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.