Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Top 5 Mistakes Made in Goal Setting

Learning how to set goals effectively is one of the most important things that you can do to improve your life. Unfortunately, it is also the one area that might be holding you back if you aren't doing it right. Here are the top mistakes that you absolutely have to avoid if you are serious about reaching the important goals that you set for yourself. 

1. Making Your Goal Too Big. Sometimes your really big goal can seem scary. There might be many, many steps between where you are now and where you want to end up, and getting there can seem impossible. 

How to avoid this trap: Break your big goals down into smaller, less intimidating ones. Rather than setting a goal like making a million dollars a year, you might be better off first aiming for one hundred thousand dollars a year, then when you hit that goal you can set your sights higher. 

2. Making Your Goal Too Small. This is the flip-side of the previous mistake. If your goals are too small it becomes too easy to put off taking action on them and you wind up getting distracted by other things and never getting around to your goals. 

How to avoid this trap: Powerful goals are ones that stretch you beyond your comfort zone. Be sure yours are big enough to keep your interest long enough to achieve it. 

3. Making Your Goals Too Vague. If your goals are not specific you will have a hard time focusing on the correct steps to take. You might not even be able to figure out the next steps to take, because you don't know where you are going. This is like trying to find your way through a busy city while blindfolded - you never know which direction to turn. 

How to avoid this trap: Make your goals as specific as possible. The more details that you know about your goal, the better. 

4. Setting Conflicting Goals. Many times you might have two or more goals that conflict with each other. For example, one of your goals might be to spend more time with your family, and another might be to move your career to the next level, which could require you to spend more time at work. Situations like this usually cause you to freeze up and not achieve any of your goals. 

How to avoid this trap: Look closely at each of your goals and what you hope to get when you reach them. If any of them conflict with each other, you have to make decisions about which of the goals is more important to you, or try to balance the goals. 

5. Not Setting Goals At All. It sounds crazy, but some people talk about all these big goals that they have, but they never actually set a goal and work towards it. And the reality is that it is impossible for you to hit a target that you are not aiming at. 

How to avoid this trap: SET GOALS! By some estimates, only 3% of people actually set goals and write them down. Those are the people who are achieving their goals and changing their lives. You can do that too. Get serious about the things that you want to achieve. Form them into goals and write them down! 

If you avoid these common mistakes when setting goals you will be well on your way to something more important - like achieving your goals and then setting bigger and bigger goals.

Learning how to set goals effectively is one of the most important things that you can do to improve your life. Unfortunately, it is also the one area that might be holding you back if you aren't doing it right. Here are the top mistakes that you absolutely have to avoid if you are serious about reaching the important goals that you set for yourself.

To learn more simple ways to reach your goals and ultimately turn your dreams into reality - with less struggle and better results - I invite you to grab your free copy of the ultimate manifesting eBook right now at http://www.freelawofattractionreport.com - Click right now and you can begin creating meaningful, positive changes in your life, today!

Article Source: http://www.positivearticles.com. PositiveArticles.Com does not vouch for or necessarily endorse the contents of this article. By Bob Crawford

Sunday, 29 January 2012

5 Psychological Experiments That Prove Humanity is Doomed

Solomon Asch wanted to run a series of studies that would document the power of conformity, for the purpose of depressing everyone who would ever read the results. Subjects were told that they would be taking part in a vision test, along with a handful of people. The participants were then shown pictures, and individually asked to answer very simple and obvious questions. The catch was that everybody else in the room other than the subject was in on it, and they were were told to give obviously wrong answers. So would the subject go against the crowd, even when the crowd was clearly and retardedly wrong?
32 percent of subjects would answer incorrectly if they saw that three others in the classroom gave the same wrong answer, even if that answer was horribly wrong (questions asked which line was longer out of a selection, and even if the lines had huge differences the wrong answers were given).  One in three would follow the group right off the proverbial cliff.
Imagine how much that 32 percent figure inflates when the answers are less black and white. We all tend to laugh with the group even when we didn't get the joke, or doubt our opinion when we realize ours is unpopular among our group. So much for those lectures you got in elementary school about peer pressure and "being brave enough to be yourself."
"Well, it's a good thing I'm a rebellious non-conformist," many of you are saying. Of course, for virtually all of you, the next step is to find out what the other non-conformists are doing ...

