Catching the Butterfly (Butterfly or CTB) Lucid Dreaming Technique

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Although a very simple lucid dreaming technique, the Catching the Butterfly is also very effective. It is primarily a WILD induction technique, keeping the mind active while the body falls into a sleep state, but when it is carried out correctly, it is possibly the purest induction method out there today.

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The early method was very raw in its methodology and this technique below has many changes and has been adapted to take its effectiveness to a much higher level. Although ownership of this technique would be very difficult to prove, this outline of it, is taken from the excellent book ‘Are You Dreaming’ by Daniel Love

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I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?” John Lennon

The essence of the CTB method as a lucid dreaming technique is to try and catch the moment that you fall asleep. Now there is a lot more going on with this process, but if you picture a butterfly going from flower to flower, the same way your brain goes from one thought to another. The analogy being that you want to catch your mind as it goes from one thought to the next and then into the dream world.

Control your Monkey Mind

Now if you’ve ever had a go at practicing meditation you’ll realize how difficult it can be to be ‘in the moment’, due to what the Buddhists refer to as the ‘monkey mind’. This is the constant chattering and fleeting thoughts which fill your mind on a day to day basis. The essence of the Catch the Butterfly technique requires you to retain your focus on your ultimate goal, catching the moment you enter the dream state.

One of the methods you can use to achieve this was suggested by Stephen LaBerge. It involves counting yourself to sleep. You do this by mentally saying to yourself, ‘One I’m dreaming. Two I’m dreaming……..’ and continue until you become aware that you are actually dreaming. Another thing you can try is to focus on your breathing. As your concentration drifts, you gentle bring your awareness back to the breath.

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Whether you use one of these methods, imagine a flame to focus your attention or just simply continually ask yourself ‘Am I dreaming?’ your main priority is to catch that precise moment when the shift happens and you move into the dream state.

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The Catch the Butterfly Technique

1. Get into bed at your normal time and set your goal firmly in your mind. If you awaken in the night remember to perform the Catch the Butterfly technique. Or follow the WBTB technique.

2. If and when you awaken, try and get a sense of the sleep stage you have just left. If you perform the WBTB method, go to stage 3 of the CTB method upon returning to your bed. If you recall waking from a brief dream, stay perfectly still and keep your eyes closed. Now if you get a sense that your mental alertness is low follow these suggestions, otherwise go onto section 3. Now if you feel that you have woken at the end of the dream cycle, you will need to increase your mental alertness and get out of your bed. You should look to return to bed in approximately 30 minutes.

3. At this stage you should be in bed and ready to fall asleep once again. Allow this to happen and enter the sleep state once again.

4. At this stage you will need to examine your thoughts. Pay close attention and when you find your mind wandering, bring your awareness back by asking your question, ‘Is this a dream?’ or ‘One I’m dreaming….’

5. Keep on with this step until you enter the dream state. The longer you do stage 4 the higher chance you have of being successful and entering the REM stage. If success seems to be escaping you, you can try lengthening the time between the questions you are asking. You can be reassured that your brain wants to return to sleep so you can just let it happen.

Catching the Butterfly Technique

If you follow all the steps correctly and your questions and your motivation are good, you will find yourself eventually entering into the dream state. If you find that the process doesn’t work for you, be assured that this is a learning process and there are many techniques which may suit you better. But with a bit of practice and experience you will find that the Catch the Butterfly technique an excellent method of inducing lucidity.

It’s quite a simple lucid dreaming technique and can be used with other techniques to improve there effectiveness.

You can use this technique upon awakening from a dream so increasing its chance of dropping back into the REM stage.

Doesn’t need alarm clocks or smart phones.

This technique becomes more effective with each attempt. So practice makes perfect.


Can be quite difficult if you have a wandering mind. Needs a bit of practice.

Can be a little difficult if you have trouble returning to sleep once you awaken.

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