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Entries tagged 'cat:Lucid Dream Induction'

Lucid dream induction really is easy when it's not hard.

Becoming conscious of your dream state while dreaming is in a category in my mind that I call "like stopping smoking". It isn't like stopping smoking in many other ways. But in a way it is similar. There is no obvious requirement in order to achieve one of those goals. You just have to do it and it's done. As far as clearly formulatable instructions go, that's it. Just remember to notice the next time you're dreaming and you'll become aware. The first ever defined, written down and named lucid dream induction technique, based on the research of and published by Stephen LaBerge, is based a great deal on this assumption. MILD (Mnemonic Induction to Lucid Dreaming) is one of the most widely known lucid dream (LD) induction techniques. But it often is condensed so much that it loses most of its important instructions in the most popular online guides. For a complete picture with all the practical exercises the, as it were, original description from the book Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming (book scan) is still the best introduction and guide to this induction technique and probably always will be.

I've used many different techniques to induce lucid dreams over in my time. Some with more success, some with less, some without. After a few years of regular practice, I've come to focus on a hand-full of techniques and personal adaptions of published techniques that seemed to help me best achieve my dream goals. Almost everybody who does intense and/or prolonged lucid dream practice seems to get to a point where they find "their" technique(s) or combination(s). That makes sense because people's life's are structured differently and different personalities and preferences presumably make different techniques more successful than others. But no LD induction technique is surefire. Apart from few counterexamples every dreamer wakes up with no new memory of dream lucidity more often than with a new success. It's an ubiquitous subject on every lucid dreaming forum and a inherent part of lucid dreaming practice. Becoming lucid every night is just not a realistic goal for most dreamers, no matter how hard they wish and try.

A lot could be said (and is said elsewhere) about the best approach and the right mind-set for lucid dream induction. I could write a huge review of different approaches, techniques and practices based on my own experiences. But I don't think that this would be much more helpful than the countless blog entries and forum posts about other dreamer's experiences. They are my experiences. Parts of them may overlap with useful tips that you can find in other posts and guides. But they are as likely to be helpful to you specifically as any other honest, optimistic step-by-step guide on the net, which is usually not at all. I could write a review of scientific studies and what practical instruction one could derive from them that have the highest likelihood of helping a large percentage of lucid dreamers looking for instructions. But such a review wouldn't be huge because the amount of comparable studies on the efficiency of LD induction techniques is tiny. The amount of research on the subject isn't large as it is, especially well-design studies, especially with more than a few participants. And the methodology used differs in almost every single study. That's why I so easily accept the fact that the lucid dreaming community still creates knew "knowledge" almost exclusively based on the sum of many individual anecdotes. The sum differs for everybody, based on what web sites they read and which posts they read and skip. Helpful practices emerge out of repetition of self experiment and the amateurish and biased publications in the form of short forum posts and incomplete and deformed retellings. As with mutations in other areas (with which I struggle to compare these memetic changes), prolific evolution is incredibly rare, which is why every dreamer with the wish to be able to become more lucid in their dreams or to have more lucid dreams is still stuck with blindly trying all sorts of practices without immediate feedback of progress or success.

I want to believe that there is some element in the variety of dreamers and LD induction attempts that plays such a large role in deciding the outcome of intentional attempts to obtain conscious experiences in dreams that managing this possibly yet unknown element would lead to a drastic rise in the success rate of such attempts. I'm far from being able to ascertain what this proposed element could be, if there was one. I'm just someone reading interesting sounding research papers and forum posts on lucid dreaming and experimenting with my own dreams. But to make my thought more intelligible, here is an idea how this could look like.

Because I'm in no way knowledgable in either neurology nor psychology I'll keep it short and broad, in the hopes of not saying too many too stupid things. Brain chemistry plays a big role in how we consciously experience the world. No lucid dreamer (at least not that I've heard about) knows what's going on chemically in their brain when they do their practice. They don't know how the repeated practice influences brain chemistry and they don't know what was chemically different in their brain during their successful induction attempts compared with their unsuccessful induction attempts. No lucid dreamer takes regular blood tests to learn something about the stuff that is pumped through their brains when they go to bed. Drug use is a common topic among some interested lucid dreamers and some medications have been proven to increase the LD frequency. But that's just a few medications that were tried because it seemed likely that they might have this affect based on what whas already known about them, mainly about their side effects when used with other intents. Remember: I don't know anything about neurology. But I can't help but think that intuitively it seems to me that there must be a large untapped potential for lucid dream research that could make dream consciousness easier to achieve.