The Biblical story of the Good Samaritan, if you hadn't heard, is about a passing Samaritan helping an injured man in need, while other, self-righteous types walk right on by. Psychologists John Darley and C. Daniel Batson wanted to test if religion has any effect on helpful behavior.
Their subjects were a group of seminary students. Half of the students were given the story of the Good Samaritan and asked to perform a sermon about it in another building. The other half were told to give a sermon about job opportunities in a seminary. As an extra twist, subjects were given different times that they had to deliver the sermon so that some would be in a hurry and others not. Then, on the way to the building, subjects would pass a person slumped in an alleyway, who looked to be in need of help. 
The people who had been studying the Good Samaritan story did not stop any more often than the ones preparing for a speech on job opportunities. The factor that really seemed to make a difference was how much of a hurry the students were in.
In fact, if pressed for time, only 10 percent would stop to give any aid, even when they were on their way to give a sermon about how awesome it is for people to stop and give aid. Though to be fair, if you were late for a class, did your professor ever accept, "I had to stop and help a wounded traveler" as an excuse? Probably not unless you could produce the guy's blood-stained shirt as evidence.
The truth is us common folk are just as likely to be hypocrites as the politicians. After all, it's much easier to talk to a room full of people about helping strangers than, say, actually touching a smelly and bleeding homeless man. So even pointing out their hypocrisy becomes a form of hypocrisy. 

When a woman was murdered in 1964, newspapers printed that 38 people had heard and seen the attack, but did nothing. John Darley and Bibb Latane wanted to know if the fact that these people were in a large group played any role in the reluctance to come to aid.
The two psychologists invited volunteers to take part in a discussion. They claimed that because the discussion would be extremely personal  individuals would be separated in different rooms and talk to each other using an intercom. During the conversation, one of the members would fake an epileptic seizure, which could be heard on the speakers. 
When subjects believed that they were the only other person in the discussion, 85 percent were heroic enough to leave the room and seek help once the other began the fake seizure. This makes sense. Having an extremely personal conversation with another person is difficult enough, but being forced to continue to carry on the conversation by yourself is just sad. But either way, 85 percent helped. So that's good, right?
Well, they weren't done. When the experiment was altered so that subjects believed four other people were in the discussion, only 31 percent went to look for help once the seizure began. The rest assumed someone else would take care of it. So the phrase, "The more, the merrier" somehow got lost in translation because the correct expression should be, "The more, the higher probability that you will die if you have a seizure."

Obviously if there's an emergency and you're the only one around, the pressure to help out increases massively. You feel 100 percent responsible for what happens. But, when you're with 10 other people, you're only 10 percent as responsible. The problem is everybody else only feels 10 percent responsible too.

Psychologist Philip Zimbardo wanted to find out how captivity affects authorities and inmates in prison. Sounds innocent enough. Seriously, what could go wrong? Zimbardo transformed the Stanford Psychology Department's basement into a mock prison. Subjects volunteered by simply responding to a newspaper ad and then passing a test proving good health and high-quality mental stability, which are very important factors in deciding who goes to prison. These volunteers were all male college students who were then divided arbitrarily into 12 guards and 12 prisoners. Zimbardo himself decided that he wanted to play too, and elected himself Prison Superintendent. The simulation was planned to run for two weeks.
On only the second day prisoners staged a riot in the faux detention center, with prisoners barricading their cells with their beds and taunting the guards. The guards saw this as a pretty good excuse to start squirting fire extinguishers at the insurgents because, hey, why the hell not?

