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Tantrik Adventures in Lucid Dreaming

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Tantrik Adventures in Lucid Dreaming

In the past three weeks, I've had two lucid dreams in which I've declared real life intentions from my Tantrik yoga practice. Here I recount both dreams.


Dream 1:

It's been my plan for a few months to attempt to summon the Tantrik goddess of divine intuition and unconditional love Para Vach in a lucid dream so I could see what she looks like to me (because I always have trouble visualizing her in meditation) and to ask for a direct transmission of her blessings. (Aim high, right?) I didn't have a lot of expectations about how this might go, but I really wanted to find out.

So when I finally went lucid on July 20th after an annoyingly long dry spell, I flew up into the clouds and I yelled, "I want to see Para Devi and directly receive her blessings!" Nothing happened, even after several attempts. So I tried a few different iterations of the wording, because subtle wording choices make a big difference in lucid dreams. Eventually, I dropped the demand and the "direct" blessing reception half (which my energy body may not yet be equipped to handle) and just asked "Can I see Para Devi?"

With that question, the clouds in the sky parted and I saw a still, turquoise lake with snow all around. Then it was as if a version of the movie Samsara began to play before my eyes. Unfortunately I don't remember the details now but many, many scenes from life (not my own) came on to that screen/stage in the sky and floated by before me. I found it interesting, but it wasn't really what I asked for. 

I woke up disappointed that I didn't get to see Para like I had hoped. But when I shared the dream with my teacher, he reminded me of the beautiful 2nd sutra in his translation of The Recognition Sutras (which I'm currently studying). The sutra reads: "Out of Her own free Will, She unfolds the universe upon the screen that is Herself." My reaction? Pure WOAH. I was expecting to see a human-like goddess figure. (If that's what I wanted, I should have been more specific.) What I saw was goddess awareness in the form of the universe unfolding -- on a screen and everything -- just as depicted in the Tantrik scriptures. Consciousness is incredible, I tell you. 

Dream 2:

Since my last LD, I've been incubating a new intention: to digest the big undigested experiences from my life that (overtime) have created hard, energy-blocking samskaras within me. This is an important practice in Tantrik yoga, and at this stage in my life, I welcome it. I thought that if I put in the request in a lucid dream I could get the process over with in one fell swoop instead of drawing it out over years (or lifetimes). Ambitious, but worth a try, I thought.

So last night in a dream I was in a helicopter with a friend after dropping someone off at the hospital to have a baby. My friend encouraged me to hop out of the helicopter with him, but I was scared, because we were still about 40 feet off the ground. "You've done it before!" he said as he slipped out the door. I noticed he was floating instead of falling at a gravitationally realistic rate and realized something was up. A moment later, with the shock of recognition ("I'm dreaming!"), I hopped out of the helicopter and flew up into the sky.

Things got dark and I thought I might wake up, but then I found myself in a big house. I must have spent at least 20 minutes walking around in that house, shooting the shit with dream characters, before I finally woke up. Because I let the dream go on for so long, many details (such as dialogue) now escape me, but I do know I was overjoyed to be lucid. And I recall at one point floating through the halls of the house singing, "Om hrim namah shivaya tas maye shri gurave namaha!"

Throughout the dream, I remembered I had a specific intention to implement, but I couldn't remember what it was, so I decided to just enjoy myself until it (hopefully) came to me.

Eventually - with another shock of recognition - it did. I remembered what I wanted to try. I ran to a window, stuck my head out, and shouted up into the sky, "I want to digest my big samskaras!" As if in response, my stomach rumbled -- a sign of digestion? Nothing else happened, but I still ran through the house repeatedly yelling my intention at the top of my lungs for all my dream characters to hear. And then, per usual, my partner moved and I woke up. Unfortunate timing, but at least I was able to plant that important intention directly in my dream, which Tibetan Buddhists say makes it 9X as powerful.

So undigested samskaras, COME GET ME.


At this point -- knock on wood -- I feel like I'm on an LD roll, but I'm not sure what I should try next. So if you have any suggestions, yoga-related or not, please share! I'd also love to hear about your lucid experiences, so please share those as well in the comment section or by contacting me directly.

 

Photo by Sarah Gustafson

 

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Awake In a Dream

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Awake In a Dream

“Awake in a dream! Awake in a dream! I’m awake in a dream!”

This is my favorite dream yoga practice mantra. What’s it for? Making it a habit to repeat (and believe) these words during waking hours makes one more likely to repeat them in a dream, and repeating these words in a dream is almost sure to make the dreamer realize she’s dreaming. 

Lucid dreaming is both fun and incredibly powerful, but in order to deliberately navigate a dream, we first have to wake up within the dream state. Until then, we just stumble along, much like we do in this life, from one scene and situation to another, blind to the truth of our circumstance.

When we’re in our default state of dream consciousness -- that is, unaware we’re dreaming -- we tend not to question what we sense and perceive. (Why would we? Carried along by sights, sounds, smells, plots, and emotions, it's all we can do to slap on a role and keep up with what unfolds around us.) For example, in a recent dream I encountered a strange combination of a hippo and a mouse, the size of my palm. Someone in the dream told me the odd creature was a “baby seal,” and I took it in stride. “Sure,” I thought. “I guess that’s what a baby seal looks like.” But if I had simply paused to really consider what I was seeing, I could have snapped into lucidity, opening myself to the wonderland of conscious dream exploration.

It’s kind of funny, how blindly accepting we are in our dreams. But the fact that most of us live our “waking” lives in a similar way is not funny.

From the moment we rise in the morning, most of us are far from conscious. We wake up already steeping in the melodramas of our stories, our minds swirling with things we needs to buy, emails we needs to write, judgements about ourselves and others, conversations we had and conversations we imagine, fragments of songs, and fantasies for the weekend. We continue to bathe in the swirl of our ego's thoughts through getting dressed, eating breakfast, commuting, working, exercising, and interacting with loved ones, our inner commentary never on break. Finally, we go to bed at night with our minds still a circus until eventually we fall asleep.

As if our very existence were a dream, most of us spend our days without ever consciously pausing to witness, to establish real presence, to wake up to what is

To awaken in our dreams we have to realize we’re dreaming. To Awaken in our lives we also have to realize we’ve been dreaming. For a spiritually fulfilling life, we must wake up in the dream of this conditioned existence. We must awaken to the truth of who we really are and what really matters.

