I'm pretty unique when it comes to my dreams.
I remember tiny details, whole conversations, colours and words that I see in my dreams (people say you can't read words in your dreams or see colours but I think that's bullshit). I'm pretty sure that I remember just about - if not every - single dream I have. I remember dreams from 20 years ago. I remember them in vivid clarity and I can pretty easily interpret them without any hoaky dream dictionaries.
Another pretty cool thing that I can do in my dreams? Not always, but probably about half the time, I can control everything that happens in my dreams. I'm usually aware of the fact that I'm dreaming and so can bend the storyline and the characters to my whims. This comes in especially handy when I'm having a nightmare.
It wasn't always this way - the lucid dreaming. I always knew that I was different because people are always saying that the harder they try to hang on to their dreams, the foggier they become until they are totally gone, and they don't remember a thing ever again. This has always been totally foreign to me. So I began trying to harness the power of my dreams when I was just a kid - because it came so easily to me.
When I first started feeling depressed I had a recurring dream. I would be standing on top of a building, the sky would be purple, the wind would be blowing hard and I would be staring down to the ground, wanting to jump. I felt it all, and it felt so real: the very real and terrifying desire to just let go and fall. Convincing myself in my head that it would take moments and I wouldn't feel a single thing. I would die before I even hit the ground. I just have to let go. Let go. LET. GO. And I can't. I just can't do it. And I wake up sweating, every single time. So those dreams kind of let me see inside my head, places my conscious mind wasn't letting me into. My brain was trying to tell me to get help, and trying to tell me that if I ever gave it a try, I'd chicken my ass out just like dream-me did. Because I kept having these dreams and nothing ever changed, it didn't take me long to figure out 'okay, this is a dream, I'm going to take the elevator down and go home. I'll be back tomorrow night.'
When I started getting very interested in my dreams, and wanting to be in control of them, I started keeping a pen and book beside my bed. Whenever I woke up I would write down every single detail that I could remember from the dreams that I had the night before (there would be probably 8 or so that I would recall from the night before). After writing them all down, I would read them all, and as I read them I would envision exactly what happened in the dreams, remember smells, colours, words, people, faces, everything. I could always see the connection between what my sub-conscious was trying to communicate to my conscious mind, and it hasn't really done a whole lot for me except provide me with some extra gift for introspection. At any rate, after a while I began to realize when I was dreaming. I would just get a feeling, and suddenly I was able to change subtle details. I could never, and still can't, change my dream completely or make myself have a new one. For instance, if I'm having a nightmare I can't make it stop and choose to dream about chocolate fountains and marshmallows, but I can take advantage of my dream. I can make ladders appear for convenient escape routes. I can make a gun appear in my hand. I can even choose to wake myself up. I've been toying with this fun little ability of mine for years, and it's one of the reasons I love being in bed so much. It's downright entertaining to be in my head when I'm sleeping.
And I think anyone can train their sub-conscious minds in the same way. Dream experts recommend writing down everything you remember from your dreams as soon as you wake up in order to stretch the muscle in your brain that enables you to recall subconscious... stuff. Maybe keep a dream dictionary handy, if you can't piece together the meanings easily on your own, and gradually you will be able to recall your dreams easily, and for the long-term. I don't know how long it takes to master the skill, but I know it can be done.
As for lucid dreaming, when you're drifting off to sleep, try your best to concentrate on what you're doing and what's happening to your body. Focus on the feeling of drifting away to sleep and in the back of your mind you will know when you are dreaming. When you start to know that you are dreaming, you just have to try to control whatever small details in your dreams that you can. Start small that way and one day you may be able to enjoy sleeping as much as I do. I enjoy it quite a bit.
Here's a fun bit about lucid dreaming: