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Excerpt from "Dreaming Wide Awake"

Improving Lucid Dreaming and Developing Superpowers in the Dream Realm

by David Jay Brown


One way to encourage lucid dreams is to practice the “critical reflection technique,” developed by the late psychologist Paul Tholey. To practice, get into the habit of routinely asking yourself, “Am I dreaming right now?” 

The idea behind doing this regularly when we’re awake is that we’ll carry the habit into our dreams, where we will discover that we’re dreaming. However, to know if you’re dreaming it’s important that you test your environment by using one of the following methods. 

Read Written Words, Look Away, Look Back, and Read Them Again 

An easy test is to simply look at something written on paper, look away, and then look back and see if the same words are still there. In a dream environment, the words will almost always change. Although a dream environment can appear every bit as realistic as waking reality, its fluidity, mutability, and vulnerability to our personal psychic influence is substantial. 

Look at Your Hands 

There is an interesting connection between looking at one’s hands and achieving lucidity in one’s dreams. There are more neural connections between the hands and the eyes than between any other two parts of the body. It was a revelation for me when I realized that there’s nothing that I see more of in life than the backside of my own hands. I’ve also noticed that people who first try Virtual Reality or LSD often spend time initially just watching their hands and fingers move. It seems that one of the first things that we all do, upon entering a new state of consciousness, or a new level of reality, is to examine our hand-eye connection. More than a few people have mentioned to me that they became lucid after seeing the backside of their hand in dream, so try to let your hands be a constant reminder of dream lucidity. 


In a dream, you have the power to do almost anything imaginable, as every physical law can be bent, twisted, and broken, and one has far more control over the experience of reality than we do in the physical world. Here are some of the things that your dream self is capable of doing that you may want to try out the next time that you find yourself lucid in a dream. 


The first thing that many people want to do in lucid dreams is to fly. I find that it takes a certain form of concentrated effort to elevate myself, to stay in the air, and to fly. Motions may be necessary at first to convince your mind that it’s possible. Try flapping your arms or swimming through the air, for example. In the dream realm, gravity only exists if you believe it does. 

Wild Sex 

This is usually the second thing that most people want to try out once they’ve achieved lucidity within a dream. In a lucid dream you can have sex with anyone you desire, without any of the social or biological consequences. Many people report vivid sexual experiences that rival those in waking life, although I must say that my many personal attempts at this have had mixed and often disappointing results. Still, it can be great fun and most interesting to experiment with the erotic possibilities. 

Become a Different Sex or Another Species 

With some practice, by closing one’s eyes and willing it, one can completely morph one’s dream body into the opposite sex or any type of animal or mythic creature, and this shape-shifting ability represents another important interface between lucid dreaming and shamanism. Ayahuasca-using shamans are said to be able to shape-shift into jaguars, birds, snakes, and other animals. 

Psychokinesis: Moving Objects with Your Mind 

One is also able to move any physical object around in a dream by staring at it and willing it to move. I learned about this technique when a dream character looked forcefully at me, and I could feel him knock me over using just the power of his mind. I stood up and wondered if I could do the same thing to him. 

I looked at him and imagined him falling over. I could feel a release of energy, and he fell to the ground, seeming quite surprised. Ever since then, I’ve been able to move objects around with just my focused attention. 

Leaving Your Dream Body 

I’ve found that I can have out-of-the-dream-body experiences simply by willing it. I can float out of my dream body as a “spirit” in my lucid dreams. My floating spirit is then able to enter into and temporarily fuse with other people or things in the dream, and I see the world from his, her, or its perspective. When doing this, I find that although my vantage point shifts, my basic sense of self remains the same. 


The secret to a successful development with lucid dreaming is to understand that whatever you believe to be real is what becomes real. Reality conforms to our beliefs. This is obvious in a lucid dream, but this truth stays generally hidden during waking consciousness, except when we are having a psychedelic experience. 

It seems there’s a continuum of consciousness between waking and dreaming, and psychedelic awareness lies somewhere in the middle. I’ve often wondered if what the “spirit of ayahuasca” said to me once on a shamanic journey is true or not. The voice said that anything possible in a lucid dream is also possible in waking reality, because both realities exist within our minds. Is this what religious prophets, enlightened mystics, and super-psychics have realized?

David Jay Brown holds a master’s degree in psychobiology from New York University. A former neuroscience researcher at the University of Southern California, he has written for Wired, Discover, and Scientific American, and his news stories have appeared on The Huffington Post and CBS News. A frequent guest editor of the MAPS Bulletin, he is the author of several books including Mavericks of the Mind and Conversations on the Edge of the Apocalypse. He lives in Ben Lomond, California.

Dreaming Wide Awake by David Jay Brown © 2016 Park Street Press. Printed with permission from the publisher Inner Traditions International. www.InnerTraditions.com

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