The intention technique is one of the simplest methods you can learn for inducing lucid dreams, and involves very little time commitment or disruption to your sleep pattern. For these reasons, it is a popular choice for beginners and is often used in research studies investigating lucidity.2
Once you are lying in bed and ready to go to sleep, as intensively as possible, imagine yourself being in a dream situation and recognising that you are dreaming. Repeating this intention over and over in the last few moments before you drift off to sleep.
Giving your yourself a simple, explicit instruction, “The next time I am dreaming, I will recognise that I am dreaming”, and combining this with a visualisation of yourself performing that instruction successfully, acts like a hypnotic suggestion. This embeds the idea at the subconscious level, where the instruction can then be acted on, and the visualised action reproduced, even when the conscious portion of your mind is shut down during REM sleep.
In addition to triggering lucidity by recognising dream content, the intention technique is often also used to improve dream recall. As before, the practice is to clearly state this intention, alongside visualising yourself successfully writing your dreams down in your dream diary on waking.
The intention technique is fairly similar to LaBerge’s Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams, however the emphasis when using MILD is to remember that you is dreaming, whereas in the intention technique it is to recognise that one is dreaming. As such it does not explicitly rely on your prospective memory, and therefore is not a ‘‘mnemonic’’.
Although research has shown the intention technique can be successfully used for lucid dream induction, in comparative studies it does seem to be less effective than MILD or using Reality Testing2, and about equally as effective as autosuggestion.3
The effectiveness of the technique is intimately tied to a critical-reflective frame of mind and to self-awareness, so developing these abilities during the day, is likely to increase the effectiveness of using Intentionality for lucid dreaming at night.4 This is most likely the reason why, combining the technique with other practices for improving this critical awareness, such as Reality Testing, produce a more powerful overall effect.5
1. Spoormaker, V. I., van den Bout, J. (2006). Lucid dreaming treatment for nightmares: A pilot study. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 75(6), 389-394
2. Stumbrys, T., Erlacher, D., Schadlich, M., and Schredl, M. (2012). Induction of lucid dreams: a systematic review of evidence. Consciousness and Cognition (21), 1456-1475.
3. Schlag-Gies, C. (1992). Untersuchung der Effektivität zur Induktion von Klarträumen. Unpublished diploma thesis. Saarland University, Germany
4. Elisa Filevich, Martin Dresler, Timothy R. Brick and Simone Kühn, Metacognitive Mechanisms Underlying Lucid Dreaming, Journal of Neuroscience 21 January 2015, 35 (3) 1082-1088;
5. Tholey, P. (1983). Techniques for inducing and manipulating lucid dreams. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 57, 79–90.