How To Tell When You’re Dreaming

One of the most fun things to do when sleeping and dreaming, and certainly a great accomplishment if you’ve never done it before, is to be aware that you’re dreaming in the middle of your dream.  It’s harder than it sounds because your ordinary mind is not awake during this time, so “crazy stuff” makes sense in the dream world that you would never believe while awake in our physical world.

If you could only realize you’re dreaming in your dream, you could stop the giant spider from coming towards you and scaring you. You could stop the bad guys from chasing you, since they always seem to know where you’re hiding. You could regain control over the car you’re driving that seems to want to keep going even though you jam on the break with all your strength of both feet.

If you were awake in your dream, you could change things – like replacing all the hand guns with flowers; wouldn’t it look silly to see a bad guy pointing a flower at you? Then you could give the ring leader a cute pink tutu to wear around his waist, like a ballet dancer.  He’d probably run away immediately from embarrassment. You could jump directly to the classroom you’re supposed to be in for that final exam, but are having trouble finding – or, decide that you hate this campus and completely replace it with a different location and scenery and friends you like better! You could fly up, up and away; get away from this stupid dream place, because you’re done here. You get to decide, you’re in full control. You’re in the greatest virtual reality simulation in the world.

A lot of people have written about being in control of your dreams while dreaming. Some people call it “lucid dreaming”. But I haven’t seen very much useful advice on how to do it more frequently. I’m going to tell you some tricks for doing this more and more in your dream-life, if you want to.

The People And Creatures Aren’t Real

The dream world is fascinating. You can see all your friends and family there, famous people you’ve always wanted to meet – and none of it is real. They are all constructions from your own mind, usually your subconscious mind.  They come from memories of your current life. Sometimes you see creatures, or really anything you could imagine. They come from worries and fears that you have, from issues you haven’t dealt with, or experiences you wish had gone a different way. Things you’re still rehashing inside of you, you get to re-live and change, if you want to, in the dream-world.

It’s important to realize that these beings in your dream aren’t real. Not at all. You can say anything to them, do anything to them, and it doesn’t really hurt the actual person or creature. Just because you’re dreaming of your brother or sister, for example, doesn’t mean they are dreaming of you at the same time, in the same dream – not at all. Your real family and friends all have their own fears/worries/concerns to dream about, which may involve you, or others; you never know. Their dreams are completely separate from yours. This is a good thing, it means you have a certain freedom you wouldn’t otherwise have – no need to be polite or follow anybody else’s rules in your dream world.

Sometimes a dream can be about something you’re afraid of – a fear you have. What are you afraid of? Spiders? Snakes? Being shot? Dying? The dream-world can offer all of these to you, and more, to terrify you while you’re sleeping. We call these nightmares, of course. But here’s the thing:

Nothing in this dream world can actually hurt you.

In fact, none of it can even touch you!  Not even a little bit!  Not even a giant monster 20 stories tall!  Not even the bullets from the criminal’s gun that he just shot at you, that you felt touching your skin!  None of it can touch you without your permission – and even if it does, it cannot hurt you at all.

So what we want, then, is to be aware that we’re dreaming, to reject anything touching us, so we can stand tall and still if we want, against all odds, “facing” our fears head on, and be victorious over them this way.  We want to be in control of this dream world, so that when it displays things we don’t like, we can switch it out with something we do like – immediately. We don’t want to put up with bullshit in this dream world.

Beings that Animate your Dream People

There are beings that live in the dream world full time, that enjoy giving life to the people and creatures you create there. If you create a monster, one can embodies the monster and chase you around, roaring or breathing fire or stomping around, however your construction operates; because that’s what your subconscious mind wants to experience. If you are dreaming about the man or woman you deeply love, this creature will embody them, and they will say and do and express just what you most wanted to see and feel and hear from that dream-person.

