|Completely unrelated but very pretty picture by Jozzy|
I almost always dream very vividly but every few weeks or so, I will end up in a situation like this morning and have a lucid dream. I find this fascinating and have been trying to find out why I sometimes realise that I am dreaming and how. Funnily enough, I am often tipped off by an unimportant detail. It has happened that I was fleeing from aliens in a pink submarine by riding on a trained dolphin when I looked up and suddenly thought "Why are there two suns in the sky? We don't have a binary star!" (At this point, I'm not neccessarily confused by the whole dolphin-alien situation either but the suns will bother me.) I find that the only reliable way to check whether I'm dreaming or not is to construct how I ended up where I am at that point in time. My dreams generally don't have a history and, even more obviously, have suddenly jumps in them. My recollection will sound something like: "So, I was running down the beach when I met the dolphin. Hang on, before that there was this party and I talked to the guy from primary school and before that, there was something about a car and some sweets." Then I will realise that there is no "before" that and the memories just trail off. If I get this far in my thinking process, I realise that I am dreaming and everything around me, no matter how real it feels, is part of my own imagination.
If you think about it, that's quite odd. A part of "me", presumably my counscience (whatever that might be), realises that "the rest of me" is putting on a show for it. Quite a good show, some of my dreams are scarily realistic. My dream self will have a certain amount of influence but it is limited. I can obviously still decide on my actions but I can't easily change the surroundings. For example, if I decided that said aliens are now chasing me in a blue submarine, nothing will change. However, if I decide that I am going to fly, it works about 80 % of the time but I have no idea what is stopping me the other 20 % of the time. Maybe the law of gravity was needed for something else and has therefore been laid down before? If I plan ahead too much or try to seriously influence the dream, I will wake up. My conclusion from this is that "planning" is really something that my whole waking self is needed for. That would also explain why my dreams tend to have a very erratic storyline. On the other hand, if I want to wake up it isn't neccessarily easy to do so as I found out this morning. Very peculiar.
Do you have lucid dreams? If you do, how do you realise that you are dreaming?