Have you ever had a dream you wouldn’t mind getting back to? Have you ever had a dream that left you feeling angry or upset and you wish you could change the dream’s outcome? Have you ever been in the middle of dreaming something really pleasant that you would love to get a chance to finish?
A technique I learned over the years as I was becoming proficient at lucid dreaming was the art of continuing a dream minutes, days, and even years after it has ended. I want to share my experiences and techniques with you so that you can enjoy the benefits of picking up a dream where it left off.
In my early days of lucid dreaming, I recall having a nightmare where I was walking in this spooky, dark house. It was a total nightmare situation. I heard a creaking and when I popped my head into the next room I saw a rocking chair that was rocking all on its own. That was enough for me! My heart started pounding really hard and fast and I woke up. At first I was glad that the scary dream was over, but then I got a little angry with myself for letting my own dream run me out of town, so to speak. I decided to see what would happen if could get back into the dream and deal with whatever creepy things were going on, but this time from a place of power and control instead of fear. I went over the dream in my head and let myself fall back to sleep. My dream picked up where it left off! I stood in the scary rocking chair room and was totally lucid. I found a light switch, turned it on, and saw an old woman in the rocking chair sort of smiling at me. I said, “Who are you!?” She replied that she was the owner of the house and wanted to know if I’d like to sit with her and have a cup of tea and cookies. Er? Scary dream gone, pleasant dream (with cookies!) present! All’s well that ends well, eh?
So I decided that if I could do that in my rocking chair dream, I might be able to do it every time I had a nightmare. Sure enough, every time I had a nightmare after that I would force myself to come up with a solution and get back into the dream to take care of business. I decided I wasn’t going to let my nightmares scare me senseless! I got myself to the point where I would look forward to having nightmares because I could then practice the skill of lucidly getting control of them.
This skill developed to the point where I didn’t even need to wake up. I would be having a nightmare and become lucid and just pause the dream. I would come up with a solution in the dream, then unpause the dream and let it continue. This was fun! I recall a dream where I fell off a cliff. Normally I’d wake up with my heart pounding long before hitting the ground, but I had trained myself to become lucid at that point. I paused the dream and decided when it picked up again I would simply fly instead of fall. Sometimes in falling dreams I would allow myself to hit the ground and bounce up like in the Matrix. No harm, no foul.
To continue a dream you just had, try not to open your eyes after you wake up. If you do open your eyes, close them again quickly because stimuli in your bedroom will dissipate the dream. Next, quickly think how you will handle the dream if you can get back into it, then let yourself fall back to sleep. If you do it right and don’t get too excited, you’ll end up with a lucid dream and the memory of how you wanted to handle the scary bad.
Okay, so continuing a dream you just had is easy right? How do you continue a dream you had the night before?
I learned how to do this too. This was an especially useful tool when I was in the middle of solving a mystery with Shaggy and Scooby, or my dates with Brad or Keanu got interrupted at untimely moments. Sometimes you’ve just got to know how the dream was going to end! To continue a dream you had the night before do this:
- Get ready for bed and make sure you’re nice and tired and ready to go to sleep.
- Lie down in your bed on your back with your eyes closed and replay the previous night’s dream in your head, concentrating on every detail you can remember and how you felt in the dream. (Of course you remember all your dreams right? If not, you get knocked back to my Lucid Dreaming podcast. Don’t even try this advanced stuff yet.)
- Let yourself fall asleep when you get near to the point where your dream left off.
Now, it might take some practice and some confidence, but if you keep doing this I think you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to return to a dream you’ve had previously. It’s not a sure thing, but your success rate will increase with practice. I’ve been able to revisit a dream even years later. But you’ve got to remember the details of the dream and especially how you felt in the dream (fear, anger, panic, excitement, etc.) For some reason, the emotional aspect of the dream is important for getting back to it.
You can use the above technique to program a dream too. Feel like skydiving? Eating zero calorie pasta and donuts? Slaying vampires with Buffy? All possible! Just lay down for bed when you’re nice and tired and practically in an alpha state already. Now imagine the dream you want to have. You don’t have to imagine the entire thing (leave something to your imagination), but get all the major players into position. Imagine a scene or two in your head as you fall asleep. Again, this will take practice to succeed, but it works for me and I know it will work for you too.
At night I literally go down a list of menu options in my head to determine what kind of dreams I’m going to have. Sometimes I feel like vampire-slaying, sometimes I feel like being with the X-Men, and sometimes I ring up David Boreanaz and see what he’s up to. And sometimes I just let the dreams come as they will. I have to give my subsconscious at least a little bit of time otherwise I’ll go insane. (Steve, hold your tongue!)
People, if you haven’t picked up on the benefits of lucid dreaming yet, I hope I’ve impressed upon you how much fun you could be having in your dreams. I recently dreamed an entire episode of Supernatural and I have to say it was a pretty decent episode! I might even pitch the idea to their producers if I can figure out how to do that.
Practice, practice, practice!