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Dharma Diagnostic Clinic, aka "What was that?"

Do You Have to Be Sleeping to Dream? Or Are We Dreaming All the Time?

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When I get into equanimity I can get my mind into a very aware, bright place, almost like I'm sitting contentedly in a comfortable, silent cave. Then suddenly I'll emerge from what seems to have been a dream, very short, a micro-dream, totally surreal, non-sensensical to the conscious, rational mind. The content is just a jumble of emotions and events. And I wonder, did I literally fall asleep for a micro-second or a few seconds, or are these dream things occuring all the time underneath the typical torrent mind-states and thoughts, thus obscured but nonetheless contributing to the delusions of the mind? 

Second question, in EQ if one gets one's concentration and mindfulness strong enough, do these stop occuring? Meaning, should I take these as indications that I'm not mindful/concentrated enough or are they just totally unstoppable forces of nature? 

Thanks! 

RE: Do You Have to Be Sleeping to Dream? Or Are We Dreaming All the Time?
Answer
12/8/20 10:52 AM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
Hm, I have these short(1-2s? I don't know) experiences that seem similar. Suddenly I'm shown a scene that I feel has nothing to do with me, that I have no idea of the meaning of-if there really is any. Like in yesterday's meditation there was a brief scene: looking straight at a restaurant kitchen that seemed like it was situated in someone's house and then immediately a sharp veering to the left, 90° to give me a view of the dining area, with a few guests.
Didn't feel like my regular dreams because I wasn't "in it".it was more like being shown a short film clip. 

RE: Do You Have to Be Sleeping to Dream? Or Are We Dreaming All the Time?
Answer
12/8/20 12:02 PM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
As our practice deepens, stuff that used to be subconscious comes up to the surface. I have just assumed that new stuff will continue to pop up, because the conscious we start out with is just a tip of the iceberg, but I don't know if it ever stops. Is it possible to make it all conscious? I have no idea. What I do know is that the assumed boundary between sleep and being awake in the mundane sense becomes very blurry when closely examined. I think it's more relevant to ask ourselves how lucid we were than whether or not we were sleeping. When these things start to show up, we aren't usually that lucid, or at least that's my experience. Still, it did surface, so we were more lucid with regard to this specific kind of processing than we used to be. That's progress, even though it certainly doesn't always feel like it. If it starts to happen for the most part of our sessions for a longer period we might need to take some measures to increase our energy, like making sure to get enough sleep, because something like this can also be a symptom of sleep deprivation. However, having this happen seems to be normal development as far as I know. 

I recognize both your examples and Helen's from my own practice. They still occur, but I can see a development towards increasing lucidity about it as it happens. I have also started being aware of sleeping even when dreaming in the sense I'm used to think about dreaming is not occurring. This is something that has developed very gradually. It usually happens during naps, not as much during the night sleep. I have also had more instances of lucid dreaming. 

As for the question if we are dreaming the whole time, it might be worth investigating. I have come to some preliminary conclusions based on my experience, but it's probably something that is better to investigate for oneself than hear from someone who isn't qualified to teach. If you are interested, it might be worthwhile to check out Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's teaching and his book The Tibetan yogas of dream and sleep

RE: Do You Have to Be Sleeping to Dream? Or Are We Dreaming All the Time?
Answer
12/9/20 7:47 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Nailed it, imo ^

RE: Do You Have to Be Sleeping to Dream? Or Are We Dreaming All the Time?
Answer
12/9/20 3:31 PM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
Alan Smithee:
When I get into equanimity I can get my mind into a very aware, bright place, almost like I'm sitting contentedly in a comfortable, silent cave. Then suddenly I'll emerge from what seems to have been a dream, very short, a micro-dream, totally surreal, non-sensensical to the conscious, rational mind. The content is just a jumble of emotions and events. And I wonder, did I literally fall asleep for a micro-second or a few seconds, or are these dream things occuring all the time underneath the typical torrent mind-states and thoughts, thus obscured but nonetheless contributing to the delusions of the mind? 

