There's a good chance that author James Thurber's protagonist, Walter Mitty in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, was a lucid dreamer. If you've never heard of lucid dreams, you're missing out on an exciting opportunity to explore and experience the world as you've never known it.
Lucid dreamers know that they're dreaming. Not only do they know it, but in many cases, they're able to control it as well. So if you've always wanted to go on a date with that one celebrity you've been crushing on since junior high, and you want it to be epic, a lucid dream could be your chance.
What Happens in a Lucid Dream?
Anything you want to have happen can take place in a lucid dream; that's the beauty of it. You get to control your dreams. It's not scientifically clear whether everyone is capable of lucid dreaming, but those who are say lucid dreams are the perfect opportunity to do things you could never do in real life.
In an interview with Psychology Today, lucid dreamer Beverly D'Urso recounts a few of the experiences she's manipulated in her dreams, including tasting fire and flying to the sun. D'Urso calls it a '"higher level of awareness' while dreaming. You know that you're in a dream, and you understand that you can direct what happens in the dream." That's why D'Urso takes advantage of the opportunity to do things she's always wanted to do but couldn't -- like jump into a campfire and play around with the flames.
How Can You Reach a Lucid Dream State?
Those who've experienced lucid dreams usually say they're able to induce them mostly at will. There's a technique published by Rebecca Turner at World of Lucid Dreaming to help you learn how to do it. The writer uses meditation techniques and visualization to help lure herself into the lucid dream state that she calls, WILD, for wake-induced lucid dreams. For the most part, it involves breathing techniques, a perfectly peaceful atmosphere, and the intent to induce a lucid dream.
What's the Science Behind Controlling Your Dreams?
Penn State publishes a blog in partnership with their SC200 Course titled Science in Our World: Certainty and Controversy in which they clarify lucid dreams as a "safe and natural state in which the conscious brain wakes up during sleep." Because of this, it's possible to manipulate, or to aim, the next dream in the general direction in which you wish it to go. Always wanted to visit Paris? You can do it in a lucid dream.
If you're a lucid dreamer, there's a good chance that the part of your brain responsible for self-reflection is larger than it is in people who don't have lucid dreams. You may also have a better grasp on reality and be more aware of your surroundings than those around you. Best of all, however, is the excitement that awaits you each night when your head hits the pillow.
"Then, with the faint, fleeting smile playing around his lips, he faced the firing squad; erect and motionless, proud and disdainful, Walter Mitty the Undefeated, inscrutable to the last."