Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams (often referred to as MILD) is a prospective memory technique of forming an intention to recognize the dreamworld and become lucid, and then follow through with this intention while sleeping. Prospective memory is a skill most people already have. Just as someone reminds themselves to do a chore or be somewhere at a certain time, MILD can help lucid dreamers realize that they're dreaming and perform targeted dream actions.
These are the key steps for performing the MILD technique:
1. Form an intention or resolution
2. Rehearse the execution
3. Increase the detail and fidelity of the rehearsal
4. Go to sleep
5. Repeat the intention and rehearsal when waking up
The first step in performing the MILD technique is to craft an intention. Intentions should be concise and simple (one sentence), clearly stating an observable outcome. For example, “I will realize that I am dreaming," is a classic and effective MILD intention.
Advanced MILD intentions include performing key dream actions, like transforming the environment, flying, or a visiting a person/place.
To build upon the intention, lucid dreamers imagine successfully performing the intended action. Rehearsing the steps leading up to, during, and after the key action is critical for making this step meaningful and effective. Increasing the detail of the imagined events further strengthens the mnemonic effect.
For example, with an intention of “I will realize that I am dreaming," a lucid dreamer will lie down for bed, visualize a dream scene, imagine encountering one of their dreamsigns, and finally they’ll imagine performing their intention – to realize that they are dreaming. It is important to continue the visualization beyond the intention and into what one might do afterwards. The before, during, and after context makes the exercise more realistic.
Rehearsing the intention should be as detailed and visceral as possible, imagining not just sights but also sounds, smells, and textures. With great detail and concentration, it becomes increasingly likely that the lucid dreamer follows through with their intention. Effectiveness is a function of sincerity and concentration.
While at first it is difficult to stay focused and create a detailed dream rehearsal, this technique gets easier and easier with practice. After 7-10 days of committed effort, the intention and visualization will be so strong that it effortlessly comes to fruit in the dreamworld.
The final step is to go to bed. If the intention or resolution is last thought of the lucid dreamer as they fall asleep, it is very likely that they will follow through in the dreamworld.
Anytime the lucid dreamer wakes up, they should practice MILD by reinvigorating their intention and rehearsing its execution. This strengthens their prospective memory and builds the mnemonic effect.
MILD combines well with other techniques – including Wake Back to Bed, keeping a dream journal, and performing state tests or reality checks. For a full guide on how to awaken in the dreamworld and have lucid dreams, explore our full article or download our lucid dreaming app Shape.