The Five Stages of Lucid Dreaming

January 26, 2023
Robert Waggoner

People initiated into a Buddhist dream yoga monastery spend a minimum of three years learning to master the art of lucid dreaming (or realizing within a dream that you are dreaming it)  and applying it to Buddhist principles while lucidly aware in the dream state.  

Why do Buddhist monasteries ask for a three-year commitment, when many people learn to lucid dream within weeks? In short, lucid dreaming is a nearly infinite platform for personal growth, creativity, and spiritual wisdom when it is approached in a thoughtful and integrative manner.

As the Taoist Laozi is credited with saying, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” The act of becoming lucidly aware within a dream is like that “single step,” but the unfolding of the lucid dream journey takes time and reflection.

More than 40 years ago, I taught myself a simple technique to have lucid dreams. (This occurred five years before the scientific evidence validating lucid dreaming emerged in 1980.) Looking back, I feel fortunate to have entered into this playful arena of ‘conscious dreaming’ as a youthful explorer. Why? Because I learned the fundamental principles of lucid dreaming and the dream state by actively doing it, experimenting, and observing what succeeded and what failed.  

Want to go deeper?
Join Robert for our upcoming ConnectIONS Live Webinar.

The Five Stages of Lucid Dreaming

Friday, February 10th
11am – 12pm PST

As I consciously played with the dream state, I developed a love for the mystery, depth, and joyful energy of dreaming. In the process, I began to shed limiting beliefs and errant assumptions about the nature of dreaming, so I could understand it more clearly without having cultural or personal ideas blocking me. Without truly understanding it, I had launched myself on this inner “journey of a thousand miles” by following the joy and beauty of it.  

Years later, I would write my first book, Lucid Dreaming – Gateway to the Inner Self. After its publication, I was surprised to receive a letter from a Buddhist abbot in Europe who told me he had spent three years in a Buddhist dream yoga monastery in Asia, and reading my book helped him finally understand what the monks had been trying to teach him! He was stunned to find someone who could express the deeper lessons of lucid dreaming in a direct Western manner. This included the idea and process of ‘going beyond’ lucid dreaming to a real reality (or, if you prefer, a base reality.)

Looking back, the lucid dreaming path seems to come in a series of developmental stages. It reminds me of the Swiss psychologist, Jean Piaget, who observed children’s cognitive developmental stages. Piaget called children “little philosophers” for their attempts to understand waking reality. While a very young child might sincerely believe ocean waves create a breeze, beginning lucid dreamers often develop equally interesting philosophies based on their limited experience. Over the long run, however, experienced lucid dreamers will begin to articulate viewpoints similar to other experienced lucid dreamers.  

In my upcoming ConnectIONS Live webinar on Friday, February 10th, I will share the Five Stages of Lucid Dreaming and some of the powerful realizations that come with each stage. If you would like to learn more about the lucid dreaming ‘path,’ and what the conscious exploration of the dreaming mind can tell you about the ‘self’ and ‘waking reality,’ then I hope you will tune in for this free presentation.

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