How To Lose Weight, Meditate Like a Monk and Hone Your Super Powers: The Magic of Lucid Dreaming

by | Mar 28, 2011
lucid dreaming

Photo by eschipul

Over the past year I’ve become interested in mindfulness as a weight loss tool. In my experience, mindless eating is one of the biggest problems with food culture in the US.

When you eat as a reaction to environmental cues (rather than internal cues) you’re more likely to stick your hand into the chip bowl, eat so fast your blood sugar spikes like a rocket and gorge yourself on enough food to feed a small village.

Mindful eating can help you slow down, make better choices and stop eating when you’re no longer hungry. But practicing mindfulness isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Recently I asked friend and renowned life hacker Tim Ferriss if he had any thoughts or advice on meditation (my attempts have been frustrating at best). To my surprise his reply was, “if you want to develop mindfulness I recommend experimenting with lucid dreaming.”

Seriously?

I was intrigued, so when George Gecewicz asked me if I was interested in a guest post about lucid dreaming and mindfulness, I was eager to accept.

George is a young guy in New York’s Capital Region who likes to design websites and has been lucid dreaming for about a year. To see more about George’s projects visit heyitsgeorge.com

For more about lucid dreaming from Tim Ferriss, check out Lucid Dreaming: A Beginner’s Guide.

How To Lose Weight, Mediate Like a Monk and Hone Your Super Powers: The Magic of Lucid Dreaming

by George Gecewicz

If you’re in the middle of a dream and suddenly realize you’re dreaming, you have become lucid. While always fun, exciting, trippy, weird, sexy, and/or scary, there’s more to be gained from learning to lucid dream than just the exhilaration of flying around and doing whatever you want.

Lucid dreaming is a form of mindfulness, and the awareness you gain from practicing it can be applied to improve your daily life. For example, eating mindfully can be one of the most effective ways to make better food choices and control portions. It can also bring a more complete sense of well-being, allowing you to get the most out of experiences and enjoy elements of your life that you may otherwise take for granted. Tibetan Buddhists even use lucid dreaming as a form of meditation to explore their inner selves.

Learning to lucid dream is not difficult and you can get started today.

How to Lucid Dream

1. Keep a dream journal

As soon as you wake up, ask yourself what you were dreaming about and write it down. Try to focus on the details. Close your eyes and move as little as possible. As things start coming back to you, write them in your journal, record them into your phone, or draw pictures. You will be going over your recorded dreams later, so use whichever method brings back the most vivid memories and images for you.

2. Keep a “reality sign” and do reality checks

Keep some type of constant text or number structure with you at all times. This can be a Post-It note with some words or number on it, a math formula on your cell phone, anything that you have to read. My personal favorite is an old, dead watch, with the hour hand and minute hand stuck in the same spot.

Check this reality sign every two hours or so, and get used to observing that the text, numbers, minute hands, etc. are in the same spot. Eventually you will learn to check your reality sign in the dream world, and details like written words and the hands of a dead watch will not be constant. For example, let’s say you have a piece of paper with the word “TOMATO” on it. If you check it, and the letters are now arranged to spell “OOMATT”, you’re in a dream.

3. Wake up, then go back to sleep

If you have to get up at 8:00am set an alarm to wake you up 2-3 hours earlier, like 5:30am. Wake up with your early alarm, stay awake for at least 10 minutes, and then go back to sleep. Go over your dream journal in this period and try to focus on the images of these dreams. Check your reality sign once or twice and doze off. The next two or so hours will be ripe for lucid dreaming, and can often increase the occurrence of lucid dreams dramatically.

Work on this and be patient. It took me more than three weeks of recording dreams, doing reality checks, and playing around with short periods of wakefulness before I finally went fully lucid. Try and remember to stay calm if you happen to realize you’re dreaming. The first two times I went lucid, I was so surprised and excited that I woke myself up.

Once you do begin to lucid dream, you can start using your dream awareness to enhance your waking awareness. Here are some basic tips to get you started.

Expand Your Mindfulness

1. Use your new imagination

It’s still largely speculative if there are legitimate health benefits of lucid dreaming, but I can say from personal experience and talking with fellow dreamers that your ability to project images in your brain, focus on details, and be intensely aware of minutiae do improve. This comes from the above steps alone, even if you never go lucid.

For example, projecting the imagery of your dreams before bed and in periods of wakefulness is useful because it teaches you how to focus on one sense. Use this same intensity when you examine tastes, sights, sounds, feelings, and other sensations in the real world to maximize mindfulness. In this way, lucid dreaming does to your ability to focus what eating well does to your health.

2. Ween off your reality signs

Reality signs are important to get your dream skills off the ground, but view them sort of like training wheels. Eventually, as you become more aware of your subconscious reality, you’ll be able to recognize the subtle differences in general between the waking world and your dream world.

Focusing on these differences and relying less on your dream signs is one of the best ways to practice mindfulness. You’ll really start to taste your food, look at the sky, focus on your physical body, and be aware of your thoughts much more intensely, and you’ll notice their awesomeness compared to the weak sensations of the dream world. You’ll know you’re getting good when you look at tree branches a few hundred yards away and use those as your reality signs, not text written on paper. It’s pretty cool.

