I often get asked by friends what kind of control I have in my dreams. I’ll usually answer with a practiced bit of how I have basic decision-making abilities, and sometimes can make myself fly and similar fun things. Here they usually ask if I’ve placed them in a lucid dream, and if so what happened to them.
First and foremost, its usually best not to tell people about their dream-projections as it’s a quick route to awkward conversation. Ignore this rule if their dream-projection did something particularly hilarious.
However on a more serious note, this question prompts an interesting debate about the difference between manifestation and manipulation in lucid dreams. Both are definitely possible in dreams, but the levels of difficulty are completely polarized. In this post I hope to distinguish the two in a way that will lead you to have more realistic expectations of your dream world.
Many expect that any amount of lucid dreaming practice will lead to the ability to manifest objects in your dreams. This includes generating fireballs, creating dreamscapes and summoning characters from your everyday life. It is very dissuading to newcomers when they find that this is not indeed the case in most recalled dreams. While it is possible, it is in fact the exception for lucid dreams. More often than not manipulation will be the primary way in which you exert conscious control over your dreams.
Manipulation in dreams works very much like real-world manipulation. You are presented with a situation and you have the ability to react in any way you choose. In the real world an example might be a rainy day, and whether you choose to stay-in or brave the rain. In the dream world an example might be an infinite white space, and whether you choose to sit-down or go exploring.
Especially in the early stages of recalling your dreams this will be the primary way in which you take an active role in your dreams. Try to take note of the decisions made in a dream in your dream journal. Anything from “there was a fork in the road, I turned left,” to “the man asked me to take a bite of the burger, instead I slapped it out of his hand” counts for this exercise. During the dream try to recognize points where you feel the power to make a decision. Try doing the exact opposite of what you think would be a good idea. Although you may end up in some particularly interesting situations, this is a good way to practice the power of manipulation.
Manifestation is a feasible goal for lucid dreamers, but it is in fact a lofty one. It is also definitely NOT the only way to have fun with lucid dreams, so acquiring this ability should not be a stressful process. The ability to manifest characters and objects in your dreams comes with a lot of practice.
As a disclaimer, I do not have the ability to manipulate everything in my dreams (nor would I want such an ability) so this is entirely theorized.
The easiest things to manifest in your dreams are things that you are very familiar with and have no definite dimensions. An example of this would be the quintessential ball of fire. The hardest things to manifest are people. Yes, that includes all of you inquisitive friends of mine. While it is easy to fling an object it is much harder to create a anatomically correct human being with a proper persona. Go figure.
My recommendation for working towards manifestation in your dreams is to recreate the simplest thing you can imagine. The “anchor” you chose (see my post Lucid Dreaming: The Basics) is a great start. Maybe create a list of objects that you check off each time you successfully manifest them. Something like this would work: Anchor object > pen > book > sandwich > ??? > fireball. Just a warning, on occasion trying to manifest even the simplest objects may wake you up as a result of the conscious effort you’re exerting.
I want to stress the fact that manifestation is NOT the only goal of lucid dreaming, and the inability to do so should not be seen as a failure on the lucid dreamer’s part. Relish in the power you do have in your dreams, you may find that even the smallest manipulations can bring great insight.
Dream on little dreamers,