Perhaps the most famous method of introducing lucid dreaming is the MILD (mnemonic induction of lucid dreams). Stephen Leberge discovered this method when working on his PhD on lucid dreaming at Stanford. He wanted a reliable method to have lucid dreams at will. This method has worked for him and 100s others (Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming).
The idea is that we best remember something without any external aids when we have two things: 1) have a strong desire to remember it and 2) a trigger that reminds us by association. This type of memory is called prospective memory. It is a lost art in our world of smartphones and digital to do lists with reminders. However, developing your ability to remember to do something at a future time without an external device is key to inducing a lucid dream within a dream.
Here’s the MILD method in a nutshell:
1) By now, you should have recorded a fair number of dreams and found certain objects or people or settings that seem to reoccur (we call these dream signs). For me, my dreams often take place in my home state of Indiana with people that I haven’t seen in years.
2) When you go to bed, give yourself a strong mental “to do” to “remember that you are dreaming the next time you are dreaming.” Then, tell yourself, “I will know that I am dreaming when I see my friends from Indiana” (or whatever your dream signs are). This is where motivation plays a big role. You are much more likely to remember something that is really important to you than a nice to have. If you don’t believe me, try it during waking life!
3) When you first wake up, don’t move. Replay the last dream in your head. It might be that you wake up at 3 AM. Will yourself to replay the dream and not fall immediately back to sleep. After you have the dream firmly in your mind, go back through it and now imagine yourself becoming lucid in it. What are you going to do? Are you going to fly? Meet some cool person? Imagine that happening. After about 5 min of this, allow yourself to fall back asleep but firmly tell yourself, “The next time I am dreaming, I will remember that I am dreaming.”
This is a method I am trying to perfect. It does not involve segmenting sleep (which is my sure fire way of having a lucid dream) and seems to be a way that could allow lucid dreams at will. From his studies, just telling yourself before bed each night “I want to remember that I am dreaming when I am dreaming” might be enough to have a lucid dream or 2 every month. But, for the MILD method, studies show that people often have their first within a couple nights practicing.
My own experience with MILD is that I fall back asleep too easily and I don’t think I fully lodge the “I will remember I am dreaming when I am dreaming” into my mind before I do. Last night, I woke briefly at 3:20. I replayed the dream and then told myself to remember I am dreaming in the next dream. However, I woke up at 4:45 out of a nice long and drawn out dream, but I was not lucid. So for me, I think I need to turn on the flashlight and actually write the dream down before falling back asleep.
Try it! Lets see if we can master one of the most well-known and effective way for master lucid dreamers to have lucid dreams at will.