I can tell you who you really are: love. I can also tell you what really matters: also, love. But for you to hear this is one thing -- you won’t really know it until you feel it in your beautiful bones. And only you can wake yourself up. So go ahead and whisper it in your own ear: "Wake up, sleepyhead! It's lucid time!"

 

Blog photograph by Sarah Gustafson

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Lock down a lucid dream this very night

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Lock down a lucid dream this very night

Last night I had not one but three lucid dreams, thanks to the (totally legal) dream lucidity cheat pill: galantamine. An extract from the Red Spider Lily, galantamine is a memory enhancer with the awesome side effect of augmented dream recall. Taking it can result in lucid dreaming too, especially if it's ingested several hours into one's sleep cycle. The stuff works. I've tried it five times now (over a period of several months) and it's led to lucidity 5/5 times for me.

I'm currently reading a book on Dream Yoga and I'm signed up to take a lucid dreaming course with Fariba Bogzaran in September, but, despite having dreams on my mind these days as much as ever, it has been quite a while since I've had a lucid dream. For the past few months I've been cutting out precious REM time by waking up an hour earlier than usual each day to meditate. I'm certainly enjoying the benefits of meditation so far, but I've been missing my lucid adventures too. So yesterday I decided to take a bit of a shortcut. Knowing I could sleep in today, last night I went to bed at midnight and set my alarm to wake me up five hours later.

Right before my alarm went off at 5am, I was actually already in a mildly lucid dream. In it, I had been watching two people partake in a Pokemon battle (at least that's what I think it was) in an otherwise bare room. They were throwing red energy balls at each other. But these seemed to originate from their bare hands, causing me to question reality and recognize I was dreaming. Once I realized I was dreaming, I somehow "knew" I was in a layer of hell and that each floor below was another (presumably worse) layer. Naturally, I decided to check them out.

I went down one flight of stairs and entered a room of violinists sitting poised to perform against an ominous backdrop of glowing red light. They began playing their violins to a tune I couldn't immediately place though it instantly caused my chest to flood with emotion. As soon as I realized it was I Love You Always Forever, I realized why and broke out laughing in delight.

I hadn't heard this song in probably at least a decade, but it used to mean a great deal to me. This was my song in the first grade, a time of great creativity but also great loneliness and longing for me. I'd sit with my radio in the front yard for hours at a time that year, listening to KORR 104 and praying my song would come on. I lived for when it did. And now I was hearing it again, over 15 years later, in this silly dream "hell."

After the song I noticed a small group of other people watching the performance too. Curious if they were also lucid dreamers dreaming the same dream (something I'm prone to suspect while I'm in a lucid dream), I asked them, "Who are you?"

A young, well-dressed man told me (somewhat incredulously), well, he was in finance and had a family and liked sports and drinking and fashion and was just trying to get by, really -- aren't we all? He had a point. As I was contemplating that we're all just dreamers trying to remember not to take everything (including "hell") at face value, my alarm went off.

After taking the galantamine (8 mg of it, chased with 500mg of choline to prevent any headaches), I had two more dreams. Both were "wake-induced," meaning I did not become lucid in a "normal" dream. I entered each dream lucidly. In the first, I found myself in a big, dark basement. I chose to follow the darkness, because in dreams that's where there's more to learn about ourselves, according to dream yoga. I found a bunch of teens passed out on various couches. One of them told me they were all "wasted" thanks to their "manager."

That's when I remembered (excitedly) that last night I had set out to sing the Gayatri mantra within my dream. So, accompanied by my new friend, I lucidly sang the beautiful mantra until I woke up.

I lay still and replayed my first two lucid dreams of the night until I entered a third one, also set in a basement. But I didn't want to be in a building anymore, so I practiced LaBerge's spinning technique as I set an intention to change the dream scene to a forrest. Unfortunately, the only result was dizziness so I had no choice but to take the long(er) route.

I found my way out of the building and took to the sky, flying with a tired dream body (which might have been a result of the galantamine). I flew until the terrain looked sufficiently forrest-y. When I landed, I found some interesting creatures that looked like deflated green and purple rubber costumes, but filled up and came to life when I spoke to them. I can't remember what they said, but I remember they were kind of cute. And that's all I remember.

When I woke up, Breakfast at Tiffany's was playing in my head. Not sure how it got there (was it playing in my dream?), but I didn't hate it. My stomach felt a little odd from the pills, but as soon as I ate some eggs (after writing down my dreams of course), I felt fine. All in all, last night was worth it, and taking galantamine continues to be my one bulletproof recommendation for achieving night-of lucidity.

Give galantamine a go and share your experience in the comments! And feel free to send me your dreams (lucid or not) whenever you feel so inclined.

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How do lucid dreaming and VR compare?

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How do lucid dreaming and VR compare?

     Everyone and their mom is talking about virtual reality. It’s the new hotness, and for good reason. Virtual reality now has the potential to transform the realms of entertainment, education, psychology, health care, gaming, fashion, art, sports, science and more beyond the degree almost anyone could have predicted just a few years ago. VR can deliver to your living room awe-inspiring, larger-than-life experiences you could never otherwise have accessed. It’s a means of time travel, teleportation and transcendence. But if some of the biggest virtual reality proponents gave lucid dreaming a try, I wonder if VR wouldn’t lose some of its seduction.

     Before I get into that, though, I want to clarify I'm not about to suggest the practice of lucid dreaming is superior to, let alone a replacement for virtual reality technology. I admit that there are practical applications of virtual reality that lucid dreaming simply does not address. For example, lucid dreaming cannot be used to see/visit "real" places. When you "visit" a physical location (on this earth or far across the universe) in a lucid dream, you will always be visiting your conception of it. VR won't actually transport you to that place either, but you could very well find yourself in a visually-accurate simulation of it. Lucid dreaming also cannot deliver the experience of being present at a live event -- think a concert or game -- in real time like VR can (with its 3D camera and live stream technology). (Unless, of course, you believe in astral travel.) And, unlike VR, lucid dreaming is not a viable solution for professional problems such as building planning, surgery training or crime scene reconstruction. Finally, VR does not require practice or skills like lucid dreaming does -- all you need is money to access VR.

