In Buddhist teachings, it is told to us that we are asleep in the waking world and awake in our dream planes. It might sound a bit confusing, but think about it. When we dream, we are raw. We act on impulse and instinct and even the most ridiculous dreams we have make sense to our dream selves. But our daily lives are… boring, for lack of a better word. We are programmed to live by routine, to behave ourselves and to supress our innermost emotions. We don’t understand the world, or even the simplest things within it, like love or life… So we block our confusion out with noise.This leads us to one other beautiful thought that Buddhism can teach us: That both reality and dreams are illusions; that they are two different sides of the same coin.Click To Tweet
Buddha Shakyamuni taught his disciples that all phenomena are dreams. A perfect example of this is the rainbow- it’s not really there, but it’s so vivid, we can behold it with our very own eyes and truly experience it in the so-called waking world. Does it not make sense then, that rainbows are dreams come to visit us? If we can accept that, we can understand that when we sleep, we are not falling out of reality, but rather travelling from one dream state (reality) to the other (our dreams).
This new awareness is the foundation for dream yoga, but before you can learn how to do it, you must understand what it is.
What Is Dream Yoga?
To explain this, let’s compare dream yoga to the art of lucid dreaming.
In lucid dreams, you- the dreamer- are fully conscious within your dreams and can therefore control them. By learning to recognise dream signs, we can train ourselves to know when we are in a dream and in a sense “wake up” inside it.
Lucid dreaming can be beneficial to our psychological well-being. Inside these dreams we can face our fears, build our confidence, or even simply live out our wildest fantasies. Think of it as being inside a book you have written for yourself, or a video game starring you. However, as healthy as lucid dreaming may be, most of us partake in it for the simple reason that it is the most fun you could possibly have with your mind and your soul. You can be or become whatever you like in lucid dreams- from a superhero to the president of the United States. Your dream plane is yours and now that you’re aware of yourself inside it, you can control how it plays out.
Lucid dreaming is the first step to achieving dream yoga. If lucid dreams are books and video games in which we take the lead, dream yoga would be the laboratory of our minds and souls.
It can be said that lucid dreaming is practice, while dream yoga is a journey in self-discovery that can connect, purify and strengthen our souls and transform our waking lives. A good example of this can be explained with nightmares. In a lucid nightmare, the dreamer will change the dream so that it is not scary at all. But with dream yoga, the dreamer will face, and therefore conquer, their fears. If you can do this in your dreams, you can do this in reality- because it’s all your mind and your subconscious, and so you will learn that you are in control.
How to Do Dream Yoga
While it’s not necessary to master lucid dreaming before you attempt dream yoga, knowing how to engage lucid dreams will make dream yoga so much easier. There are various techniques for lucid dreaming, and it might take some practise, but here is a quick and easy guide on how to summon them:
– Spend the day engrossed in lucid dreams. Read about them, talk about them, and think about them. Invoke the mantra “I will have a lucid dream tonight” and repeat it as often as you can throughout the day.
– Make every effort to fall asleep in the best, most comfortable conditions. Go to sleep early and free of stimulants that will keep you awake. Have a relaxing bubble bath beforehand. Make your room as dark and as quiet as possible. Turn off all electronics, and wear comfortable bed clothes.
– Have an alarm clock handy and set it to at least 2 hours before you wake up. The aim of this is to draw you directly out of REM sleep.
– Meditation techniques combined with concentration and breathing (focusing on the idea of having a lucid dream- repeat the mantra if need be) are a great way to start.
– When your alarm goes off, try to switch it off without opening your eyes or moving too fast or too far. As soon as you shut it off, go back to sleep. You will most likely return straight to REM sleep, but now you will be aware that you are dreaming.
– Now that you know you are dreaming, you can proceed to control it. It’s important that you stay relaxed and try not to shock yourself awake.
Now that you are inside a lucid dream, you can begin your nocturnal meditations. If you don’t want to try lucid dreaming first, try this method to go straight into dream yoga.
- When you are in bed about to fall asleep, meditate on the Tibetan syllable “ah”. Visualise it at the centre of your body.
- Keep control of this meditation as you start to doze off. It’s said that in doing so, you will fall asleep with awareness.
When you wake up inside your dreams, you can start doing dream yoga.
- Make every effort to understand your experiences as dreams. Apply this to everything around you. Recognizing them as dream objects will lessen your attachment to them, but it’s a good thing. It will transcend into the waking world. A simple example of this is a scary, monstrous boss. If you can recognise, inside your dream yoga that this horrible person does not affect your own spirit, you will see them in a different light upon waking and they will no longer have the power to harm or upset you.
- Use your dream space to study yourself. Test your spirit and push your limits. While lucid dreaming is the perfect plane to drive your dream car, use dream yoga to figure out why this car makes you so happy and what owning it means to you. Is it insecurity that drives you to measure your worth with material goods? Is it a symbol of power, or a representation of all your hard work? Does money mean too much to you? There could be a number of things you can learn about your own spirit.
- Once you experiment with or experience dream yoga, keep track of all that you have learned. A great way to do this is to keep a dream journal at hand.
With enough practise, you will see that dream yoga purifies the soul and allows us to reset our minds and return us to the basics. Using it, we will slowly but surely wake up in reality and this will give us more power than any lucid dream could ever offer.
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