And yet dreaming is something we all take for granted, to the point that many people today can barely dream at a fifth grade level. We're largely wasting one of our greatest abilities; a survey of Cracked staffers revealed that the vast majority of our dreams are about mundane things like our jobs or our World of Warcraft guilds, or that weird one with Burt Reynolds that it turns out we all have.
I aim to change that by teaching you a bit about lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is the term for the sensation of being aware that you are in fact in a dream, i.e. "lucid." There are varying degrees of lucidity, ranging from a vague feeling that something's not quite right (why is that mailbox wearing pants?), to full control over the dream and world around you (what if the mailbox and I were driving around in a motorcycle and side car, solving crimes?). Below, I've presented some tips for how to control your dreams, which I've compiled during my experiences sailing the seas of my own insanity.
You Will Need:
A small notebook
A machete - You'll need this due to the slim chance your dreams may come alive in the real world, like that one movie with the guy, or those holodeck episodes of TNG. The machete doesn't have to be fancy - if you're a regular Cracked reader, you can probably just use your regular machete.
Tip 1: Keep a Dream Journal
I'm not going to lie to you: This is going to be pretty lame. You could make your own capes, or get in earnest discussions with other people about Sailor Moon, or be writing a novel that features yourself making out with Sailor Moon and talking about capes, and keeping a dream journal would still be the lamest thing you've ever done.
But there is a reason for it. Basically, you keep it beside your bed while you sleep, so that the moment you wake up after a dream, you can immediately record what you recall. By noting down what you recall and referring to it later, you'll get a sense of the recurring people, places and themes that feature in your dreams. This will help measure your progress, and will be used in later steps below. It's also a good way for the authorities to piece together what on Earth motivated you to do whatever it is you're no doubt eventually going to do, violently and with little warning.
"He seemed like such a nice young man, but then the police said he kept a dream journal, so now I don't know what to think. I guess I mainly feel bad for the person who has to clean up all that dog semen."
Tip 2: Plan Ahead
As I'm sure you've experienced, we tend to dream about people and activities that we regularly deal with in our actual lives. So if you're in school, you'll sometimes have dreams about homework assignments, or if you're a census worker you might dream about placing radio transponders in the body cavities of anesthetized people. Based on that, our first trick then is to "pre-load" your mental state to try and encourage a specific type of dream. Let's say you want to dream about flying. In that case before you go to bed, you'd try reading books about flying or looking at pictures of clouds or autogyros. Want to dream about pirates? Keep a parrot by your bed. Want to dream about making a fortune? Train your parrot to whisper Wall Street quotes in your ear while you sleep.
Tip 3: Pick an Appropriate Time to Sleep
Dreams occur most frequently in the later stages of sleep, or during sleep sessions where your body is not that physically tired. So one trick to start mapping your dreams is to set your alarm clock to go off an hour or so earlier than normal, which could catch you in the middle of a dream, which you would then record:
Dear Dream Journal,So sleepy. This is stupid. What kind of fucking idiot sets his alarm clock an hour early to record his dreams at the behest of a goddamned comedy website? This idiot right here. Holy shit. My dad is right to be embarrassed of me.
Tip 4: Place a Unique Symbol in Your Bedroom
By placing a unique symbol or image in your line of sight in the bedroom, there's a good chance you'll come across it in a dream. And when you do eventually come across it you might recall that the same symbol, now displayed on the forehead of your boss, is also in your bedroom and only in your bedroom, and that seeing it here on the forehead of your boss, who is now a jet ski instructor, must be because you're dreaming. For this to work, the symbol should be simple and easy to remember, but also as unique as possible. This is the one I've got painted on the ceiling of my bedroom, and I find it works pretty well for me:
Tip 5: When Awake, Ask Yourself "Am I Dreaming?"
During your regular productive day, repeatedly check to see if you are dreaming. The idea here is that by making this into a habit while awake, you'll be more likely to do the same during a dream, and possibly catch yourself dreaming. The classic way to check if you're dreaming--pinching yourself--definitely works, but anything which will send a jolt through your system should do the trick; bite your tongue, kick a wall, try to steal a cop's gun--they're all good.
Tip 6: Hallucinogens
Certain types of drugs can have strange effects on their user's mental state, and many hallucinogens, like mushrooms, LSD or absinthe are reputed to offer experiences similar to lucid dreaming. Now, we have to be a bit careful here, because this is just a silly comedy article, and our lawyers are adamant that we can't encourage any illicit or illegal behavior, unless we first check if everyone's cool. So,
Are you cool?
Yeah. See I believe you. But not that guy. -points- There's something about him. I don't like that guy's face.
"No, seriously, I'm cool. I am wasted right now."
Tip 7: Piss Off a Gypsy
Gypsies wield strange magiks, and by tearing through their campsite in a pickup truck and knocking a couple of their old women in to a creek, you'll be certain to have them cast weird spells on you, which will probably allow you to control your dreams. Or they'd kill you and hide the body where no one would ever find it. This is admittedly a gamble. But you'll never win if you never play.
Tip 8: Oxygen Starvation
One of the potential physiological explanations for near death experiences (that tunnel of light thing) is that this is how the brain processes a lack of blood flow and oxygen supply. Given the similarities between lucid dreaming and reported near death experiences, it seems possible that going to sleep with a plastic bag over your head might be one way to trigger a lucid dreaming state. Again, our lawyers insist we can't just tell people to sleep with a plastic bag over their heads, unless we first check that they're cool, so...
Now that you're in control of your dreams, what you do next is up to you. Whether you want to go flying, explore strange worlds or have freaky sex with a mannequin made out of teeth, you now can. You should probably burn that dream journal though.
"No one can ever know what we do here...."