Last Updated on May 31, 2021
Precognition is similar to déjà vu, where you feel like you have knowledge of what is going to happen before it actually occurs. In most cases, this is considered a paranormal event. It is also frequently referred to as future vision, future sign, prescience, or a premonition dream. Between 15 and 30% of people state they feel they have experienced precognition personally, and many more believe that they really do exist.
But what are they, how can you identify them, and is there anything you can do to try to have them?
What are Precognitive Dreams?
Since precognition is feeling like you know things before they happen, precognitive dreams happen when that reality comes to you through your dreams.
That is different than an “intuitive” dream, like dreaming about being pregnant before getting a positive test. In cases like these, the body can access unconscious signals from the body.
With precognitive dreams, the information obtained is totally inaccessible by anything other than paranormal powers. This also makes them very difficult to “prove,” which is why many people consider them “pseudoscience.”
Can Precognitive Dreams Be Scientifically Proven?
The short answer is no, they can not be scientifically proven. Precognitive dreams are thought to violate what is known as the principle of causality (also known as antecedence), which basically says that every effect must be proceeded by a cause. With a precognitive dream, the effect happens before the cause which is scientifically inappropriate.
However, there are some scientists who believe differently and are hoping to prove it. One of those people is a neuroscientist that works at Northwestern University in Illinois, a doctor named Julia Mossbridge. She has been studying precognitive dreams for more than 15 years, and she has concluded they are very real.
Dr. Mossbridge and her team have conducted more than 25 different experiments on precognition over the last 32 years. She believes these types of dreams are a result of the human body going through chemical changes prior to future events happening, even if those happen just seconds ahead of time. She also believes that time doesn’t work as we’ve always thought it does, and that is isn’t nearly as linear. According to Mossbridge, precognitive dreams will become more accepted in society, and that they can be developed with training (similar to divination).
Why Do People Have Precognitive Dreams?
Generally speaking, most people believe we have precognitive dreams for two different reasons.
- Warnings – In most cases, precognitive dreams act as a warning. Often, this is a warning about a misstep you are already aware that you are making. Sometimes, this warning comes with the ability to make changes before arriving at the conclusion in the dream. Other times, events have already been set in motion and can’t be stopped.
- Confirmation – The nicer version of a precognitive dream is the type that shows you that you are already on the right path. These dreams play out the path you are already on and show you how it will positively impact your future.
It should be fairly easy to distinguish between the two, especially in the context of events that may be revolving around you.
How To Recognize a Precognitive Dream
Being able to recognize a precognitive dream can be tricky. However, there are a few signs to look out for that can suggest you may likely be dealing with precognition one instead of a run of the mill lucid dream.
- Sensory Indictions – As we’ll discuss below, vivid details are a large indicator of a vivid dream. However, you should also take into effect just how powerful the sensory input is. If you’re waking up and able to remember the sound of someone’s voice, or the smell, touch, or even taste of your dream, pay special attention to what it may be trying to tell you.
- Urgency – If you wake up and feel a specific urgency to act on a scenario that happened in your dream, this is another clue. Unfortunately, with a lot of these types of dreams, that urgency doesn’t come with directions about where, when, how, etc. That can lead to the next sign that what you’ve had is precognitive.
- Frustration – Frustration level is another sign. This is usually due to the fact that you feel like you need to act but have no idea where to start.
- Dreaming About Others – In the majority of situations, precognitive dreams involve dreaming about someone else as the main focus. If you’re having a dream where other people seem to be mostly speaking, doing things, or fulfilling a specific role, this is more likely to be a precognitive dream. Your role in the dream will be more as a witness or a bystander.
- Vivid Details – As stated above, clear and vivid details are a good sign you are dealing with a precognitive dream. This includes things you experience with all of your senses – taste, touch, sight, smell, and sound.
Famous Precognitive Dreams
Abraham Lincoln & Mark Twain. Even famous people have claimed to have precognitive dreams.
One of the most famous examples of a precognitive dream happened to Abraham Lincoln at the White House. Just about two weeks before the death of Abraham Lincoln in 1865, Lincoln reported having a dream involving a funeral held at the White House.
During the dream, he said he inquired about who the person in the casket was and was told it was the “President of the United States.” While he did tell his wife, Mary Todd, neither of them took it very seriously. In fact, on the night he was assassinated he even gave his personal bodyguard the evening off.
Another precognitive dream from a famous person happened to Mark Twain. While he and his brother, Henry, were at work on the Mississippi riverboats, he had a concerning dream about Henry that he felt was in fact precognition and something may happen in the future.
In the dream, Henry was dead and lying inside a metal coffin that was resting across two chairs in their sister’s living room. In the center of it was placed a flower bouquet as well as one crimson flower.