Please don't hold back if you want to tell me how wrong I am. Especially if you want to tell me why I'm wrong. :)

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The Thing About Lucid Dream Induction Techniques

There are so many different induction techniques for lucid dreams. Especially in the large American community people seem to like to give them names (mostly acronyms) and share them like some kind of genius invention. But most of them rely on the same underlying principles of which not many need to be learned if you want to gather enough experience to increase your chances of having a lucid dream. Im no kind of expert in this matter. But I was involved in the lucid dreaming community for some years, read many books on the topic and tried many of the incuction techniques successfully myself. So I feel like I do know more about the subject than the average person. I just thought I'd share what I believe to be the basics that can be easily overlooked by somebody who dives into the subject and learns too much too quickly.

It would be good if we could rely on scientific research to determin which techniques and practices are most successful in bringing which type of practitioner closer to their goal. But I don't think enough studies have been done to even know which practices play the most important role for the average practitioner. And those studies that have been performed used different aproaches, different methodology, selected participants differently and collected different data so they can not be meaningfully compared.

That's why my entries on this topic will mainly be about the basics; in particular about those practices that either have been studied among a group of people under controlled conditions and those that appear to be so successful in the community that I'm not hesitant to recommend investing time into them if you want to have (more) lucid dreams. I will post about this under the tag top:Dreaming:Lucid Dreaming:Induction.

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The WILD Ball

WILD Ball - electronic DIY aid in WILD induction

What is a WILD Ball?

WILD Ball is the name I have given my little project to build a device that aids a person in falling asleep more consciously and possibly experience waking-initiated lucid dreams.

It is a tennis ball sized device that you hold in your hand while trying to fall asleep consciously (usually after a WBTB). WILD (waking-initiated lucid dream) is referring to my preferred way to experience dream consciousness.

(How) Does it work?

The most common reason why WILD attempts fail is that the critical moment - the exact moment where you start to perceive the dream instead of your physical surrounding enough to control the dream consciously - is simply missed. You stay awake for a while, and when/if you finally fall asleep, you don't notice it. It is important to stay aware until or become aware right at that moment where you already perceive a dream but are still conscious enough to control it. There is a variety of mental and a few physical techniques that are supposed to help one to accomplish just that. This device is an additional aid to mental techniques. As with other electronic devices made to aid lucid dream (LD) induction, it is expected to work best if you already have experience in successful LD induction. Of course it is not necessary to have experienced LDs before in order for this device to help accomplish this goal. I suggest its usage as a part of the WILD induction training of anybody who sees it as a fitting addition to their WILD practice. If you already have the ability to explore hypnagogic hallucinations extensively or sometimes experience the beginning of a dream without becoming lucid, this device might fill a gap in your LD practice.

The WILD Balll has two different usage modes. (More might be added in the future.) Both aim to remind its user of their intention to fall asleep consciously by sounding a buzzer whenever the muscle contraction of the hand that is holding it drops below a certain threshold. It is an old technique to hold something in one hand and let it fall on something that makes a noise, thus waking one up right at the moment where muscle contraction is too weak to hold the object. This technique is seldomly discussed in the lucid dreaming community though and I have found only a handful of reports of people experimenting with or using it. Using an electronic device instead of a heavy object and a noisy underground has some advantages which might overcome the limitations that the classical approach has.

  • The type of sound can be altered in software. The built presented here only provides a simple piezo buzzer. But the design can easily be extended to play more complex sounds or music.
  • The length and volume of the sound can be altered in software, making it easier to tune it to your personal requirements.
  • The device can be used at any sleeping place and does not need to be set up before use when travelling.
  • By using headphones or a speaker pillow a loud alarm sound can be played for the user without disturbing other sleepers in the same room.
  • Obviously it is cooler to do it this way than to rely on simple physics.

Mode 0 imitates the classical approach of letting the object fall when the muscle contraction becomes weak. The alarm sound is triggered when the device is moving at a certain speed or above. Movement is detected in three axes independently. The speed threshold can be simply set in software. If you want to move your hand or otherwise adjust your body during a WILD attempt without triggering the alarm, you can simply squeeze the device, which disables the sound until you let go and only hold it lightly again. For more uses of mode 1, see Ideas/modifications below.

Mode 1 follows a different approach to achive the same result. You steadily squeeze the device during your WILD aatempt. As soon as the pressure drops below a certain threshold the alarm sounds for the defined duration. Right now this a implemented with a binary switch which means the threshold can not be adjusted in software but only changing the the way the switch is built, by using a different pre-manufactured switch or by changing (the hardness of) its surrounding (the ball itself). The switch could be replaced with a preassure sensor to allow more gradual detection of preassure loss.

