Hi there. Welcome to ATS and Congrats! I'm by no means an expert on lucid dreaming, but here's my thoughts and experiences.
My first Lucid Dream was when I was about 23. I'd been out partying the night before, and had gotten no good sleep that night. I woke up, went to
work and then came home to nap on my lunch hour, which I took early that day. That nap led to my first experience. I realized I was dreaming soon into
the dream and began controlling it. I walked around my apartment, shifted through walls. When I tried to wake up, I experienced some sleep paralysis
and it took me a while to get up. This experience was intense and might have even been an OOBE. The only reason I don't classify it as that is I was
definitely asleep througout.
I believe the reason this dream happened was because I had only slept 4-5 hours that night and wasn't fully *awake* when I went to work and when I
came back home for my nap I immediately returned to the *same* sleep cycle and went straight into REM sleep. Being awake and then going straight to
REM sleep seems to help the recognition of the dreams. That's the big problem for most of us. I truly think I have multiple lucid dreams every night,
but I just don't remember them.
My main technique for lucid dreaming is to wake up about 5 hours after I've gone to bed. Get up, get some water, stay up for about 30 mins to an hour
then go back to bed. This puts me back into REM sleep quickly. While I'm falling asleep I repeat to myself over and over "I'm going to remember.
I'm going to remember." Or something similar.
A lot of Lucid Dreaming literature emphasizes the "reality checks" and the clues to tell if you're dreaming or not... focusing on the "becoming
lucid" aspect. For me that's not a problem. My dreams tend to be pretty weird and it's obvious I'm dreaming without checking a digital clock or
pinching myself. Like I say, the remembering afterwards is the biggest stumbling block for me. Right now, i can remember about every other night's
lucid dreams, which isn't bad and it makes a good vehicle for adressing frustrations or exploring fantasies.
A good way to increase the potential for recall is to do the "building energy" excercises you'll find with most meditation/astral projection
guides. I've been trying to Astral Project for a couple of weeks not, inspired by this forum actually, and I get close but don't quite make it. Part
of my "practice" for Astral Projection is the body-awareness and raising energy exercises outlined in Robert Bruce's book Astral Dynamics
Even though I've failed at a conscious projection, I have found that those excercises increased my dream recall abilities quite a bit. Basically the
raising energy excercises outlines how to pull energy through your body and focus your awareness on certain "energy centers" or chakras. If you
don't want to go buy the book, he outlines it pretty thouroughly in the section called "Energy Work" here:
Treatise on Astral Projection
It worked for me, so it may work for you. Have fun!