Just a few weeks later, things turned real. There was a massive riverboat explosion. Many people were killed, and all were supposed to be buried in a wooden coffin. However, someone unrelated to the Twains felt inspired to raise the money to bury Henry in a metal coffin, which looked exactly like the one Mark had dreamed about. While he was looking at the coffin, a woman came up and placed… you guessed it!… one crimson flower in the middle of the casket.
Precognitive Dreams and Lucid Dreaming
While precognitive dreams are left up to chance and luck, with a lucid dream you have the potential to request information about the future.
Knowing how to best set yourself up for success with lucid dreaming includes 10 steps.
- Develop a Bedtime Routine – Start by making your bed as welcoming to dreaming as you can. As dreams occur during the REM portion of sleep, you need to set yourself up for as restful of a sleep experience as possible. Keep your bedroom cool (around 60 degrees Fahrenheit) and dark (black curtains are great here). Use a white noise machine to keep it quiet as well. It is also helpful to start a bedtime routine, which should include unplugging all electronics, taking a bath, meditation, or other calming rituals.
- Use a Dream Journal – A lucid dream is all about paying attention to your dreams. The best way to starting doing that is by keeping a dream journal by your bed. As soon as you wake, jot down every detail you remember. There are also various apps that can be helpful in this capacity.
- Look For Signs – In addition to just writing down your dreams, look back frequently on your old dreams to help identify patterns. This can help you figure out what your dreams are trying to tell you, as well as helping you better learn when you are dreaming. Interpreting them can also give you a good insight into your unconscious mind.
- Use Reality Checks – Reality checks can give you a leg up on knowing when you are dreaming, as well as being helpful during panic attacks. While you’re awake, push a finger into the palm of your opposite hand while trying to push it all the way through. In a dream, you would be able to. When you’re awake, you won’t. You can also try to focus on the clock or on your feet for a good reality check.
- Try the MILD Technique – MILD, or Mnemonic Induction to Lucid Dreaming, is a technique that involves saying the same mantra over and over before falling asleep. Your mantra should be something like “I will be aware that this is a dream” or something similar to give yourself power during a lucid dream.
- Go Back to Bed – If you happen to wake up in the middle of the night, jot down what you remember, then try to go right back to sleep. Focus on your dream while you fall asleep, and repeat your mantra.
- Attempt Sleep Paralysis – This is a slightly different technique than described above. Instead of opening your eyes to write down, keep them closed. Before going back into your dream, you may experience sleep paralysis (where your body feels like it can’t move). This is actually the same technique that many of the most creative people have used during their own lucid dream, people like Salvador Dali, Mary Shelley, and Benjamin Franklin.
- Try the Wake-Up/Back to Bed Technique – While this may sound strange or counterintuitive, setting multiple alarms at night can actually help. Start by setting an alarm between 4.5 and 7 hours into your sleep cycle. When you wake up, attempt to stay asleep for at least half an hour. During this time, write down all the details of your dream, get out of bed, then get back into bed and re-enter your dream. This is not recommended longterm, however.
- Video Games May Help – Although this may sound strange, recent studies have shown that playing video games can actually help you remember dream details better. Just remember that you need to unplug at least an hour prior to bedtime.
- Keep Your Dreams Going – Even with the most planning, lucid dreaming is hard. Try not to get frustrated if it doesn’t happen quickly. Once it clicks, though, it may be difficult to stay in the dream because you’re so excited. To extend the length of your lucid dreaming, while in your dream, try to fall backward, spin around, or rub your hands together.
Alternative Explanations for Precognitive Dreams
There have also been several alternative explanations set out for precognitive dreams.
- Unconscious Perception – The idea behind unconscious perception is that we all pick up information from the world around us, even when we’re not specifically paying attention. We sort all of those ideas out without knowing it and use that information to form ideas about the events that await us in the future. While this may seem paranormal, it is an actual biological event.
- Retrofitting – With retrofitting, we fit what happens in real life into the events of our dreams after the fact. This is said to be how Nostradamus seemed to make all of his predictions, which were actually very vague.
- Self-fulfilling Prophecies- This explanation can actually account for a large number of precognitive dreaming. With a self-fulfilling prophecy, people act out the events of their dreams because they assume that it is futile to fight against them.
- Coincidence – Obviously, we can’t rule out a simple coincidence when it comes to explaining why dreams sometimes become reality. This owes to the law of large numbers, which says that random events are always explainable due to simple chance.
While precognitive dreams can’t be proven, they are often a very important tool for being able to see into the future. Learning how to practice and better control lucid dreaming can help you gain mastery of your dreams. Remember, always take precognitive dreams seriously. They can tell you very critical information about what your future has in store, even if they can’t help you change anything.
Procognitive Dreams and Precognitions are often discussed along with Prophetic Dreams, Lucid Dreams, Déjà Vu, Predict The Future, Premonition Dreams. These are phenomena that can affect our psychology and belief system. There are lots of past research and experiments over many years that have tested and tracked precognitive dreaming to see if the dreams actually come true in real life over time.