I listened to a podcast, "Wake Up and Dream,"by Radiolab a few years ago. The podcast is about lucid dreaming, or becoming aware while dreaming. In the podcast, a skeptical man overcomes a recurring nightmare by training himself to lucid dream.
I'm lucky enough to not have nightmares, but for me, this podcast brought lucid dreaming in from the fringe of my thoughts and into a more realistic light. Unfortunately, I have not been dedicated enough to achieve awareness in my dreams yet, but who knows! Maybe with this guide you will be more successful than I've been.
If you usually remember your dreams, then you are one step ahead of the rest of us. Remembering your normal, everyday dreams will help you remember your lucid dreams when you get there. If you have trouble remembering your dreams (like me), then the first step is to start writing down your dreams when you wake up. Write down what you can remember, even if there are missing pieces, and your mind will become accustomed to remembering more and more detail each time you dream.
Step 2: Notice the world around you
Now that you have started to train yourself to remember your dreams, you need to be hyper aware of the world around you. Constantly question the things that differentiate reality from fantasy. If you just float through life with no direction or intent then that is how you will dream. In order to be aware during a dream, you must first be aware in the real world.
Step 3: Pick a specific dream trigger
Written words on the page of a book, road signs and the numbers on your digital watch are things that do not realistically change in the blink of an eye. If you look at your digital watch, look away and then look back at it it will not change hours. The same goes for written words. If you look at them, look away and look back at them, the words will always be the same. These are the things that keep us grounded in reality. These are things that you can train yourself to notice everyday when you are awake. These things become your triggers.
Pick one or two of these triggers and pay particular attention to them throughout each day. In a dream state, words and numbers are not constant and so these triggers subconsciously keep us grounded and are the key to unlocking dream awareness.
Step 4: Ask yourself many times a day "Am I dreaming?"
Once you have picked a certain trigger, the next step is to turn them into dream triggers. As you go about your day, stop and ask yourself often, "Am I dreaming right now?" Ask yourself that question and then look to your triggers to answer it for you. If they are consistent, then you know you are awake. If not, you are probably dreaming.
When you ask yourself "Am I dreaming?" during a dream, you will instinctively look to your triggers and, because our dream minds are so unstable and fluid, they will not be grounded in reality. When you see the title of the book in your hands change each time you look at it, you will know you are dreaming.
Step 5: Tell yourself that you will be aware while you dream
Experts say that if you tell yourself this right before you go to sleep that you will have lucid dreams. If the last thing you think about before you drift off is your desire to be aware you are dreaming, then it is more likely to happen. Make sure it is the last thing you think about and you will be more likely to succeed.
If you have prepared your mind with the above steps then your chances of lucid dreaming are high, although you will probably not lucid dream when you first begin the process. I have tried to master the process of lucid dreaming for years and have yet to experience an aware moment (though I must admit I have been off and on with my devotion to these steps). I have yet to master the correct level of dedication to achieve this goal, but if you are more dedicated than me and you do these things, then there is no telling what you can experience while asleep.