Here's a few of my thoughts on the problem of achieving conscious awakenings:
So, I had a big brainstorming session about this problem yesterday.
It's a simple one - when I discovered indirect techniques, I succeeded a handful of times, then couldn't achieve a conscious waking to save my life. I put in a lot of effort and affirmations but it just didn't happen.
I was thinking about "hidden dreamsigns" and how it could be possible to look beyond the conventional thoughts on what a dreamsign can be. For example, usually I'd think of a dreamsign as being something like a person, a place (old friends and old schools etc). I wondered if it would be possible to view the waking (at the end of dream) as a dreamsign itself - a kind of universal dreamsign that is always present. So, if I treated the waking as being a dreamsign, would it make sense - when recalling dreams - to document the end of the dream, with the passage into waking (and getting up) as an integral, essential detail that MUST be included in a dream journal report. Here's an example:
Towards the end of the dream: The monster lurches towards me and opens it mouth ready to eat me
Waking: I wake up in bed sweating. I think, "thank god that was just a dream!"
Rising: I get out of bed, put my slippers on and go have a coffee.
So my dream journal emphasis there is on the ending of the dream and the waking and transition into day. The earlier parts of the dream are ignored.
The idea is, after a few dream journal entries over a few days (or weeks, or whatever) I become habituated to concentrating on the ending of dreams and the waking, and thus I am more likely to be able to achieve a conscious waking and thus separate?
It's a good thing when you are in a dream and can detect that the dream is fading and dying. Would the dream journal approach above - the focus on the dream-end and waking - make these "aware you're in a fading dream" experiences more common?
Idea 2: "Moving without muscles" as a dreamsign.
So here, I was thinking that it could be possible to focus on occasions in dreams when you are "moving without muscles". It's pretty common - when you are non-lucid flying, falling, in a car or bus, in a plane, riding a horse etc.
So you would focus on instances of moving-without-muscles when you write a dream journal entry.
Would that make you more likely to attempt separation on waking?
Would that also increase your awareness within dreams of instances when you are moving-without-muscles, thus you have a chance to become lucid within a dream, and also have a chance to separate on waking?
Idea 3: Finding what you want to find within dream memories
The idea here is that you would find whatever you want to in a dream memory.
The ideal (indirect) is this: a dream dies, you find yourself waking in bed, you separate (by moving without muscles), fly off.
Could you find that sequence in any dream memory you choose to? So if part of a (non-lucid) dream memory went:
1) Walked into old school building
2) Old school friends were there
3) Realised I was the teacher
4) Was suddenly at Stonehenge (by an unconscious, non-deliberate teleport that I'm not aware of within the dream)
5) Climbed up the stones
6) Jumped off
I could find a waking, separation (movement without muscles) and flying in that memory. Thus:
4) At Stonehenge
is like a wakening, because I was in a new location and had a degree of awareness.
5) Climbed up the stones
is a kind of movement-without-muscles because it's almost like my brain achieves the goal of reaching the top of the stones and there's no muscle stress as there would be if I used muscles to climb in real life.
6) Jumped off
Is a kind of flying. (Maybe it could be said that all movement in non-lucid dreams is flying, because the floor you stand is a product of your mind and isn't tangible.)
Conclusion: So, over time, you become habituated to spotting the sequence of "wake up/separate/fly off" within dreams and the awareness carries over to dreams and increases your chances of either realising you're in a dream, or separating on waking.