The short answer to, “Can we control our actions in a dream?” is yes. By learning about lucid dreaming, you can actually control your actions in a dream. This is not something out of a sci-fi film or a telekinesis conference. Dream controlling is something proven by science, but it is a skill that you have to practice if you want to use it.
When you are dreaming, your brain is basically creating your reality. Your brain is pulling images from your memories, thoughts and feelings at random to create the dream. While the mind is not very good at simulating reality, it is still hard for you to differentiate between the dream and real life. Your brain is tricking you, so you are unable to tell the difference between the two.
To learn how to lucid dream, you have to first recognize the fact that you are dreaming. There are a number of techniques that lucid dreamers use to see if they are dreaming. Some people say that they never see 10 fingers on their hand when they are dreaming. For these people, counting their fingers is all they have to do to see if they are dreaming.
Text is another way to see if you are dreaming. Pick up a book or newspaper in your dream and try to read it. If you can’t read it, you are dreaming. If you can read it, you still need to do another test. Look away from the book and then return your attention to the text. Most likely, your mind will not make the same text again, so the words that you are trying to read will suddenly seem different.
Obviously, the hard part is knowing when you should look at text or count your fingers. You don’t do these things in real life because you know that it is, in fact, real. If you think that you are experiencing real life in your dream, there would be no reason to do the same test. To get yourself to actually reality-check yourself, you need to get in the habit of doing this during your waking life. Every 20 minutes (or as often as you remember), remind yourself to count your fingers or read a text. If you make this a habit in your waking life, you will soon develop the same habit in your dreams as well.
Controlling Your Dream
Once you learn how to tell if you are dreaming, the next step is to learn how to control your dream. This is the hardest part. With practice, you can spend your nights flying or reliving your favorite memories. Lucid dreaming can also be used for solving a problem, getting creative ideas or practicing something. You might remember lucid dreaming from the Leonardo DiCaprio film, Inception. In the movie, DiCaprio and his team used drugs to trigger dreams in certain people.
While it might have been a Hollywood film and a fantasy, the techniques to control your dreams actually exist. These techniques have been shown to work in sleep experiments. Initially, you can plan ahead and meditate on the problem or subject you want to solve. With practice, you can even have a lucid dream. Just remember—don’t jump out of bed when you wake up. About half of your dream’s content will disappear if you get distracted. When you wake up, you need to lie on your bed without moving. If you still can’t remember the dream, try to see what emotion you are feeling. This can help the rest of the dream return to your mind.
If you want to dream about a certain person or situation, use suggestions as you fall asleep. Conjure up the image, person or problem in your mind as you fall asleep. In about half of people, this technique will lead to dreaming about the problem within a week.
To increase your chances of having a lucid dream, remind yourself that you want to before you go to sleep. Suggestions like this are extremely powerful and can help to influence your ability to recognize your dream. In addition, make sure that you check systematically to see if you are awake during the day. Eventually, you will do the same thing in your dream and have a lucid dream.
One of the biggest problems with recognizing you are in a dream while dreaming is getting to the dream stage to start with. If you are not getting enough sleep, you are missing out on your REM cycles. Normally, your REM sleep happens every 90 minutes during the night. As the night progresses, REM sleep accounts for more and more of that 90 minutes. If you are not getting enough sleep, you are missing out on your REM cycle where the dreams actually happen.