     But with all that said, lucid dreaming can offer much that VR cannot.

     First of all, when lucid dreaming you aren’t limited by anybody else’s imagination or production output like you are with virtual reality. Once you shift into lucidity, your dream becomes a completely open creativity playground unique to you and to that moment, where the only bounds are your imagination, your awareness and your expectations (such as whether gravity should exist or not). You become all all-powerful artist, witch/warlock, even god/dess. With VR, no matter how much flexibility you have in exploring and shaping your environment, you’ll always be working within the bounds of somebody else’s vision and code.

     Next, a big one for me: the lucid dreaming experience engages all five senses - not just audio and visual like VR. In a lucid dream you can choose to see and hear but also smell, taste and feel anything you can imagine. Like many lucid dreamers, I’ve flown like a bird through both the day and night skies in my dreams, receiving the exhilaration of flight throughout my entire body. I've tried strange treats dreamt up by my mind with mouth-watering results. I’ve swam with fish, feeling on my skin the water in addition to seeing it surround me. Others have even experienced living in the opposite sex’s body. In VR it may look and sound like you’re in another world, but without involving your other senses you won’t fully feel as if you’re there. (Virtual reality technology is still in its infancy, however. A full sensory experience may become possible through VR technology in a matter of time, and learning from the physiology of lucid dreaming could help with this development.) 

     Lucid dreaming also offers something sacred that virtual reality will never be able to: a direct connection between your conscious, subconscious and unconscious minds, enabling you to actually ask questions of the unseen observer within and receive answers to them. (As a bit of an aside, certain hallucinogenic drugs might also make this pathway to higher consciousness available, sure, but with drugs you would have to give up the reins to what exactly you see and experience in exchange for that access. Thus the application of hallucinogens becomes much less useful if you have a specific intention around what you’d like to find in/ask of your unconscious. In lucid dreams you’re, well, lucid.) To go one step further, there's no VR equivalent to the spiritual aspects of lucid dreaming in general. For example, you cannot use VR to plant an intention into your own subconscious or interface with your inner spirit guide through VR. 

     Finally, lucid dreaming is free as well as ad free, whereas virtual reality devices are expensive and the experience won't be immune to marketing for long. (Though imagine how effective lucid-dream-delivered ads could be if they were possible. And equally annoying…just picture one taking over your dream just as you were soaring up into an unknown galaxy!)

     At the end of the day, though, I see more similarities between virtual reality and lucid dreaming than differences. In a Venn diagram of VR and LD, the center would not be a sliver. There’s plenty of overlap in terms of both use cases and benefits:

  • Adventure (from battling beasts to racing cars to traipsing through a jungle) 
  • Practice (from landing a plane to singing before a group to having challenging conversations at work)
  • Meditation (In VR and lucid dreams you can enjoy meditating while surrounded by a simulated valley of peace. But in a lucid dream you can go one step further and directly experience your Oneness with the universe by being an animal, an inanimate object, a sound or even energy itself.)
  • Breaking through phobias (You can choose to face that which you fear most — encountering spiders or reliving a painful memory, for example — with both VR and lucid dreaming in order to train yourself to move past the fear.)
  • Entertainment (Music, drama, action, romance — entertainment of every flavor can be available through both VR and lucid dreaming, though, again, in lucid dreams you can’t experience real events in real time and in VR you can’t design and create the entertainment yourself from scratch.)
  • Education (In VR a qualified external teacher or program can teach you something brand new and in a comprehensive manner. Through lucid dreaming you can teach yourself what you didn’t know you knew, surfacing your own tacit and implicit knowledge.)
  • Escape (Though only VR allows you to do this on the spot and during your waking life.)
  • Exploration (From actual museums and planets with VR, to the corners of your own mind and levels of your own consciousness with lucid dreaming, both VR and LD are ripe with potential to feed your inner explorer.)

So there you have it. Ultimately virtual reality and lucid dreaming satisfy many of the same goals but in different ways while also presenting very unique uses. Personally, I'm excited about using VR as a way to strengthen my lucid dreaming practice, providing a powerful means of conditioning for in-dream lucidity while awake. I hope someone will develop a lucid-dream-trainer app or game soon!

Lucid dreamers and VR fanatics, please comment below with your own thoughts on the topic of VR vs./plus LD!

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From You, To You

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From You, To You

Have you ever been slapped silly by spontaneous insight from within? Hit upside the head by an unmistakeable message? Just in time for New Year’s resolutions, I was, via dream. And I’m still reeling from it.

It’s said that traveling increases one’s chance of lucid dreaming thanks to the influx of unfamiliar stimuli during the waking state. I was in Florida for the holidays this year and, sure enough, one night in Miami I became lucid.

Flying is the first thing many people do when they become lucid. I actually became lucid because I was flying. “Wait, I can’t fly,” I realized mid-flight. “This has got to be a dream!” I remembered my intention to summon my "spirit guide," something that has been on my lucid dream bucket list for a while. I shouted “I want to meet my spirit guide!” up at the sky and soon I found myself face to face with a man (to my slight dismay - I was hoping for a goddess) who looked strikingly like Michael Caine.

I can’t remember all the details of the dream. (I let it go on for too long before waking myself up and I’d had one too many key lime pie martinis the night before to make myself write it down in the morning.) But I do remember one part distinctly.

“Do you have any messages for me?” I asked my Michael-Caine-looking guide. “Oh, we’re sending you messages all the time,” he replied, “in your dreams but also while you’re awake.” He motioned towards a towering contraption which seemed to include a satellite dish. “But you won’t receive them unless you’re tuned into a high enough vibrational frequency. Luckily that’s something you can work on.”

Needless to say, I woke up with my mind blown. The message could not have been more clear. Now, provided the contents of our dreams come solely from our own conscious, subconscious and unconscious minds, my spiritual “guide” and the other guides he referenced are probably just me. In dreams, and in life at large, we're conditioned to perceive everything in terms of "I" versus Other, instead of recognizing the ultimate truth: that there is no Other. So even though I was able to receive it visually and through a conversation (thanks to creative power of dreams) I believe what I experienced was my Self metaphorically messaging my ego self, “Yo dawg. U gotta be prepared 2 hear me. I’m the real U.”

