SSILD is a modern lucid dreaming technique. It is easy to learn, highly effective, and produces consistent results over period. I developed this technique in 2011 in order to teach lucid dreaming to fellow dreamers on a Chinese forum. The first written version of the technique was published under the title "太玄功", which literally translates to "A Very Mysterious Technique". This is rather fitting because at the time no one had the faintest idea why it worked. Despite this lack of theory, the feedback on the technique was overwhelmingly positive. Within just a few months we gathered many hundreds of success stories!
Building on this initial success, we continued to refine the technique, and it essentially became a collaborated effort among hundreds of people. The tutorial went through a few revisions, and with each version we saw improvements in ease of use and effectiveness. A year later I wrote the first English version of the tutorial and published it on a few lucid dream online forums. This time I chose the name "Senses Initiated Lucid Dream", partly to conform to the unofficial but widely accepted naming convention of LD techniques, and partly due to increased knowledge and understanding gained during the past year.
While people on these forums appear more slow to embrace a brand new technique, the result was nonetheless quite promising. Between DreamViews and LD4All, there are more than a hundred success stories recorded in 9 months, within only two threads.
Today, SSILD has become one of the most popular LD induction techniques on the Chinese forum, which has grown to host more than 80,000 members. The numbers of success stories are too numerous to count. Another exciting aspect is SSILD's long-term sustainability. Whereas many techniques appear to become less effective over period as the users' initial enthusiasm wane, SSILD delivers consistent performance, turning novices to experts, and experts to masters. For example, more than a dozen members on my tiny personal forum are able to induce LDs on a daily basis. One of them even logged nearly 500 LDs/OBEs in full detail within less than a year, a remarkable achievement by all means.
SSILD is designed from the ground up to be simple, "idiot-proof" even. It does not utilize advanced techniques such as relaxation and visualization, and stays away from delicate, non-measurable mental exercises. It despises the notion that lucid dreaming is more "art" than "technique". It does not require you to be gifted or creative, in fact, there is little room for improvisation. Just follow the simple steps outlined here and you should be all set. SSILD is made so concise that if you mix in other stuff you may actually end up creating negative impact on its performance.
The core component of SSILD is called a "Cycle". Each cycle consists three steps:
Focus on Sight: Close your eyes and pay attention to the darkness behind your closed eyelids. Don't strain your eye muscles though. Your eyeballs should be resting, totally relaxed. If you don't see anything that's only normal. Do not attempt to spot visuals by moving your eyes around.
Focus on Hearing: Further relax your eyes and shift your attention to your ears. If the room is quiet enough you might be able to hear some noise inside your head or the sound of your heartbeat. However, if you can't hear anything it is okay to listen to external sounds too.
Focus on Somesthetic Senses (Touch): Direct your attention to your body. Feel it and see if you spot any unusual sensations such as tingling, heaviness, lightness, spinning sensations, and so on. If nothing like these can be felt, you can also try to feel the weight of the blanket, your heartbeat, temperature of the air, etc.
The repeated stimulation on the senses enables SSILD to condition our mind and body into a subtle state that is optimized for lucid dream to occur naturally. We should keep this in mind so we don't make the common mistake of "trying too hard" during the cycles. Beginners usually want to see things, hear things, and feel things. When nothing unusual happens they become discouraged or even desperate. Avoid this mistake at all cost! One should not expect to experience anything phenomenal during the Cycle. In fact, it is better to expect NOTHING at all will happen.
1. Go to bed early, preferably before 11pm. Set your alarm to wake up after 4 or 5 hours.
2. Get out of bed and stay awake for 5-10 minutes. I suggest you visit the bathroom, rinse your mouth, and walk around or stretch a little bit. Try not to become too awake though.
3. Return to bed and lie down in a comfortable position, preferably different from the one you usually use. This is to prevent you from falling into sleep prematurely. However, if you are the type of person who requires extra effort to fall asleep, you may want to use the usual position instead.
4. Perform the "Cycle" quickly, repeat 4-6 times. This serves as a warm-up exercise so each step should be very short, a few seconds should be sufficient.
5. Perform the "Cycle" slowly, repeat 3-4 times. This step is the most important one. You should take extra time during each step. Thanks to step 4, at this point you should have become sufficiently relaxed and you will find focusing on the senses become much easier. For example, your eyes will feel more relaxed, and you may get visuals such as lights, colors, or movements. You might also notice that the external sounds seem to be fading into the background. Do not get excited though. You should observe quietly and after a while move on to other senses. As far as timing goes we are flexible, but in general each step should take no fewer than 30 seconds.
During the slow cycles, you may become distracted by a lot of random thoughts. This is a good indication that you are close to falling asleep. Do not try to suppress these thoughts -- they are your friends. Imagine they are gentle waves and let them carry you and wash you away from the shore of reality. You will occasionally become alert and realize you have lost track of your exercise. No worry, just start from the beginning of a cycle and you should be fine.
6. Return to the most comfortable position and allow yourself fall into sleep as quickly as possible. Do not think too much and do not worry if it will work. The quicker you can fall asleep the more likely it will work. Have faith!
What happens next
One key characteristic of SSILD is that it is neither a WILD nor DILD technique. It is a hybrid. As such, it is important to become familiar with all the possible scenarios so you will maximize your chances.
1. Hypnagogia: when we enter a dream consciously, we often encounter various unusual hypnagogic sensations. These include the sensation of falling, floating, seeing lights and images, hearing sharp noises, and many more. In fact, sometimes you may encounter sensations so strange that they are beyond words. When we encounter these sensations, chances are we are already in a dream, or getting really close. SSILD is known to cause hypnagogia during the Cycles (although this effect should NOT be sought after). It's also not uncommon for you to wake up suddenly while being bombarded by intense hypnagogic sensations. When this happens you should not become excited. Be a passive observer and wait for the sensations to amplify. You could also nudge them a little bit mentally, but do not overdo it. As soon as the sensations become clearly identifiable you should be able to perform a successful reality check and get up. Typically the dream will start from your bedroom because subconsciously that's where you expect you will be. You can also stay in bed longer and use visualization to create a dream scene manually. In any event, it is important for you to stay calm when encountering hypnagogia. Do not speak to yourselves or analyze it mentally as doing so can cause the sensations to fade and eventually wake you up.
2. False Awakening: SSILD is known to cause a lot of FAs. Not any FA, but some super-realistic ones! A typical scenario goes like this -- you finished doing SSILD and fell asleep. Then suddenly you wake up. No lucid dreams, perhaps not even a normal dream! Feeling disappointed you get out of the bed... then you wake up again! It was all but a dream! SSILD's ability to frequently create this type of FAs have been well-documented by now. Therefore, you should definitely develop the habit of performing a reality check upon each awakening after doing SSILD, no matter how convinced you are about your not being in a dream. Another possible scenario is that you slip into sleep during a SSILD cycle, and an FA immediately takes over. When this happens you may suddenly feel awake and it seems you are about to suffer insomnia. Some users complained that SSILD was causing them to lose sleep, only later found out they had been doing SSILD cycles in their dreams! Once you learn to catch these FAs your chance of success will be greatly improved.
3. DILD: When you fall asleep from SSILD, you enter your dreams with heightened awareness. As a result, lucid dreams occur. This is called Dream Initiated Lucid Dream (DILD). With heightened awareness, you may be able to spot oddities in dreams and in turn become lucid. It is also very common for spontaneous lucid dreams to occur -- you suddenly become lucid for no apparent reason.
4. Real Awakening: You wake up again after doing SSILD. You do a reality check and this time it is real. Do not despair. You still have chances. Try to stay still, and immediately relax your head, allowing the back of it to sink into the pillow. Then you need to perform a few extra medium-paced SSILD cycles. At this stage it is quite possible for you to encounter strong hypnagogia sensations. If not, just finish the cycles and go to sleep. You will have a much higher chance to succeed this time.
Q: Can I do SSILD when I go to sleep?
A: Yes you can, but it won't work. When you go to bed you typically start with a lot of NREM sleeps which are not ideal for lucid dream to occur. The level of acetylcholine (an important neurotransmitter which is a major driving force for lucid dreams) is also at lower level. Trying to lucid dream with any technique at this stage is a waste of time, even though this is the favorite mistake virtually every beginners make.
Q: I'm used to go to bed late or have to get up early, can I still use SSILD?
A: I suggest you do SSILD only when you have sufficient time. Even though it does not take up a lot of time to perform, you WILL be losing some sleeps. As such, for people who never get enough sleep, your best bet is to do SSILD at leisure.
Q: Can I combine other breathing, meditation, relaxation techniques during or prior to doing SSILD?
A: No. As mentioned earlier, SSILD is all about "conditioning". You condition your mind and body to the most optimal state for lucid dream to occur. This state, however, is very delicate. Mixing in other techniques will likely interfere with this state and cause negative impact on SSLID's performance. You're free to create your own routines once you master the technique, but for beginners I expect you to adhere to the instructions in this manual.
Q: I get this itch... how am I supposed to stay still?
A: You are not supposed to stay still! If you have an itch just scratch it. If you want to roll you roll. With SSILD you need to stay as comfortable as possible! Just do an extra cycle to compensate and you will be fine. This is in fact a major advantage over virtually all other methods.
Q: My eyes strain/hurt when focusing on visions...
A: Remember, you should NOT expect to see anything, so relax already! Do not strain your eye muscles. Your eyeballs should be resting, if not staying still. Performing a few quick cycles will also help you relax.
Q: I can't feel anything when doing the cycles...
A: We cannot stress this more -- it is OKAY to not feel anything, and it is WRONG if you actively pursue it and expect things to happen during the cycles. With the cycles you are setting a timer for the bomb to go off. You don't expect a bomb to go off WHILE you are setting the timer do you? Sure, it does go off occasionally...
Q: I got insomnia after doing SSILD...
A: Actually, performing SSILD correctly is likely to cure your insomnia. There is a remarkable resemblance between SSILD and Betty Erickson's self-hypnosis routine! Now back to the question. We need to first identify if we are taking about "real insomnia" or "false insomnia". Remember, SSILD likes to create these super realistic false awakenings. It is very possible for you to enter an FA while still performing the SSILD cycles. In this case you will be trying to fall asleep while you are already sleeping! Next time you find yourself unable to fall asleep during a cycle, you should definitely perform a reality check, no matter how convinced you are! For people who indeed suffers loss of sleep due to SSILD, I suggest you tweak your routines in two areas: 1. Reduce the amount of sleep before waking up for SSILD. 2. Reduce the time you spend on staying awake prior to the exercise.