How to Lucid Dream Using the MILD Technique

Lucid dreaming is the act of becoming aware that you are dreaming while you are still dreaming. Over the years many techniques have been discovered and developed to help a person gain lucid awareness whilst they are asleep.

One of those techniques is the Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams (MILD). This technique shares similarities with other teachings that have been around for centuries, but the terminology and greater depth of western understanding were developed by Dr Stephen La Berge[1] in the early 1980s.

The MILD technique developed by Dr Stephen La Berge is ultimately the foundation of all subsequent dream initiated techniques used to induce lucid dreams. Although for many of us, our first lucid experience happens spontaneously, in order to lucid dream at will, you first need to train yourself to gain a level of mindfulness.

Using MILD, lucidity can be achieved by using a mnemonic device, such as a specific word, phrase, image, or anything else that will trigger your memory and bring you to a state of awareness.

Why Do People Want to Lucid Dream?

For many, the point of lucid dreaming is to be able to control what happens in our dreams instead of being a passive character in a story. We want the ability to fly, talk with people who have passed away, visit places we’ve never seen before etc.

The exhilaration felt when experiencing things normally impossible in our waking lives can often be enough for most people. There are those however that seek to use lucid dreaming in a deeper and more philosophical way to expand their consciousness and engage with their inner self.

Leading lucid dream philosopher, Robert Waggoner writes about almost transcending the lucid dream state and communicating with an even deeper consciousness within – an awareness of awareness if you will.

It is whilst communicating with this awareness that Robert has developed a deeper understanding of the psyche and found inspiration that has enabled him to help himself and others in his waking life. The book Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self[2] (amazon link – opens in a new tab) is certainly worth a read.

Lucid dreaming is now also being used more and more for therapy and can be used to treat recurring nightmares, PTSD, anxiety, and a host of other problems that you may face[3].

How to Lucid Dream – MILD Technique

Regardless of what method you are trying to induce a lucid dream state, you will need to have excellent dream recall. The word mnemonic derives from Greek mnēmōn (“mindful”), which itself comes from the Greek word meaning “to remember.” – Mirriam Webster[4].

A fundamental part of the MILD technique is remembering your dreams and unless you are gifted with extraordinary dream recall, you will need to train yourself how to do this. Fear not, this is something that can be done.

What You Need

  • A diary or small notebook
  • Pen
  • Patience

Step 1 – Improve Your Dream Recall and Begin a Dream Journal

As we mentioned, dream recall is a fundamental part of becoming lucid using the MILD technique.

The first and most important step in helping you improve your dream recall is by recording your dreams in a dream journal. Place your notebook by your bed so you can record any dreams you have the moment you wake up.

Accomplished lucid dreamers continue to keep a journal and record their dreams every day but after just three weeks, you will be amazed at how much your conscious memory of dreams increases.

Journal writing is very important, and you should aim to write at least 5 things that you remember from your dreams each day – this will help improve your dream recall and train yourself to be more aware. Recall and write down any details that stand out whether they are negative, positive, or just plain weird. Decide what emotion each dream is linked to and write down how you felt at the time.

If remembering the dream is too difficult at first, there are a couple of things that you can do to help you.

  1. Consciously repeat to yourself a few times before you go to bed – tonight I will remember my dreams, tonight I will remember my dreams. Yes, this may sound strange, but the mere suggestion can be enough to help you remember.
  2. Upon awakening from your sleep, do not move straight for the journal and stay still for a minute or two and concentrate on trying to commit some of the details to memory. When you have a few of the details committed to your memory, you will find that more and more will come back to you and you can then write them down in your journal.

Step 2 – Analyze Your Journal for Recurring Patterns and Signs

This is where the importance of dream recall comes in and the very reason for keeping your dream journal.

Analyzing your dream journal will not only help you improve your dream recall, but it will also help you learn more about your dreams. After a time of keeping your journal, you will begin to notice certain patterns appearing. These may be feelings or emotions, locations, situations, or objects that are occurring regularly. These recurring patterns are called dream signs.

Dream signs are unique to each individual and most people have a variety of dream signs that they associate with, and these can range from being extremely personal to purely random.

Recognizing your dream signs is extremely important as you will be able to learn these as your ‘cue’ to becoming lucid.

Step 3 – Regularly Test Your State of Mind With Reality Checks

Next up we have reality checks. These are extremely important if you want the MILD method of inducing a lucid dream to work. A reality check will help you determine whether you are actually awake or in a dream state.

As you are beginning to populate your dream journal, it is a good idea to begin testing your state of mind regularly throughout the day. There are various ways that you can do this, and you may even develop your own technique that works for you.

The idea is to train your brain during your waking state to recognize strange occurrences and potential dream signs and then test yourself and ask… am I dreaming? – with a little practice, this reality check will take place whilst you are asleep and is your cue for lucidity.

You can do your reality checks at specific intervals or before you undertake certain activities during the day, but you should also do them whenever something happens that feels a little out of place or strange.

The 2 reality checks that work for me are reading and turning around.

Reading

When I want to ask myself if I am dreaming, I will read something, whatever is close to me, I will keep that word in my mind and then look away and then look back at the word.
I have found that in most dreams, on looking back at the writing, the word or words have morphed, changed, or disappeared completely and this has been my lucidity trigger as I realize at that point I am dreaming.

Turning Around

The other reality check that I have had great success with is quite simply asking myself if I am dreaming and then I will take in what is in front of me and turn around and turn back again.

Like with the writing above, when I turn around and then turn back, something has changed, or something has appeared that wasn’t there before.

Note: When you first begin practicing your reality checks, it can be very hard to get these correct as your dream state will always try and create a justification in your mind as to why certain strange events may occur.

Conclusion

The primary key to awakening and becoming lucid using MILD is training yourself to recognize you are dreaming whilst you are dreaming. The techniques that we have covered in this article should be a great starting point when it comes to creating your own personalized strategy for lucidity induction.

It’s important to remember, however, that everyone has their own unique dream signs which will increase the chances of them recognizing they’re in a dream state – these may include feelings or emotions, locations, situations, or objects occurring regularly.

FAQ’s

How often should I do reality checks?

It is good practice to do your reality checks throughout the day but also you should do a reality check every time it occurs to you when you see something strange; you are doing something new or seeing something for the first time. Whether this is when you walk through a door, go under something like a bridge, or simply whenever you’re alone or something feels strange.

How to remember to do reality checks in dreams?

Once you have begun to train yourself into checking your reality regularly throughout the day, you will then naturally begin to test your state of mind in the dream state.

How to do reality checks properly?

When you are doing your reality check, it is very important that you concentrate and take in the details around you, and look for anything that may be off or out of place. Whilst in the dream state we are prone to believe everything around us is real – even if you saw something strange, your mind automatically provides reasoning which you will often accept.

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Sources

[1] Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming (LaBerge and Rheingold, 1990) – Buy Now on Amazon

[2] Gateway to the Inner Self (Robert Waggoner) – Buy Now on Amazon

[3] PTSD Study (Charlie Morley)

[4] Mnemonic Definition (Mirriam Webster Dictionary)