By lucid dreaming, you can gain complete control over the one place that no one will ever care about: your imagination.
So, you've doubled your weight over the past five years, you own a record-shattering collection of greasy pizza boxes and broken aspirations, and you're beginning to consider installing a toilet bowl in the place of your computer chair? You have come to the right place. In a lucid dream, you can do almost anything. You can leap over skyscrapers, practice public speaking in front of audiences of billions, and even try holding a female's hand, no sedatives required!
In order to even begin to get control over your dreams, there are a few preliminary tasks you must complete. But don't give up. The benefits of learning to lucid dream are remarkable, and they're all named Yvonne Strahovski.
Your fake and imagined rendition of Yvonne won't care how much your cry before, during, and afterward!
The first step is mentioned in another Cracked article (5 Ways To Hack Your Brain Into Awesomeness), but here's a
quick long and wordy rundown.
1. Keep a dream journal.
"What?" you screech in disgust, taking your treasured three-month-old hot pocket wrapper out of your pants and throwing it on the floor. "I'm not keeping a diary, least of all one entailing my dreams! What if my wife/kids/new-parole-officer found it? I'd be done for!"
Calm down! A dream journal is not a diary, but a tool. Much like sports cars, chainsaws, and your extensive collection of Icelandic sex mannequins, a dream journal's job is to make certain tasks easier. In this case, dream journals help in recognizing common patterns in your dreams, and in improving dream recall. Most people remember flashes of their dreams right after waking up, but an hour or so later, their nightly excursions are forgotten forever. Apparently, it's easier to recall your dreams if you do not move after waking up, because of your motor neurons do not fire as readily and whatnot.
Important tip: Do not use your dream journal as an excuse to tell co-workers about "that weird/bizarre/scary dream you had last night." This will make them want to hit you in the esophagus. Moving on.
2. Reality Testing.
Your dreams are not unique, and that is a wonderful thing. There are common triggers in everyone's sleep-time adventures that will alert them of their dreaming state. This is important, since, in a dream, you can think that nothing's out-of-the-ordinary even when a man with three heads and a giraffe shaped dong passes you on the street. This is where reality testing comes in handy. Reality checking is making a habit of checking whether or not you're dreaming, while you're awake. Since you're the same person with the same habits during your everyday life and your dreams, you will inevitably end up reality testing while you're asleep. This can tip you off that you're asleep, so you can have all the dream-sex you could ever want! A few of the more common reality tests include:
Digital Clocks: In dreams, digital clocks make no fucking sense. There are letters in the place of numbers, numerical characters that do not even exist, and more varied clockfuckery. Therefore, a common and effective test is to look at a digital clock and memorize the time, then look away for a second, and then look back at the clock. Did the time go up by one whole second? That obviously means nothing, how could you even begin to think that a single second has any implications at all? But, if the time is significantly different, or if the numbers are now blurry letters, that's a good indication that you're dreaming.
Unfortunately, no discovered reality tests involve adorable puppies. Yet.
Looking into a Mirror: This one is similar to the above example. Look into the mirror, let out your cringe of disgust, and then look away for a few seconds before glancing into the glassy surface once again. Has your reflection shed two hundred pounds of flab, and gained that much and more in confidence? You're probably asleep.
Flipping a Light Switch: Dream electricians are generally pissed off and feeling lazy, so light levels rarely change suddenly in dreams as a result of flipping a switch. So, every few minutes in your office building, flick the lights off and on. Your co-workers will appreciate your mission to better yourself, and will not mind the inevitable seizures and/or constipation that will follow. If light switches aren't having much of an effect on your room's lighting, and you've confirmed that you have new light bulbs, you may be dreaming.