These creatures are neither bad nor good; they don’t want to hurt you, they just want to play with you. Think of them as little imps, they don’t have an appearance themselves, but they are conscious, and are attracted to the dream you created. They can give just enough realistic “life” to a construction in the dream world that it can really scare you, if it’s scary, or really seem like your friend or family member, if that’s who you’ve constructed. They give the answer you expect, when you ask them questions, because the creature listens to your thoughts and feelings, and expresses them through the construction they’ve embodied in your dream.

I know this is true because I’ve done things to drive them away, and it’s funny to see what happens then – it’s not what I expected.

One time I had a “friend” in the physical world who was very annoying, would frequently disagree with me and tell me something different, or encourage us to go to a different restaurant for lunch than I wanted to go to, would carelessly ignore my expressed opinion of foods I am allergic to, and so forth. I struggled to get along with this person in my physical life. So one night I had a dream about them, and as usual, they were disagreeing with a very basic thing I just said, and it pissed me off.

I decided to yell at this person, once and for all!  I took a deep breath with anger, and before I could say the first words, I witnessed the following thing happen:

  • My dream-friend’s eyes became vacant
  • His head slumped down a little, kind of like it was lifeless
  • He was still standing upright, but unmoving and lifeless

When I shouted all the words I wanted to say, I got up real close to his face, and shouted at him from 2 inches away – he didn’t flinch at all. Didn’t move one bit, didn’t turn away or towards me, just stood there like a mannequin with those lifeless eyes. I yelled and yelled until I felt better. I stopped because I felt a little bit bad now for yelling at a friend. And then I was done with the dream, my anger was kicking me out of the dream world, and I woke up.

That certainly was interesting!  You can drive away the little spirits that embody the “creatures” if you want to, with your powerful emotions.  You could do that to the raging dinosaur that’s trying to stomp on you, or the aliens that are approaching you with dangerous stabby metal tools, or the giant 3-foot black spider that chases you as fast as you can run.  Just turn around and yell at them with 100% anger or any other powerful emotion.  Boom, it’s over.

I think the little creature that can embody dream land constructions like that don’t enjoy powerful negative emotions like that. They flee from it, they’d rather be someplace else, some place they can play and interact with the visitors, the dreamers there.

Actually there are better and more subtle ways to take control of the situation rather than getting angry and yelling.  I’m just saying this technique does work.

Preparing for the Dream World

The first step is to sense that you might be dreaming, when you are actually dreaming. This takes a lot of practice.  Some things I would suggest:

  1. Consciously relax your body, calm your emotions, and tell your mind to be quiet. This takes a lot of practice, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do it right away – just keep trying without judgment. Tell your body that it is completely safe, it’s OK to leave now, you’ll be back in the morning.
  2. Before going to sleep, think to yourself – “I am going to sleep now. The next things I see are all dreams, and aren’t real at all. I will remember this.”
  3. Get a note book and a pencil or pen, and leave it beside your bed. I use a full-size spiral notebook. Leave it open to a blank page, so you can immediately start writing. When you wake up in the middle of the night and remember a dream, write it down as best you can. The same in the morning. This helps you reinforce the connection between your sleeping world and your physical/awake world.

What To Avoid

There are some things that interfere with being aware in the dream-world, and being in control of your dreams – including:

