The most unlikely sounding thing in the world is a dream in which you are actually conscious, but it's true, you can actually have dreams that you control and remember perfectly; Lucid Dreams! Science is always pushing the boundaries of what consciousness actually is, and more and more, we are discovering that the line between being asleep and awake is more and more blurred. Take multiple system atrophy, for example, where people have been awake for so long that they literally never know if they are in a dream or awake. They can simply be walking around and suddenly find themselves prone to hallucinations that are powerful and much like dream. When lying down and trying to sleep, people suffering from this disorder sometimes become unaware of their surroundings and yell or tremble and find themselves with their hearts racing.

A disturbing condition to say the least, but it does illustrate that we are only at the beginning of our understanding of the complex interactions of the mind in dream and awake states. Which brings us right back to lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is a relatively newly coined phrase - probably first occuring sometime in the early 1900s. However conscious or lucid dreams have been alluded to throughout our written and oral history. Many religious and spiritual texts point to the state of conscious dreaming, in fact, one of the earliest written references to lucid dreaming is believed to be a letter written by St. Augustine of Hippo in 415AD. Further east, Tibetan Buddhists place great emphasis on dreaming and they even have a powerful system of dream yoga which takes them through various stages of dreaming lucidity. Some old Taoist traditions also place emphasis on using the dreams to learn, grow and conquer fears. And then of course, there are the writing of Carlos Castaneda; though many believe his work to be a hoax, they probably provided many in the west their first introduction to the art of conscious dreaming.

But enough about the history of this fascinating practice. How do you actually achieve a lucid dream? Well, usually, the first step on the path is to actually remember your dreams, and usually the easiest way to do this is to start a dream diary. Every morning, as you wake up, just before you do anything else, write down in as much detail, the dreams you had the night before. For a while, you might note nothing down. Maybe a fragment or an image, but pretty soon, you will start to remember more and more of your dreams. Now things really start to get interesting, because once you start actually remembering your dreams when you are awake, you can begin to notice cues in your dreams - repeating patterns or places that are ideal points in your dreams that you can turn them lucid. To program your mind to do this, start to ask yourself if you are dreaming as you go about your waking life. The trick here is to do so only when your recurring dream cues happen in real life. So for example if you find yourself always dreaming about a particular park that you visit frequently, start asking yourself if you are awake or dreaming when you actually walk through the park in real life. This works equally well with objects - a favorite t-shirt or mug for example. Eventually, your mind will be primed and you will find yourself dreaming and asking yourself if you are dreaming or awake while you actually look at or are present in your dream cue.

This is perfect and it's at this point that you can become lucid, because while dreaming, you will answer that you are dreaming. Welcome to the magic of conscious dreams. The initial experience is fairly intense and the conscious part of the dream will probably only last for a short while, but with practice, you will be able to maintain awareness of your dream state for longer periods.

There are many cool things you can do in your dreams, but perhaps that's best explored another time. One last tip though - if you are having trouble staying in your conscious dream state, grab an object in your dreams - whatever is in front of you - a wardrobe, a chair, a doesn't matter - the act of grabbing hold of an object in your dreams will help anchor you in the dream and keep you in the lucid state.

Sweet dreams!