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In Conversation With a Lucid Dreamer

It’s a mental state in which you can control your dreams. So how does it work? Your guide (in waking life) is Cyrena Lee, 25, who began lucid-dreaming a year ago.

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Illustration by Giacomo Gambineri  

How did you start lucid-dreaming?
The first step is to keep a journal of your dreams, so you can see themes. I have a lot of recurring dreams about doing gymnastics or being back at college. Now when I’m in these situations, I realize it’s a dream because I have no other reason to be there.

Is that all it takes?
No, definitely not. I have this app called Awoken; I set it to make a knocking sound every 20 minutes, 24 hours a day, and when it does, I look down at my hand to make sure I have five fingers—in my dreams, I have more or fewer. All my friends roll their eyes at me. They’re like, “You’re not dreaming!” But the knock makes this a habit, so that when I am dreaming, I’ll also look down at my hands. It took nine months to work. In one of my first lucid dreams, I was climbing out of a window and I looked down at my hand and I had seven fingers. And I was really, really excited—like, Oh my God, I’m dreaming! Then the whole thing crumbled. I woke myself up.

What happens now in your dreams?
I fly a lot. Sometimes when I realize I’m dreaming, I’ll start uncontrollably floating in the air.

I thought the whole point was to control ­everything.
If I have a nightmare or something, I can very quickly turn the situation around. But mostly, I don’t create the settings; I just navigate in them. It’s always interesting talking to my dream characters. I was in Spain once in a dream, and really bummed that the sun was setting. Then I found this guy who showed me a trick—I kind of squinted up at the sky and pointed my finger and dragged the sun back up.

Do you use your dreams for wish fulfillment?
If it’s a sexy dream, whatever—I think it’s more interesting to explore these insane and complex worlds that your mind builds every night.

So is there any larger point to all this? Or is it just fun?
For me it’s self-exploration and self-discovery. If you can have control over your dream, you can have control over your waking reality as well.


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