3. Get inspiration

Look to media, new experiences, art, and other resources to get inspiration for what you do in your lucid dreams. Basically, try gathering “material” that you want to recreate in a dream.

Let’s say you’re doing something really awesome: skydiving, spending time with your significant other, eating a delicious meal, reading a really clever book, etc. Focusing intensely on what’s going on will make recalling these sensations a breeze, which creates a greater state of mindfulness. This applies to anything you might want to “relive” and allows you to get the most out of any enjoyable experience.

Lucid dreaming is incredibly powerful. It’s also free, easy, safe, educational, and really fun. Be patient, stick to it, and good luck!

I’ll be down in the comments answering any questions you might have.

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10 Responses to “How To Lose Weight, Meditate Like a Monk and Hone Your Super Powers: The Magic of Lucid Dreaming”

  1. Ta-Nehisi Coates over at The Atlantic suggested that sometimes we eat junk because we don’t want to eat mindfully. We are actively trying to be un-mindful.

    Probably not a good daily plan, but there are days …

  2. Will says:

    Great post on lucid dreaming, thanks for sharing it! It is an interesting idea to look at lucid dreaming to help increase mindfulness.

    I wonder if isolation tanks might be useful for developing the ability to lucid dream? When people describe lucid dreaming it sounds very similar to what people describe when they are using sensory deprivation via isolation tanks.

    • Will, isolation tanks are definitely an awesome tool for those who can find/afford one and fit a few extra hours into their schedule.

      One thing I can say, however,is that many tank experiences are mainly visual hallucinations. In comparison, you literally create *everything* about your surroundings in lucid dreaming (sights, sounds, smells, emotions, physics, etc.) and therefore it seems that you can get more out of it as far as applying it to your daily life. But if you have the chance to climb into a tank, do it!

  3. CherylK says:

    Excellent article! I’ve actually had lucid dreams but didn’t know that’s what they are until I read this article. It’s a strange sensation to know that you’re dreaming in your dream. I’ve got several old dead watches…will choose one for my reality sign.

  4. M!ke says:

    I’m sorry but this sounds like one big pile of BS.

    Reality sign? really? what is this, Inception?
    The thing with the reality sign sound stupid and ineffective. Why? because you have it in your mind already, so in your dream it will be the easiest thing to reproduce – in it’s original form! why should it show “oomatt” when you have it in your mind as TOMATO?

    Not to mention that this whole thing sounds a lot scarier then eating unhealthy, what happens when I get hit by a bus because I thought I was in a dream being godlike?

    • Mike, please ignore Inception. That movie does to the exploration of consciousness what Back to the Future does to time travel: absolutely nothing. Beyond that, thanks for the comment and I’ll do my best to answer your questions:

      1. The point of a reality sign is to make you consciously aware in your dream. Please keep in mind that using the “tomato” to “oomatt” illustration was just a simple, succinct way of demonstrating the lack of detail in the dream world. It is not literal. In real life, text and minute details are constant and clear. In the dream world, you might not even be able to read anything (everyone’s different).

      2. “stupid and ineffective…because you have it in your mind already…it will be the easiest thing to reproduce”. Who knows? Maybe for you it will be ineffective.
      I’ll try to keep this short: The text or position of watch hands for your reality sign is not “in your mind”. The memory of it is. You know what else is in your memory? How air feels. What breathing is like. The effect of gravity on the world around you. What sunlight looks like. How your feet feel when you walk. The sound of a car. In real life, these are all real. Your mind doesn’t have to create them; they’re external. When you’re dreaming, however, your brain has to recreate these *from within*. Now, different reality signs work for different people. A friend of mine can simply look at his hands and tell. But the point is that with so many other projections your mind has to make, the small, insignificant details like the arrangement of letters on a piece of paper is often variable or blatantly non-existent. Hopefully you get the point.

      3. “this whole thing sounds a lot scarier then eating unhealthy”. You do “this whole thing” several hours every night whether you remember it or not. Normally, however, you’re just like a passenger sitting in a bus. Doing “this whole thing” lucidly just puts you in the driver’s seat.

      4. “because I thought I was in a dream being godlike”. Lucid dreaming is not like a hallucinogenic drug that you can’t control. You stop whenever you want. It’s very clear when you’re awake and when you’re dreaming. If you’re having difficulty separating reality from your dreams, something bigger is going on in your brain and you should get that checked out.

      If you’re skeptical, remember that this literally costs you nothing and takes 0 extra minutes of your day to try out. So, give it a try and explore your own dreams! Everyone’s different.

      Hopefully I answered some of your questions. Keep in mind that this is an introductory article. If you still have more questions, let me know below.

  5. Clara says:

    Although I most likely do dream, I’d say 90% of the time I have absolutely no recollection of it upon awakening. While keeping a dream journal, if it is to re-occur that I do not remember any of it, what I am to do?

    Cdawg.

  6. Antonella says:

    How does this help me lose weight? How do I use this to lose weight! I want to be lean, fit beautiful! Help.

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