Lucid dreaming is sort of like dreaming in a conscious state. You know that you are dreaming when you have a lucid dream. Sometimes when a person is having a lucid dream he finds that he can control the environment and the people and that he can perform feats that would otherwise be impossible. People who have lucid dreams describe the dreams as being incredibly vivid and real.
Lucid dreaming can begin in two different ways. The first way is with a dream-initiated lucid dream, or DILD. The dream starts out as a normal dream and at some point in the dream; the dreamer realizes that he is dreaming. The second way is the wake-initiated lucid dream, or WILD. This is when the dreamer goes directly from being awake immediately into a dream state without any lapses in consciousness.
Much scientific research has been done on lucid dreaming and it is well known that lucid dreaming is, in fact, a state of consciousness. Allan Hobson is one such scientist and he took a neurophysiologic approach to the research of dreams. He has done a great deal to help people understand lucid dreaming in a factual way and not in a speculative way. Another notable scientist who studied lucid dreams was Celia Green. She analyzed the major characteristics of lucid dreams and was the person who realized that lucid dreams are very different from “regular” dreams. She is also the first scientist to link lucid dreams to false awakenings. She also linked lucid dreams to REM sleep. Keith Hearne was the first scientist to produce evidence that eye movement was a signal of lucidity and recorded the movements on a polysomnograph. Now the study of lucid dreaming is well enough respected that there is even a center of study for it: The Lucidity Institute.
Most people have experienced lucid dreaming at some point in their lives, and most people remember these experiences as happening during childhood. Evidence shows that children are better able to dream lucidly than adults. Many people perceive the ability to achieve lucid dreams regularly as a skill. This skill is not common and can be very difficult to cultivate.
While almost all of the research on lucid dreaming has been done well within the last fifty years, lucid dreaming itself has a vast and colorful cultural history. The earliest example of lucid dreaming is recorded in a letter written by St. Augustine of Hippo in the fifth century. Tibetan Buddhists started practicing a form of yoga which was supposed to invoke lucid dreaming in the eighth century. Sir Thomas Browne, recorded a lucid dream in the seventeenth century and in 1867 Marquis d’Hervey de Saint-Denys published a book with documentation on more than twenty years of dream research.
Everybody has had the dream in which they realize that they are dreaming. Lucid dreaming is very common and being able to achieve lucid dreams on purpose is considered by many to be a feat of immeasurable skill.