I received the message like a slap in the face, so I kept it simply this year with only one New Year's resolution: In 2016 resolve to stay tuned into the highest vibrational frequency I can, where I can communicate with my true nature, just like my "spirit guide" said I should.

With my recently cemented intention of tuning in and remaining tuned in, attempts at contact by my Self to myself are becoming more recognizable to me, if only after the fact. For example, just in the week since returning from Miami I’ve had several conversation about dreams within my dreams, as if my mind were guiding me, even coaxing me to become lucid. In fact, last night I had not one but two dreams in which the topic of not just dreaming but lucid dreaming came up. In one dream a personified teddy bear was reading a manuscript I had written and asked me if I was on drugs when I wrote it. My reply? “No, it’s wild because it’s inspired by my lucid dreams.”

Other oneironauts might smile in recognition. The talking stuffed animal did not make me question my surrounding reality, but could there really be a more obvious prompt than the words “lucid dreaming”?  This kind of signal from the layers of consciousness should be unmistakeable, and, since it’s become frequent for me, starting today I will do my best to perform a reality check each time I read/see/hear/say anything about the topic of lucid dreaming or dreaming in general. (The idea is that I’ll make this enough of a habit that I’ll remember to do it in my dreams as well and will come to realize I’m dreaming -- when, after hearing a dream character say “dream,” for example, I look at my palm as a reality check and see the lines on it swimming around, instead of remaining static.)

The more often I have lucid dreams, the more often I can “talk” to my subconscious, unconscious and higher Self so directly. But, like Batman’s butler told me, dreams aren’t the only vehicle for insight. We’ve got 24 hours to be tuned in each day. Our “guide” is always there. Within. Tryna text us. So turn on your notifications this year, please!

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[Lucid dream] Dinosaurs and delusions

I woke up at 5am this morning, wrapped myself up in a sweatshirt, sweatpants, a fleece coat and a fleece blanket, meditated in the dark for 23 minutes and then went right back to bed. This midnight meditation was planned. It's a two-for. I was practicing the WBTB (wake back to bed) lucid dream induction technique, which requires the practitioner to wake up towards the last part of her/his sleep cycle and do something active (reading or writing, for example) for half an hour to an hourish before going back to sleep. The idea is to sharpen awareness right before entering the REM-rich end of the sleep cycle. (Because there's nothing to distract me so early in the morning, I figured why not knock a sitting session out during the awake time. If you read my last post, you know I'm on a meditation crack-down. And it doesn't hurt that meditation has been reporting to enhance lucidity in dreams.)

Last night marked around the 20th time I've tried the WBTB technique, and probably the fifth time or so that it has resulted in a lucid dream for me. These are not bad odds for a lucid dream technique, but the price is sleep. I lay awake for what felt like around an hour after getting back in bed, wondering if I'd fall back asleep at all before my 8am alarm. But suddenly I found myself in sleep paralysis (the state in which the body is asleep but the mind's still awake.) Sleep paralysis can be terrifying -- ask anyone who has experienced it. I've hallucinated a crazed old banshee sitting on my chest and choking me during sleep paralysis before. Let's just say I can go without a replay of that. But now I know sleep paralysis is a natural part of WILD (wake-induced lucid dreams), so I welcomed the sensation of my body becoming dead weight and the vibrating around my ears. "I'm about to go lucid," I told myself to stay calm.

After about a minute or so I decided it was safe to do a reality check. I brought my right hand to my nose and plugged up my nostrils. "If I can still breathe," I thought, "Then I'll know I'm dreaming." And in fact I could still breathe despite a closed off mouth and nose. But I still couldn't believe I was dreaming, because my room looked no different than it had when I woke up to meditate at 5am. The moonlight was realistic. The furniture was an exact replica of the real thing. I woke my boyfriend up and he tried to convince me that I was not actually dreaming. But the freckles on his face keep me suspicious...I couldn't remember him having freckles in "real life."

So I brought him into the hall and decided to prove to him that we were in a dream. Already I'd made a mistake at this point in the dream. I mistook my mind's projection of a person as the real person somehow transported to my dream, or perhaps also dreaming the same dream -- a rookie mistake. But I couldn't help it. He seemed so genuine and I was excited to have a buddy for my lucid adventure. In the hall I tried to fly with little success -- I expected not to be able to fly through the ceiling and so I wasn't able to: the expectation effect. "Let's go outside, " I suggested, where I knew I'd be able to fly.

Out on the grass (where it was already light out), I easily flew up towards the clouds and, now finally convinced it was in fact a dream we were in, my dream character boyfriend flew up to join. "To outer space!" I yelled into the sky and we flew higher and higher. But I could tell we weren't going fast enough to make it to the depths of space, assuming our dream movement was following the rules of physics. "Faster!" I exclaimed. "To outer space!"

We approached a deep blue up above. I thought we'd burst through it into deep space, but instead we splashed up over a beautiful, prehistoric ocean next to a luscious island with a mountain in the center. "Welcome to Jurassic Park," I heard or read or felt. "Let's go see the dinosaurs," I said to my projection of a boyfriend (whose independent existence I was still sure of at the time) and we approached the mountain.

It was like a Disney ride, rushing water curving down around the mountain in a ribbon. First there were only dogs splashing in the water but soon I felt the presence of something much larger and, right on point, a gargantuan triceratops appeared, snapping at me on the side of the mountain, spinning me into a panic. "Let's get out of here!" I yelled, just as my boyfriend turned into a fish and fell into the river, mere feet away from the dinosaur.

I debated for a moment. Should I leave him? He wasn't my living, breathing boyfriend, after all. But...what if he actually was, somehow? Was it worth the risk? Of course I must save him, I decided, so I flew right up to the triceratops and scooped up my little fish of a boyfriend out of the water and into my hand, shooting up through the sky with him, safe and free.

At this point I remembered my intention to ride on a train in a lucid dream so I tried to do the spinning technique to spin up my desired new dream scene. However, I couldn't get it to work without something solid under my feet. Instead I had a false awakening, during which I wrote down my dream before I woke up for real, right before my 8am alarm.