How to build one

(tba)

Challenges/known problems

(tba)

Getting used to holding the object, alarm sound too loud, getting used to the sound

The code

If you have a device built according to the above pictures then you can use the below Arduino sketch (download .ino file) as it is. Otherwise it should give you an idea of how to program the microcontroller used in your DIY built.

/*
    This is the Arduino sketch for the WILD Ball, a simple device that aids a person in falling asleep more
    consciously and possibly experience waking-initiated lucid dreams.
    More information at: https://steeph.de/projects/wildball/
*/

#include<Wire.h>
const boolean usageMode = 0; /*
    There are two different usage modes:
    0: The alarm is triggered when the device is moved unless the button is pressed. (The button can be pressed
       while adjusting the hand or lying position. When the button is let go the alarm is active again.)
    1: Movements are ignored. The alarm is triggered and will sound for toneDuration milliseconds when the button is not pressed. */
const boolean debugMode = 0; // Print messages to serial port if debugMode is enabled
int buzzerPin = 5;
int buttonPin = 4;
int threshold = 1000; // The smaller this value the more sensitive the device will be to movement
const int MPU=0x68;
int16_t AcX,AcY,AcZ,Tmp,GyX,GyY,GyZ;
int toneDuration = 300; // Minimum duration of alarm sound in milliseconds
int toneFrequency = 250; // The frequency of the alarm sound
void setup(){
  Wire.begin();
  Wire.beginTransmission(MPU);
  Wire.write(0x6B);
  Wire.write(0);    
  Wire.endTransmission(true);
  if (debugMode) { Serial.begin(9600); }
  pinMode(buzzerPin, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(buttonPin, INPUT);
}
void loop(){
  if (!usageMode) {
    Wire.beginTransmission(MPU);
    Wire.write(0x3B);
    Wire.endTransmission(false);
    Wire.requestFrom(MPU,14,true);
    AcX=Wire.read()<<8|Wire.read();
    AcY=Wire.read()<<8|Wire.read();
    AcZ=Wire.read()<<8|Wire.read();
    Tmp=Wire.read()<<8|Wire.read();
    GyX=Wire.read()<<8|Wire.read();
    GyY=Wire.read()<<8|Wire.read();
    GyZ=Wire.read()<<8|Wire.read();
  }

  if (debugMode && !usageMode) {
    Serial.print("Accelerometer: ");
    Serial.print("X = "); Serial.print(AcX);
    Serial.print(" | Y = "); Serial.print(AcY);
    Serial.print(" | Z = "); Serial.println(AcZ);
  
    Serial.print("Gyroscope: ");
    Serial.print("X = "); Serial.print(GyX);
    Serial.print(" | Y = "); Serial.print(GyY);
    Serial.print(" | Z = "); Serial.println(GyZ);
    Serial.println(" ");
  }

  if (usageMode) {
    if (debugMode) { Serial.println("Usage Mode 1"); Serial.println(); }
    if (!buttonPressed()) {
      tone(5, toneFrequency, toneDuration);
    }
  } else {
    if (debugMode) { Serial.println("Usage Mode 0"); Serial.println(); }
    if (moved(GyX,GyY,GyZ) && !buttonPressed()) {
      tone(5, toneFrequency, toneDuration);
      if (debugMode) { Serial.println("Ha! You moved!"); Serial.println(); }
    }
  }

  delay(100);
}



boolean buttonPressed() {
  if (digitalRead(buttonPin)) {
    if (debugMode) { Serial.println("Button is pressed."); Serial.println(); }
    return true;
  } else {
    return false;
  }
}

boolean moved (int16_t x, int16_t y, int16_t z) {
  if(x > threshold || y > threshold || z > threshold || x < -threshold || y < -threshold || z < -threshold)
  {
    return true;
  }
  else {
    return false;
  }
}

Ideas/modifications

(tbc)

The device does not have to be placed inside a ball. You can built a case and place the components according to your personal needs. Because it does not have to drop on anything but only move it is also possible to use mode 1 with the device strapped to the hand if you prefer to hold up an arm instead of holding something in your hand. If you usually experience muscle twitches while falling asleep, e.g. in your legs or feet, as many people do, you can also experiment with the device strapped to your foot or leg.

Instead of sounding a buzzer for a pre-defined duration, you can experiment with different signals, be it blinking LEDs a playing an MP3 file from a different device or extension module. By adding a wave module the variety of sounds can be increased so that you can choose the best sound to make you aware quickly without waking you up completely. You yourself probably know best what sound that might be. But as with the rhythm nappping technique, short loud sounds are most likely to lead to a successfull LD induction attrempt.

FILD mode (tba)

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