From that point on, the Stanford Prison that had already gone to hell, just continued to ricochet around in hell for day after day. Some guards began forcing inmates to sleep naked on the concrete, restricting the bathroom as a privilege (one that was often denied). They forced prisoners to do humiliating exercises and had them clean toilets with their bare hands.
Incredibly, when "prisoners" were told they had a chance at parole, and then the parole was denied, it didn't occur to them to simply ask out of the damned experiment. Remember they had absolutely no legal reason to be imprisoned, it was just a  role-playing exercise. This fact continued to escape them as they sat naked in their own filth, with bags on their heads.
Over 50 outsiders had stopped to observe the prison, but the morality of the trial was never questioned until Zimbardo's girlfriend, Christina Maslach, strongly objected. After only six days, Zimbardo put a halt to the experiment (several of the "guards" expressed disappointment at this). If you were about to applaud Maslach as the only sane person involved in this clusterfuck, you should know that she went on to marry Zimbardo, the guy who orchestrated the whole thing.
Ever been harassed by a cop who pushed you around for no reason? Science says that if the roles were reversed, you'd likely act the same way. As it turns out, it's usually fear of repercussion that keeps us from torturing our fellow human beings. 
When the prosecution of the Nazis got underway at the Nuremberg Trials, many of the defendants' excuse seemed to revolve around the ideas of following orders. Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram wanted to test willingness of subjects to obey an authority figure. 
He ran an experiment where the subject was told he was a "teacher" and that his job was to give a memory test to another subject, located in another room. The whole thing was fake and the other subject was an actor. The subject was told that whenever the other guy gave an incorrect answer, he was to press a button that would give him an electric shock. A guy in a lab coat was there to make sure he did it (again no real shock was being delivered, but the subject of course did not know this). The subject was told that the shocks started at 45 volts and would increase with every wrong answer. Each time they pushed the button, the actor on the other end would scream and beg for the subject to stop.
Many subjects began to feel uncomfortable after a certain point, and questioned continuing the experiment. However, each time the guy in the lab coat encouraged them to continue. Most of them did, upping the voltage, delivering shock after shock while the victim screamed. Many subjects would laugh nervously, because laughter is the best medicine when pumping electrical currents through another person's body.

Eventually the actor would start banging on the wall that separated him from the subject, pleading about his heart condition. After further shocks, all sounds from victim's room would cease, indicating he was dead or unconscious. 

Between 61 and 66 percent of subjects would continue the experiment until it reached the maximum voltage of 450, continuing to deliver shocks after the victim had been zapped into unconsciousness or the afterlife. Repeated studies have shown the same result. Most subjects wouldn't begin to object until after 300-volt shocks. Zero of them asked to stop the experiment before that point (keep in mind 100 volts is enough to kill a man, in some cases).
Charles Sheridan and Richard King took this experiment one step further, but asked subjects to shock a puppy for every incorrect action it made. Unlike Milgram's experiment, this shock was real. Exactly 20 out of 26 subjects went to the highest voltage. Almost 80 percent. Think about that when you're walking around the mall: eight out of ten of those people you see would torture a puppy if a man in a lab coat instructed them to.
Article taken from Cracked.com

Friday, 27 January 2012

Stage Hypnosis Explained

I often get asked questions about hypnosis based on what people have seen in stage hypnosis shows, namely comedy stage hypnosis. Stage hypnosis is an art form quite different to what hypnotherapists do and the misconceptions that come through it are quite staggering. 'Can you make me cluck like a chicken?' Stage hypnosis is a mystery for many people that they cannot quite get their heads around, how is this person controlling these people in such a way? Could I be made to do something like that? The below article was written by Jonathan Groves and explains why stage hypnosis is not such a mystery to those in the know. (More about the misconception surrounding hypnosis here)

When a stage hypnotist does a stage hypnosis show, one of the first things the stage hypnotist will do is ask for volunteers to come on stage.Now, notice how the stage hypnotist is asking for volunteers. If the stage hypnotist had so many secretive powers to control people, then why is he asking for volunteers? Authentic covert hypnosis secrets do not require volunteers or the cooperation of other people, so this is the first warning that stage hypnosis is a joke. 

The next indication that stage hypnosis is fake is that during a stage show, a stage hypnotist continues to reject volunteers who had come up on stage to be hypnotized. The stage hypnotist will tell the volunteers to return to their seats and to enjoy the show. The question we must ask ourselves is why does the stage hypnotist do this? Why is the stage hypnotist disqualifying his own volunteers? The reason why people are banned is because the stage hypnotist closely monitors his volunteers to determine if they are doing everything he says in the correct way he wants the volunteers to do it. When a volunteer is not doing just what the stage hypnotist says, what the stage hypnotist will do is get rid of the volunteer. This proves stage hypnosis is false, because if stage hypnosis was some dark art with gobs of hypnosis secrets, then how can people resist what the stage hypnotist says to the point where the stage hypnotist needs to disqualify them? 