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[Lucid dream] New book inspiration + my upcoming workshop: Dream Yoga and Lucid Dreaming 101

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[Lucid dream] New book inspiration + my upcoming workshop: Dream Yoga and Lucid Dreaming 101

Have you ever wondered about the power and meaning of dreams? Have you ever realized in a dream that you were dreaming? Have you ever been able to "control" your dream? Have you ever wanted to?

If so and if you're in the Bay Area, join me Saturday, December 5th on a journey to understand yourself better and grow through the practice of dream yoga and lucid dreaming (based on Tibetan dream yoga as well the works of Westerners Stephen LaBerge and Robert Waggoner.)

DETAILS:

  • What: Dream Yoga and Lucid Dreaming 101 workshop
  • When: Saturday, December 5th (1:00 - 3:30pm)
  • Where: Yoga Mayu Noe Valley
  • ost: $40

 

LEARN:

  • Theories of how and why we dream
  • The history of lucid dreaming and Tibetan dream yoga
  • The philosophy of lucid dreaming and Tibetan dream yoga
  • Practical "how to" methods for inducing lucid dreaming
  • Practical "how to" methods for play and personal growth through your dreams

As a bonus, learn about yoga sequencing to prepare yourself for a better night's sleep.

PREWORK:

Please record all your dreams (as soon as you wake up each morning) for at least two weeks preceding the workshop in a notebook and bring this notebook to the workshop. The longer and more diligently you work on your dream recall ability the more prepared you will be for the practice of lucid dreaming.

Sign up now to save your spot for this workshop via the Yoga Mayu website!


Now, as I alluded to in my previous post, I had a legendary lucid dream this weekend while away on retreat on a farm in the Sonoma Mountains. It was so powerful that I'm planning to write a novel based on the world I visited and what I experienced there. You'll have to wait for the book to find out what happens (and it could be a while), but here's a teaser:

My boyfriend and I were flying through the sky. I realized I was dreaming and announced this to him. He was controlling how fast we were going (which made me believe I was actually in HIS dream) & he kept making us go faster & faster. I had never flown as fast as we were flying before, and I had the uneasy feeling we were being watched. "I think this is dangerous," I said. "Let's slow down."

e complied and we began descending back to the ground, finally arriving before some kind of government building emblazoned with a bold, hollow triangle, yellow with black stripes. We went it.

It was warm inside, with soft light, maroon walls and the ambiance of a busy, high-end restaurant at dinner, but full of bright young people in futuristic garb. It felt a bit like a non-magic Hogwarts, but corporate. Institutional, maybe scientific. It was a grand building, perhaps a world of its own.

But before I could take full stock of where we were and what was taking place around us, two seemingly executive characters in lab coats approached. I was quickly separated from my boyfriend and ushered by these characters into a small interrogation-like room.

They closed the door and smiled at me. "We know what you're doing," they said. "And we don't like it."


Stay tuned for more. If I'm lucky my dreams will continue to bring me inspiration and plot ideas for the book. But if not, I'll have to let my imagination run wild. Either way, it's the same source right? Or is it...?

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[Lucid dream] Is there a stand-alone dream world out there?

Last night's lucid dream shook me hard. I remember few details, but I woke up this morning with the weighty realization that the grasp I thought I had on what dreams are is shaky at best. The work I still have ahead of me is staggering.

Throughout last night's dream I encountered not one, but many characters that seemed to be conscious, aware, independent beings like myself. I got the impression that we were all lucid dreaming together. The first character I encountered was a young red-headed girl stepping down from a bus. Recognizing something about her, I exclaimed, "You're here too!" and she gave me bright-eyed hug.

In fact, Only about 10% of the characters (people?) in my dream (our dream?) seemed to be aware. Those of us who were tried to keep it hidden from the rest of the characters, but we were all acutely excited about what appeared to be a mutual experience.

The dream was long, with three distinct parts, and that towards the end I examined my palms several times for stabilization and to prevent losing lucidity. But throughout the dream as I came across more and more familiar faces and knowing eyes, I was sure I was on to something. 

Then I remembered I could ask the Dreaming itself. "How can it be that so many people in my dream seem to also recognize they're dreaming too?" I yelled up at the ceiling. "What's going on?" The dream didn't answer. Instead, all the characters in my dream turned to look at me, which in turn made me self-conscious and paranoid. I could not understand what was going on. One dream character came over to me looking exasperated. I instantly felt she had some greater insight into what was happening. I could also tell I was in trouble.

"We should talk," I said to her. "But I have to go now or I'll forget all of this." At that point I looked down and noticed my feet were floating off the floor. "I'm going to fly and, by flying, wake myself up!" I announced.

I shot up and found myself waking up in bed. It was still dark out. I grabbed my computer and started writing down the dream. However, this was only a false awakening. By the time I woke up in real life, most of the dream details had slipped away from me.

Perhaps the events of last night's dream were a result of my internal paranoia about dream characters, but - I can't help but leave the possibility open - what if in fact I've uncovered something deeper about dreaming? If not, at least I've acquired some solid material for a sci-fi novel.

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[Lucid dream] Experimenting with telepathy

Yesterday was one of my favorite days of summer so far. I started it off with Amanda Moran at Yoga Tree Hayes. The theme was sound and the flow was rhythmic. I got so in the zone of my practice that during savasana I began experiencing hypnogogic imagery and was moments away from falling into a very deep sleep. I stumbled into La Boulange in a daze afterwards for a mini prosciutto sandwich on olive bread with a side of fruit and a cup of coffee. In the corner of the cafe, I read the first few pages of "The Book of Strange New Things" over breakfast, and then I walked home in the warm August San Francisco sun.

The rest of the day was spent at Ocean Beach with my fellow lucid dreamer Nick and his friend Barbara. We enjoyed a picnic of Parisian baguettes and Big Sur jams and cheeses as we talked about lucid dreams. The more we discussed, the more excited we all got. 

We asked the big questions."What ARE dream characters?" "Is there really a cosmic consciousness and can we tap into it through lucid dreaming?" "Do you think we could visit each other's dreams?" As I looked from Nick to Barbara and back with the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean and the airplanes skimming overhead, I knew I'd have a lucid dream last night. In fact, it felt like we were already there. We joked as we did a few reality checks together, but I don't think I would have been surprised to discover we were, actually, in a dream.

