An essential oil is a concentrated liquid generally removed from plants by distillation and containing intense aromatic properties. Essential oils are the primary tools in an aromatherapist’s arsenal. The medicinal effects of essential oils are widely debated, but I’ve chosen to write about their use in folk medicine to induce dreaming.

Many plants have supposed relaxing properties on the body and mind, making them popular in teas (some of the most commonly seen being lavender and chamomile). Some can be ingested safely raw, while others require other methods of use, like aromatic baths, skin oils, incense, and diffusion.

These essential oils are commonly used to induce sleep:





Lemon Balm





Ylang Ylang

These essential oils are recommended for inducing lucid dreams and improving dream recall:






Clary Sage




These essential oils are used to ward against nightmares:




Blue Tansy




St. John’s Wort

Lemon Balm


If you are considering adding essential oils to your dreaming tool kit, look around for local health food stores (Whole Foods carries a nice selection) or metaphysical shops. They typically come in small bottles, but rightly so–essential oils are highly concentrated, and can be extremely dangerous in large doses. When taking an essential oil, always make sure you are not allergic to the oil by dabbing a drop of oil onto your inner arm and observing for a reaction for two to three days.

To make skin oils, combine 2-3 drops of an essential oil (or several different oils) to a stock bottle of carrier oil (ie. Jojoba, Sweet Almond, Grapeseed). To make an aromatic bath, use around ten drops of an essential oil and mix into bathwater. Many diffusers are on the market these days for essential oils. Some require a traditional candle flame, others use electricity. It is easy to simmer oils in a pot to fill a room with the fragrance, but never use a pot used in cooking! Remember, it is almost always unsafe to ingest essential oils. Always consult an aromatherapist before using essential oils in teas. It is typically safer to steep dried herbs in water to create dreaming tea mixes. You can find dried herbs at your local health food store (again, my recommendation is Whole Foods).

Many of these oils have sedative effects, so use them around bedtime when you are ready to go to sleep.

Try using these remedies, comment, and tell me your results!

Dream journaling is probably one of the easiest and most effective ways to increase dream recall and aid in lucid dreaming. It comes easily to some people, and less easily to others. But it’s something that you can implement, today, to aid in your dream recollection and chances of achieving lucidity.

Some of the advantages of recording your dreams is that you can come back on a later date and interpret them, providing insight about what was happening at the time. You may notice things that you didn’t originally see in the dream, and you may find that time has actually improved your memory of a certain dream as long as you have a summary to jog your memory. It’s also important to be able to remember your dreams for extended periods of time. Recording your dreams in a journal is just one way to immortalize them, so you never lose the valuable memory.

When recording dreams, make sure to record regularly. Recording on and off isn’t going to do you nearly as much good as it would to constantly record your dreams. You might also be able to figure out patterns that are occuring between dreams that are close together. And, of course, you don’t want to miss anything. Every dream you fail to record is one that you could lose to the depths of memory forever.

Here are some things to remember when recording dreams:

  • Keep a designated journal by your bed at all times so that you can record dreams immediately upon waking. Your memory of a dream often decreases as you go about your day, so making a habit of recording them as soon as you wake up ensures that you get all possible information out of a dream.
  • Always leave exra space on a journal page for notes to be jotted down at a later date–things that didn’t occur to you at the time of the dream, or notes on how a dream symbol may have unfolded in your waking life.
  • Record any emotions or abstract sensory experiences you may have had during the dream. Even if the experience is difficult to describe in the words we use in our waking lives, the symbols may trigger an accurate memory of the dream after long periods of time.
  • Don’t forget to jot down any characters or abstract symbols you encounter in your dreams. These are generally left to future interpretation.
  • Lastly, write any first impressions down AFTER you’re finished recording your full dream. Writing interpretations of the dream before establishing the concrete details may disturb the composition of the description and may be simply inaccurate. Write these reflections as notes on your dream, not as part of the dream itself.

Keep up these tips and your dream journal should be accurate and fruitful.

You may want to write in your journal right before going to bed to set the intention of remembering dreams that night. It essentially preps your brain for dream activity. Especially for people who don’t normally remember dreams, this can increase recollection just enough to get some notes in your journal. If you’re one of those people, don’t worry. Keep your mind open to dreams and after journaling for some time, your recall will increase significantly.

Remember, not everyone remembers it, but everyone (except in the case of severe psychological disorder) does dream.

You may have noticed I’ve added on a new page to the blog. Visit the Resources Page for a printable dream worksheet. When in doubt, Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Dreams are often unrealistic. This single, simple principle can keep your mind brisk enough through the hazards of a waking day to induce a lucid dream during sleep.

Let’s reflect on that simple principle. To begin with, dreams don’t always follow the laws of physics. We can often fly like birds or walk through walls. Personally, I breathe in water. Continuing that pattern, our perception is often warped. We sometimes see things larger or smaller than they usually are. Our reflections in mirrors look like an entirely different person. When we look at our watch, the numbers displayed are completely unproportionate to the time of day. You might have experienced all of none of these phenomena during dreams. Either way, the principle stands.

