WILD stands for “Wake Initiated Lucid Dream.” The goal is to pass directly from a waking state, to a state of lucid dreaming, without ever losing consciousness. Where DILD is passively reliant on memory and habit to increase the dreamer’s chances of becoming lucid, WILD is a meditative process in which the dreamer actively witnesses the onset of sleep. WILD is often seen as the most direct path to lucid dreaming, but also one of the most elusive.
Chose a good night for your WILD ahead of time, and make it an event.
Think about it during the day, and set your intention to succeed. You will need a peaceful environment, free from distractions. If you share a bed, you may want to consider moving to a guest room, or the sofa for your WILD. Comfortable ear plugs and a sleep mask are helpful to block outside distractions.
Proper timing is critical for a successful WILD.
Most lucid dreams happen during REM sleep, when brain activity is high. Time your WILD so you will be falling asleep as you enter a long period of REM sleep.
At night, the best time for WILD is normally in the later hours of your sleep, when REM cycles are close together and last the longest. You can easily chart your REM sleep by noting the time when you wake to record a dream journal
entry. People have a natural brief awakening after every REM cycle throughout the night. Your natural mid-night awakenings will fall at the end of your REM cycles. Begin your WILD approximately 20 minutes before your next REM cycle. For example, If I knew I normally had vivid dreams between about 4:30am to 5:00am, I would begin my WILD at about 4:00am or 4:15am.
Afternoon naps are also a good time to make an attempt, since most people have a REM cycle in the late afternoon or early evening. When you nap, pay attention to the time when your best dreams occur. This time of day is your target.
Attempting to WILD when you first go to sleep at night is not recommended. You can do everything right, but there will be no dream available for you to enter (or at most, a brief and unsatisfying dream).
Begin by closing your eyes and lying in a comfortable position. Your goal is to become so relaxed, you lose track of your body altogether. You are going to coax yourself into a deep trance-like state that will, effectively, let your body fall asleep while you maintain some awareness. If you have experience with meditation, use your favorite relaxation method.
If your thoughts are racing, calm your mind. Let each thought pass through your mind, recognize it, and then let it go. When your mind is settled, tell yourself firmly that the next thing you see will be a dream. The next thing you experience will be a dream.
Bring your attention to your breath. Breathe slowly, comfortably, and evenly, counting each breath on the exhale. Imitate the breathing of someone who is sleeping. Move your attention to your feet. Feel them relaxing and gently sinking into the bed under their own weight. Now move your attention to your head and face. Feel the muscles in your face relaxing. Relax your neck, and let your head sink gently into the pillow under its own weight. Do this for any part of your body that feels tense or uncomfortable.
When you feel loose and comfortable, start to imagine your body swaying side to side, or rocking back and forth. Imagine you are swaying loosely to the rhythm of your breath and your counting. If you feel any annoying itches or twitches, scratch them, then go right back to what you were doing.
Falling Asleep - Mind
When you feel relaxed, and your thoughts are beginning to wander, it is time to fall asleep. Roll into your normal sleeping position, if you are not already there. It is time to divert attention away from your body. It is relaxed, comfortable, and ready for sleep. You don’t need it anymore. It is time to move into the space of your mind. The goal, now, is to forget about your body altogether.
Continue to count, but instead of focusing on your breath, imagine each number, visually. Try to see what it looks like in your mind’s eye. If you like, imagine the numbers on a clock, or drawn on a chalk board, or something similar. Try to see them changing. If you lose count, just start at the last number you remember. Losing count is a good sign that you are starting to fall asleep.
Your thoughts will start to stray. You will catch yourself thinking of strange things, or witnessing unbidden snippets of dreams. If you get lost in these images and let them play out, you will fall asleep. You need to remain aware, with your intention set while this happens. Remind yourself that this is a dream. Picture yourself performing your favorite reality check over and over again.
If no dreamlets are forming, you can induce them yourself. Imagine a recent memory that comes to mind easily. Chose something familiar and tactile. You want to engage your sense of touch and movement in the memory. For example, you might Imagine walking through your house, running your hands along the rough walls, grasping the cold door handles to open each door. Try to make it feel as real as possible.
Stay patient and confident. You are trying to hold yourself on the edge of sleep until your next REM cycle begins. Hopefully you timed things correctly, and you won’t have long to wait. Keep picturing yourself performing reality checks
, and reminding yourself that the next thing you see is a dream.
When your REM kicks in, you may experience some hypnagogia. You may see visual hallucinations, such as faces, geometry, or lights. Some people hear sounds such as voices, loud bangs, or buzzing. Sometimes the hallucinations will be more physical. You may feel pressure on your body, powerful electric vibrations, or the feeling of motion and speed. These hallucinations can be convincing and startling. You are witnessing yourself falling asleep. If something startles you awake, just calmly return to what you were doing. It is part of the process, and will not ruin your attempt. You will quickly return to your trance-like state of mind.
Entering the Dream.
When you fully enter REM sleep, a dream will begin. One of your induced visualizations may suddenly feel completely convincing. One of the dreamlets or images in your mind may expand into a full dream. For the first few seconds, remain calm, and engage with the dream. Become a participant in the scene, so it becomes your new reality. Touch whatever is closest to you. Investigate your immediate surroundings. Look down at your hands, or rub them together. You want to become physically present in the dream. Stomp your feet, touch a nearby wall, or kneel down to touch the floor. If characters are present, talk to them.
If you do pop out of the dream, don’t give up. Just close your eyes, imagine the scene you just left, and it will return. Sometimes it is a clean transition, other times you might bounce in and out of the dream a few times.
This guide describes only one way to achieve WILD. There are countless mental exercises that can help coax you to the proper state of mind. Everyone is different, and no two WILD attempts will be the same.
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- Sleep Paralysis. The body is normally paralyzed during REM sleep to keep us from acting out dreams. During WILD, we can become aware of this paralysis, and feel trapped or unable to move. This Sleep Paralysis can be accompanied by frightening hallucinations or panic. If this happens, stay calm and realize that you are already asleep and dreaming. Paralysis occurs during REM, meaning you have reached your goal of being aware during REM sleep. It is time to direct your attention away from your body and enter the dream.
- Trouble Swallowing.
If you have problems swallowing, try a different sleeping position. If you are on your back, try propping your head up with additional pillows, or tucking your chin down towards your chest. You could also try lying on your side in a fetal position.
- Twitching Eyes
Some people notice their eyes moving or trying to open as they enter REM. If this is a problem, try wearing a sleep mask. The light pressure on your eyes can help keep them closed. You could also try sleeping on your side.
- Unable to Focus
Sometimes stress can distract you. It is hard to focus if you are worrying about everything you have to do the following morning, or the next day at work. Write down any distracting obligations in your dream journal so you can stop worrying about them and focus on your intention to lucid dream. If your mind is racing, try a meditative exercise to calm it. For example, you could imagine placing each bothersome thought into a large box, and closing the heavy lid.