It’s around Christmas time. I’m at a holiday party with friends, many of whom I have not seen in decades.
I am back home in Des Moines, IA. I hug old friends as I greet them, and we laugh hysterically at one of our friend’s drunken grandma, who is so wasted that she goes to bed early.
It’s great to catch up with Kelly, Murph, Shuter, and Kelly’s sister. Their smiles are big. Everyone is cordial, and we are having a hysterical time.
Except I’m not physically in Iowa. I’m having this dream while in my bed in Los Angeles.
This isn’t an ordinary dream. It’s a lucid dream—a dream where you feel like you are in control. In some cases you can actually control what is happening.
What is a lucid dream?
In a lucid dream, you are aware that you are dreaming, and the dreams feel vivid and real. Imagine if you were an active participant in your dream rather than a witness?
In lucid dreams you are controlling the dream like it is a real-life video game. You control the story. When you wake up, the dream is deep enough that it feels like it happened in real-life.
After the dream I wake up and jot down a few notes in my dream journal about what happens. I feel calm.
I get out of bed and walk down the hall to check on breakfast. I feel happy.
I last recall seeing these people drunk at high school parties or in the summers after we all went off to college.
In the dream, I made amends with people who I have not seen in twenty years, enjoying one last party together. It was like we were all younger. Their hugs make me feel loved.
My last meaningful memory with Kelly was in freshman year geometry class with Mr. Cummings. She was a cute older girl that I acted cool around, trying to keep everything low key. Our teacher, Mr. Cummings died of brain cancer that year, and I remember hiding my tears from my Dad as I walked away from his funeral towards our car.
People like her were my surrogate family, who I confided in to help me get through the ups and downs of life.
Murph and I played baseball together in little league, where I struggled to get hits and make plays on the field. Baseball was never my sport, yet guys like Murph remained optimistic and light around me. His freckled face and monotone voice helped me to feel calm.
Shuter and I played a lot of front yard tackle football together, and sometimes sat together at lunch in middle school. He was another person who I wanted to act low key around.
Getting back into my morning routine, I have positive energy from this dream, lots of it, as I recall these decades-old childhood friendships.
I carry this loving energy with me as I drink my morning smoothie, drive to run an errand, and type at my computer to start my work day.
The waking state after this lucid dream is can feel better than an orgasm.
If you can believe it, my body feels more relaxed than it does after I have sex.
Do you want to have lucid dreams?
How to trigger lucid dreams
The chances for lucid dreaming increase when you practice meditation, specifically sound bath and breathwork meditations. Since I started practicing breathwork, my dreams are more alive.
Keeping a dream journal helps me to remember these dreams.
When I wake up at 5am and have a dream, I grab my phone and type out a quick recollection of the dream. This helps me to recall my dreams in case I forget them.
My dreams are fleeting and I need to write them down.
Breathwork and a dream journal are my two devices to help me experience lucid dreams and train myself to write out these moments.
Studies show that if you wake up after 5 hours of sleep, stay awake briefly, and then go back to bed to try to enter an REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep period,” than you can possibly trigger a lucid dream.
You can also trigger a lucid dream if you use a Mnemonic induction of lucid dreams (MILD), which uses “prospective memory,” the act of remembering to do something in the future. When “you wake up after sleeping for 5 hours,” you “tell yourself several times that the next time you dream, you will remember you’re dreaming.”
In my recent dream, making amends at this party helped me to open up a part of myself.
I never officially said goodbye to these friends when we all went off to college. It’s like these childhood friends were dangling in my mind and I cleared out old cobwebs.
Lucid dreams allow me to look at my dream as if I have the full awareness of my waking state.
Lucid dreams give me energy.
One of the cooler benefits of practicing breathwork, meditation, and other reflective practices is that they give me a chance to have these dreams.
I was embedded in the fabric of Des Moines, IA for the first 18 years of my life, and then I moved away. And thus all my friends went away too.
You remember old habits, ways of life, and friends from your past. Meditation helps heal lost parts of yourself. You uncover parts of yourself that go beyond the conscious mind. My brain helped me to pick specific people from my past, and have a healthy and fun interaction together.
It is freeing, cathartic, and quite enjoyable. In this case, my dream helped to close the loop on past connections.
If I practice breathwork before crawling into bed, I’m almost certain to have a lucid dream. It calms me down, and opens my mind to the benefits of dreaming, and it’s a lot of fun to take these dreams with me the next day.
If you want to try a breathwork class with me, you can explore the possibility of having more clear and lucid dreams. I teach virtual classes every Thursday at 6:30 PST, and you can RSVP here.
Thanks to my editors: Katherine Canniff, Sara Campbell, David Burt,Drew Stegmaier, and Joel Christiansen.