Fact or Myth: Can Lucid Dreaming Help You Heal?
This is FACT.
Our bodies are finely tuned machines that operate with precision and purpose, and the process of dreaming is no exception. Dreams are a reflection of how we perceive the circumstances of our lives…of how we are registering external experiences internally. That’s why dreams are such a meaty topic of analysis for psychotherapists, because often what shows up in our dreams are emotions or thoughts that are stifled deep inside our subconscious during waking hours. Dreaming accesses these repressed internal stressors, desires, or emotions.
Some people can consciously control their dreamscape at will. It’s called lucid dreaming, and every one of us can learn to some degree to foster a more interactive relationship with our dreams in order to accelerate emotional healing.
Lucid dreaming occurs when you realize you are dreaming while you are in a dream. As long as you’re aware of the dream as it is happening, you’re a lucid dreamer. Adept practitioners of lucid dreaming attempt to guide their dreams. For instance, if you’re battling recurring nightmares and have mastered lucid dreaming, you can guide your dream so that you confront the “terror.” In fact, studies have shown that lucid dreaming can help treat anxiety disorders linked to recurring dreams and nightmares.
Likewise, a lucid dreamer can spin the dream so that they soar through the sky or walk on water. You can use lucid dreaming to bust through blocks to creativity, or deal with unresolved issues from past lovers. Once you’ve mastered lucid dreaming, there’s no limit to where your dreams can take you.
There’s not a lot of research on lucid dreaming, namely because it’s difficult to find subjects who can lucid dream at will under the constraints of laboratory setting and testing. However, several studies confirm positive benefits.
Psychologists from the University of Lincoln in England published a study in Dreaming, the journal of the American Psychological Association, which showed that people who regularly lucid dream are better at cognitive tasks that involve insight, like problem solving.
A 2010 study published in Sport Psychologist demonstrated that people who dreamed of practicing a specific skill—in this particular case throwing coins into coffee cups—showed improved skills the following morning, compared with non-lucid dreamers.
A study conducted by Max Planck Institute in Germany showed that when lucid dreamers clenched their fists from left to right during lucid dreaming, it activated the same parts of the brain during REM sleep as it did when the lucid dreamers clenched their fists from left to right while awake.
Preliminary studies suggest that lucid dreaming can help improve depression and overall mental health by instilling a sense of self-control in patients.
How to Lucid Dream
Even if you’ve never had a lucid dream, you can still become a lucid dreamer and work to master the healing effects with the following tips.
Cultivate awareness in your waking hours by becoming more present and aware of details in your environment. You can then carry this attention to detail with you into the dreamscape. Noticing any details out of the ordinary while you are dreaming can help activate lucid dreaming.
Start wearing a designated piece of dream jewelry to bed at night—like a ring, necklace, or even a piece of string tied around your wrist. When you see this object in the dream, you know you are lucid dreaming!
You can also use herbs, crystals, and essential oils to heighten your ability to lucid dream.
Herbs: Calea, Mugwort, Heimia Salicifolia, Celastrus paniculatus, Blue Lotus, Tian Men Dong (not all herbs are meant to be ingested! Consult with your doctor before consuming…otherwise you can use the aromatherapy benefits of the herbs)
Crystals: Quartz, Malachite, Ametrine, Moonstone, Amethyst, Moldavite, Azurite
Essential Oils: (diffuse in an aromatherapy diffuser) Sandalwood, Lavender, Geranium, Jasmine, Bergamont, Chamomile, Ylang Ylang