WILD stands for “Wake Initiated Lucid Dream”, or “Lucid Dream started by Awake”, because the dreamer manages to enter a dream directly from the waking state without any loss of consciousness. Many say that this is possible because when the body remains immobile for a long period of time the brain is led to think that the dreamer has fallen asleep. When this happens, the mind disconnects from the body through what is known as sleep paralysis. From here the brain enters the REM phase and dreams begin to form, allowing the dreamer to enter it directly.
There are many different strategies for consciously entering a dream. This article focuses on the traditional WILD technique in which the dreamer simply remains immobile and waits for the body to fall asleep. Ways to keep your mind conscious will also be explained.
The term “Wake Initiated Lucid Dream” was coined by Dr. Stephen LaBerge, but people had been doing it for thousands of years. Among the famous WILD practitioners we find Salvador Dali, who spoke of a trance-like state in which he could walk around an imaginary world. Many believe that monks who practice deep meditation sometimes enter dreams this way, some of which can be interpreted as the state of nirvana.
There are two moments in which you can successfully make a WILD: in the middle of the night during a REM cycle, or during the day with a nap.
You must learn to wake up during or immediately before a REM cycle. This can be difficult given that the moment you commonly wake up is after a REM cycle. During the last parts of sleep the REM cycles are very close to each other, so waking up after a cycle should be enough. Sleeping around six hours is usually recommended before waking up.
The way to wake up will obviously be to use an alarm clock. To set it correctly you should know when your REM cycles are taking place, but at best it would only be an estimate.
Another common way to wake up is to drink plenty of water or juice before bed. You will wake up in the middle of the night and you will have to go to the bathroom. Your body won’t wake you up for this (you could easily hold it all night), but if you’re already awake because you’ve just finished a dream, your body will signal you to go to the bathroom. At that point you will have just finished a REM cycle. This could also prove to be incorrect, because you may wake up too early for it to be effective.
Stretching before a WILD attempt is a good idea. Most of your muscles will have to stand still for several hours and be stiff. Stiff muscles can cause pain and discomfort, which will hinder your WILD attempt.
To successfully perform a WILD during a nap, you must first relax deeply and clear your mind. Meditation is an effective way to do it. If you do not completely empty your mind, it will be difficult for you to detach yourself from the physical world and immerse yourself in a dream.
How to execute the WILD
The basic principle of Traditional WILD is to shift your focus from external to internal stimuli. Lie down in a comfortable position. This position will probably be the one where you normally fall asleep, because the mind is used to it. The goal of this step is to get your body to believe that you are asleep and then turn off. This is called sleep paralysis. It happens every time you fall asleep, only when it happens you are usually already unconscious. Don’t worry if you feel strange, the sensation of sleep paralysis varies greatly with each experience; some people may not even hear it at all.
During this phase you could also experience hypnagogic hallucinations. They can be of any sense, but very often they are associated with images and sounds. There are several common hallucinations, but they can still have any form.
The imprint of hypnagogic hallucinations in memory tells you that you are approaching a lucid dream. It happens when you are in the balance between the subconscious and conscious mind, which plunges into the subconscious to take a part of a dream image, but then returns outside. Since when you see these hallucinations you are between two different consciousnesses, it is important not to disturb you because you are very close to falling asleep and entering a dream.
Once you have successfully passed from external to internal focus, it is time to enter the dream. This part can happen or not. Sometimes even when you are internally focused, a dream fails to form and you will fall asleep. This usually happens because you are not at the right time of your sleep cycle and you are not ready to enter another REM cycle.
If you enter a dream, one of these two things will happen:
The hypnagogic hallucinations you have seen and heard in the last few minutes can be expanded to encapsulate yourself in a dream. This is how you can choose the WILD you prefer. During the transition phase, with practice, you can manipulate and control hypnagogic images, which will allow you to draw your personal dream (see the Visualization WILD section)
You could also see the hypnagogic hallucinations disappear completely and see the back of your eyelids. It is often here that an inexperienced WILD practitioner interrupts his WILD because he thinks he has failed, and a non-lucid dream will begin. This is the scenario of false awakening. WILD practitioners reported that most of their WILDs start with a false awakening.
Often abbreviated as V-WILD or VILD, a common variant of the WILD technique is to integrate a component of imagination. As your hypnagogic images are formed, you can use your powers of imagination to create a dream. Usually in the high levels of consciousness you will not see your imagination, but you will only have his concept. Conceptualization is a better term for this initial stage of imagination. The more your hypnagogic hallucinations become more detailed, the more you should begin to perceive your imagination with sight and other senses. It is important to use all your senses, not just your sight. Obviously, sight is one of the most important, but so is touch and hearing. They can increase the realism of your imagination.
It is important not to try to control every aspect of your dream now, you want to both enter something in the dream and receive something from the dream. For example, if you’re imagining a car, don’t try to imagine what the dashboard looks like, what kind of seats it has and things like that, just the abstract concept of a car. Your dream will create the car as it sees fit. Create the concept, let your dream fill the details.
With this variation of the WILD technique you can design your dream landscape, but without good imagination it can be difficult.
A false awakening (when you “wake up” in your bed in a dream) is usually a fairly stable dream and requires little stabilization, if not just looking around.
A dream that has formed around you may require further stabilization instead. First, you may continue to feel your body in your bed (or at least you may feel that way). You can choose to “open your eyes” and accept the false awakening. This is your mind that is clinging to the external signals you had earlier.
If you really like the scene you created, you can work on the feeling that tells you you’re still in bed. You should also feel the body you are dreaming about, this is what you have to focus on. Tactile sensations are an effective way to do it, rubbing your hands or touching everything you see will allow your brain to forget about the other body. This will allow your consciousness to engage in the dream world that your mind has created.
Every time you wake up, the logical center of the brain turns on. This makes every technique where you first have to wake up a much more logical and detailed technique than a DILD. It may be especially true for WILDs made during an afternoon nap.
Waking up in the middle of the night allows you to remember the dream you were having before. This can provide you with the memory of a dream that you may have otherwise forgotten.
Thanks to the moment of your sleep cycle in which you have to find yourself and the fact that you are entering a dream directly instead of having to wait for a signal, you have an extended duration of the REM phase, and every moment of it is lucid. An average WILD is usually longer than an average DILD.
Hard to learn
Some find it difficult to learn how to go from waking to dreaming. There are many sensations and hallucinations that you are not used to trying / seeing. This tends to make you nervous or excited, and to distract you from what you should do. It takes time and practice to do it correctly.
With any kind of WILD technique, false awakenings when you enter the dream are very common. Many people who practice WILD report that a good number of their WILDs start with a false awakening, so be wary of WILD attempts that you think have failed.
Loss of sleep
As you wake up during the night and stay up, you lose sleep. This is why it is recommended not to execute the WILD when you have to get up early. This makes it difficult for students, as well as for workers who have to get up early.
The onset of sleep paralysis varies from WILD to WILD and from person to person. Sometimes the paralysis is not even heard, but on certain occasions it can be serious.
Expert in bio-natural and psycho-corporeal techniques. Sound therapist trained at the Centro de Terapia de Sonido y Estudios Armonicos by Albert Rabenstein in Buenos Aires.