WILDs, or Wake-Initiated Lucid Dreams, are arguably the most discussed type of lucid dream among oneironauts and for good reason. A “WILD” can be very challenging to pull off, but the experience is at least as rewarding. Let’s look at some of the most common problems and their solutions…
Many awful stories about sleep paralysis are circulating on the Internet, so it’s no sursprise beginners often have fears about trying a WILD. Truth is, being in sleep paralysis CAN be a frightening experience indeed, especially if you are afraid already, but it doesn’t have to be.
Knowledge is the best antidote to fear. If you prepare yourself by studying what will most likely happen to your mind and body, chances are it will be a breeze. The best way to overcome this problem is to realize it’s not a problem at all. Some of the most typical hypnagogic hallucinations experienced during the transition are:
- Seeing flashes, color blobs and visual patterns.
- Hearing random sounds and voices.
- Feeling paralyzed, not able to move.
- Feeling as if the body is floating, falling, spinning, or flying in a specific direction.
- Feeling (sometimes very intense) vibrations that suddenly stop after a while.
- Seeing short dream scenes that gradually become longer and more realistic.
- Check out Tim’s video tutorial on the WILD technique and the accompanying video “demo” of a typical WILD experience for a quick and clearer understanding.
At every stage, you have the power to stop the experience. Don’t convince yourself otherwise. Don’t panic. During sleep paralysis, you can always hold your breath to wake yourself up if intention alone doesn’t cut it.
Rest assured, you are safe. Whatever happens, it’s in your mind and with practice you’ll overcome all obstacles.
#2 How to sleep?
Sleeping on the back is often touted as the best sleep posture for having a WILD, probably due to Robert Monroe’s books on OBE’s. Lying on your back does make it easier to do some final relaxation exercises before going to sleep. However, if you’re not used to this position, it’s probably best to just go for your natural sleep position. Personally, I have not noticed much of a difference between sleep positions in terms of effectiveness.
Some Tibetan lore suggests that men and women should sleep on opposite sides, “because their energy channels are reversed.” We would like to find out to what extent this is so. Previous studies on sleep posture, nasal laterality, and lucid dreaming have in fact yielded certain unexpected differences for men and women, but we need more participants to know whether those results were random variations or reproducible.
Make sure you’re fully relaxed. Don’t forget to relax your jaw and facial muscles. Breathing through your mouth might make this easier and because it keeps your mouth try, it’ll fix problem #4 too.
Learn how you breathe while you’re sleeping, by recording yourself. Then simply emulate that way of breathing to make your mind and body fall asleep faster.
Last, but definitely not least, DO NOT MOVE. Don’t even move your eyes, if possible.
#3 Not able to fall asleep or falling asleep too fast
The key to successfully enter a WILD is being totally mentally awake, while physically asleep. Finding the perfect balance between these two opposites is what makes the feat so difficult. The way to approach this highly depends on what type of sleeper you are, so we’re limited to giving only general advice.
Don’t bother trying to enter a WILD at the beginning of the night. It’s possible, but not recommended. Even if you succeed, you’d have messed up your natural circadian rhythm and, unless you’d force yourself to wake up, you’d probably not even remember the lucid dream by the time you wake up naturally.
Preferably, a WILD should always be done in combination with WBTB, wake back to bed. First sleep for 3, 4.5 or 6 hours. This is because of the way most people’s sleep stages are structured. Usually, longer REM stages are occurring after more sleep, which makes lucid dreaming ideal. Sleep less if you can’t fall asleep during the WILD attempt; sleep more if you fall asleep too fast.
After the first period of sleep, stay awake for about 30 to 45 minutes before attempting the WILD. This has been proven by Dr. Stephen LaBerge to be the best amount of time to stay awake when applying the WBTB technique. Make sure you prepare yourself in semi-darkness. Looking at a monitor is a big no-no. Reading lucid dreaming related material, meditation and doing relaxation exercises are all recommended activities.
Finally, go back to sleep while staying aware. Simple, right? ;)
#4 The “swallowing” problem
While waiting for your body to go completely in the paralyzed state, you might experience saliva building up in your mouth. Just swallow it. :)
Some people believe doing this will reset your progress. As with many issues, it will only become a problem if you make it one. Your body does this while you’re unconscious anyway. So don’t be so focused on it.
If really necessary, you can even prevent this from happening by making sure your head is slightly higher than the rest of your body. This will make the saliva trickle down your throat. Lastly, try breathing through your mouth.
#5 The itchies
Lying completely still for a while will inevitably cause your body to itch. If it happens early on in the WILD attempt, don’t worry about it and just scratch. Otherwise, either try to observe and note the feeling from a dissociated perspective, or just try to ignore it.
If it really frustrates you, note the feeling of frustration. Scratch if you have to, but don’t make it a problem.
#6 When to open your eyes
Another question that surfaces regularly is when to open your “dream eyes”? How do you know whether or not your “waking life” eyes will open? When is the body fully paralyzed?
The answer is quite simple. You should never open your eyes during a WILD attempt. Well, you could of course, just to see what happens, but most likely you’d ruin your progress. The dream environment will form by itself while your eyes are still closed.
We’ll talk more about how to interact with the dream in the next problem.
Note that the following is just purely based on my personal experience and ideas.
For some people the dream won’t create itself visually. Those people will need to open their eyes once the WILD is successful and the dream is already formed. To understand how this is possible, let’s use an NLP model called “sensory modalities”. This model states that information is processed through the senses – generally one of the three dominant senses: visual, auditory or kinesthetic. Depending on the context, a particular sensory system may take dominance.
The idea is that this happens while dreaming. If you notice you can more easily dream sounds or touch, you might want to focus on those senses instead. Only once you find you’re fully within a dream, through hearing or feeling, you can safely open up your “dream eyes” and activate your visual sense too. For example, I noticed I can easily remember kinesthetic elements. So when I start a WILD, I try to feel the ground in the dream first. I touch and feel around like a lost blind man. Once I’m confident that I’m in a dream, I open my eyes. This technique has proven to be effective again and again.
#7 How to work with the hallucinations? How to enter the dream?
During the transition to a WILD, you’ll probably experience several hypnagogic hallucinations, as mentioned before. These can range from short visual, auditory and/or kinesthetic impressions to complicated, multisensory dream scenes. So now the million dollar question is: what’s the best way to interact with these phenomena, if at all?
Over the years, many approaches have been suggested and usually result in some kind of variation of the WILD technique. As far as I know, there is still no silver bullet for this problem and there will probably never be one. The best approach largely depends on the situation.