As the show continues, more and more volunteers are disqualified. During the final phases of the show, there will only be a few volunteers left. These are the volunteers who end up clucking like chickens and doing awkward things so that the stage hypnosis looks to have some unexplained powers at work. But these volunteers are simply volunteering to do exactly as the stage hypnotist says. The stage hypnotist will even go so far as to tell the people that they will not recall anything that they did on stage, and when the people appear to come out of trance, they do as the stage hypnotist told them and act as though they are not able to remember anything that happened. 

A stage hypnotist is a entertainer and not a real hypnotist. All he does is collect a bunch of volunteers who want to be hypnotized and then he sorts out the volunteers who will not voluntarily do everything the stage hypnotist tells them to do. So, people are not in reality hypnotized during a stage hypnosis show, they are volunteering to act as though that they were hypnotized. 

There isn't much of a distinction between a Hollywood movie and a stage hypnosis show. This means stage hypnosis is a form of entertainment and not a form of persuasion.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Video: Spectacular Autistic Artist: The Human Camera: Stephen Wiltshire

Steven Wiltshire (gallery) is an autistic man from North London and has the exceptional talent of drawing to an amazing accuracy through memory alone. In this video his mastery is tested and he takes one helicopter ride over Rome before being handed a pen and a wall of paper... the human brain is truly remarkable!!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

More Research Necessary into Mind Altering Drugs?

Drug taking is one of those highly controversial topics bound to offend someone at some stage and Professor Nutt's comments are bound to cause outrage on certain fronts. But all he is saying is that more research is necessary because there is a strong possibility mind altering drugs can have a medical benefit. The article comes from BBC News.

Former government drugs adviser Prof David Nutt has said that regulations should be relaxed to enable researchers to experiment on mind-altering drugs. Prof Nutt told BBC News that magic mushrooms, LSD, ecstasy, cannabis and mephedrone all have potential therapeutic applications. However, he said they were not being studied because of the restrictions placed on researching illegal drugs.
He said the regulations were "overwhelming".
His comments followed the publication of new research by his group in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which suggests that the active ingredient in magic mushrooms could be used to treat depression.
"I feel quite passionately that these drugs are profound drugs; they change the brain in a way that no other drugs do. And I find it bizarre that no-one has studied them before and they haven't because it's hard and illegal," he said.
A Home Office spokesperson said: "The Home Office licensing regime already enables research to take place through a system of controlled drug possession licences, allowing bona fide institutions to carry out scientific research.
"This regime recognises the importance of such research and enables that to take place in an appropriate environment, ensuring the necessary safeguards are in place."
Prof Nutt was sacked by the home secretary from his government advisory role three years ago for saying that ecstasy and LSD were less harmful than alcohol.
He says his new research indicated that there were no "untoward effects" from taking magic mushrooms and that it should not be illegal to possess them. Prof Nutt and his team scanned the brains of volunteers who had been injected with a moderate dose of psilocybin, the active ingredient of magic mushrooms. They had expected higher activity in areas of the brain associated with visual imagery. But in fact they found that the drug switched off a network of interconnected regions of the brain which regulated an individual's sense of being and integration with their environment. The researchers say that this alters consciousness because individuals are less in touch with their sensations and normal way of thinking.
They also found that psilocybin also turns off a part of the brain which is over active in some forms of depression. So Prof Nutt believes that the drug could be used as an antidepressant and has applied to the Medical Research Council to carry out a small patient study to see if this is the case.
"There's some research from the US which shows that when used in a psycho-therapeutic context it can produce quite long-lasting changes to a person's sense of well-being - changes that can last for years," he says.
He also said that there was nothing in the brain scans or follow-up studies which would suggest that if taken in moderate quantities the drug was unsafe.
"People who use them regularly seem to do that. They seem to use them on an annual basis in order to enjoy the experience but also because it has this positive reaffirming effect.
"And there are certainly examples of people who take magic mushroom tea for obsessive compulsive disorder to keep it under control.
"So it may be that there are broad utilities of these kind of compounds in terms of mental well-being. I don't know - I think it's very much a question to be answered."
A second study, due to be published online by the British Journal of Psychiatry on Thursday, found that psilocybin enhanced volunteers' recollections of personal memories, which the researchers suggest could make it useful as an adjunct to psychotherapy.
However, Martin Barnes, chief executive of DrugScope, said: "The research published today does not directly address whether or not magic mushrooms are harmful.
"Instead, it looks at how psilocybin, the active chemical in magic mushrooms, affects the brain."
Prof Nutt also said that he believed that possession of magic mushrooms should not be illegal, adding that its status as a controlled drug was hampering research.
"Research has been minimal, if not non-existent, on psychedelic drugs because the regulations are so overwhelming," he said.
"I would say that this is the most obvious unexplored area of neuroscience; drugs which change the brain in a fundamental way and yet we don't bother studying them because it's too difficult or we are to scared of falling foul of the regulators or the media."
But Mr Barnes from DrugScope cautioned that the recreational or problematic use of drugs should not be conflated with the important issue of researching possible therapeutic or medical benefits that some psychoactive substances may offer.
"A carefully controlled and supervised study, using a pure formulation of psilocybin under controlled conditions, is very different from how most people would ingest the substance in magic mushrooms.
"As with medicines which use active chemicals present in cannabis, pharmaceutical products derived from any psychoactive substances will differ significantly from street drugs."
Prof Nutt resists comparisons with the 1960s guru Timothy Leary who advocated the use of LSD. His view was that if everyone took LSD all the time they would be better people. They would have nicer, happier lives.
"I'm not recommending anyone taking any drugs. I'm just suggesting we need to have a more scientific rational approach to drugs and vilifying drugs like psilocybin whilst at the same time actively promoting much more dangerous drugs like alcohol is totally stupid scientifically."
More articles on drug effects: here and here