Wake Initiated Lucid Dreams:
This is an alternate method of lucid dreaming. Instead of figuring out that you're dreaming from reality testing within the dream itself, you can attempt to directly transfer, while being completely conscious and aware, straight to the dream state. This is not any easier than the above methods. The traditional execution of this method entails swallowing the heart of a bleating virgin goat at the stroke of midnight. Only then, the ancients proclaimed, would you gain power over the unknown dream realm. Considering your affinity for pepperoni hot pockets, that probably would not be all that difficult. There are, however, strategies to make wake initiated lucid dreaming an even easier and less scarring process.
Don't do this method at your normal bedtime: It's very hard to transfer into the dream state while sobs of sorrow, anguish, and acute arousal are wracking your body to sleep. It's best to attempt this method after having already slept for three to seven hours, or before an afternoon nap, according to Wikipedia.
Transfer techniques include: Slowly and methodically counting your breaths, quietly chant your favorite hymns
of the dark prince Lucifer, feel your entire body relaxing, envision yourself pooping, slowly and silently, in a dark and far away jungle. Basically, do anything that will keep your mind active while, at the same time, relaxing your body.
There, you have learned how to gain control over your dreams. That's only the beginning.
It's hard to concentrate when you're lucid dreaming. Unlike the painful and limited sorrow that is reality, there are virtually no limits to what you can choose to experience in your dreams. This can lead to distraction, which can lead to you forgetting that you're dreaming in the first place. Or, even worse, you could find yourself waking up seconds after you realize that you're dreaming, and missing your wonderful Superman-like
flying dream sex experience. Every. Single. Time. Luckily, there are people who study this sort of thing, and there are solutions!
In your dreams, you can wink like Superman too!
When you realize that you're dreaming, you should:
Rub your hands together: This, according to Wikipedia, engages your attention on the action of rubbing your hands together, ensuring that you do not focus on the sensation of lying in your bed and breaking your dream state. Real life research has shown that rubbing ones hands together prolongs lucid dreams for 90% of people.
Start spinning around like a drunken three-month-old chimpanzee: After having your true desires suppressed by our patriarchal society for so long, and being forced to conform to cruel societal expectations, your new-found ability to freely spin around will overwhelm any other intrusive brain activity. The pure state of ecstatic joy in your brain will be unconquerable. Research has shown that spinning will prolong lucid dreams for 96% of people. It works best to rub your hands together and spin around at the same time. Finally, there's a use for the very actions that got you beat up in high school!
Lucid dreaming, like all worthwhile activities, has its share of downsides. Unlike most activities, however, one of those downsides has the potential to be utterly pants-shittingly terrifying.
Sleep Paralysis: This doesn't sound so bad. When you're asleep, you don't need to move anyway, right? In fact, if you'd had this a little earlier in life, your mother would have never walked in on you violently humping your Winnie-the-Pooh pillow during that particularly intense dream. Your family would have saved the thousands of dollars spent on therapy, and your shameful passion in life could have been kept private for years to come!
If you're going to be open about your passion, at least buy attire-appropriate footwear.
Well, despite the relatively harmless name, sleep paralysis is that bad, and it's a semi-common side-effect of wake initiated lucid dreams. Since, during wake initiated lucid dreams, you are teetering on the edge between wakefulness and dreaming, you have the potential to get stuck in a state of sleep paralysis. This is what Wikipedia had to say about it.
"Sleep paralysis occurs when the brain awakes from a REM state, but the body paralysis persists."
Now, since we all know that it's not nearly fun enough to just have full-body paralysis, there is an added aspect of terror. You will have the unique pleasure of experiencing vivid and terrifying hallucinations and, oftentimes, sweeping feelings of dread. You can tell yourself that it will not be scary, since you will be fully aware that those knife wielding midgets are not real, but you're wrong. Knife wielding midgets, by their very definition, are always terrifying.
Sleep paralysis has an actual function, by the way. It's not just your body being an asshole. Without it, your mind would have complete control over your body during dreams, and you would constantly thrash around throughout the night, and your family would have to spend tens of thousands on your therapy.
Conclusion: So, that's one potential consequence, out of nearly infinite possible benefits. Has a single potential risk ever stopped us from exploring an entire facet of life? Yes, yes it has.