Why Is Lucid Dreaming So Hard?

By: Jonathan Joseph

Why You Shouldn’t Give Up On Your Oneironautic Training, and 4 Habits To Develop This Skill

The sales pitch is impossible to resist:  

“Start lucid dreaming and experience all of your wildest fantasies! Blast off into space, fly fighter jets across the globe, travel to unknown lands full of magic and mystery.  Hell, you can even go on a sex-pedition across the universe, hooking up with humans and aliens that are all too willing to push the boundaries of pleasure ecstasy!  All you have to do is this MILD or DILD or WILD or FILD technique.  Don’t worry, anyone can do it.  Better yet, just take this pill and enjoy the ride!”
If you’re like me, you were sold on “blast off into space,” and started reading everything you could about how to join the ranks of lucid dreamers consistently sharing their fascinating stories on the Internet and in print.  However, 3, 6, 9, 12 months into your quest you feel like you’ve got nothing to show for it. Every week you’re trying another ILD, and you still haven’t had that euerka lucid dream moment where all of the universe is at your command.
If this sounds familiar, keep reading.  I know how this feels.  I know the frustration that comes with the sense that you’re not making any progress, and each lucid dream-less night is another night that you’ve “missed out” on an incredible experience.  “What am I doing wrong? Is there a problem with me, or my technique? Is it the technique itself that’s not working?”  That frustration can become a mental feedback loop, and the thoughts and feelings generated by it will actually hinder your oneironautic training.

So, it’s time for a reset.  A re-centering of perspective and a shedding of any previous frustrations, annoyances or negative feelings that you may have picked up in your quest to turn your dreams into lucid dreams.  

Before I continue I want to be clear.  You were not lied to with the sales pitch.  You can indeed explore strange worlds of your imagination, have mind-bending conversations with dream characters, and even have dream sex with an array of dream-lovers.  But not immediately, and probably not even in your first lucid dreams. However, where you may have been misled (I know I was) is the part about “Everyone can do it.  It’s easy, all you have to do is, X, Y and Z…ILD.”  The truth is, yes, anyone can do it, but it’s not necessarily easy.  Lucid dreaming is not a binary function. I used to think that either your lucid dream switch was turned on, and adventures were endless - or the lucid dream switch was turned off, and you were sadly and heart-breakingly just a “normal dreamer” like everyone else.  This is not the case. 

The big revelation for me was when I began to think of lucid dreaming as a skill that must be developed, as opposed to a closed door simply waiting to be opened. 

What I mean by this is that when someone tells you “Lucid dreaming is great! Anyone can do it,” they might as well be saying “Running marathons is great! Anyone can do it.”  While this is in fact a true statement (everyone certainly has the potential to run a marathon), that doesn’t mean that you, me or anyone else that has never trained for long distance running can wake up tomorrow and successfully run a marathon.  We simply have not put in the time and effort to train and develop the physiological necessities to make a marathon run possible.  No matter how much we focused on the idea of running, and visualized ourselves chugging along steadily for those 26.2 miles, with no training our circulatory, respiratory, and muscular systems just aren’t fine-tuned and developed enough to make it happen.  Further, if we woke up every day and stubbornly attempted to run 26.2 miles with no other form of training we’d likely just end up injuring our bodies and and becoming mentally frustrated, exhausted and discouraged.  It would be natural to conclude that “I can’t run a marathon.  I don’t know how those other people do it, but I fail every time.”

Now, to continue the analogy, if you begin to think of learning to lucid dream along the same lines as training for a marathon, the process, progress and successive skill development milestones all begin to make sense in a new and exciting way. 

You begin to understand that each day that you devote some energy to the goal of lucid dreaming is a day that you have made incremental progress in developing the “muscles” and neurological systems required to reach your goal.  Quite simply, it’s training.  Steady, incremental and consistent training.  And just like marathon training would have a host of ancillary benefits, i.e., increased respiratory health, stronger heart and circulatory system, increased focus on maintaining a healthy diet, possible healthy weight loss, muscle development, increased confidence and self-image as training progresses, etc.  Lucid
dream training will also be accompanied by chorus of ancillary benefits as training progresses.

So, which “exercises” should you be doing to train for your lucid dreaming goal?  If you’re reading this I’m sure you are familiar with all of these, but it’s good to reiterate.

    These 4 habits or “exercises” can be thought of as the 4 cornerstones from which you can build up to the goal at the top of the pyramid: being a consistent lucid dreamer.  As you consistently practice these habits in combination, you will A) Realize increasingly more noticeable ancillary benefits from each habit that carry over into everyday waking life, and B) Progress steadily towards the goal of lucid dreaming.  What’s more is that you will have a strong foundation in support of your new and powerful skill.  So your lucid dreams won’t be a fluke that you are lucky to experience every once in a while, but instead you will be an intentional lucid dream practitioner.  

    So don’t despair or get discouraged if you haven’t yet had that “holy shit this is amazing!” lucid dream moment.  This is a complicated skill you are developing, and it may take some time.  But like any truly rewarding endeavor, the time and effort you invest will be more than worth it. 

    You are becoming a true oneironaut.   

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