by Clare R. Johnson, Ph.D
I've been aware of lucid dreaming for years and even done it spontaneously a few times, but could never stay asleep for long once I realised I was dreaming. I immediately tried some of the first techniques explained in this book and got instant results on the first night for checking I was in a dream! Then several nights followed when I didn't have a lucid experience to test.
As the book points out, it takes practice. I started practicing with the techniques for 'programming' your mind to become lucid while falling back to sleep in the early morning hours, but not the full bladder one as that wakes me up quickly. I've had luck so far at the time of writing with trying to induce lucid dreams while falling back into a morning doze, but this is one of the things that takes practice. I fall into deep sleep too easily.
I took this one slowly, reading a few exercises and stopping to assimilate and experiment. I expect I'll be giving it a second reading as well. One of the unique things about the book is a 'quiz' to give you self-analysis about what sort of sleeper and dreamer you are in order to guide you towards the exercises that will be most effective for you. This gave me a lot of insight and some great suggestions to work with.
I have had multiple lucid experiences while reading the book and have been able to try the techniques for taking control of the experience and for trying to stay asleep for a while at least to enjoy it. I suspect this will get easier over time, but I'm definitely having some results.
The one thing I would take issue with is in a meditation, the author suggests staring into a candle flame. NEVER DO THIS!!! It can cause retinal damage! In any candle ritual or meditation, you look just above the flame, not into it. The rest of the advice on that one, to look around the periphery of the flame and see different perspectives, is fine. Just don't stare directly into it.
In the later chapters, the author gives advice for working any meditation or Yoga practice you might be using into the exercises, but she acknowledges that it isn't required if that's not your thing. The last chapter was about healing through lucid dreams, both psychological and physical. Despite being a natural sceptic, I know the mind can have tremendous effects on the body and I think it would be interesting to experiment with this. There were some apocryphal stories about people identifying and even eliminating tumours through lucid experiences, which I keep an open mind about.
In any case, the exercises to develop control of lucidity in your dreams are good and make perfect sense. My own early successes are enough to convince me that it's worth the practice and the author knows her stuff.