The Dutch scientist Frederik van Eeden coined the term “lucid dreaming” in 1913, but this dreaming technique has been around for thousands of years. It's immensely exciting to see a book dedicated to this topic, as it has many layers of benefits for health, well-being, emotional and spiritual development. Lucid dreamers can become onieronauts, individuals exploring the vast inner space of their unconscious and subconscious minds. They may even gain access to the collective unconscious.

Lucid dreaming simply means that the dreamer is aware that s/he is dreaming while in a dream state. This state of reflective awareness offers the dreamer an opportunity to influence the dream narrative. While lucid dreaming can occur spontaneously, this book offers comprehensive guidance on cultivating the ability to dream lucidly and transfer what is gained into waking life.

Chapters 1 - 3 offer a set of rules and principles that will help the dreamer navigate through the unconscious structure. There are instructions for learning how to remember dreams, and an impressive range of methods for inducing a lucid dreaming state.

Chapters 4 – 7 present increasingly refined ideas and techniques, with advice on stabilizing lucid dreams, exploring a variety of dream viewpoints, and moving through inner conflicts that appear in dreams. There's advice about how to work with dream objects and settings, and manipulating dream imagery. There's a fascinating section on dream mapping. The authors discuss ways to interact with complex dream figures in order to solve creative problems and gain new insights on emotions.

Chapters 8 – 14 cover more advanced topics. The text presents in-depth advice on using lucid dreams for problem-solving. It explores the concepts of working with limited and open intentions, as well as methods for obtaining profound spiritual experiences. There are discussions about using lucid dreaming for healing injuries and illnesses, emotional traumas, and overcoming phobias. Methods for ending repetitive nightmares are offered. The Toltec Red Dream method guides the dreamer into returning to the womb in a lucid dream, another powerful dream-healing technique. The authors give several examples of how people were able to achieve healing of various illnesses and injuries through dream-work. Chapter 13 covers techniques for meditating in dreams and the potentially amazing results.

There's a caveat emptor to lucid dreaming. This technique is not recommended for people who suffer from deep depression, dissociation, or severe mental illnesses. Some medications and recreational substances suppress dream recollection. There are some tips on pre-sleep suggestions one can make to obtain some benefits without dream recollection or lucid dreaming.

Scientific research is starting to catch up to the physiological mechanisms that make dream-healing possible. The theory of neural plasticity suggests that the dreaming mind can reorganize the central nervous system. Dream-healing and dream meditation are on the advanced spectrum of lucid dreaming techniques.

The great thing about lucid dreaming is that almost everybody can do it. Like other spiritual techniques, it requires persistent practice and careful post-dream recordings in a dream journal. This book offers the most extensive list of methods for inducing lucid dream states I've seen in the past year while doing research for a series of lectures on dreaming. It makes me wish I had this book then!

With so many methods to choose from, aspiring dreamers with persistent dedication will succeed in reaching the lucid dream state. You get out of it what you put into it. Lucid dreaming is a natural accompaniment to a dedicated spiritual practice since it offers the means to greatly enhance development, mastery, and magical strength.

“Lucid Dreaming Plain and Simple” is a one-of-a-kind text. The authors have gathered diverse information that's been generated in research facilities and dreaming groups over the past four decades. The methods and techniques are presented in an orderly structure from simple to advanced. There are many examples offered that show how these techniques work from multiple sources and viewpoints. This is a most-welcome comprehensive resource for people who want to pursue the myriad of benefits of lucid dreaming.

~review by Elizabeth Hazel

Authors: Robert Waggoner and Caroline McCready
Conari Press, 2015
203 pg, $19.95 pb