Note: this is an unfinished work in progress. Updated: 7/8/2021
MARS’ ADA GUIDE
Awareness in practice comes down to a simple truth: being lucid in the day will make you lucid in the night, during dreams. Why? Because who you are as a dreamer is the same exact person you are awake, period. It is not a secret subconscious avatar or a dreamed up personality. It is you; therefore, changing your habitual awareness state during the day will change it during a dream and make lucidity much more likely.
Awareness: What It Is Not
The trouble with “awareness” as spoken of for lucid dreaming is in the definition. It is a slippery, vague word.
The awareness necessary for lucid dreaming is not what most read and expect. When King Yoshi wrote his ADA guide, he told everyone to become aware of the environment, of sensory details, of the slap of your shoes on the concrete, of the brightness of flowers, the smells, sounds, and sights of the world.
But that is not actually what one must look for when becoming aware.
Awareness isn’t about manually and painstakingly seeking out the sensory details of the environment you are in. It is about becoming aware that you are aware of them at all. Telling someone to increase awareness by looking for details is like telling someone that to get sick, just start coughing. Coughing is merely a symptom of sickness, and seeing, hearing, tasting, etc. the details of the world is merely a symptom of awareness.
When one becomes truly aware, the details flood in, naturally and effortlessly. You do not need to seek them out. You do not need to poise your ear, listening to the sounds of the world around you. You already hear these things, you already see the details, already sense everything around you. You are merely unaware that you are sensing them. So yes, when practicing something like ADA, you will notice all of these seemingly hidden, vibrant details, but you do not need to expend any effort to find them. They are already there, and you are already aware of them.
When you are in a dream, you are completely aware of the world you are in, just as you are in waking life. You see, feel, hear, speak, taste, experience it all. The only difference is that you are not aware that you are dreaming. So becoming very attentive to the details in your waking life will not make you lucid, though it may make your dreams more vivid. Not a bad thing at all, but not what we are seeking exactly. What is to stop you from taking a moment in the dream and becoming aware of all the pretty details, without a lick of knowledge that you are in fact looking at dream things? No, watching the bright, vivid colors of a purple alien sunset on the moon may be beautiful and detailed, but sensory awareness is not what we are after.
What, then, are you becoming aware of exactly? Awareness itself.
Awareness: What It Is
As a simplified definition, the awareness necessary for lucid dreaming is the sense that you are present in your experience, knowing you are having an experience, knowing that you are aware. It does not in itself define or care what you are aware of, only that you understand implicitly that you are here, in this moment, experiencing something, aware of something.
As many people go through life in all their years, they are never aware in this sense (and thus, not many people are lucid dreamers!). They are completely engaged with their experience, unaware that they are indeed having one, perhaps a waking experience and perhaps a dream experience: for the non-lucid they are the exact same. Thus, the awareness necessary is first and foremost awareness of experience. Only by seeing this larger frame, in which the pictures of life go by, can one know if it is a dreaming experience or a waking experience (among other states of consciousness, including deep meditations, psychedelic drugs, etc.). It is a sense that “I am here, having an experience.” Thus it is also a strong sense of presence. One is not only having an experience, but they are within the experience itself, fully embedded and autonomous. Without this awareness, life is a film reel going by; with it, you are suddenly in the movie itself!
If you have ever been lucid, you know the feeling. There you are, living your life, no idea it’s a dream. Upon lucidity, everything shifts. You are suddenly “here” in an intense, present way. You are aware you are having an experience, and of which sort: a dream. How obvious! This is the exact feeling to cultivate in waking: being intensely present, aware that you are having an experience.
"It is the self-aware screen of awareness, upon which the drama of experience is playing and out of which it is made, that becomes so intimately involved with the objective content of its experience that it seems to lose itself in it and, as a result, overlooks or forgets its own presence, just as a dreamer’s mind loses itself in its own dream at night.
However, knowing, being aware or awareness itself is never truly obscured by experience, just as the screen is never veiled by a movie. Just as the screen remains visible throughout a movie, so knowing, being aware or awareness itself knows itself throughout all experience.
Whether we see a landscape or a screen depends on the way we see, not what we see. First we see a landscape; then we recognise the screen; then we see the screen as a landscape. First we see only a multiplicity and diversity of objects; then we recognise the presence of awareness; then we see awareness as the totality of objective experience."
(by Rupert Spira)
Awareness in Practice
I speculate that actually seeing this ever-pervasive, ever-elusive, ever-obvious fact of being is the hardest part. Once you know what to look for, you can begin practicing. Every approach boils down to simply finding that awareness and resting in it for as long as you can.
If you are still not sure what kind of awareness we are looking for, try this simple test. Ask yourself, “am I aware?” and let the answer come. When we say awareness, we mean it in a very basic sense here. When we watch a movie we are aware of the movie. When we eat we are aware of the flavor. It is being alive, it is being conscious of something. So the answer is always yes: you are aware of these very words, right? Right.
So you are aware. When you ask yourself if you are, you NOTICE this awareness: you become aware that you are aware! It is this state that we mean to grasp for lucidity. Become aware that you are having an experience, that you are conscious, that life is happening to you, always. It is always there for you to notice it, dreaming or waking.
Tip #1: Don’t stress. If you find your awareness blooms for just a second before fading back, that’s fine! It is much easier in the long run to find it and let it go than force holding it. This will only stress you out. But be open to playing with forcing it to see if it works for you.