At the beach, Nick and I agreed to attempt dream telepathy last night. We each were to go home and draw an object for the other to find in a lucid dream. No hints. 

At the end of the night after hours spent on the beach I went home sunburnt and ready to dream. I drew my object for Nick (which I won't reveal until he has had a chance to go lucid and look for it), watched a few episodes of "Wet Hot American Summer" on Netflix and passed out. 

In the middle of the night I had a bizarre dream:

Some man (that I seemed to be working for) had killed a young girl. I discovered her on the bottom floor of a multi-storied building in a bathtub soaking in her own blood. I can't recall the details, but it soon became clear to me that there was a strong chance I'd be framed for her death. Since I had been the one to discover her there my fingerprints were everywhere and I was convinced my employer would blame me. 

Once I realized this, I determined to flee the building as quickly as possible. I was scaling the stairs up from one floor to another, attempting to reach the top of the building where I'd somehow escape. At the base of one of the stair sets, though, I noticed an unusually large gap between the floor and the first step. "This isn't right," I thought. "This has got to be a dream! Thank goodness! Now let's fly out of here."

I failed to fly through the ceiling - damn expectation effect - so I looked for a window instead. The window worked. I squeezed through then shot up and up through the atmosphere to finally find myself uncomfortably high above an industrial city. I felt like a god, floating so far above a dream world of miniature warehouses and bright-colored transport trucks. I looked at my hands to stabilize the dream and then, joyfully, I remembered my task. "Bring me to the dream symbol Nick drew for me!" I yelled.

I immediately found myself in the floor of an office that could have been an old public high school. I seemed to have been transported into one of the warehouses I had seen from above. Papers were stacked from floor to ceiling. "Where's Nick's stuff?" I asked the young dream characters that I assumed worked there. Someone walked me to a new room. 

The first thing I noticed upon walking in was a couple of basketballs next to each other on a shelf. "Basketball," I said to myself. "Nick's sign for me is a basketball!" There were other artifacts in the room - animal horns and wadded balls of paper - but nothing stood out to me like the basketballs did. Through experience, I've learned I tend to overestimate during lucid dreams how much I'll actually be able to remember upon waking so I continued repeating to myself throughout the rest of the dream: "It's a basketball."
 

The dream didn't last much longer, though. Before I could make my next lucid dream move, my boyfriend shifted next to me and I woke up.

Lucid dreaming is fascinating and imbued with potential. Through lucid dreaming, I believe we have the power to unlock immense creativity, resolve complex problems, and even perform self-healing. Telepathy, however, I'm not so sure about yet. But I can't and won't write it off. I'm still just setting out on my dream journey and I plan to continue this journey for the rest of my life. There is much left to try and much left to learn.

I texted Nick this morning to test my guess. "Close," he texted back. "Same shape and color." Coincidence? Maybe...but maybe not. I'm ready for another round of this game.

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[Lucid dream] Potato starch and running

On Saturday I came hope after a friend's birthday BBQ a bit tipsy. I was reading the forums on the lucid dream site LD4all.com in bed and came across a post in which someone mentioned that eating potato starch has the effect of making one's dreams vivid and movie like. In my floaty head state, of course I immediately ordered some on Amazon.

Yesterday my potato starch arrived. I mixed some into my evening smoothie, and, lo and behold, last night I had a lucid dream:

I'm in a classroom, sitting at the front of the room in a shopping cart. Sandra Bullock is going to be lecturing in just a couple minutes but I really have to pee so I sneak out. It turns out we are actually in some kind of church and I have to navigate my way through people dressed up in elaborate ceremonial costumes in attempt to find a restroom. A girl in a headdress apparently knows me and yells that I have no business interrupting their proceedings and need to get the hell out. "You psycho!"  I yell. "I was just trying to get to the bathroom!"

I turn around and start running (in case she chases me) and it's at this point I become fully lucid. I've never run while lucid before (but it seems to be a great alternative to spinning in terms of getting to a new scene.) I feel like a cartoon character with machinelike arms and legs going round and round. The only limit to how fast I can go is my imagination.  



I end up somewhere dark, with tiny bubbles. As soon as I decide I must be underwater, fish big and small begin swimming around me. A great sharklike shadow skims below me and I think, "Alright - enough of this. Land now!" I'm immediately pulled up out of the water and plopped onto an island.

The island is the size of a restaurant and there's only one other person on it with me: a man on a cellphone. I can't recall now what he was talking about but, since he was occupied, I busied myself with concentrating on keeping my lucidity, recognizing that the dream had gotten pretty long at that point. 


I examine my hands and repeat, "Lucid, lucid, lucid" to myself. My hands look so realistic that I question if I'm really dreaming. Suddenly I see someone else on the island: the girl who had confronted me in the church. "Oh crap!" I think. "I gotta get outta here!" And just then, the alarm wakes me up.

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[Lucid dream] Who's running the lab here?

Last night I went to bed tired as can be. It was one of those juicy falling asleep experiences where you feel your body becoming numb in stages as you merge with the bed. I slept for ten hours and had a long lucid dream around 7am followed by a false awakening. I've lost many details of the lucid dream in the hours since it took place, but what I remember I've recounted below.

I can't remember what incited my lucidity, but in my dream I became lucid standing in my bedroom. Once I realized I was dreaming I flew all around my room like a frog, but expectation constraints prevented me from traveling through my walls or ceiling. I wanted to be in a more interesting setting or at least have characters to interact with but I was struggling to break through psychological barriers.

It felt like I'd be stuck in my room forever. I wasn't making progress and I was scared of losing awareness and control. To prolong lucidity, I occasionally stabilized my consciousness by staring at the criss-crossing lines on my palms and performed reality checks by pulling my fingers (which tend to lengthen like taffy in dreams). 

Once when I pulled my finger, I saw open space behind a few yellow strings that I tried to travel "into." I had read about others traveling into parts of their bodies in lucid dreams and, curious about what I might find in there, decided to give it ago. I set the intention and concentrated on making it happen. No luck. (I must not have expected it to work so it didn't.) I needed a new plan for adventure. I was lucid - a rare and delicious occurrence for me - and going to take advantage of it, damnit! 