  1. Having sex before going to sleep – it uses a lot of energy that you could have used in the dream world. Avoid sex for 4-6 hours before sleep, if you want to control your dream world that night.
  2. Eating too much for dinner, especially too much red meat, or eating dinner too late (too close to bedtime).
  3. Drinking too much alcohol – if you drink so much that you’re seeing double, or if you feel sick to your stomach in the middle of the night, that is too much. Some alcohol is completely fine and will not interfere with your activities in the dream world.
  4. Taking certain drugs constantly, especially illegal drugs. Of course you should take your prescription drugs – your doctor knows better than I do.  But some drugs use up the energy that enables you to wake up and take control of the dream world. Some drugs can also force you into the lower depths of the dream world, in some way I don’t fully understand yet – giving you more nightmares than most people have, for the rest of your life. I know somebody in that situation now, because they were a heavy drug-user in the past – I don’t recommend it.
  5. Having really strong emotions before bed, like yelling at a family member or getting into a fight with someone over the phone. Finding a way to forgive everyone in your life before going to bed at night is very helpful.
  6. Watching painful TV shows and movies, especially horror movies. These things fill your subconscious with terrible images and a feeling of being out-of-control that pollutes you and causes you to lose control in the dream world. You’ll have to rehash it over and over in the dream world, waste all your time and energy with those horrific experiences, when you could have been doing something fun instead.  When given the chance to go to Disneyland, why would you choose instead to stay at home and hit your face repetitively with a claw hammer?
  7. Harmful Computer Games where you are having to attack and kill other human beings and creatures.  It pollutes your psyche, and takes away your ability (temporarily) to reach the higher levels.
  8. Harmful music that is shouting and has hurtful lyrics and discordant sounds. You have to be the judge of what music is good for you and what is not.
  9. Having strong smells in your sleeping room. I will go into detail in a future post. Strong smells can invoke nightmares and hold you down to the lower levels of the dream world, rather than letting you be free to do what you want there. Take a shower once a day at least. Pick up dirty clothes from your floor. Change your sheets at least every 2 weeks. Sometimes I burn a small amount of incense or put some drops of Peppermint or Eucalyptus oil in a warm cup of water near my bed, to clear the air.
  10. Having noises or other things that wake you up regularly or disturb you while you’re sleeping. You need to feel like you can escape to the dream world without being in danger, when you’re falling asleep. Some sounds are soothing, some are not – it depends on you. For example, some people are bothered by snoring, but I’m not, it just sounds relaxing and sleep-inducing to me.
  11. Some people are bothered by bright lights in the room; ever since those super-bright LEDs were invented, some electronic equipment comes with them, and it can be way too bright in the middle of the night.  Cover them up with a post-it note or piece of electrical tape.

My laptop was so annoying – it has a white LED that pulses bright, dim, bright, dim, every few seconds when it’s recharging.  Trying to go to sleep at night, it felt like I was being brainwashed. I had to cover it with a post-it note. That wasn’t the brightest thing in my room, however. The device that wins the award for “brightest light ever” in my bedroom is a 4-port HDMI hub I have attached to my HDTV – it has 4 blue LEDs that are so bright, it looks like a spotlight shooting up from behind my TV! It’s brighter than any night-light I’ve ever seen. One layer of post-it note did not help enough, believe it or not, I had to use two pieces – and I can still see which LED is lit (barely) during the daytime, so I can tell what it’s trying to indicate.

Please understand, I’m not telling you to always avoid the above list of things! Actually you should do all the things you want to in your life, any time you want to – you deserve to experience all that life has to offer. Please enjoy your life. Just understand that if you’re not entirely successful in controlling your dream-world that night, there may be reasons for it. You can choose what things you will do, and when, in your life, and you can set aside time to try different things in your life – you are in control now.

Realizing You Are Dreaming

When you’re starting to become aware in the dream-world, you will probably ask yourself, right in the middle of a dream: “am I dreaming right now?” It’s almost impossible to tell you’re dreaming while you’re there.  Then some activity happens in front of you and your focus wanders, and that’s the end of that.  Then you wake up and say, “darn it! Of course I was dreaming! I’m obviously wide awake now! I can feel it with certainty!” So how can you figure out that you’re dreaming, when you’re dreaming?  There’s a few tricks to it.

How to Tell You Are Dreaming

In the dream world, you really cannot tell that you’re dreaming just by how it feels.  It feels real to you when you’re there. Some ways to tell you’re dreaming:

