The simplest technique for inducing lucid dreams I have found is to look for your hands while you are in the dream state. This is based on a technique described in the book “Journey To Ixtlan” by Carlos Castaneda. Every night while sitting or lying in my bed I clear my mind completely and place my hands out in front of me. I concentrate on my hands and repeat the affirmation “Later, when I am dreaming, I will look at my hands and realise that I am dreaming.” I continue to do this until I become bored or tired. Then, I lower my hands, close my eyes and attempt to sleep while continuing to repeat the intention to look for my hands and notice that I am dreaming. This ‘routine’ is repeated each night and also every time I wake up during the night. Eventually, when I see my hands in a dream I should suddenly realise that I am dreaming and become lucid.
I found this basic technique to be extremely effective and I had my first lucid experience within the first week of trying it. However, it is important that while attempting to induce lucid dreams you should be at the point where you can recall your dreams frequently and with ease.
Becoming consciously aware of your hands during your normal day further strengthens this technique. For example, when I first became interested in lucid dreaming, I placed a large ink dot in the middle of my palm and on the back of my right hand. Every time I consciously noticed one of these dots I would ask myself “Am I dreaming or am I awake?” I would then either look for inconsistencies around me or find some text to read twice (in a dream text never reads the same twice). This type of conditioning is extremely helpful while in the dream state.
The photograph “Excessive” with the eye in the palm of a hand was a direct result of using this ink dot method and also remembering a scene from a film I watched when I was younger. I remember having a dream where I noticed my hand but the ink dot in the palm and back of my hand had been replaced by an eye looking back at me. I woke up straight away in panic shaking my hand in the air. Therefore the eye for me has always stood for inner awareness – being awake within a dream.
Hands are therefore often prominent within my images as my most powerful dreams or lucid experiences have resulted from catching a glimpse of my hand. The first lucid experience I can recall was where “I walked out of my house and instead of placing rubbish bags in the bucket I placed them on the bonnet of a car. When doing so I noticed my right hand and the dream became brighter and more intense. I then began to question what I was doing. I thought to myself this isn’t right, why are the rubbish bags on the car they go in the bucket. I then realised that I was in fact dreaming. I climbed into the car and drove for what seemed like hours in a cornfield next to the house. With great excitement I knocked down everything in my path. I keep going and created other obstacles that I could run over. After a while I thought to myself I can make this car do anything – I will make it fly. The car took off into the air. However, the excitement was too great and I woke up shortly afterwards.
Other lucid experiences triggered by finding my hand in a dream:
On the 23rd January 2003, I was inside a house holding a camera in my hand. A girl in a red tartan dress asked me to take her picture. I noticed that the wallpaper behind her was tartan also. As I composed the photograph through the viewfinder I detected a distraction behind her. It was an empty photo frame. I walked over to the wall and as I reached up to take the frame down I noticed my right hand and paused. I knew that something was not quite right -similar to a sense a déjà vu. I then turned to the girl in the tartan dress and said: “Wait a minute this is a dream.”
On the 24th January 2003, I closed the door of a cellar and walked up some stairs toward the main outside door. I stopped suddenly and realised I hadn’t locked the cellar door. Therefore, I went back down the stairs and indeed the door was slightly ajar. I reached my right hand over to bolt the door closed but stopped. I looked at my hand and got the same feeling of déjà vu. The dream became more intense and I began to question what I was doing and where I was. It was a dream.