Reality Checking and Dream Signs
With reality checking, you make use of your known dream signs by performing a reality check whenever you spot a dream sign. The simplest form of reality check is just asking yourself "am I dreaming?" If done consistently, this habit will carry over into your dreams and you will eventually get lucid by doing a reality check in a dream.
It is important to note that you should never do a reality check mindlessly. Take a minute to look around you and ask yourself if your surroundings are really logical. Ask yourself how you got there, why you are there, and where you are going.
It is of course possible to do reality checks that are unrelated to dream signs. Reality checking alone can help you induce lucid dreams.
Even if you’ve completely convinced yourself that whatever you’ve seen that is out of the ordinary is quite possible, perform one more unrelated test. Read some text, or glance at a digital clock or watch. Wait a few seconds and then do it again. If the text or time inexplicably changes, then you are in fact dreaming. Even if the time or text doesn’t change, try to focus on changing it for a moment. In dreams text often changes upon a second glance and we almost always accept it, even though clearly it is an alarming clue that we are dreaming.
MILD (Mnemonically Induced Lucid Dream)
This technique was created by Dr. Steven LaBerge who wrote about it in his book Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming. It can often overlap with reality checking because the goal is to do a reality check in your dreams. Typically, though, this technique involves spending a little time every night doing an affirmation or visualization that you will have a lucid dream as you fall asleep.
EILD (Externally Induced Lucid Dream)
This technique relies on some sort of external cue to help you get lucid as you are dreaming. The most famous of these is probably the NovaDreamer, a device you would wear on your head which emits soft blinking lights that you will see in your sleep. Unfortunately, this equipment is hard to find and is generally expensive. There are other devices and signals which are more cost-effective, such as vibrating alarms. These will work for you if you are very familiar with your sleep cycles and will be able to accurately guess when you will be dreaming.
WILD techniques can be so wide and varied that they could never be covered in one page. Because WILD depends on the dreamer to pass directly from a waking state to a dream state, each person will experience the transition differently as we each have different physical and mental responses to it. The best way to learn to WILD is to practice it.
Nearly every WILD technique will have the same basic structure. Normally the you would set an alarm or wake up naturally during the night or morning (though some take daytime naps). This is known as a Wake-Back-to-Bed. You would go back to sleep, only you would keep yourself conscious as your body falls asleep. By doing this you can directly enter into a dream and be lucid from the beginning.
How long does it take?
The length of time required to have steady lucid dreams varies, depending on the person. Keep in mind since we are all individuals it may also simply not be possible for you to become steady with your lucid dreaming: it is very likely you’ll only be able to have a couple a month, if even that many. As stated previously dream recall, practice, and motivation are all critical components to successful lucid dreaming. Obviously one who begins with excellent dream recall will require less time and effort than one who only occasionally remembers his or her dreams. Some will be more ardent than others and will find it easier to stay motivated and to practice. Also, there are always those who seem to have a natural predisposition for various skills, thus will be able to proceed at an accelerated pace regardless of their previous level of experience. I should note that lucid dreams are not necessarily only attained by vigorous practice and diligence—it is quite possible you have already experienced lucid dreaming, although you may not already know it. In fact, after reading this site on lucid dreaming you may very well have a lucid dream tonight—simply reading about and constantly thinking about lucid dreaming is often enough to induce a lucid dream. Attaining the ability to lucid dream at will, however, requires effort on your part.
For further information on learning lucid dreaming you can read through our Attaining Lucidity forum on the message board.