Saturday, 21 January 2012

The Alarm Clock for the Perfect Night's Sleep?

Being woken up at the wrong time can be a horrible feeling. You feel un-rested and wake up feeling grumpy to start the day on the wrong foot from the off. You want to throw your alarm clock out the window or berate the caring person who had kindly agreed to wake you up. Yet at other times you awaken feeling refreshed and ready to go despite perhaps only sleeping a few hours - why is this? Is there something that could be done to ensure a refreshing wake up every day? Perhaps this new alarm clock is the answer... Article taken from:  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111020105800.htm

Writing in a forthcoming issue of the International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology the researchers describe an alarm clock that monitors your brain activity and triggers its alarm within a time window you set in advance but only when your brain is in a more easily roused state rather than deep sleep.

"By using such an alarm clock, the user will wake feeling much more refreshed than if they were awakened by a conventional alarm clock that rings at a set time," explains Jemina Asnoth Sylvia of Jerusalem College of Engineering in Tamil Nadu.

Sleep is a behavioural state that is a natural part of every individual's life. We spend about one-third of our lives asleep. Although the precise functions of sleep remain a mystery, sleep is important for normal motor and cognitive functions as well as growth and rejuvenation of the immune, nervous, skeletal and muscular systems. After waking naturally, we recognize changes that have occurred, as we feel rested and more alert. However, many people use an alarm clock to wake them at a set time, which is when problems occur for some of us.
The researchers point out that sleep usually involves 90-minute cycles of brain activity during which there are periods when the brain is most arousable. If a person is woken, from a night's sleep, during such an arousable period in the cycle, they will feel more refreshed than if they are woken during a deeper part of the sleep cycle. To take advantage of this requires putting EEG scalp electrodes on the head to monitor brain activity and to hook the output to a modified alarm clock. Once out of the experimental stage, the team envisages a head-band worn while sleeping that uses wireless electrodes.

In tests, the alarm time is set and the monitoring process is set to begin 90 seconds before the alarm time. An on board computer determines what stage of their brain activity cycle the sleeper is in during the 90-second monitoring time. If they are in the 3rd or 4th stage of sleep, the alarm is "snoozed" automatically. However, if they are in stage 1 or 2 of sleep, the more arousable stages, the alarm is sounded to wake the sleeper.

