The Hypnagogic State & Lucid Dreams
The hypnagogic state is in essence the transitional state from wakefulness to sleep.
Mental phenomena that occur during this "threshold consciousness" phase include visual hallucinations, (like seeing lights/color moving), audio hallucinations, (like hearing noises that aren't there) and different types of sleep paralysis.
As you go further into hypnagogia, you may feel certain sensations like falling or hearing sounds such as music or voices. By this point the body and mind are usually asleep and the dream state has begun. Oneironauts purposefully induce the hypnagogic state to practice Wake Induced Lucid Dreams (WILDs) and also to meditate.
What Is The Hypnagogic State Like?
These are the most common types of hypnagogic hallucinations or sensations:
The most obvious sign of the hypnagogic state is phosphorescent light swirling behind your closed eyelids. Phosphenes are the blobs of greens, blues, purples, and reds which seem somewhat luminescent in the darkness behind your eyelids.
After a while, these blotches of color evolve into geometric imagery and eventually environments, objects, and faces that are recognizable. When you are deeply immersed you can begin to control these shapes by imagining or seeing them move or form in different ways. After that, it becomes easier to imagine seeing a familiar scene or person.
As you learn to interact with your visual hypnagogia you will also learn how to transition the visuals into complete dream scenes, or allow images to form dream scenes in the background hypnagogia.
When in the hypnagogic trance, at times you may also experience auditory hallucinations. The intensity can differ in degrees, ranging from faint impressions to loud crackling or buzzing noises.
Auditory hypnagogia differ, so you could hear voices, text messages, cars go by, snippets of speech, someone saying your name, wind, barking, etc. The sounds tend to be more ephemeral and temporary, so you don't easily remember them, leaving the impression of hearing something a moment ago.
TIP: When you hear auditory hallucinations in hypnagogia, if you also have visual hypnagogia, try picturing whatever you think you heard. For example, if you hear a cat, shift your view to see a cat within the visual hypnagogia, but do it gently.
Though not common, anyone can experience sleep paralysis as they fall asleep. Oneironauts also purposefully induce sleep paralysis to have WILDs. Because sleep paralysis happens at the borderline sleep state, many people are in a full on dream when they experience it, imagining dream characters holding them down, etc.
Obviously, sleep paralysis feels like being paralyzed. The bodily process is called REM atonia, and does this to prevent the body from acting out dreams. When in sleep paralysis you could choose to break free from it or use it to enter a lucid dream.
All of the senses come into play during hypnagogia. Some report faint sensations of taste, smell, and touch as well. The body can seem smaller or bigger than it actually is, as well as the arms and legs feeling like they are in different positions. Many also have the sensations of falling, floating, turning, or twisting.
How Hypnagogia Is Used
Hypangogia can be purposefully induced for having lucid dreams with the WILD technique and also to deepen meditational practices.
Learning to meditate is a central part of mastering lucid dreaming. Meditation can help train your brain to stay conscious and focused even while your body is deeply relaxed. This is a great primer for achieving lucidity. Meditation improves metacognition and prospective memory which are important for the quality and quantity of lucid dreams. Practicing meditation before bed and after sleep can greatly enhance lucidity, in both your dreams and waking life.
Wake Induced Lucid Dreams (WILDs)
A WILD is in essence the ability to induce a lucid dream from a meditative state. This techniques includes being able to observe hypnagogic imagery as one falls asleep, and maintaining a focused awareness and observation of the stream of consciousness.
Check out the Wake Induced Lucid Dream Technique for a more detailed description on how to induce conscious hypnagogia and use it to keep Livin' Lucid Dreams...