Updated: Mar 8, 2021
Tell me if this sounds familiar:
You're going about your dream, when suddenly, you get a sneaking feeling you might be dreaming. You do a quick reality check to test your suspicion and... woah! You are dreaming! You immediately start thinking about how awesome it is to be lucid, happy that your hard work has paid off. Your mind starts racing, thinking over all the cool things you want to do. As all these thoughts begin cascading through your head, the dream around you starts to fade. And just as quickly as you became lucid, the dream dissolves and you find yourself awake.
Short lucid dreams are an unfortunate reality for many new lucid dreamers. But with the right knowledge, and a bit of practice, you can learn to maximize the length of your lucid dreams. This article will teach you what dream stabilization is, how to stabilize your dreams, keep them stable, and how you can achieve a mindset where your dreams are always stable by default. It will be broken up into Theory and Practice sections which will further be broken up into beginner, intermediate, and advanced sections. Read the whole article, or skip to the sections that appeal to you. Let's start with theory.
To refine your stabilization ability, it helps to understand theory. Each section below builds off previous ones. Taken altogether, these sections provide a complete picture of what dream stabilization is and how it works.
Dream stabilization is a way to lengthen your lucid dreams.
There are lots of different approaches to dream stabilization. All of them serve to bring your attention off of your thoughts and onto the dream world.
By focusing on the dream world, and not your thoughts, the dream becomes stable.
Dream stabilization is a matter of balance.
To stabilize a lucid dream, you must maintain enough awareness to be lucid, while also paying sufficient attention to the dream world. This is why engaging your senses works so well. Engaging your senses is a natural way to distribute your attention equally between your thoughts and the dream world.
If you understand this, you can circumvent common traps like excitement. After all, excitement isn't what destabilizes your dream. Too much focus on your thoughts and emotions does.
When you are sleeping, certain areas of the brain lie dormant. When you become lucid, these brain regions activate. Studies have shown the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC), anterior prefrontal cortex (aPFC), and parietal lobes become active during lucid dreams.
Of particular interest to us, are the prefrontal cortex regions. These areas rule cognition, working memory, prospective memory, focus, emotional response, etc.
Dream stabilization is balancing the activity your prefrontal cortex against the rest of your dreaming mind.
Too much activity in the prefrontal cortex and that's a surefire way to end your dream prematurely. Too little, and you'll end up losing lucidity.
This is the "how-to" section of the guide. This section covers the most effective methods of dream stabilization. Some methods of stabilization are strictly better than others. Stick with the methods below and you can't go wrong.
Engage you senses by interacting with the dream world.
The more senses you engage, the better. Feeling the texture of a wall. Studying a field of grass until every individual blade comes into focus. Eating some delicious food. Smelling a random passerby. It's all effective. If you want to overcharge your stabilization, engage multiple senses at once.
To engage multiple sense at once, try biting into a tree. In every bite, you'll get the fresh, crisp smell of the tree; the rough crunchy texture of the bark; the bitter taste of the wet, sinewy insides; and the smell of freshly cut wood. If that's too weird for you, I'm sure you can think of other things which engage multiple sense at once. But remember, interacting with the dream world is key. Rubbing your hands and spinning fail to meaningfully engage the dream world for most people, so I generally recommend against them.
As soon as you become lucid, begin to narrate what's happening in the dream.
It's important that you speak out loud when narrating. If you see a dog, describe the dog and what it's doing. If you're walking down a street or flying through the stars, talk about what you feel and what you see. Narration serves to keep a balance of focus between your dream world and your state of awareness. If you feel the dream slipping, you can maintain stability by pouring your focus directly into the dream world. This is a bit more complex--and bordering on an advanced method--but it's worth practicing if you want to reach a mindset where all your dreams are stable. Pouring your focus into the dream world is a lot like All Day Awareness (ADA) as originally described by King Yoshi. To do this, start by allowing your thoughts to settle down. If it helps, take a deep breath. As your thoughts settle, shift your attention to your surroundings. By doing this, you are directly balancing your thoughts and feelings against the dream world.
At this level, I assume you are familiar with schemas. If not, please brush up.
Mastery of schemas allows you to stabilize the dream in much the same way you would use dream control. First, understand that nothing in your dream is physical. The entire dream world is built purely from memories and their associated details. Stabilization methodology is not exempt from this rule. Everything you see, feel, or experience in a lucid dream is the result of schemas. What's more, everything you do in a lucid dream builds new schemas or strengthens existing schemas. That's right, even stabilization methods build schemas.
To stabilize your dream with schema, first identify your primary method of dream stabilization. It's easier to start with concrete schema, but once you have a handle on this method, it's simple switching to more abstract ones like narration and focus shifting. Once your preferred stabilization schema is identified, link the stabilization schema with "portability", "availability", and then create an "activation" branch. To give you some ideas, I use the stabilization schema "biting into a tree branch", which I then link with "pocket" (covering both "portability" and "availability"). From there, I add a "biting" branch to the schema to work as my "activation" schema (yes, you have to link "biting" with "activation"). By branching "biting into a tree" with the more general "biting" I create a schema loop, which serves to activate the original schema. In practice, all I need to do is bring to mind the stabilization schema, then bite down. That's enough to trigger the sensations of biting into a tree and instantly stabilize the dream.
Of course, you don't need any stabilization methods at all to have naturally stable dreams.
By maintaining a mindfully meditative state within dreams, you automatically temper and moderate activity within your prefrontal cortex. Incidentally, this mindfulness results in perfectly stable dreams. This state becomes easier to maintain as you gain more experience with meditation, especially walking meditation and mindfulness practices.
Stabilization is a topic with more depth than most people imagine. Regardless of your experience, I hope you took away something useful from this guide.
If you did, please let me know in the comments below or leave a like to show your appreciation. Every piece of feedback encourages me to write more articles.
Until next time. Stay balanced.