The team adds that it is feasible to record brain activity during the night to obtain a so-called "hypnogram" to determine how well you are sleeping overall. This would allow you to adjust your alarm time so that the monitoring window coincided more often with stage 1 or 2. That might mean an earlier alarm call, up to 45 minutes earlier, but it would be a gentler more refreshed awakening. Of course, the converse would also be possible -- a "snooze" or 45 minutes and an even more rested and refreshed awakening. Just don't blame the researchers if you are late for work!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Hypnobirthing: Hypnosis for Childbirth

I posted a Hypnobirthing video last month that was received with great interest (click here to view) and so to follow that up I found a great article by Cathal O'Briain, a published author of Hypnotherapy and secretary of the Hypnotherapy Association of Ireland. Enjoy reading.

When giving birth, it is possible to change the sensation of pain to pressure. The more relaxed a mother-to-be is, the easier, faster, and less complicated labor and birth become. Some mothers become so relaxed, they find it almost impossible to identify when exactly they are having a contraction. Through self-hypnosis they turn pain into pressure. When the mother's body is this relaxed, the baby just flows out and sometimes after just a few pushes. 

From the moment a woman realizes she is pregnant, preparation for the big day using relaxation techniques and positive imagery should be used to remove fear. We should see the process of giving birth as a happy and wondrous event, eagerly anticipated. But many cultures tend to view it as something to be feared because of the pain they associate with it. This expectation of fear and pain is what makes labor so difficult. If a girl grows up believing that childbirth is a comfortable and joyous experience, providing she doesn't hear otherwise, she should remain free of fear, tension and pain when her time comes to give birth. By reprogramming your mind to expect relaxation and pressure, instead of fear and pain, less adrenaline is produced. Adrenaline is one of the main reasons why labor normally becomes dysfunctional. There is less chance of needing a cesarean section during a natural, hypno-birth. 

The woman using self-hypnosis during birth trains her mind to produce anaesthesia when and where it's needed. The feeling of building pressure is used as a cue to relax even deeper. So as labor progresses, instead of it painfully intensifying, the buildup and pressure now create a sense of relaxation in the mind and body. When the body is instructed to flow harmoniously along with the birth process, this opens up and releases tightness and tension. It also helps the downward movement to work easily and effectively, resulting in a shorter birth. By reducing the amount of trauma to the baby during the birth process, the baby is more likely to be happier and more relaxed. 

The Benefits of Using Hypnosis during Labor and Childbirth 
Hypnosis shortens labor time and the second stage of labor. This is because it minimizes the resistance of the muscles used in birth as a response to pain and stress. 
Hypnosis enhances comfort and sleep during and after pregnancy. 
Hypnosis helps control nausea and vomiting. 
Hypnosis helps to stop post-partum depression beginning. 
Hypnosis creates a stronger bond between mother and baby. 
Hypnosis creates a peaceful birthing environment. 
Hypnosis may reduce the need for episiotomies and anesthesia. 
Hypnosis helps to remove negative beliefs about the labor process. 
Hypnosis helps adjust blood pressure naturally. 
Hypnosis increases the mother's confidence in her own ability to give birth naturally, putting her in control of herself, while at the same time letting nature do its job in a proficient manner. 
Hypnosis helps to create the level of relaxation needed to stop the flow of catecholamines, the stress hormone released during labor. 
Catecholamines make it difficult for the circular muscles of the uterus to relax, causing the uterus muscles to work hard, creating longer, harder contractions. Catecholamine release is a fear-based response that creates constriction in the muscles. Self-hypnosis turns off catecholamines and switches on endorphins. 
The experience of pain in childbirth is the result of an unnatural process of fear. Fear produces tension, which then creates tightness and clamping of the muscles. Tension works in opposition to the body giving birth. Self-hypnosis removes the fear, which removes tension, which removes tightness and clamping. The end result is pressure, not pain. 
Fewer drugs or no drugs at all mean less risk of side effects for mother and baby. Birth is then completely natural; the way nature intended it to be. 
There are fewer interventions and complications during labor. 
There is a time distortion with hypnosis. This makes labor time feel much shorter than it actually is. 
Because hypnosis helps with the second and active stage of labor, including the delivery of the baby, there is less need for operational delivery. Complete anesthesia of the perineum eases delivery, episiotomy and suturing of the perineum. 
With hypnosis there is less shock to the system and a quicker recovery.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Video: The Exceptional Mind of the Savant

Sunday, 15 January 2012

What is Lucid Dreaming? How Can We Control Our Dreams?

