Dream hacking is the process of manipulating your dreams from the outside-in by using behavior and stimuli. Very sci-fi, we know. And though dream research is an emerging science, there are some studies that point to the possibility that dream hacking affects your dreams — and accesses untapped creativity. This works in part because sleep doesn’t mean shutting the lights in your brain completely off for 8 hours. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. The brain doesn’t rest while we sleep — it’s wildly active, as the subconscious takes over at night. Essentially, dreaming is thinking — just in a different state. Kinda shocking, right?
For a term that’s thrown around so easily, we confess that we actually didn’t fully comprehend the power of our subconscious mind. Turns out, it’s both powerful and…well, complicated. Our subconscious wiring houses all the information that’s not in our conscious mind. That means it’s full of layers and layers of your previous experiences, beliefs, memories, skills — anything you have seen and done. It also guides your actions, and is constantly filtering information from your senses to look for dangers or opportunities. On top of all of this, these layers are also filled with trauma, which we need to filter through in order to manifest — all of which can make for a difficult process, as the subconscious communicates this to your mind.
So it’s safe to say the subconscious is pretty important to who we are as people (which is probably why Freud dedicated his life’s work to it). And it basically works to keep us “safe.” Which is great — until we remember that it also lays the groundwork for the actions that build our lives. So if you want to build toward something new and outside of your comfort zone (hello, dream job of becoming a backup dancer!), you’ll need to influence the subconscious — which, in turn, will influence your dreams.
To do that, you’ll need to go all Spice Girls on your subconscious (I’ll tell ya what I want, what I really really want), and actually tell it what you want so you can begin to dream — and manifest (remember, dreaming is actually thinking, just in a different state). The more time spent dreaming about what you want, the closer you are to manifesting it. Here’s how you can get started.
Let’s be clear: Your thoughts create your reality. Oprah said it, The Secret said it, Deepak Chopra said it, that one woo-woo girl at the coffee shop said it. And science agrees. There have been multiple studies showing the power of the mind and the positive effects of placebos. This means that people have mitigated — or altogether bypassed — the painful side effects of illnesses when given a placebo drug just by thinkingthat the drug was working. Which just shows that what you think about and how you think about it — whether you’re awake or asleep — definitely matter.
So how does this relate to your dreams? It all starts with calming your mind. A great way to do this is to focus on your breathing through meditation or breathing exercises. Or, simply place one hand on your chest and one on your stomach and feel your body as you breathe. No matter how you go about it, the point is to clear your mind and begin to relax.
If you’re familiar with manifestation, you know it’s key to know what you want — and to be specific. If you’re a visual person, start by creating a vision board. Whether you make it with Pinterest or a good old fashioned poster board, a vision board allows you to really see the life you want. And also … it’s just really fun to make?
Pull out your vision board before bed, and focus on each section of your board while holding onto the feeling each piece brings up. Another way to accomplish this is to write down a day in the life that you want — using present tense. Imagine how you would feel, the specific events in your life, and exactly how your day would look — the more specific, the better. Visualizing your ideal life before you fall asleep communicates to your subconscious mind what you want and how you want it — and sets the stage for your mind to dream of it.
If you’ve ever heard your dog whining or partner snoring in your dreams, you know that outside sounds can influence your dream world. What a joy. But that’s because there’s a window of time between waking and sleep called hypnagogia. In this twilight zone, you’re in a semi-lucid sleep state, where you move towards the early stages of dreaming while still holding onto reality.
And things start to get, um, trippy — especially if you’ve fallen asleep to something auditory in nature. Your mind will start to distort your perception of reality while your consciousness starts to fade. Eventually, you’ll experience dream-like visuals and sounds — even though you’re not yet dreaming. Basically, you’re in Alice’s Wonderland.
Luckily, when it comes to hacking your dreams, you can use this state to your advantage. Try playing music or sounds that relate to what you’re trying to manifest. Maybe it’s the sound of gulls that will surround your beach house, or a song that makes you feel happy — the same happiness you’ll feel when you reach that goal. Whatever it is, turn it on as you fall asleep to influence your dreams — and, by proxy, your manifestation.