A lucid dream can begin in one of two ways. A dream-initiated lucid dream (DILD) starts as a normal dream, and the dreamer eventually concludes that he or she is dreaming, while a wake-initiated lucid dream (WILD) occurs when the dreamer goes from a normal waking state directly into a dream state with no apparent lapse in consciousness.
Lucid dreaming has been researched scientifically, and its existence is well established. Scientists such as Allan Hobson, with his neurophysiological approach to dream research, have helped to push the understanding of lucid dreaming into a less speculative realm.
Children seem to have lucid dreams more easily than adults. Lucid dreaming is a conditioned skill. Several techniques have been developed to help in achieving a lucid dream state. The following are techniques that people use to help them achieve a lucid dream:
Dream recall - This is simply the ability to remember your dreams. Once you are better at remembering your dreams and increasing you awareness of dreams in general you will have better recall. The best way to improve dream recall is to keep a 'dream journal' and writing down your dream as soon as you awake. You could also use a recorder to document the dream. It is important to do this immediately upon awaking to reduce the tendency to forget what you just dreamt.
Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams (MILD) - This technique was developed by Dr. Stephen LaBerge. The idea is to set an intention prior to going to sleep that you will remember to recognize that you are dreaming and to remember to look for dream signs when one is in a dream.
Wake-Back-To-Bed (WBTB) - Researchers have found this method produces a 60% success rate. Research indicates this is because the REM cycles get longer as the night goes on, and this technique takes advantage of the best REM cycle of the night. Because the REM cycle is longer and deeper, gaining lucidity during this time may result in a lengthier lucid dream. This method involves going to sleep while tired and waking up 5 to 6 hours later. While focusing all thoughts on lucid dreaming, staying awake for an hour and then going back to sleep while practicing the MILD method.
Cycle Adjustment Technique (CAT) - Developed by Daniel Love. This method involves adjusting your sleep cycle to encourage awareness during the latter part of your sleep. You wake up 90 minutes before normal wake time until you sleep cycle begins to adjust. After this, the normal wake times and early wake times alternate. On the days with the normal wake times, the body is ready to wake up, and this increases alertness, making lucidity more likely.
Wake Initiation of Lucid Dreams (WILD) - There are many techniques aimed at entering a WILD. The key is to recognize the hypnagogic stage. This occurs within the border of being awake and being asleep. There are key times at which this state is entered. It is easier to achieve after sleeping 3-7 hours or during an afternoon nap. During the actual transition into the dream state, one is likely to experience sleep paralysis, including rapid vibrations, a sequence of loud sounds and a feeling of twirling into another state of body awareness (drift off into another dimension), or the feeling like passing the interface between water into air face-front body first, or images or scenarios you are thinking of and trying to visualize gradually sharpen and become 'real', which they can actually 'see', instead of the fuzzy indefinable sensation one feels when trying to imagine something when wide awake.
Lucid Dream Supplements (LDS) co-founded by Scot Stride and Thomas Yuschak in October, 2005 - they believe that lucid dreaming can be induced by the use of a physical device. The general principle is to take advantage of the natural phenomenon of incorporating external stimuli into one's dreams. A device is worn while sleeping that can usually detect when the sleeper enters REM phase and triggers a noise and/or flashing lights with the goal of these stimuli being incorporated into the dreamer's dream. For example, flashing lights might be translated to a car's headlights in a dream. Another induction stimulus is vibration. A small vibrator placed on the hand, arm or ankle and is triggered by REM activity, or a timer, can also serve as a cue to trigger a lucid dream.
Meditation - involvement in a conscious focusing on activities can strengthen the ability to experience lucid dreams by making the person more susceptible to noticing small discrepancies of their surroundings. More on Meditation.
There are numerous techniques for inducing lucid dreaming.
Wikipedia - Lucid Dreams