Perhaps the only thing that an advanced practitioner might still have to struggle with is maintaining lucid dreaming. However, it’s only a struggle in a relative sense, and more of a struggle for perfection. An essential way that an experienced lucid dreamingr differs from a novice is that the length of time that he stays in lucid dreaming is fully sufficient for his needs. No matter how long he stays in lucid dreaming, this duration is multiplied by his many lucid dreaming entrances over the course of even a single day. As a result, he always accomplishes all of the tasks he has set for himself, and often quite quickly. And if a practitioner accomplishes all his objectives, why should he be dissatisfied with the duration of a lucid dream?
The first sign of an advanced practitioner is that he always has a plan of action for lucid dreaming. An interesting and useful one. He always knows what he will do in lucid dreaming and how he will apply it. He always wants to enter lucid dreaming, as he always has many things to do in it, even if they sometimes have nothing to do with the physical world. Moreover, many advanced practitioners undertake their own studies of lucid dreaming, which serves to further stimulate their own practice and personal development.
The main problem novices have in maintaining lucid dreaming paradoxically consists in fear of a foul, i.e. an involuntary return to the body. This usually causes them to perform the maintaining techniques incorrectly, and they nearly always lack the intention of maintaining, not to mention confidence in their own abilities. But this is a decisive factor when it comes to maintaining lucid dreaming.
A novice performs maintaining techniques in order to not be returned back to the body or not fall asleep, while an experienced practitioner performs maintaining techniques in order to maintain his presence in lucid dreaming.
As a result, the former is often soundly thrown out of lucid dreaming, while the latter has experiences that are many times longer and more relaxed. Even thinking of one’s own body while in lucid dreaming is fraught with the danger of returning to it, to say nothing of techniques which are focused on the conscious ability to reenter the body.
While in lucid dreaming and when performing any maintaining technique, a practitioner should be extremely confident that he will be in lucid dreaming for just as long as he needs to be. Such confidence alone is sufficient to substantially prolong the average lucid dreaming.
However, when maintaining lucid dreaming, advanced practitioners have to face the real issue of keeping their minds out of their bodies – and this means false fouls. The absolute majority of returns to the body from lucid dreaming are false. Depending on one’s personal characteristics and level of practice, from 50 to 90% of all returns to the body can be false. That’s precisely why the mandatory rule is: upon returning to the body, one must try to separate from it again. Even when following this rule, the experience nonetheless often ends in a false awakening that is only recognized some time after the fact.
The problem is partially resolved by understanding that a return to the body from lucid dreaming means nothing at all. If it happens, it’s but a trifle for one’s practice not worthy of the slightest attention. If you were just in lucid dreaming, then it can’t end so easily or quickly. An experienced practitioner should always (always!) try to re-enter lucid dreaming and do it with as much self-assurance as possible. And if one is at last unable to leave the body again, then one must perform at least two reality checks (hyperconcentration, breathing out through a pinched nose, looking for inconsistencies, etc.), as there is a high likelihood that one is still nevertheless in lucid dreaming. Reality checks alone can prolong a lucid dream experience by up to 20 percent. In summary, at higher levels of practice, a lucid dreamr must try to re-exit his body. If he is unable to, then he must perform reality checks.
There are several reasons why practically all practitioners have such problems with false returns to the body. One of the main ones is a certain lack of confidence in one’s own powers when maintaining lucid dreaming, which is remedied by intensifying one’s intention and concentration. However, there is also a certain problem that is practically resistant to controllable solution and is brought about by the astounding characteristics of human consciousness during altered states: false memory.
Sometimes, a cluster of false memories – yet quite detailed and emotionally-charged ones – will suddenly appear in a lucid dreamr’s memory during a lucid dream experience. This indicates that he has long been in lucid dreaming, and thus quite a psychologically accepting state. As a result, a lucid dreamr may not put up much resistance to a foul, or even control the foul himself. As soon as he returns to the body, he’ll realize that lucid dreaming was actually much shorter than it seemed to his mind. Sometimes only a detailed analysis can uncover this uncommon problem and bring the practitioner to understand that he was not in lucid dreaming for the seeming 5 minutes, but merely 10 seconds. The prescription for this strange trick of the human mind is nevertheless the same: mandatory re-exits from the body no matter what it seems or what one thinks, and if this is unsuccessful – reality checks.