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    Thread: How to Train your Imagination - A must-read guide

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      How to Train your Imagination - A must-read guide

      I found on Reddit this brilliant 3-part article by johnnyhavoc2, an expert dreamer that using this method alone - without knowing about other techniques - managed to achive an incredible level of control, recall and LD-induction frequency.
      If you haven't read it yet, I'm sure you'll love to read it. I intend to apply this method on top of my hands-anchor practice.
      Let me know what you think.

      Here it is:

      PART 1 - Visualization Practices: The Cup



      Preface


      Before we get started I want to explain a little bit of my thought process to help explain where I get this from.

      I'm a lucid dreamer of ~15 years (Currently 26), and I've made it a daily/nightly habit to develop my skills in the dream world. As it stands now I can achieve lucidity pretty much any time I dream and can recall nearly every dream I've ever had with great detail. The amount of control I have in the dream world is vast at this point--and I completely credit both my practical way of viewing dreams and the subconscious, as well as the daily practice I put my imagination through.

      This post will be explaining my perspectives on the imagination and how it effects the dream state, as well as how I go about improving it.

      Introduction and Goals

      Through my experience with LD I've been persistent in my attempt to understand how. It has been years of effort, but I've come across a fairly simple method of improving the vividness and recall of my own dreams. (Note, this practice should also help with control, but I find the degree to which you can control your dreams is based on other things.) Essentially, I'm not going to say these will make you better, but I can honestly say that it worked for me, and makes a lot of sense!

      In my experience the mind can be developed just like an athlete develops his muscle, with equal effort and diligence! Visualization techniques are everywhere, and from what I've seen they should all mostly work because the foundation is all about increasing your mind's capacity for holding relevant information.

      The core of my practice involved holding an image in my mind, mentally projecting it into the real world, and interacting with that image in some way while holding as many details together as I can.

      Step One - Log the Details: The Cup

      Choose an image, preferably something you are very well acquainted with. There's a cup sitting next to my laptop right now, so I'll use that.

      Bear with me, this is incredibly long winded, but it is this process really makes you look at the world differently. Details that you'd normally miss are laid bare, and the more you can log to memory the better you'll be able to recall it in your dreams.

      Look at the cup. Soak in all the details you can. Styrofoam, white, little bubbly divots, the rim has 3 rings around it, the cylinder starts about 3.5'' in diameter reducing to about 2'', the rim is slightly stained tan with coffee, the tiny divots protrude more around the rim making it look like tiny scales, the inner band has more coffee stuck on it, inside the shadows get slightly darker, at the bottom there is a thin layer of liquid coffee that is light tan from the creamer that creates two distinct circles--an outer band where the coffee sticks to the side, and an inner pool separated by a thinner layer, there are a couple coffee grounds in the bottom and only 3 stuck on the inside walls of the cup, the straw is thin and slightly longer than the cup is tall, the straw has two thin white bands that are opposite one another and two red bands opposite one another, the red bands are much thinner, the shadow at the top of the straw is concave and stops about two mm from the lip, the coffee at the bottom of the cup where the straw touches is deeper and forms another small circle, the underside of the cup has two thin bands along the outside and several elevated parts, one of these, I'll call the north cardinal direction, is a company symbol that looks like a "w" made of three tapered rectangles, two leaning to the left and a third to the right, with a small triangle with the sides pinched in together resting between the last two rectangles slightly higher, the numbers "905" are elevated on the east cardinal direction sitting directly above a "2", at the south direction is the string "12C18" in a larger font that is also more rounded off, at the west direction is a triangle made of three arrows moving in a circular fashion around a "6" with a "PS" directly below it, in the center there is an elevated bump surrounded by a thin circle, with a pointy dot right in the center of the bump.

      Step Two - Visualize: The Cup

      Now close your eyes and throw the cup somewhere behind you. (Warning: this kills the cup) Take as much of the information you can remember and create the cup in your mind. Add in as many details as you can remember until the image you create begins to lose older details. When that begins to happen, STOP adding.

      Next, hold that image in your head. Make it easy on yourself and try to imagine it from one perspective. Keep as many details as you can present in your mind and make sure they don't fade from the image. Try to hold this as long as you can, use your discipline to overcome the issue of getting off subject and constantly try to snap back to the image you want.

      Once you get the image in your mind, and have held it for a solid 30 seconds without losing details--begin spinning the cup (Or change your perspective on it, whichever works easiest for you at first.) While moving it about always keep in mind the details you have, and for advanced imagineers (I know, I feel dirty saying it) try to utilize a stable light source and calculate the change in the shadows as it moves!

