What are Lucid Dreams

What are lucid dreams?  This is a question that you might commonly ask when you are starting out, or be asked by others after you start.  People are generally intrigued by this art, and while it generally makes sense to most, the question is often asked in order to get specifics.  It is also used when people truly mean “is lucid dreaming real?” or perhaps “what do you do while lucid dreaming?” or even “What are the dangers of lucid dreaming?”  For this post we assume that the question “what are lucid dreams” is being asked in a straightforward way, and while the person does basically understand what it is they may want a clear definition or more information.

What is a lucid dream?

Let’s take a step back.  In fact, let’s take a few steps back.  What is a lucid dream?  Those of you who are new to lucid dreaming or those who have had experiences that seem close to but not quite lucid may wonder what an accurate description of lucidity is.  We would be remiss if we did not take this step back and explore this question a little.

The question “what is a lucid dream” seems fairly simple to most – they are dreams that you have some degree of control over and realize that you are dreaming.  But if we dig deeper the question “what are lucid dreams” can be quite complicated, because it may be difficult to determine exactly when a dream becomes and stays lucid.

What is a lucid dream: Types

  1. In many cases the  experience of lucidity is fluid, and may come and go within one dream.  While we may decide that that is still a lucid dreaming experience, we may also decide that there needs to be some sort of sustained experience before we can call it fully lucid.  The best example of this is when you are using wake-induced techniques and you are lucid at the very beginning when the dream started as you drifted to sleep.  When was it actually a dream and when was it more a daydream as you were drifting off to sleep?
  2. Sometimes you may have one but not the other criteria.  In other words, you may have a dream where you are afforded the ability to control what is happening, but you are not aware that you are dreaming – in the dream you think it’s the real world and you are amazed at your own abilities.  Or perhaps you may have the realization that you are dreaming without being able to control what is happening (this often happens toward the end of dream experiences.  My suggestion for the answer to “what are lucid dreams?” in this case is that awareness is more key – awareness without control is an experience of lucidity, while control without awareness is not.
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Defining what are lucid dreams

Does this clear things up as far as our question “what are lucid dreams?“?  Usually it does, but there may be other instances that muddy the waters a little, for example:

  1. What if you have a dream about lucidity, but you’re not quite fully aware.  In other words, you contemplate lucid dreaming in the dream but you are actually not fully aware that you are dreaming?  Is there a fine line behind which this type of experience can be classified as lucidity because the dream has all the aspects except for your clear awareness?
  2. How about if you experience lucidity during your hypnagogic state before you truly enter a full dream state?  It’s not always easy to measure exactly when you’ve gone from deeply relaxed and experiencing imagery and when you are truly dreaming.
  3. How about the dream that alternates between you being aware and not?  Does your answer to “what are lucid dreams” suggests that even a few seconds of lucidity qualifies the experience, or do you require some degree of sustained awareness?

So the simple answer to our question is that the ideal lucid dream offers both control and awareness, and we still suggest that the central key is merely the awareness end – if you know you are dreaming then you are lucid.  But this still leaves some details to be answered, such as how full that awareness needs to be, how long does it need to last, and when exactly are you in a full dream state.

Bottom Line: What are lucid dreams?

Given all of the above, and the potential complications you might have in answering the question “what are lucid dreams?” in a clear and concise way, we offer the following three definitions.  These three definitions are all interrelated, and it may often make sense to give all three when only one has been asked for:

  1. What are lucid dreams: Lucid dreams occur when you are fully asleep yet also fully aware during your dream cycles.  You know you are you, and you realize you are, in fact, dreaming.  Whether this feeling lasts for the full dream or just for a small part does not matter.
  2. What is dream control: When you are not only lucid but also at least partially in control of what you do, or what your surroundings look like, or who appears in the dream that is dream control.  Lucid dreams can happen with or without dream control, but dream control is the key to knowing how to dream what you want.
  3. What is lucidity: In order to fully have a lucid dream you have to reach a state of lucidity.  This means that there is no question to you that you are as aware as you are while in your non-sleep state, and feel completely like yourself.  Dreaming about lucid dreaming may or may not include lucidity.
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These three definitions show the breadth of the possible answer to the original question, and allow you to give a well-rounded answer that gives even more information to those who ask.  These definitions may also prevent the need to answer follow-up questions!

Wikipedia is  great place to get a definition and overview of lucid dreams.

What are lucid dreams conclusions

All of this said, experiencing lucidity may be something you do by feel and without the need for a definition.  As you get more experienced and expert at your techniques perhaps you will more fully experience the answer to the question “What are lucid dreams?”

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