Finally, I remembered to call on LaBerge's classic trick of "spinning" to change my setting. I looked at my feet and shuffled them out and out, twirling on the carpet of my bedroom. I emerged in a minimalist futuristic street scene. Success!

Not sure what I saw or did in this new setting, but at one point in the dream I ran into my boyfriend. My boyfriend is an oneironaut like myself, so I decided to take the opportunity to try an experiment. Excitedly I approached him and said, "Hey, you're in my lucid dream! You might be dreaming too right now! Try to become lucid!" (This morning when I asked him, he said he dreamt we slept next to each other but he can't remember his other dreams. Mutual lucid dreaming experiment inconclusive.)

Towards the end of my lucid dream I remembered the intention I had recently set to ask the dream itself what I should do next within the dream. "Dream! What should I do next?" I yelled up at the sky. An animated portrait of a woman on the wall drew my attention. She started talking to me, telling me about something she wanted or needed, but I couldn't quite understand what she said so I ignored her. "You want a what?" I said. "A TV?" I saw her face break out into frustration but I didn't stay back to get her response.

I kept walking and decided to try again. "Dream! Tell me what I should do next." Immediately the sky overhead turned terrifying. Angry thunder exploded, cracks of lightening broke out, and the dream collapsed.

I "woke up" in a research lab, with a woman in a white lab coat telling me I had made a mistake. "We planted that girl in the portrait," she said. "You were supposed to listen to her."

Now that I'm awake I wish I had listened to the portrait. I doubt she was an independent agent of any kind "planted" by a dream researcher or anyone else, but she could have been a dream symbol or the voice of my unconscious itself. And what if she had something important to tell me or show me? 

I've experienced my mind as a lab before and I think the metaphor fits. But it's less clear to me now who the head of the lab really is. The more I meditate the more clearly I see that we are not our egos. Thankfully the ego and the mind are two different things. 

So what makes up or creates the sum of our conscious, subconscious and unconscious if not our egos? Is there an overseer at all - a head of the lab? I'm starting to think we don't run our own labs, but at least through lucid dreaming (and yoga and meditation and mindfulness and psychology) we can closely observe our labs and learn what there is to learn.

The more I dream the more I question. The more I question the more I dream!

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[Lucid dream] transformation, music and dream talk

After a many month dry spell, I finally had another lucid dream last night. For some reason (okay, probably in large part because I haven't been incubating or waking naturally or, most importantly, writing down my dreams) my luck with lucidity had seemed to run out. I'd all but given up hope, and so have stopped practicing induction techniques except for the lazy trick of reciting "lucid, lucid, lucid" in my mind while peering at myself in the mirror during midnight restroom trips. Last night it worked. 

The night was hot and loud. Sirens sounded on the half hour it seemed. My sleep was light and restless. Towards the hours before sunrise, lucidity landed in my dream spontaneously.

I was walking the streets of an industrial town when it dawned on me. Once I realized I was dreaming, without any instigation from a dream sign, my first instinct, like that of so many lucid dreamers, was to take to the air, to levitate. I willed myself off the street and rose above the buildings, kicking my arms and legs like a frog to take myself higher and higher. I dove through alleys and bounced from roof to roof, noting how realistic the texture of the roofs felt.

With great joy I flew across blocks and blocks before it crossed my mind to try something else. Eventually I thought, "Hey, I should practice my transformation skills!" Because I have had little hope of becoming lucid after almost six months without any lucid dreams, I didn't exactly have list of planned options readily available. The first thing that popped into my head was "I could experience what it would be like to have my body turned inside out," but I quickly reneged. What a terrible idea! I frantically grasped for another to replace it. "I want to experience feeling what it's like to be Cinderella!" I blurted out. Don't ask my where this desire came from. This is why you prepare, people.

I quickly fell to the earth and, in a shabby dress, began picking tomatoes as I was yelled at by a large woman from the back porch of what was seemingly Cinderella's house. This experiment didn't last long. I decided to come back to my dream self and chose to next try changing the environment of the dream. Again, lack of recent preparation set me up for a random choice. "Birthday party!" I declared to the dreamscape. I pointed to the left. "Now!" I pointed to the right. "Now!" And before my eyes the scene changed - balloons and clowns in rainbow colors appeared and so did a few friends. Then one of my favorite lucid dream events happened: the people around me broke into coordinated song and dance. My mind presented a creative, entertaining musical for me. The topic was dreams, but unfortunately I cannot now recall the lyrics (though, at the time, I was somehow sure I would be able to).

At the conclusion of the performance, a conversation about dreams naturally arose. My friends agreed that we just might be in an independently-existing alternate reality. Someone, I cannot now recall his waking connection to me, said, "We should talk tomorrow. I believe we might be having the same dreams." Someone else said, "We shouldn't talk about this anymore. The dream characters won't like it." With that, we turned back to enjoying the sensory input of the dream.

I then ate a few pieces of candy and tried to find paper to jot down what happened in my dream so far. I seemed to believe I would be able to take the paper with me from my dream into my waking life. Alas, I couldn't find any paper. At this point, I think I also started losing lucidity because I didn't even consider attempting to conjure up some paper myself.

"What now?" I asked the group. "I guess I could practice healing. Does anyone have anything that hurts?" A girl I know from a singing group said her finger had been hurting. I pressed the tip of my pointer finger into the side of hers. I focused on transferring healing energy into her, closing my eyes to help with concentration. When I opened my eyes, I woke up in my bed. The dream was done, but my faith that more will come has been renewed.

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Dream yoga: rediscovering a dreamscape

Last night I finally had another lucid dream after three weeks of nightly dream incubation and daily reality checks. I can't say for certain why last night was successful, but it may be because I went to bed later than usual (I was up thinking about this blog) and so fell into a deeper sleep as a result. The period of lucidity itself was brief, but it was long enough for me to conduct an important check.

In my dream I found myself in a car with my family. We were driving around a beautiful island (that, in my dream, I believed was in Japan or perhaps the Philippines). My dad was at the wheel and began driving out of control on the wrong side of the road and up a bank. My nervousness quickly escalated to terror, which may have triggered my lucidity. "Hey, this is a dream!" I realized, and immediately decided to steady the course with my thoughts (which worked, even though another character was physically manipulating the vehicle).