‘Lucid dreaming’ is the type of dream we have when we are fully conscious we are dreaming and not awake, unlike regular dreams when we are only aware of the dream after we wake up. This level of conscious state when dreaming allows us to be in control of the storyline of the dream and it is therefore possible to do whatever we like as if we were in some kind of virtual reality.

To the vast majority this type of dreaming is very rare, not least because when it is realised that a dream is indeed a dream and not reality it is usually enough to wake us up! When I was a young teenager I tried immensely hard to have lucid dreams each night in hope that it would be something I could master. No matter how much mental effort I put into the practice, the second I realised I was dreaming the dream disappeared and I was awake again. Very frustrating. But there is a method to succeed

In a previous post I wrote about the make-up of dreams, how often they occur and when they are remembered (read it here). The key thing to understand is that dreams take place regularly every time you sleep, it just depends on when you wake up if you are to remember the dream or not. If you wake up during a dream you remember it, if you wake up after the dream cycle has finished you probably won’t. So delving into your dreams is more about memory than actually dreaming, as dreaming occurs frequently and naturally for everyone.

How to remember? A dream diary is the easiest way to begin. Keep a notebook and pen by your bed (or wherever you chose to sleep) and the moment you wake up write down as many notes as you can on the dreams you had, if you wake up during the night with the dream in your head turn the light on and do the same thing. The more often you do this the more your mind will improve its recall and before too long you will be writing in more detail and delving much deeper into your subconscious than you ever were before (an article on that topic here).

Another method is to program your mind into remembering on its own. Before you sleep sit comfortably with your eyes close and breathe deeply for as long as it takes to deeply relax. When you have found a good level of relaxation repeat several times in your mind or even out loud a phrase such as the following ‘I will remember all my dreams in vivid detail’ and then go to sleep. You may very well be surprised at the powerful effect this will have on your memory recall.

When you get to the stage where dreams are being remembered to a satisfactory level and you want to step up to the next level and control your dreams, know first of all that you are on the right path. Controlling the mind through meditation and self-hypnosis allows for a greater mastery of altered mental states such as dreaming. You can change your repeated phrase to ‘I will remember all my dreams in vivid detail and will be in total conscious control of my dreams for as long as I wish to remain there for’. This message will be transferred to the subconscious mind and will work in the same way dream recall did. Sometimes having a goal for the dream helps too, if you want to fly in your dreams, program your mind to dream about flying by telling yourself this is what you want to do and even visualise the experience in as much detail as you can. The subconscious can create anything you wish it to so long as the motivation and will to succeed exists alongside the resolve to make it happen.  

To stay conscious in a dream you must master being conscious in the waking state also. Daydreaming is something that has always affected me, but by performing a small ritual I remind myself that I am wide awake and in control, and this can help keep my mind in focus. My ritual is to make the ‘Ok’ sign with thumb and forefinger while repeating in my mind ‘I am totally aware and conscious’ and this prevents me from drifting away and not concentrating on what I'm supposed to be doing...like blogging. I have performed this ritual in dreams sometimes but instead of waking me up it allows me to be more conscious and in control of my dreams.

If you follow these steps dream recall and lucid dreaming will follow so long as you stay consistent with your practice and don’t give in. The more you do the easier it will get like most things in life, but you must keep trying if you want to succeed, and if you do succeed the rewards can be fantastic.

Dreaming is entering into your own subconscious mind and by controlling dreams your conscious is directly tapping into your subconscious deeper than any other known method (similar to hypnosis in many ways). You can uncover forgotten memories, live out fantasies, make life decisions and answer questions in a way you simply could not do ordinarily. There are no boundaries in dreams and to control them is like one big adventure you can enjoy each and every night while learning more about yourself along the way.