I’m often struck by the similarities between dreaming and death work. Supporting someone in either area means going to the same place, and sometimes using the same words. From my vantage point as both a death doula and a mother, sitting with clients at the end of their lives discussing anxieties feels strangely similar to sitting with my children, years ago, discussing how to turn bad dreams into lucid dreams.
This is also a lot like sitting with clients who experience difficult psychedelic journeys.
My work is all interconnected. Practicing the skillset that turns nightmares into lucid dreams can also help you realize a more gentle death someday.
What Are Lucid Dreams?
Lucid dreams are where the dreamer is aware that they are dreaming while the dream is still ongoing. This awareness can range from a subtle realization to a full understanding of being in a dream. In lucid dreams, the dreamer may have some degree of control over the dream’s narrative, environment, or characters.
This ability to control or manipulate the dream experience distinguishes lucid dreaming from regular dreams.
What is the Process for Inducing Lucid Dreams?
There are several techniques that my clients use to induce lucid dreams. Here are some of the most common methods.
Throughout the day, get into the habit of questioning whether you are awake or dreaming. This could involve performing simple reality checks like trying to push your finger through your palm or looking at a clock or text, looking away, and then looking back to see if it has changed.
If you make a habit of doing reality checks during waking hours, you may start to do them automatically in your dreams. This can help you become lucid.
Keep a Dream Journal
I encourage my clients to keep a notebook or use a dream journal app to record their dreams immediately upon waking. This helps improve dream recall and can make them more aware of recurring dream signs or themes that could trigger lucidity.
Set an alarm to wake you up after around 4-6 hours of sleep. Stay awake for a short period (about 20-30 minutes) before returning to bed.
During this time, engage in activities like reading about lucid dreaming, doing reality checks, or practicing relaxation techniques. Going back to sleep after this period can increase the likelihood of having lucid dreams.
Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams (MILD)
Before falling asleep, repeat a phrase or affirmation to yourself. Try “Tonight, I will realize I am dreaming” or “I will have a lucid dream tonight.”
Visualize yourself becoming aware in a dream while repeating this phrase. This technique helps set your intention to become lucid while you are dreaming.
Wake-Induced Lucid Dreaming (WILD)
This technique involves maintaining awareness as you transition from wakefulness to the dream state. It’s often done during the early morning hours when REM sleep periods are longer.
Lie down in a comfortable position and focus on keeping your mind awake while your body falls asleep. This can involve techniques such as observing hypnagogic imagery (visual hallucinations that occur during the transition to sleep) or practicing deep relaxation and visualization.
Supplements and Technology
Some people use supplements like vitamin B6, galantamine, or other nootropics to enhance dream vividness or lucid dreaming frequency. Additionally, there are devices like lucid dreaming masks or apps that claim to help induce lucid dreams by providing cues or stimuli during REM sleep.
It’s important to note that lucid dreaming induction techniques can vary in effectiveness from person to person. Consistency and patience are key when practicing these methods. Additionally, it’s essential to prioritize good sleep hygiene practices for overall sleep quality and well-being.
Benefits of Dream Work
Dreaming well doesn’t only lead to a better death. Dreamwork, which involves the exploration and analysis of one’s dreams, can offer several benefits for a better life.
Dreams often reflect our inner thoughts, feelings, fears, and desires. By analyzing dreams, my clients gain insight into their subconscious mind and uncover aspects of themselves that may not be readily apparent in waking life. This self-discovery process can lead to greater self-awareness and personal growth.
Dreams can sometimes offer creative solutions to real-life problems or dilemmas. Through dream analysis, some of my clients uncover subconscious insights or alternative perspectives that can help them address the challenges they face.
Dreams frequently contain emotional content, allowing clients to process and work through unresolved emotions or past experiences. By exploring the emotions present in dreams, my clients gain a deeper understanding of their emotional landscape and develop healthier coping mechanisms.
Dreams are often rich in symbolism, imagery, and narrative elements, which can inspire creative endeavors. Analyzing dreams stimulates creative thinking and provides a source of inspiration for artists, writers, and other creative individuals I work with every day.
In various spiritual traditions, adherents view dreams as a means of connecting with the divine, accessing higher wisdom, or exploring the spiritual dimensions of existence. Dreamwork can facilitate spiritual growth and deepen your understanding of spiritual experiences.
Engaging in dream work can provide a sense of relaxation and relief from daily stressors. By immersing themselves in the imaginative world of dreams, my clients temporarily escape from the pressures of waking life and experience a sense of mental rejuvenation.
Overall, resting well and learning to work with your dreams offers a valuable opportunity for you to engage in self-reflection, creativity, and personal growth, ultimately leading to a deeper understanding of yourself and your place in the world.
How is Dreaming Well Connected To A Good Death?
Connecting dream work with a good death happens in several ways, particularly through the context of end-of-life care and the process of preparing for it.
Resolving Unfinished Business
Dreams often contain symbols and themes related to unresolved issues or unfinished business in my client’s life. By engaging in dream work, we approach the end of life as an opportunity to address and resolve these unresolved matters, leading to a sense of closure and peace.
Finding Meaning and Purpose
Dreams can offer insights into your values, beliefs, and sense of purpose. My clients facing death explore existential questions and find meaning in their life experiences, helping them come to terms with their mortality and find a sense of fulfillment.
My clients often view dreams as a bridge to the spiritual realm or higher consciousness. Dreamwork facilitates spiritual exploration and helps them connect with their spiritual beliefs and practices as they approach death, providing comfort and support during the transition.
Coping with Fear and Anxiety
Dreams may reflect fears, anxieties, and uncertainties about death and dying. By exploring these themes, my clients and I confront and process their fears in a safe and supportive environment, allowing them to approach death with greater acceptance and peace of mind.
Dreams sometimes feature encounters with deceased loved ones or spiritual figures, offering opportunities for communication and connection beyond the physical realm. Engaging in dream work facilitates these encounters and provides comfort to my clients as we navigate their end-of-life journey.
Cultivating Acceptance and Surrender
Dreams often contain themes of acceptance, surrender, and letting go. We explore these themes and cultivate a sense of acceptance and surrender to the natural process of dying, allowing ourselves to approach death with grace and dignity.
Overall, the work that goes into encouraging and exploring lucid dreams plays a valuable role in supporting my clients as they prepare for the end of life. It helps them find meaning, peace, and acceptance in the face of death. By engaging with their dreams, my clients navigate the dying process with greater awareness, understanding, and spiritual connection.
Contact me for support and to learn more about dreaming and death.