid dream; you will be aware that this happened only after you awaken. Nevertheless, you should strive for lucidity by following the techniques in exercise one. Then proceed to your goal.

To do so, repeat the phrase describing your target in your dream, and spin your whole dream body in a standing position with your arms outstretched. You can pirouette or spin like a top, as long as you vividly feel your body in motion.

The same spinning technique will help when, in the middle of a lucid dream, you feel the dream imagery beginning to fade. To avoid waking up, spin as you repeat your target phrase again and again. With practice, you’ll return to your target person, time, and place.
— Stephen LaBerge and Jayne Gackenbach, OMNI Magazine

Exercise 4

Photo courtesy of Meditation Brain Waves

Photo courtesy of Meditation Brain Waves

Up until now we have had little control over the occurrence of creative dreams. But with lucid dreaming it may be possible to intentionally access the creativity of the dream state. You can help determine the feasibility of this idea by attempting to solve a problem in a lucid dream. Before bed, decide on a problem you would like to solve. Frame your problem in the form of a question. For example: “What is the topic of me next book?” “How can I become less shy?” If you have an illness, you might consider the problem “How can I regain my health?”

Once you have selected a problem question, write it down and memorize it. When doing the lucid-dream-induction exercises, remember your question and see yourself looking for the answer in your next lucid dream. Then, when in a lucid dream, ask the question, and seek the solution.

You might be most successful at problem solving if you take the direct approach. For instance if your problem is shyness, be less shy in your dream. If your problem is health, try to heal yourself in the dream. Then reflect on how your dream solution relates to the waking problem. It may help to question other dream characters, especially if they represent people who you think might know the answer. For example, if you were trying to solve a physics problem, Albert Einstein might be a good dream character to query. You can even combine this task with the dream spinning and flying tasks, visiting an expert on your problem. You can also just explore your dream world with your question in mind, looking for any clues that might suggest an answer.
— Stephen LaBerge and Jayne Gackenbach, OMNI Magazine

Disclaimer: I haven't tried this for myself and am actually somewhat scared to. Having said that, I may write another article after I have tried it and let you all know what transpired. If you take it upon yourself to try these exercises, please let me know. Maybe the article will be about you instead. ;)

My 8 Favorite Side Characters from the Simpsons.

This was a really hard article to create. I love so many of the side characters that Matt Groening and his team have created, but alas, this is but one article and not a twelve book series. I decided to stick with the number eight since most of the Simpsons should live in a base eight world, even though they don't. Let's do this.

1. Groundskeeper Willie

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Groundskeeper Willie first appeared in episode 27 in the "Principal Charming" episode. Since then, Willie has ripped his shirt off and/or yelled in his Scottish accent more times than I have ever been able to successfully rip my shirt off (that number would be set in a world of base 0).

2. Ole Gil

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Poor, poor Gil. He just wants a piece of that American dream. Gil has been a favorite of mine since the Cookie from the West side scene. I think we can all relate to Gil and him feeling like he's stuck in life, though the difference is he actually stays stuck.

3. McBain!

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I honestly wish they would have made an entire episode based on a McBain movie, (unless that happened in one of the newer seasons and I just haven't seen it?) Luckily, someone kind of did it for us. McBAINNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!

4. Comic Book Guy (Stan Lee Too?)

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Comic Book Guy's sarcasm melts my heart with joy and complete hatred. He is the epitome of every comic book shop owner I've met and hated (though I've also liked plenty of owners as well, like the owner of this place.) One of my favorite episodes is when Stan Lee shows up to the shop and refuses to leave. The ole' hero-to-annoyance gag. "THE THING WILL FIT IN YOUR BATMOBILE!"

5. Principal Skinner/Superintendent Chalmers

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I know this is two different characters, but it's their dynamic that I like more than either one of them alone. One of the scenes I like to quote the most is when the superintendent comes over to Skinner's to eat and he's trying to hide the fact that he burnt the food. "Aurora Borealis!?" 

6. The Canyanero

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To me, the Canyonero is a character in itself. I think I may like it more than Maude (good riddance.) Remember, the answer is always... CANYONEROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

 7. Cletus

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Cletus is a representation of about a quarter of the people I saw growing up in Garland, Texas. Hell, I was probably a little Cletus-like from time to time.  Extra shout out to Tiffany, Heather, Cody, Dylan, Dermott, Jordan, Taylor, Britney, Wesley, Rumer, Scout, Cassidy, Zoe, Chloe, Max, Hunter, Kendall, Caitlin, Noah, Sash, Morgan, Kira, Ian, Lauren, Cubert, Phil.

8. Milhouse

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Milhouse and I share a bond; we were basically the same person when I was a kid. I'm not sure who my Lisa was when I was younger, but I'm sure I had a million like her reject me. I even made him the strongest character in a card game I created. (I gotcho back, Mil.) As an adult however, I find myself often thinking like Milhouse in this scene:

Honorable Mentions: 

Why Gravity Falls Will Always Be One Of My Favorite Cartoons.

In this day and age, we tend to binge watch a lot of TV series from their beginning thanks to Netflix, HULU, and the Internet in general. Often though, I find it takes a few episodes to really get into a show, like Rick and Morty or Game of Thrones. That was not the case however when I turned on Gravity Falls.

Photo courtesy of Nintendo Enthusiast (They're planning on making a G.F. game!)

Photo courtesy of Nintendo Enthusiast (They're planning on making a G.F. game!)

I began watching Gravity Falls last year on a whim after finishing up the most recent episode of The Last Man on Earth. Within the first 10 minutes, I was hooked. Partly because I related to Dipper right off the bat. Maybe not intelligence-wise, but in his thirst for adventure and science.

In the show, Dipper is on summer vacation with his sister Mabel visiting their Grunklestan in a small town called Gravity Falls. I won't give too many spoilers away, but even from the first episode, you can tell there is a lot more going on in Gravity Falls than meets the eye. I think the shows creator, Alex Hirsch, said it best:

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This is really what makes the show so amazing. The animation style is great and the town aesthetics create a creepy/fun atmosphere, but the characters are what really drive the show. I honestly haven't seen a cartoon since The Simpsons that made me really care about each individual person/creature like Gravity Falls does. I can't name one character that annoys me besides the ones who are suppose to. (Damn you, Gideon.)

Gif courtesy of Amino

Gif courtesy of Amino

I don't want to compare this show too much to The Simpsons because the show obviously stands on its own, but a lot of the jokes remind me of when The Simpsons were still in their heyday of comedy.  This may also be a reason I connected to the Gravity Falls sense of humor so quickly.

Why Gravity Falls Will Always Be One Of My Favorite Cartoons:

I think ultimately, this show reminded me of when I would go on adventures with my sister and late uncle. These would usually consist of indoor, as well as outdoor activities. At one point, we would all gather around the computer after school in the late 1990's and play "Are You Afraid of the Dark - Orpheo's Curse".

It was a mystery game that we beat as a team. Watching Gravity Falls, mixed with those memories, sparked really special feeling inside of me. I may not be able to go on those adventures with them anymore, but I feel like I'm watching something similar play out in a really similar way on Hirsch's show. It may just be another cartoon to some, but it feels like so much more to me and fills me with joy every time I watch an episode.

If you're reading this and you have no earthly (or non-earthly) idea of what I'm talking about and you haven't seen the show, I HIGHLY recommend it. Thanks for making such an awesome show, Alex!  

The lady and I on Halloween this year! (With surprise guest: Soos.)

The lady and I on Halloween this year! (With surprise guest: Soos.)