The way we can apply this principle is also relatively simple in nature: at random moments during the day, confirm that you are awake. If you find that you are dreaming… presto. You have just become aware of your dreaming state. You have just become conscious. You have just become lucid.

So how to we perform these “reality checks?”

The first step is to learn what constitutes a reality check. Here’s what doesn’t:

  • Checking for a physical body
  • Checking for clearness of sight
  • Checking for sense of touch

These are all things that occur commonly in dreams, and they don’t take particularly effectively to being your reality check perimeters.

Here’s what does:

  • Checking the time or a piece of writing, looking away, and checking again; written word and numbers frequently change during dreams. Digital watches are said to change numbers more frequently than analog watches.
  • Checking the lights. Light switches frequently fail to work in dreams.
  • Try breathing with your mouth and nose shut. This is often possible in dreams, but obviously not in waking life.
  • Try to put the finger of one hand through the palm of another. Hands are often ethereal objects in dreams, and therefore sometimes pass through other solid objects.

In order to make doing reality checks a habit, and in order to start doing reality checks in your dreams to start becoming lucid, you need to start performing them in your waking life. Some people choose to set their watches and perform reality checks every hour, others choose to perform reality checks when they perform other common actions such as opening a door. A handy minimalist method is to write a reminder on your hand to simply perform them frequently. Always perform reality checks after waking up, to make sure you aren’t having a false awakening.

Once you start doing reality checks in your waking life, it will inevitably become a habit and begin leaking into your dreaming life. You may suddenly remember to perform your hourly reality check while in the dream state, perform it, and realize you are dreaming. You may do the same when opening a door, or doing another associated action.

There is always a chance of a reality check failing, which is why you should always perform reality checks two or more at a time.

Reality checks have a very good reputation in the lucid dreaming community for being one of the most effective and least invasive methods of inducing lucid dreams. Start performing reality checks today, comment, and tell me your results!

For a myriad of reasons (which I plan to discuss in a later post), people often wake up from lucid dreams prematurely. Every lucid dream ends eventually (some of them several times… which I’ll discuss in another later post). As a result, many techniques are attempted to prolong the length of lucid dreams. One of those techniques is generally referred to as dream spinning or, simply, spinning.

Spinning is widely considered by dreamers to be one of the most effective ways to prolong dreams. The technique is simple: simply turn around repeatedly on your feet or, if in a void, in the space around you. It’s dizzying to imagine that this would actually make you think more clearly. We all likely have memories of making ourselves sick from dizziness as children, playing games with friends or by ourselves. Why would such an abstract action increase dream length?

If you analyze many other common techniques for prolonging dreams, you’ll notice that they typically involve focusing on either a stationary or moving object–my personal favorite being your own hands, but that’s a story for another day–and it makes sense. It occupies the mind visually. Loss of mental stimulation is likely the most common cause of loss of lucidity. The mind has nothing to do, and thus stops focusing. That means you lose your lucidity, and either drop back into your dream oblivious or return to normal sleep. Another common method of restoring lucidity is to rub one’s hands together; in other words, stimulating the sense of touch.

The primary reason why this is believed to work is because it creates a sensory contradiction. The brain is torn between two sets of senses: the dreaming senses and the waking senses. The dreaming senses perceive a spinning sensation, blurred visual stimuli, and perhaps whooshing sounds (if you happen to dream that way), while the waking senses percieve something else entirely (the sensation of lying in bed). This is essentially the same reason why the technique of rubbing your hands together works: a sensory contradiction. The human brain has to choose one set of stimuli to run with, and likely chooses the more overwhelming sensation: an overwhelming, dizzying spinning.

There are many other reasons why this technique might work. One proposed hypothesis is that spinning engages the same parts of brain used in creating REM sleep, thus suspending the state of REM sleep required for lucidity.

When using the spinning technique, keep in mind that the dreamscape generally changes during or after the process of spinning. This can lead to dead-end dreams where the lack of stimulation leads to another loss of lucidity. However, this also makes spinning a reliable way to purposefully change your dreamscape. Whether in the middle of a nightmare or just in need of a change of scenery, some recommend vocally reminding yourself of the dream state or using a mantra or affirmation, as to keep the scene from changing into a void.

My personal experience is that I need to close my eyes while spinning in order to change the dreamscape. Perhaps this is because the mind knows it is impossible for scenery to change spontaneously, and has trouble creating the image of it doing so. Either way, try this technique out, comment, and tell me your results!

I’m sure many of you have heard of learning through osmosis: listening to a tape of material related to your desired skill, even sometimes while asleep, to intake and retain information about the topic. It’s been sworn upon by language-learning gurus around the world–and I’ve even dabbled in it myself (it’s certainly more productive than listening to white noise)–the method of using your free time to learn while putting in relatively little effort. The theory is generally that your subconscious takes in the information even if your conscious mind isn’t paying attention, and this is the concept behind learning while asleep: the fact that your subconscious is active while your conscious mind is shut down. In theory, you could learn endlessly in your sleep.

