I'm on a quest to explore the essence of consciousness and a mission to master the mind. Through the practice of "dream yoga," more commonly known as lucid dreaming, I plan to become a Dream MasterMind.
I've always had an active dream life (from the ripe age of four when I remember dreaming of an owl with wide yellow eyes) and I'm endlessly intrigued by the human psyche. (I even wrote my Common App personal statement about my love affair with the mind. Extreme? Maybe. Did it work? Why yes it did.) Dream yoga is the magic link between these two passions of mine - dreaming and psychology. Because I believe its mastery can unlock the answers to some of the most interesting scientific, psychological and metaphysical questions every posed, I'm invested in becoming a master myself. And I'd like to share my journey with you.
The great news is: you can join in the fun! Anyone can become a practitioner. Anyone who sleeps, dreams. And anyone who dreams has the capacity to become lucid in the dream state. Then once you unlock this innate power, you can work on awakening the consciousness even while you're asleep - which could very well be for around 1/3 of your life. In future posts I'll provide lucid dreaming "how to" techniques, highlighting my own tips and tricks, to help you on your personal journey. But first let me fill you in on where I'm at so far.
I've dabbled in dream yoga from my teens, inspired by my father's books on the topic (and on the similar topic of OBEs, or out-of-body experiences), but they've never been consistent for me. I had a brief uptick in LDs after attending a lecture by one of the world's premier lucid dreaming experts, Stephen LaBerge, last year, but they've been few and far between ever since. Then, this weekend at a bookstore in the Haight I picked up Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self by Robert Waggoner. The book, one of the sweetest delights I've ever encountered, has completely reignited my awe before the power we have in our lucid dreams, starting with the power to ask for and obtain information through the dream.
A few months ago I found myself walking down a bleak suburban hill at dusk. I decided the sharp zigzag of the road down the hill between the houses was too odd and thought, "Hey! This is a dream!" Immediately overjoyed with the realization I was lucid and energized by the exploration possibilities before me, I began to sing at the top of my lungs as I skipped down the hill, leaping several feet into the air with each step. I ran into a handsome man in a news cap and asked him if he knew who I was.
He laughed and said, "Of course I know who you are!" I asked him what my destiny was. (I've since learned from the book that this is probably too general of a question to ask.) He said he'd show me. Next thing I knew we were on the first floor of a tall factory in the shape of a tree. People in lab coats were milling above and around us. The news cap man asked me if I wanted to go into "the heart center" and I said I did. He led me to a vertical tube lined with some kind of red liquid. He opened the door to the tube and a woman behind the door instructed me to sit down inside. She did not seem amused. "Who made all this?" I asked her. "You did," she said, without looking at me. Then we began to ascend up the tube as if it were an elevator. I woke up before I could find out what was awaiting us above.
This was my first experience of three treating dream characters as a source of information. In another dream, in a luscious green valley, I asked a man I thought looked like a sage what my destiny was. Unfortunately his response was pure gibberish. Finally, just a few nights ago, after a months-long lucid dream hiatus, after becoming lucid in my dream I actively sought out an "aware" dream character among the human figures in my mall dreamscape. I came upon a wise-looking older lady with a smile on her face. I could tell she'd be able to help. "Hello!" I said to her. "Can you show me something important?" She said, "You know more than most of the people here, but sure."
She then opened a thick book before me and pointed to the first chapter. "The most important thing," she said, "is Ashtanga." The following day I remembered to research what was special about Ashtanga yoga which I recognized as another "type" of yoga such as Bikram or Iyengar. However, my Google searching reminded me that "Ashtanga" yoga also refers to the Patanjali's eightfold path, which is meant to provide guidelines for living a meaningful life. I was thrilled. My dream character's advice was actually useful!
I've started compiling a list of questions to draw from when I next find myself lucid in the dream state, including, "what will the froyo flavors be at the Google San Francisco office tomorrow?" (There are always two and they're usually pretty unique - for example, "avocado vanilla." (I'm skeptical about the effectiveness of lucid dreams in terms of precognition as I can't understand scientifically how precognition would work or spiritually why it would, but people have reported success so I'd like to try my mind at it too.)
I also plan to ask the dream characters I encounter what they represent. And I might ask the dream itself to play me a beautiful song or show me what pure creativity looks like. The possibilities are endless. I couldn't possibly fathom them all, so I may even ask the dream to give me suggestions.
Now all I can do is continue reading my book, "incubate" and wait for my next opportunity to try out some new techniques and to ask some burning questions. But I'll keep you updated. I'll be sure to report back on new adventures and insights as soon as I have them. Until then, if this stuff gets you excited, read Waggoner's book (and maybe also re-watch Inception!)