      Again, always keep in mind to slow down, or stop the moment you realize that you are losing details. If this happens, make effort to put them all back in place or reduce the number of details to a manageable amount. You will be able to hold vastly more information than you think, and the more you practice the more details you'll be able to maintain.

      Step Three - Interaction: The Cup

      Once you get to a point where you are comfortable with moving the object around and keeping a good number of details, begin interacting with the object in your mind. Pick it up. Manipulate it, poke a hole in it then fix it, pour some liquid in it and take a sip then pour it all out or throw the contents at a wall. Try this in first person, and in third person--heck, even imagine from the perspective of the cup itself.

      This stage is all about trying to hold those details in mind while exploring the possibilities of the object. As always if you begin to lose details, take a step back and slow down a bit.

      Conclusion

      Training in the ability to visualize and improve your imagination forms the foundation of the other steps to the methods I use. I highly suggest starting here if you have been having issues with the vividness or recall of your dreams, it can also help control but I find there are other factors involved in that.

      Practice daily! Take every free moment you have and pull an image to toy around with. The more you make it habit, the more you'll realize you can hold images for much longer, with incredible clarity, and can even learn to manipulate them with great precision.

      If the limitations of dreams come from our own imagination, then we should all strive daily to hone our imaginations to a razor's edge--and this is how I've done it.

      I hope this helps someone!
      Maci and anti_nation like this.
      «The trick is to combine your waking rational abilities with the infinite possibilities of your dreams.
      Because, if you can do that, you can do anything».
      - Waking Life


      My Adventures.

    2. #2
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      Part 2 - Utilizing the *Fall Deep* Stage (Hypnagogia)

      Introduction and Goals

      This second part of my three step process of improving dream vividnes and recall is focused on utilizing the hypnagogic state--that time right before falling asleep--to organize and prepare for the oncoming dreamstate as well as to further practice visualizations.

      To begin, this is a very powerful state to be in from my experience. It can be either wholly terrifying or awe inspiring depending on your mental discipline and how much effort you put into your imagination during your waking hours. When I began figuring this stage out I began to call it the Fall Deep state because of the feeling of falling down into my own mind. I discovered that this state heightened my ability to visualize things to a near dream-like degree and so I went about learning how to use it, and what works best.

      That's what I hope to portray, at least! I'll also throw in some goodies like Edvar the Babbler and go into as much detail as I can with the most common exercise I use during this time. With these methods I manage to get a near perfect success rate in per-determining the dream setting I want ahead of time which gives me a HUGE leg up in quickly going lucid as well as just having a damn good time.

      I hope this helps!

      Step One - Fall Deep: What is it and best practices

      Plainly put, this is the time when you are right on the verge of slipping into subconsciousness (falling asleep). The vast majority of people simply let this moment pass, some don't even know it exists! However, I've found that by thinking on previously experienced dream settings I can jump start that stage and maintain it for longer periods of time while using it to either further practice my visualizations, or even to predetermine (with fairly good accuracy) the dream setting I will start out in.

      This state feels a lot like what I imagine isolation chambers feel like. It's a moment where there is nothing else but you and your mind. Your brain turns off most of your sensory perceptions, you begin to descend into the deeper parts of your brain that hold the subconscious memories you've acquired over the years. It can be a horrifying experience, and many times when I first began it jilted me awake with quite a start! But over time I learned to keep myself calm as my brain got more experienced with the feeling.

      If you are just beginning to try and use this state, my number one suggestion is to try once each night. Don't spend entire nights trying to hit this stage only to wake with a start over and over again. It get's very debilitating! Not only are you turning this into a chore, but you'll also be losing out on the most important part of the night--Sleep! It is best to try once, then if you jilt awake, think briefly on the experience and then go to sleep normally. This will put your mind at ease for future tries and keeps you healthy.

      Furthermore, make sure your atmosphere is conducive to sleep. Try to turn off as many sources of light and sound as you can. Stop any potpourri or unplug any scents you have--unless your room is poop then do what you can to make the room smell comforting. Put on clothing that is very soft, doesn't crimp, and is loose fitting or just go to bed without clothes (like me!). If you go the commando route, just be absolutely sure your bedspread is newly washed, your comforters are very soft, and that your pillow(s) are comfortable. Make sure the temperature setting is comfortable--too hot or too cold will just complicate matters.

      Once everything is set, lay down. Be as comfortable in your position as you can, and then we get to the fun stuff.

      Step Two - Fall Deep: Put yourself "there"

      At this point you are in the most comfortable position you can get, your eyes are closed, you're just waiting for the sweet embrace of death sleep. Time to begin the exercise. With sleeping, I find that the more I want to sleep the harder it is to actually fall asleep. It's annoying as piss. So while growing up I learned that distracting yourself from what you are doing always lead me to falling asleep faster. Even if what I was doing instead should mean using more brainpower and keeping me awake, it turns out it's just about forgetting your trying to sleep. I've imagined incredible amounts of stuff during these hours and over time it's become second nature, and I tend to fall asleep rather quickly. So don't worry, it'll come with persistence.

      In any case: the method I use is pretty simple and does a world of good to get your mind ready for the dream to come. I mentally begin recalling a dream setting of my desire. At first you need to use a previously experienced dream where you became lucid. This is why I say it's MUCH easier to become lucid after your first time. You use that dream as a mental roadmap to the section of your brain that your subconscious memories are stored. The more you do this, the more connections your conscious and subconscious sections of your brain will develop and the more readily you'll be able to recall dream episodes during waking hours!

      So, put yourself there. Recall the dream in as much detail as you can in your mind's eye using the same techniques you've been building with the visualization method I spoke about in the previous post. Visualize yourself walking through the setting of that dream, imagine exploring the details with all your senses, recall as much as you possible can and keep moving through the dream as if you are taking a tour. Don't set any goals, don't try to accomplish anything, just wander. See what is behind that door, pick up that car and feel how heavy it is, fly about and get an aerial view of your setting. Just have fun exploring that world and making it your own.

      As you do this, your mind will naturally begin to wander, you will start to experience lapses in consciousness. You'll have soft snaps back to reality quite a few times starting out, and that's fine, but if you get a hard snap then let it be for the night and just go to bed normally. The major difference is why, if you wake with a start, or with fear, then that's a hard snap--if you just calmly realize you are conscious; soft snap.

      Keep imagining that setting and touring it. After some time (depends on the person) of doing this you will eventually be able to keep yourself in that hallucination conducive state without jilting awake. This is what I call the fall deep stage. Your visualizations will become incredibly vivid, you'll begin hearing sounds, and things you experience in this state will have feel to them. It's really close to actually dreaming from what I've experienced. Congratulations! This is progress.

      Step Three - What to look out for in Fall Deep


      When you reach this state then it's all about time and experience. Be diligent in your practice and use this time to really focus on recall and your imagination. Once you get to this point you'll start growing in leaps and bounds in terms of vividness and recall, and you will also get more used to control in your dream state so it will even make it easier to control your excitement when you become lucid and keep a more stable dream! When I discovered this state, it was a huge eye opener (hah), and since then I've incorporated it into my nightly routine with great results.

      Things to look out for:

      • Chaos. At first your mind will wander wildly as most people don't practice this level of internalized discipline. You can quickly lose control and devolve into just a random jumble of thoughts as they ripple around your mind flinging you from one to another. This is typically what causes those frights for me, when I wake up with a start or hard snap. Focus on touring your dream setting. Wander, but within the confines of that place. Keep your thoughts organized and really look at the things around you.
      • Auditory Hallucinations. These freaked me out when I first heard them. At this stage you will begin hearing sounds. And I'm not talking about simply imagining the tune to your favorite song... They will be audible. And you will hear some rather crazy things at times! Mine range from choirs singing, to modem static, to explosions, to crowds of people clamoring about, to a guy I've named Edvar the Babbler who spouts crazy nonsense in constant jibberish, to listening to full songs. It's kind of like listening to the radio in your car on scan and catching bits and pieces of everything. The best I can suggest for this is to just let it play out. Become accustomed to the sounds and over time they won't snap you out of that state. In a more advanced section I'll explain this further, as I've practiced controlling these sounds and even changing the station at will.
      • Eye Pain. This was incredibly annoying when I started. When I'm in this state and imagining so much my eyes tend to bolt around or push deep into my head as if they are physically looking for memories. If/when this happens I suggest simply stopping the exercise, sitting up, and focusing on a point on the other side of the room. Roll your eyes around a bit and massage them lightly to relieve the pressure. There is a trick to lighten your eyes that you'll pick up over time to help this problem go away, but it is hard to explain beyond simply relaxing them. Just give it time.


      Step Four - The benefits of this practice

      The benefits are many, in my experience. And I'll make a quick list.

      • Fall deep puts you in the same state of mind as dreaming (or really close) which is a great opportunity to get real experience.
      • It establishes and reinforces the connections between your conscious and subconscious memories, allowing for better dream recall.
      • It helps you overcome issues with Chaos and gives you a nightly opportunity to work on mental discipline.
      • It greatly increases your chance of becoming lucid as you become more comfortable and aware of your dream settings. (Hey, I'm at The Clocktower! This is obviously a dream!)
      • The practice itself improves your health as it requires a stable, and regular system of sleep. Even if you never LD this is huge!
      • The same relaxation practices can be use throughout the day to help balance and get back in control of every day situations.
      • It's fun as mess!


