lucid dreaming maintenance or “maintaining” refers to techniques that allow a practitioner to remain in lucid dreaming for the maximum amount of time possible. Without knowledge of “maintaining” techniques, the duration of lucid dreaming will be several times shorter than it could otherwise be. The shortest lucid dreams last just a few seconds. Beginning practitioners usually fear not being able to exit a lucid dream; this shouldn’t ever be a concern because the real challenge is being able to maintain lucid dreaming state, which is easily lost unless lucid dreaming maintenance techniques are used.
lucid dreaming maintenance consists of three primary principles: resisting a return to the wakeful state (known as a foul), resisting falling asleep, and resisting a false exit from lucid dreaming.
Resistance to returning to the body is self-explanatory, whereas resistance to falling asleep is unclear to many. Not everyone knows that almost half of lucid dreaming experiences usually end in a quite trivial way – falling asleep. A person usually loses attentiveness, his or her awareness dissipates, and everything around gradually loses clarity and turns into what is for all intents and purposes a usual dream.
Resisting a false exit from lucid dreaming (false awakenings) is a lot more surprising and dramatic. Sometimes a practitioner detects an impending exit from lucid dreaming and subsequent deepening techniques fail to work, resulting in what seems to be a return to the body and physical reality. Sure that lucid dreaming has ended, a practitioner may stand up and then fall asleep after perceiving a few steps. In such cases, falling asleep most often happens without any movement, but while still lying in bed. The problem is that the difference between lucid dreaming and reality can be so subtle that in terms of internal or external indicators, lucid dreaming practically can’t be distinguished from reality. Therefore, one must know the necessary actions to take in the event that lucid dreaming ceases, since the end of a lucid dream could actually be a trick and purely imagined.
There are specific solutions for the three problems described in addition to general rules that apply to any lucid dreaming experience. Studying these rules should be given just as high a priority as studying the specific solutions, since only some of them, when applied separately, may help one to remain in lucid dreaming several times longer than usual.
In some cases, techniques for maintaining are not applicable. However, knowledge of how to maintain is useful for the majority of experiences. Also, there might be situations when someone need only resist a foul, while someone else may need to resist falling asleep. All of this is very specific to each case and can be determined only in practice.
With perfect knowledge of all the techniques for maintaining, a lucid dream may last two to four minutes, which doesn’t sound like an extended duration, but really is. A particularity of lucid dreaming space is that achieving something and moving around in it takes a minimum amount of time, mere seconds. Thus, so much can be done during 3 minutes in lucid dreaming that one literally needs a list, so as not to waste any time.
There are theories that have neither been proven nor disproven claiming that time in lucid dreaming contracts and expands relative to real time. Thus, one minute of real time while in lucid dreaming may feel much longer in terms of lucid dreaming time.
Perception of time varies from practitioner to practitioner. Novices especially perceive a real minute as more like 5 to 10 minutes in lucid dreaming. This is determined by the particularities of individual psychology, state of mind, and the type of events that occur in lucid dreaming.
In order to understand how long a lucid dream really lasted, one does not need to try using a stopwatch in the real world. It is better to count how many actions took place in it and how much time each of them could have taken. The result will differ from one’s first rough estimate several times over.
The maximum duration of lucid dreaming depends heavily on the ability to apply lucid dreaming maintenance techniques. Some practitioners have difficulty breaking the two-minute barrier while some find it easy to remain in lucid dreaming for 10 minutes or longer. It is physically impossible to remain in lucid dreaming forever because even a 20-minute lucid dreaming is unheard of.