It is possible to enter a lucid dream directly from waking.
Usually this entails lying down, relaxing, and allowing the body to fall asleep while the mind stays awake. Difficulties include falling asleep along with the body, or the body staying awake with the mind. Decoupling the two is tricky but possible.
To enter normal sleep we begin by letting our thoughts wander until they turn into daydreams that either dissolve into oblivion along with our self-awareness and volition or else spontaneously evolve into hypnagogic imagery (short vivid hallucinations) that eventually cohere into a full-blown three dimensional dreamscape. Which case it is depends on how far we are into sleep.
Early on, sleep consists of delta brainwave activity and no REM (rapid eye movement) indicating consciousness is off elsewhere.
Most likely the soul is running its astral errands while the body does its repairs. Later in the cycle after these tasks are out of the way, or when taking a nap, the delta stage is replaced by immediate onset of hypnagogic and REM activity after mental relaxation. But these are passive dreams since lack of lucidity in them implies impaired volition.
Why are dreams so much more vivid than conscious visualization? Because the images are being projected by the subconscious, not the conscious mind.
Why do we lose self-awareness when we go to sleep? Because as we let our thoughts wander, the subconscious starts to direct our consciously projected images while our conscious mind takes on a more passive and self-obliterating role. It does not take long for the subconscious to take over the role of projector as well, and that is when mere mental images become virtual realities.
The trade-off is that we have already abandoned ourselves by the time the dream projection kicks in.
We can understand the various states of internal imagery as being the result of either the conscious subconscious either directing or projecting these images:
- Active dreaming – conscious directs while subconscious projects.
- Passive dreaming – subconscious directs and projects.
- Daydreaming – subconscious directs while conscious projects.
- Visualizing – conscious directs and projects.
Inducing lucid dreams from a waking state therefore requires that the conscious mind retain its self-awareness and volition while the subconscious is given free rein to begin projecting the dreamscape.