Try to find what makes you lose awareness. The first obstacle will most likely be memory: simply remembering to become aware. As you remember more and more, you can begin to find what situations make you lose it. Maybe it is talking with someone, or when a strong emotion comes up, or just moving from one activity to another: the possibilities are endless and very personal. Once you get a good list going, use these moments as ‘level up’ gates via prospective memory planning. “I always lose awareness when I walk into a store, so I will try to keep it for as long as possible when I walk into a store next time.”
Tip #2: Always use positive reinforcement. If you walk into a store and lose awareness and don’t remember until a few hours later, don’t berate yourself. Instead, congratulate yourself on remembering at all. Apply this to any situation in which you forgot to be aware but then remembered. Focus on the positive of remembering, not the negative of forgetting.
Hooks: The most common application I have seen of awareness to some sort of tech or training method is what some people have been calling “hooks.” Inspired mostly by omnilucid dreamer Hukif, this is a method of attaching your self-awareness to something pervasive, ‘hooking’ you into the present moment. Hukif used gravity, because all of his dreams had wonky gravitation physics. By becoming constantly aware of the effect of gravity on his person, he ‘hooked’ himself into the present moment, because gravity is always present. The body is always present, so any body awareness is a very good hook. You might look to your own dreams to find something that is always present and strange: perhaps you see with a grander field-of-view in dreams vs. waking, or maybe you never walk with legs but float. Hooks for these two examples would be vision and walking. You can also experiment in general without tying the hook to your dreams. The more present and pervasive, the better. But remember the initial premise of the type of self-awareness this is built upon: it is an internally-directed effect on the
SELF. You are not becoming aware of gravity (if that is your hook, like Hukif) because that is like focusing on the ‘movie’. You are becoming aware of gravity’s effect on YOU!
Reality Checks: One will quickly find reality checks to be redundant when practicing this type of awareness, because once engaged, your experience will simply tell you which (wake or dream) intuitively. However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using reality checks if they make sense to you or have worked in the past, as many find them to be effective. However, simply stopping to habitually perform a physical check like observing your fingers will never amount to consistent lucidity. Instead, simply stop and become present and grounded in your current reality: become aware, wondering, truly, if this could be a dream: imagine that it is a dream and prove to yourself that it is not. Feel the truth of your reality. Remember, RCs performed without awareness is like considering the characters in a movie. RCs performed WITH awareness is like looking at the movie screen itself. Realize that even your body is part of the ‘movie’ of your experience, and find that space outside of that.
Criticality: This fundamental is effortlessly covered by awareness. A common piece of advice for lucid dreamers is to get in the habit of asking questions: where am I? why am I here? when did I get here? is this normal? etc. These are excellent questions to ask oneself because stopping to ask these in a dream will usually result in lucidity: “wait, I don’t go to school anymore!” One may practice these on purpose, trying to remember to pose the questions every now and again during the day, but by practicing awareness the answers arrive immediately. By snapping into the present and becoming aware of your experience, you see exactly where you are, what you are doing, why, and how you got here. When you maintain that awareness, all new locations, actions, situations, etc., are obvious and instantly received as well. In a state of non-lucidity (in waking and dreams) we go through our lives from one scene to the next in a seemingly perfect stream, but we never really see what we are doing or question it. Compare this to a lucid dream where you are completely present for all of your decisions and all of the details in a location you are in.
“When lost in thoughts/dreams/reality I also lose my sense of self. I become my thoughts and get carried along by them, like a passenger in a car. I think a key part of lucidity is the sense of separation from whatever is going on. I become aware that it is “I” who is looking at the sunset, etc. It is a very subtle awareness, but without that sense of separation, that small awareness of being the observer, the feeling of lucidity is lost and I become a passenger.” -LD4ALL forum user
Naiya On Awareness: (from Naiya’s DILD & WILD Secrets (dreamviews.com))
“Most people go through their days thinking about where they need to be going next, and what they need to be doing, and wondering where they should be eating. They spend very little time being truly aware of their surroundings.
This is where that meditation stuff really helps, by the way! Meditation teaches the kind of awareness I’m talking about.
The easy way to LD is a state of constant awareness. Make your day one big long reality check. Only instead of a specific RC, begin to question everything around you at once. Quiet your mind, and simply be aware of your state of consciousness. Be aware of the FEELING of LIVING and being AWAKE. It’s a much different feeling than being asleep or even astral projecting.
I believe that many natural LDers do this unconsciously. They just “know” when they are dreaming because they know it feels different. This also may explain why naturals have a hard time explaining exactly how they get lucid. They don’t really GET lucid…they ARE lucid every moment of the day and night.
Also, during the day, remember that reality, too, is subjective. In a way we human beings are always dreaming, because our minds are always interpreting what our senses are gathering, trying to make sense of what’s around us. Is reality objective, or is reality simply the interpretation we get in the end? Human beings are truly unable to examine the objective world completely.”
(The best source of information about the application of awareness/self-awareness to lucid dreaming is longtime DV user Sageous. Look at his other posts and forum discussions for a ton of useful tips. He is active on DV if you want to ask him about this as well)
(“Lucid Living” is what lucid dream forumLD4ALL calls self-awareness. Look through this mega post for a lot of insight from users)
(A great discussion between Sageous and other users on DV about ADA as described by King Yoshi in the original guide vs. self-awareness. The first section of my guide attempts to explain the difference that is spoken of in this post.)
(Another’s description of what we are doing)
These links are related approaches that incorporate some awareness and foundations from my
guide into concrete techniques.
(The camera looks at itself and sees infinity.)