      Conclusion and what's next


      This method has been extremely beneficial to, well, my entire life. It has given me more balance, helped me feel like I'm more in control, gives me a stable Me Time, and of course has developed my dream vividness and recall to amazing levels. I can't say for sure my methods will work for everyone, but I do suggest giving them a try--and even if you never LD the practices are still very beneficial to your mental health and discipline!

      Next time I get the opportunity I'll finish out this little series with my morning routine of recall. How I do it utilizing the walkthrough method... and generally how to further reinforce your imagination through daily recall and awareness.

      Thanks again for reading and generally being so supportive. I love you guys and this sub.

      As always, I hope this helps!
      Last edited by DixonHill; 03-28-2019 at 03:34 PM.
      «The trick is to combine your waking rational abilities with the infinite possibilities of your dreams.
      Because, if you can do that, you can do anything».
      - Waking Life


      My Adventures.

    3. #3
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      Part 3 - Dreamscape Walkthrough, a system of Recall

      Introduction and Goals

      In this section I hope to clearly explain my morning after methodology to recalling previous dreams. This is a continuation of the previous parts, and doesn't work well without doing them all in order. To see the other parts refer above for interconnecting links (hah!).

      The core of this method is the Dreamscape Walkthrough, which is the exact same concept as listed in Part 2, but we are on the other side of the dream. We did have the dream, now we just need to recall it. This adds a new layer of complexity and a list of things to look out for and be aware of in order to more accurately recall your dreams.

      With practice:

      • You'll get to a point where a dream journal won't be a necessity. I still suggest it though as dreams written down are way easier to share!
      • You'll be able to recall with nearly perfect accuracy.
      • You'll further connect your conscious and subconscious memories allowing for better overall memory.
      • You will have so much fun with the ability to full explore and share your dream experiences in a coherent and enjoyable way.
      • Dreams become dependable, powerful tools to growth of character and experience.


      Step One - The Morning After

      Something something, something.

      We left off with the Hynagogic state where we used our imagination training (the Cup) to visualize a dream setting, preferably previously experienced. You kept as clear an image as you could, you explored the setting, and you even interacted with it during the time right before falling asleep. Over time, this will yield dreams that take part in that setting.

      Now, it's morning. You swear up and down you had a dream, and it's on the tip of your tongue. There's something something, something. You have inclinations as to what went on, but it just isn't popping. This is how we begin.

      First, stop trying to remember your dream. That isn't important. What is important is placing yourself back into the setting you were imagining the night before using your hypnagogic state. (It helps to write the setting down before you go to sleep, and refer to it in the morning.) Begin doing all of the same steps you did in the previous chapter--explore, interact, keep as many details as possible.

      This helps your mind form stronger connections between your conscious and subconscious memories. The setting is a tool used to house the memories, and the dreams you had within that setting are all held in one place in your mind. Now, I have no personal science to support this, and it could be way off, but my experience yielded results and the "Event Boundary" article I stumbled upon gives it some credence.

      Whatever the mechanism, it works. Our minds seem to hold like information in categories, with interconnecting memories all under one setting. So by actively trying to get back into the same state of mind we were while falling asleep, I've found a great deal of success in recalling whole dreams outright, or stumbling upon road signs that point me in the right direction.

      So let's go from there!

      Step Two - Road Signs and Memory Triggers

      Something, something, long highway. I think there was water?

      This is the most likely thing to happen when you first begin doing walkthroughs of your settings. You'll catch a thought, and glimpse of an idea, maybe even just a word. But these flashes of insight are our brains trying to connect the dots, so to speak. These times are bridged connections between your conscious memories, and memories created by subconscious systems like dreams. And the more of these road signs you find, the more powerful and complete the connections between these similar memories will be.

      In my experience, this is the closest thing I've gotten to actually feeling my brain grow. It's an amazing feeling. I usually get a rush of euphoria as the memory triggers, and a picture gets painted in my mind. I remember the bits and pieces as they reveal themselves and latch on to them.

      From this point, we have a marker from which to begin our journey to total recall (hah). Take every memory that comes on it's own while doing your walkthrough, and mentally follow the sign. If you remember yourself in a vehicle, get in that vehicle and continue the walkthrough. If you remember some sort of strange creature, then get that sucker involved! If you are lucky enough to have a recurring character splash through your mind, then use that strong mental connection and use it as a guide to other memories.