Second question, in EQ if one gets one's concentration and mindfulness strong enough, do these stop occuring? Meaning, should I take these as indications that I'm not mindful/concentrated enough or are they just totally unstoppable forces of nature? 

Thanks! 

Having skepticism while in fourth jhana is no sin. Neither is noting necessary! Just follow the rules

RE: Do You Have to Be Sleeping to Dream? Or Are We Dreaming All the Time?
Answer
12/13/20 11:14 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I like this liminal state, it happens to me when I first wake up in the morning or ~20 minutes into a sit and I ping pong between sleep  / dream and see if I can understand what my subconscious is thinking about. I don't think you have to be sleeping, since during a sit you can enter REM and still be lucid like a day dream. I'd 'note' the dream and see what thought originated the thread and what my brain was thinking about that prompted it to follow that particular stimulus or thread of thought that triggered the dream and then go back to the original object which for me is usually breath.

RE: Do You Have to Be Sleeping to Dream? Or Are We Dreaming All the Time?
Answer
12/13/20 12:50 PM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
Like Helen, I get bits of seeing places. I also get fragments of other people's speech and, in fact, briefly become other people with various emotional states. These are similar to dream content. A difference to what you describe is that rather than emerging from a state in which they are happening, I see them arise and pass away in real-time. There is no lapse in awareness. For me, that would seem to indicate that you do not, in fact, have to be asleep to experience dream-like perception. I have always assumed that this is simply the mind knitting together inputs from the "mind" sense door.

You ask, "And I wonder, did I literally fall asleep for a micro-second or a few seconds, or are these dream things occuring all the time underneath the typical torrent mind-states and thoughts, thus obscured but nonetheless contributing to the delusions of the mind?" I would guess that they are going on all the time, regardless of whether we are awake or asleep. Tons of non-conscious stuff is going on. We could never make it through a day on the paltry amount of information processing that occurs at the conscious level.

As to your second question, I can't reply to the map portion of the question, but I can say that these events are pretty common for me at certain points in a noting-based sit or a concentration sit that takes a broad object like the breath in the whole body. I think of them as a territory or level in stabilizing the mind. Things have to be getting pretty quiet before that kind of thing starts happening. As things get quieter still, that kind of stuff stops happening. Also, it might not happen for weeks together and then it might happen three days in a row, then stop happening again. I haven't been able to assign any kind of meaning or useful information to them, but they are definitely an interesting part of the scenery. 


RE: Do You Have to Be Sleeping to Dream? Or Are We Dreaming All the Time?
Answer
12/14/20 12:55 AM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
When you are getting these microdreams, ask yourself a question - about anything that interests you. Then look for an answer in the next microdream. The answer might be literal or it might be symbolic.   I have found many times doing this is very helpful. Some people believe this is a way to access the unconscious others believe it is a way to access psychic information or communicate with higher spiritual beings.

(I don't take these answers as necessarily as 100% truth, it might not be relevant to the question, or my interpretation might be wrong, and no one is infallible, but as I say many times I have found the answers to be helpful. Also I would probably not act on this type of information unless it is something that is manifestly obvious and stands on it's own or is something that can be verified independently.)

If you are not getting these microdreams in meditation, you can easily experience them if you notice the activity of your mind as you are falling asleep, or during relaxation exercises. As you become deeply relaxed you should notice that your mind enters a state where you can't concentrate for more than a few seconds and you have vivid mental imagery. This is the hypnogogic state and it produces many of these microdreams.

If you try to meditate lying down and become sleepy it is very easy to notice this state where you can't concentrate in meditation for more than a few seconds and you distracted by vivid mental imagery (microdreams).

RE: Do You Have to Be Sleeping to Dream? Or Are We Dreaming All the Time?
Answer
12/16/20 9:46 AM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
The Upanishadic/Vedantic position would be that the whole world is an illusion. The sanskrit word used is "Maya".

Here is an experiment: let's say I am looking at a tree which seems 100 meters away. Can I prove that that tree is really there? Or is it because of some innate structure of space-time-causality that my brain is endowed with which causes me to see that tree based on certain sensory input received at the eye? 

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