  1. Pinch yourself to see if you’re dreaming.  Remember this old adage? Well, it really works! Try something: pinch your forearm right now with the thumb and finger of your other hand. It feels just the way you thought it would, didn’t it.  Your fingers only go in so far; you feel the sensation of touch; and that’s it.  Now, try to remember to do the same thing when you’re asleep.  Keep trying to remember just as you are going to sleep, and you will, eventually. The next time you’re dreaming and you say, “I wonder if this is a dream?” Pinch yourself , what you feel?  It’s a completely different feeling! To me it feels super spongey, like my arm is made of a sponge with no bones in it at all; and it feels electrical – I feel a powerful electrical pulse through my arm that’s being pinched, like a mini lightning bolt!  It doesn’t hurt, it just feels unmistakably noticeable. Not at all what I expected! If you try this, please tell me what you experience.
  2. If there’s people you know around you in the dream, try to ask one of them something calmly that would shock them, or something they wouldn’t know the answer to. For example, if you’re a software developer and your grandma is nearby, ask her why Dependency Injection is so important.  You might be surprised when she tells you the answer. But you have to ask something that you already know the answer to.  If they tell you something insightful, which you already know, you’re dreaming!  Your real grandma in the physical world couldn’t have known that!
  3. Ask the person near you a question they absolutely would know the answer to, but which you don’t! It’s funny to see what happens. I did this with my “dad” in a dream one time a long time ago. My dad was an electrical and audio engineer all his life, and I learned a lot from him about electronics. So I asked my dream-dad, “how do you tune an audio amplifier to fit the acoustics of the room it’s in?” I know my real dad knows the answer to that, but I have no idea. I’d really like to know, actually.  My dream dad looked at me – stared at me, as if trying to read me – my mind was blank, because I don’t know, and was waiting for a clear answer – and waiting, and waiting…!  About 5 long seconds went by, and when I didn’t have a good answer in mind for “dream-dad” to recite back to me, his eyes went dim and he slumped forward as if the game was over and he was just a piece of furniture now! I was so happy – I discovered I was dreaming, and I won the game I was playing!
  4. Think the following fact, over and over, before going to sleep:  If I have to ask whether I’m dreaming or not, then I’m dreaming!  Think about it – right now you are awake and you aren’t wondering if you’re dreaming or not.  You know 100% for a fact that you’re awake right now, don’t you.  So, any time from now on that you’re unsure about it, you must be dreaming!

I learned these tricks on my own just by trying stuff out when I was young.  When I was about 10 or 12 years old, I dreamed that I was in our old house (not the current house we lived in), and I was playing in the laundry room near my mom who was folding the laundry as she always did. Everything looked normal, it was very peaceful, just the way I liked to experience it in the real world. But I suspected I was dreaming, and I really wanted to know for sure, so I tested my mom.  I said: “Mom, I’m dreaming right now, and you aren’t real.”  I knew that in the real world my mom would freak out a little bit at me saying that; she would at the very least stop what she was doing and look straight at me to see if I was OK, maybe I had a fever.  But in this dream world she said: “that’s nice, dear,” in her perfect neutral mom-voice, and kept right on folding clothes!  Aha! I had my proof at last! That phrase, “that’s nice dear,” is something she often says to things I tell her, since I’m just a little kid, and adults tend to just put up with the obvious type of things you say when you’re a kid, because you don’t know any better.  (“Hey mom, there’s a spider web here!” “That’s nice dear.”) It fit right in with the type of reaction I would get from my mom – but was the completely wrong thing for her to say, based on what I just said!  I was calm when I spoke, so she was calm when she spoke – the dream world often works like that.  But I had said something, calmly, that would have really upset her in the real world!  Now I knew for sure – I really was dreaming! And I was aware of it, while dreaming, and the dream kept on going – and I knew I was dreaming. It was my first experience in knowing I was dreaming when I really was. It was awesome.

I Have Conquered my Dream World

If you’re wondering about me, for the most part, I have conquered my dream world. Thousands of times I have woken up within my dream, known it was a dream, stayed in there, changed things, kicked ass and took names, created beautiful scenarios, flown through the air at thousands of miles an hour, arranged three dozen beautiful dancers to dance a routine I thought up that I’ve never seen before in the physical world; whatever I feel like, as far and wide as I feel.