Then deja vu came over me. I felt I may have been to this place before in another dream. I remembered I had spent my first visit, over a year ago, joyfully exploring one hidden section of the coast as if I were in a wonderland experiencing existence for the very first time. Every structure, every object I noticed there seemed like a surprise planted just for me to marvel at. Thus I was thrilled when it dawned on me I might be returning after so long.

My lucid self decided to verify, so I left the car and approached a corner around which I knew my magic dreamscape would be if I was indeed returning to the same place. Lo and behold, it was there, right where I left it (though this time inexplicably with the addition of a lion). I took my time walking down the street in a state of bliss, absorbing the wonders returning to me, then decided to wake myself up so I could remember what had just happened: the discovery of a personal universal truth.

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Trailer Dreams

It's Sunday. I'm lounging in a hammock on a farm in Sonoma County. I slept inside a cozy Airstream last night and woke up at the crack of dawn to meditate underneath a passionfruit vine and the California sky beyond it. Bees buzzed around the vine as cows om'ed with us from somewhere far off in the distance. Meditation was followed by an outdoor yoga class (focused on aura expansion) and then a "farm-to-table" brunch. I'm dangerously blissed out right now.

This space (the site of an old Indian burial ground) is enchanted. There are trees and hills in all directions with the ocean in sight beyond them to the west. We eat outside at a long wooden table that could comfortably seat eighty people. Strings of golden bulbs are draped on beams above. Our weekend homes, the accommodations in which we sleep, are each unique. In addition to the trailer, there are both round and cone-shaped tents. Some are equipped with their own bathrooms and claw-foot tubs. The shower is a communal, outdoor, spring water shower, built directly around a tree. And let me tell you - using it was a treat after sweating through two yoga classes and a day by the pond in 100 degree weather.

My only complaint about this retreat would be how hard it has been to sleep (what with the animals and sacred spirits floating about). The first night I lay awake for at least in the hour in the middle of the night convinced someone was outside the trailer contemplating coming in. (I later discovered it was probably a fox.) But I am thankful even for the erratic sleep this weekend, because it brought me a long and eventful lucid dream in which I succeeded with "asking the dream" for and receiving something unexpected...

Below is the dream as I recorded it on my phone when I woke up. I made only grammar edits and included takeaways at the end. Enjoy!

 


I'm walking down the street singing a classic rock song. I think "Hey - I didn't know I knew the words to this!" and realize I'm dreaming. My first instinct is to take flight and immediately I find myself flying over a gloomy ocean. It's suddenly very dark. I try shouting "Brighten up!" at the sky but this doesn't work so I accept the darkness and try to adjust to it. It's bright enough to see my hands, which is what really matters. As I fly, I look at my palms frequently to stabilize and prolong the dream. 

I recall my intention of meeting a personal guide and call out to the dream, "I want to see and talk to one of my spirit guides!" Nothing obvious happens, but I keep flying, searching the boats below for such a being. 

I stop to land on several boats. Unfortunately nobody I meet seems to fit the bill and when I ask directly ("Are you my spirit guide?"), everyone says, "No." (Daniel Radcliffe tries to seduce me in one of the boats. Why he popped up in my dream I have no idea but I find it rather amusing.)

"What do you represent?" I ask a handful of dream characters I encounter. A few say, "Nothing." One asks, "What do you mean?" which I don't bother answering. I think only one gives me an abstract concept. It comes from a punk rock office guy and though I don't remember what he said he represented, I'm pretty sure it was sarcastic in tone. (Dream characters aren't always the friendliest.)

After failing to meet my spirit guide, I experience a false awakening in the trailer at the farm. Alissa is in my bed with me. I find this strange and concentrate on falling asleep and going lucid again. Next thing I know I'm back in the dream world - lucid again, this time with Alissa at my side.

On flying skateboards we explore a funky, punky town chalk full of dream characters and 50s diners. I keep trying to shout up to the sky, "Show us something amazingly beautiful!" (another pre-intended experiment) but nothing happens. 
We fly into a window, into a room empty but for a tall mauve curtain. Despite having a bad feeling about the space I announce, "When we open this curtain we'll see something amazingly beautiful behind it." I tell Alissa (or whatever combination of people she has turned into by this point) to pull back the curtain. She rips it open to reveal a bed with a person lying under a sheet. We pull the sheet back and out crawls a bald demonic ghoul. As he starts to reach his bony hands out to us, spit flying from his foul toothless mouth, I tell Alissa instead of fighting him we should project love and kindness onto him. We do, but only halfheartedly. Our fear outweighs our love. We say, "We love you," but then we hurry back out the window and into the air, shouting, "Just kidding bitch!" (I regret this as I was probably talking to an aspect of my own self.)

Somehow we end up standing in a lake in a beautiful valley. Then the finale comes. Again, with conviction I yell up at the sky, "Show us something amazingly beautiful!" I keep chanting this, and as I do rainbows appear across the sky -upwards of ten of them. Every time I repeat the request, thunder cracks and then the sky scene becomes more clear. More rainbows emerge and move in full circles around the sky. I throw pieces of dried mango (a snack I enjoyed during the retreat) to everyone around us in celebration. ("The dream responded!") Then I take a quick sip of someone's iced coffee and wake myself up to end on a good note. The dream has already been going on for such a long time and I don't want to forget any of it.

Things that stood out to me about my experience:

  • My palms looked incredibly accurate in my dream - both engraved with hundreds of lines
  • Throughout everything that happened after Alissa joined me I was convinced that it was a second lucid dream. I didn't realize I had had a false awakening until I woke up.
  • I've never seen so many dream characters at once! An entire busy city of them! Could my mind really be so cluttered?


Things I'd have done differently if given another change:

  • I should have asked the dream characters what I should do next in the dream. 
  • I also should have been more discerning (based on appearance and demeanor) to decide which dream characters to talk to. (I think I wasted my time "talking to" a lot of thought forms.)
  • I should have also tried to find out where we were. (A specific part of my subconscious maybe?)
  • Finally, I should have been more persistent in projecting love onto the "scary" dream character, and I definitely shouldn't have tricked him!


But wow. After months of no lucidity, this was my longest lucid dream yet! Still, much more progress to be made. Time to sign up for a few more yoga retreats...

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The Dream Yoga Diaries

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!)

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