There are flaws in that theory, but that’s not what I’ve come to talk about today.

I’ve come to talk about learning or cultivating skills in your sleep through dream activity.

Let’s use drawing for our example skill. It takes knowledge as well as practice to master, and the amount of time spent practicing is generally partially proportionate to the level of skill.

Say you go to sleep one night, dream, and become lucid. In theory, you could practice drawing until you woke up. Whether you would retain the information your mind gathered by practicing in that dream could be debated, especially given how little of dreams is actually remembered upon waking, but it’s an interesting proposition.

And for an artist, and invaluable one. Imagine having several more hours each day to practice drawing or painting whatever you wish. For a busy artist with little time in his waking life, this could be an incredible opportunity. It could even double the amount of time the artist actually gets to practice his practical skill, depending on the case.

Now think about applying that to any other skill in your life–math, a language, reading, sports… and imagine the experience you can add to your life by adding intention to your dreams.

I actually experienced this phenomenon last night in a dream where I was instructed to speed-paint. While there is an amount of breathing room to be had in any dream circumstance, where logic may be thrown to the curb, in this instance the movement of the brush and the finished product were quite realistic. I would even go as far as to count it as my first experience with painting portraits.

Think about how you can apply this concept to your life and your dreams. Leave a comment telling me what you plan to do to become more adept in skills you consider most important.

For the past few months, I’ve been partaking in something I’ve come to call “The Dream Challenge.”

The background behind this is basically the curiosity of a friend and I regarding just how powerful conscious intent is in creating and affecting dreamscapes. We decided one night that we would pick something, an object or a topic, to dream about for the night, and keep track of who would have a dream including the topic first, at which point we would come up with a new topic.

This has trained me to the extent that I actually consciously ask myself in dreams “What was the dream challenge tonight?” Sometimes this brings me toward lucidity, sometimes lucidity precedes it, either way I become lucid. And though sometimes I get excited and distracted, I usually have the power to complete the dream challenge once I become lucid.

Sometimes the challenge is completed unconsciously; this typically happens the-night-of, when there is the most hype regarding the topic. The seeminly increased probability that I will dream about a given thing on a given night I don’t believe to be chance. It’s likely because each time I start a new dream challenge, I give my unconscious the instructions for my dreams for the night. Whether consciously or not, the content we intake during the day affects our dream output.

And thus, I have increased the purpose to each night of sleep I indulge in. I implore you to try and do this yourself. For one night, choose something to see or experience in your dreams. Keep track of it, surround yourself with it, leave a conscious intent to dream about that thing. Record your results each time you succeed, and form a new goal. See if this leads to any changes in dreaming patterns. You might be surprised what you come up with.

I should probably stop using words like “implore” when I’m trying to persuade people.

I’ll make it a point.

Dreaming is Delicious?

March 23, 2010

A few days past I had an interesting dream filled with numerous wonderful things, but the one portion I enjoyed most was when I found myself becoming lucid and decided to conjure myself a box of chocolates. I had gotten a late Valentine’s Day treat from my mother the week before, which was probably an influence.

Anyway, the most interesting part of this dream is that taste is a theme I come to regularly in lucid dreams. It seems to be the only thing I can think about some nights. “Oh, I’m lucid, poof up something yummy!” And it’s one of few things I can do with almost precise control while dreaming. But one thing is for sure: I taste in all the colors of the rainbow in dreams. I don’t mean that literally, of course, while that would be interesting (note to self: look into cross-sensory dreams!), but I did taste with all the luxury that I do in waking life. And those chocolates were delicious.

I wonder if this is some sort of landmark. The fact that I can taste in dreams: an achievement? Well, nevertheless, I’ll keep exploring it. Try arousing your sense of taste next time you become lucid, with whatever fits the bill. Clam chowder, cupcakes, even truffles that make you shrink.

Maybe I’ll post one day on how much fun that mousehole was.

Adriana D.

Increasing Dream Length

March 19, 2010

This is going to be a brief post; I hope you’ll tune in anyway.

One common problem with dreamers is that they will get overexcited and wake up in the middle of a pleasant dream. Sudden emotion interferes with the dreaming process, so the optimal solution would be to stay calm at all times… but this is obviously not easy, as dreaming can be exciting (especially when lucid!), and it’s not a foolproof solution as there are many other reasons for a dream to suddenly stop (including boredom, surprisingly).

Next time you wake up abruptly in the middle of a dream, visualize the end to which your dream was going and the desire you held with that. Act out the situation in your mind as long as you would like to, since the moment it ended, but as if it had never ended. This simple exercise will, before long, increase the length of your dreams and help you stay in the dream state despite any sudden excitements you will hopefully come across.

Happy dreaming,

Adriana D.