I got mad one time that the ground was a limit when the sky was not, because I could fly thru the sky anytime; I was still afraid of falling and hitting the ground (a fear left over from the physical plane – a fear many people have! – which has no place in the dream world). I got really mad and decided to jump off a cliff – but instead of falling, I flew straight down faster than falling – if I was going to die, I decided, I would go out in the most extreme way possible!  I flew straight into the ground – and through the ground!  I made big loops under ground, I could feel and smell the wet earth as I flew through it in huge arcs, jetting straight back into the air, looping and going back down into the earth again.  It felt really weird, I didn’t like it, but I did it – and from that moment on, I was no longer afraid of hitting the “ground” in the dream world. I had to re-do that experience a few times before I remembered never to be afraid of the ground in the dream world.

I have battled many enemies in the dream world – nothing can touch me anymore if I don’t want it to. Maybe 10% of my dreams involve something “scary”, but I gain strength as soon as I feel fear coming, and I control the fear, so it doesn’t envelop me and control me.  I face the enemy – and I vanquish it in any way I see fit.  Sometimes I yell at it and make it slink away. Other times I chop it with a giant sword in my hand that can cut thru anything, but my favorite thing is burning it with intensely hot fire.  Fire cannot hurt me in that world, but it can drive away everybody else if I need it to!

When I was a kid, not only did I have a lot of nightmares, but there was a period of a few weeks where I had night-terrors every night, which were horribly fearsome; I dreaded going to sleep at night because of them.  With night-terrors, you’re still trapped in the dream world even when your eyes are fully awake in the physical world. You see both simultaneously. At least that’s what I experienced. It was terrible. But that was 40+ years ago; all that has changed for me now. I would say that maybe once in two years or so I will have a nightmare where I get scared and actually sit up in bed, and realize it was all a dream – that it tricked me.  It really doesn’t happen that much anymore. If things get too scary in the dream world, that’s something else you can do – force yourself to wake up immediately. Basically, get the hell out of there any time you want to. I do that sometimes when I want to.

Combating Night Terrors

Night terrors, as I experienced them as a child, are when you wake up from a nightmare – and you’re still dreaming even while awake – you still see the fearsome scenes, just as real (or more real) than real-life! You flinch when something is coming right at you; it’s very scary for you and those around you in physical life. Then, after some time, they tend to go away, but it can take a half-hour or more, and it’s more terrifying to a child than anything the physical world has in it.

A good technique for combating night-terrors is with a bottle of pure eucalyptus oil. Open the bottle and take a deep smell of it, and the dream-connection will be severed. My dad figured this out. We had to do that a few nights in a row, then the night-terrors stopped.

To avoid nightmares and terrors at night, before going to bed, dab a small amount of eucalyptus oil on your finger and wipe it on the sheets of your bed where your spine will be; and maybe a little bit on the center of your pillow.  Not very much, because it’s pretty smelly.

What Is the Dream World?

The dream world is just the Astral Plane.  It’s not a high plane, and not a low plane either. It’s the plane above this physical world we live in. It’s just another place, a subtler, energy-driven place, completely separate but somehow parallel to our physical world. I think we are actually in it all the time, but our consciousness is not connected to it when we’re awake on the Physical plane. Some day there may be more cross-over between the two. But, that might get a little confusing, or even scary for people who have not conquered their dream world yet. I think it will happen for people when the time is right.

Control Your Emotions

Control your emotions in the dream world, and you control the dream world.  I do not mean “flatten” your emotions and never feel anything – quite the opposite! You will feel any and every emotion you want to, consciously, to the degree you want to, and stop them and change them anytime you want – all within your own control at all times.  You can put on a play, with your emotions; tell a story, if you want to.  That is how to succeed in the dream world. Actually, it’s a good way to succeed in the physical world, too.

The most powerful way to control your emotions is from one level above the emotional level – the mental level. Use your mind to control your emotions.  That’s why the above article is fairly intellectual, when the dream world is mostly about feeling.  You can master any given level of life by living and acting on the level above.  I encourage you to learn the levels within you and how to get around each level of this fascinating world we live in.


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