      The common thread? The setting. Follow the memories like a roadmap and just keep going. Don't rack your mind trying to remember, just focus on your exploration while following the road signs (like adding pieces of a puzzle) and let your brain do what it was built to do: build connections. When a new memory triggers, reset the dream and start it over, adding that piece where it belongs, rinse and repeat!

      Through the day, this process will yield several memories. Each one being added to the whole while actively exploring the setting. This is guided chaos. Generally you are letting your mind wonder while giving it a boundary to help the categorization process. Just let it happen and eventually you'll hit the big one.

      Step Three - Memetic Zerg Rush

      Ho-lee-shit! I was driving a car without wheels down a massive highway that lead to a HUGE forked spire in the middle of a massive city. There were buildings EVERYWHERE, with a series of waterways and walkways strewn about. The sky was clear blue and vast--connecting to the earth in a 360 degree horizon! The people were going about their day, but something seemed off...

      This is the mother-lode. After some time doing the walkthrough and following the road signs, at some point during this exercise you'll bridge the gap between conscious thought and that memory. After enough connections the whole of the of the memory will come rushing in a blast of insight. It has to happen, not because we worry about it or try to remember, but because that's how our brains work. (In fact, worrying about remembering makes it harder!)

      When this happens it is best to simply let it. If you are driving, however, I suggest pulling to the side of the road and letting it pass. It's a wonderful feeling. Immediately you are there, the events of the dreams are mostly clear and you can move from one scene to another with a great deal of coherence. (Note, the actual coherence of the dream itself may be lacking, but that gets better over time.)

      While going through this rush, use discipline in keeping the chronology clear, in organizing the thoughts in a manner that is coherent, and of course attempt to hold as many details as you can while day dreaming the setting. Keep adding and placing the pieces you get where they belong, bridge gaps as they come, and continually reset the dream when a new piece hits and play it through more completely. At this stage it happens really fast, so you'll do resets often. But after a typically brief amount of time in this stage you'll have nearly perfect recall of the dream in question.

      Step Four - Everybody likes lists!


      To summarize this process I'll put an at a glance list here!

      [LIST][*]Don't try to remember your dream. Instead, start at your dream setting you focused on the night before.[*]Do a walkthrough just like the hypnagogic state the previous night.[*] When a memory triggers, follow it. Focus on the memory, add it to the walkthrough, if it gives a sense of chronology then reset the dream and replay it with the memory in place.[*]Disregard females, accrue memories. (Don't actually disregard females, they are awesome.) As memories come, add them in one at a time to your dream walkthrough.[*]Memory Cascade. A critical mass will happen where one memory triggers another, and another, and so on like dominoes. Hold on to your hat, keep discipline and reset the dream to place memories where they need to be. Try to keep up without losing details![*]Enjoy. Never stop practicing. Keep mental discipline. Focus on coherence. And have fun being able to tell awesome stories to your friends.

      Conclusion - Putting it all together


      As you can see, the system of recall is very fluid, but is most powerful while incorporating mental discipline in the form of a category boundary (settings work the best for me). I'd assume people will find other categories more powerful for their purposes as we all learn things in different ways. The common thread is simply that we have a system.

      Mental discipline, and the process of growing it, has been the single most incredible boon towards my dream recall. Using this system day after day has given my brain a dependable method of bridging memory connections with ease, and I'm certain it will work for you too. This method doesn't fight our brains, it recognizes how our brains work and simply lets it. We follow the signs, grab on when a connection is made, and we are gifted with rushes of euphoria along with a great story to tell our friends or learn from.

      And there you have it, the three biggest exercises I do on a nearly daily basis in order to grow in my dream time escapades. Using Imagination Exercises like "The Cup", along with hypnagogic setting walkthroughs, pulled together with the settings and road signs technique of recall, I've attained a dependable level of lucidity, control, and recall. I'm fairly certain this method will work for you if you keep with it and make it a part of your daily exercise.

      This concludes my 3 part series answering the question: "What do you do to practice your imagination and recall?" I'm always available to answer any questions you guys have, and there is, of course, a LOT more that can be done! Keep rawking my fellow oneironaughts!

      I hope you enjoyed it, and most of all I hope this helps someone!
      Last edited by DixonHill; 03-28-2019 at 03:35 PM.
      «The trick is to combine your waking rational abilities with the infinite possibilities of your dreams.
      Because, if you can do that, you can do anything».
      - Waking Life


      My Adventures.

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      Very nice info! I'd been doing something similar from time to time but this guide really covers things I didn't focus on and helps to remind me to do it more often.

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