A little disclaimer: There are many similarities between SSILD and the other lucid dream induction methods such as WILD, MILD, etc. In fact, if you wish, you could label SSILD as a derivative of those methods, or you could simply write it off as an old method with a new name since the differences may be rather subtle. Also I'm not sure if this name has been taken, so if it was then please let me know so I can change it to something else.
Update! The steps for SSILD have been revised as of January 2013. Please check the SSILD blog for an entry that describes the latest way of executing the technique: 宇宙の铁: Senses Initiated Lucid Dream (SSILD) Official Tutorial
While teaching lucid dreaming to novices I realize that many popular methods share a fundamental problem. That is, they all require too much finesse. For example, the typical WILD techniques require proper relaxation which by itself is a difficult subject. Another example is affirmation -- how do you do affirmation effectively? We all know that simply chanting mantras will not do the trick. Same goes for visualization, breathing, and the list just goes on and on.
We need a method that is as effective as it is idiot-proof, hence the creation of the SSILD technique. A large group of people, mainly novices, participated in testing the new method, and within months we received many hundreds of reports of success. And unlike some techniques that only work for the first couple of times, SSILD users report consistent result from regular usage. Many even learned to induce LDs and OBEs on daily basis.
We do not know why exactly SSILD works. One user pointed out that the method shares some resemblance with the self-hypnosis method introduced by Betty Erickson, wife of the late Dr. Milton H. Erickson. Another theory is that by repeated stimulation of the various senses in a trance-like state, we incubate our mind and body into the right condition suited for entering a DILD, WILD, or OBE.
Regardless the theory, it is utterly crucial to keep in mind that SSILD is not strictly a WILD technique. While many users report successful LD/OBE induction from the waking state, this method is equally effective at inducing DILDs. In fact, I strongly suggest users treat it solely as a DILD technique in order to use it in the most effective manner.
1. The best time to practice is after 4 or 5 hours of sleep. You could also combine the practice with WBTB for maximum effect but it is not required. DO NOT do this at the start of your sleep -- it will NOT work! The only exception is afternoon naps since you enter directly into REM.
2. Repeat the following procedures 4 or 5 times. DO NOT attempt too many repetitions even if you don't feel anything. Remember you are not doing a WILD. You are simply setting things up for OBEs and LDs to occur at later point. If you repeat too many times you may risk losing sleep thus destroys the purpose.
2a) With your eyes closed, stare at the darkness behind your eyelids for 15-20 seconds. Try to pick up any colors, lights, or images, but do not strain your eye muscle. If you see nothing but darkness, that's fine. Again, we are not striving to induce dreams from the waked state, so do NOT force it. It is perfectly fine to not feel anything.
2b) Listen to the noises in your ears for 15-20 seconds. Chances are you will hear some light humming and buzzing sound. See if you can hear it more clearly. If you don't hear anything that's okay.
2c) Notice any strange body sensations such as heaviness, tingling, and movements. Pay attention particularly to the head, hands, fingers, abdomen, feet, and toes. Again, it is perfectly fine if you don't feel anything strange.
The above steps should be performed in a relaxed manner, slowly, lazily, and without any rational thoughts. The 15-20 seconds duration is for your reference only, so do NOT count in your head! Chances are, after a couple of repetitions you will begin to feel sleepy, to the point your mind may drift away and forget to continue the exercise. Congratulations, this is exactly the effect we are after! When this happens just pull your mind back a bit and resume from where you drifted away. If you lost count of the repetitions then simply do a new set. It won't hurt.
3. Find the most comfortable position and try to fall asleep as quickly as possible! The quicker you fall asleep the more likely you will succeed later in your dreams!
What's going to happen
Several things may happen through this exercise:
1. After you fall asleep, you may suddenly wake up with a strange sensation. You will feel wide awake, and your body weightless. At this point just do a reality check and roll out from your bed to begin an OBE.
2. You wake up with vibrations and other strange sensations. Hung onto these sensations will lead you into an OBE.
3. You suddenly become lucid in your dreams with no apparent reasons, or you may begin to suspect you are dreaming.
4. You have a False Awakening. Unlike the first experience, you may feel awake but still drowsy. FAs will occur frequently with SSILD, therefore you should get used to it and become good at identifying them.
5. A WILD or direct OBE. Phase entrance may occur during the repetition, with your mind still awake. When this happens, many of the sensations become amplified. You should stop doing any further exercises, and begin focusing on the sensations until you successfully enter the phase.
6. If all else fail you can try the following technique as a last resort. Upon waking up again, which you eventually will after step 3, try relax your head and allow it to sink into the pillow. If done correctly you will generate vibrations and enter an OBE from a fully waked state. This works because SSILD has prepared your body and mind to enter a phase easily. In fact if you increase the number of repetitions you may be able to do this even before you fall asleep from step 3!
My personal research and practice on lucid dreaming dates back in early 90s. Throughout the years I've recorded thousands of LDs and OBEs. Two years ago I joined a lucid dreaming forum in China, and since then have become one of their prominent writers and trainers. The forum quickly grew to over 60,000 active members. This provided me with an excellent test bed for new ideas. Together we developed and refined the SSILD method more than 8 months ago. Today it is being actively practiced and improved upon by thousands of people.
Common causes for loss of sleep
Being unable to fall asleep easily after the cycles is a common problem encountered by inexperienced users of the SSILD technique, there are several possible causes:
1. False Awakening. No I'm not kidding. What you are experiencing could well be an FA and this is very common after doing SSILD. You basically just lay there trying to fall asleep while you are already asleep. One way to work around this is to do additional repetitions when you find you are unable to sleep. Assuming you are in an FA, or sometimes a light trance, then the cycling technique will usually result in very apparent HIs, ringing sounds, vibrations, or other effects. When the effects occur you can simple do an RA, and then roll out of the bed to begin an OBE.
2. You are focusing too much on producing the effects/sensations while doing the reps. Remember, WILD and OBE are by products of SSILD. They should not be sought after. When you do the cycles, do NOT expect anything will happen. You should focus on losing focus. That's the right way to do SSILD.
3. Rational thoughts entering the mind while doing the cycles. It's fine to let your mind drift to other things, but you should NEVER analyize what you are doing! Oh, do NOT count either. You don't want precision!
4. Deliberately trying to relax. Remember, SSILD is very much a self hypnosis tool, so you should rely on that to put you into sleep. Don't mix in any relaxation techniques befor or after! And certainly do not attempt to stay relaxed during the repetitions. You just get comfortable, and leave the relaxation part to the technique.
5. Interruption. This is the single biggest killer. If you are repeatedly interrupted, whether by sudden noises, discomforts, or others, you should seize doing the exercise and go to sleep right away. You can always do it again later, so do not force it.