Practice while dreaming

Guillermo Z, modified 14 Years ago at 4/5/08 12:40 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/5/08 12:40 AM

Practice while dreaming

Posts: 20 Join Date: 9/8/09 Recent Posts
Forum: Practical Dharma

Hi everybody,

I had a dream in which I was completely conscious that I was dreaming. After realizing this my first thought was to fool around and I begun to fly. After a while, I decided to practice the noting of my breath and after closing my eyes I realized that I could not do the noting on my breath (I guess that in the dream world you do not need to breathe, hence no breath sensations). After a while I lost the precious lucidity. I guess that I was looking for the wrong object of meditation...

That said, I want to ask you all if you are able to practice while sleeping and if you could give me some advice or pointers to such practices. So far I read about the theory (e.g. The tibetan yogas of dream and sleep by Tenzin Wangyal Rinponche and Lucid dreaming by LaBerg), but I would like to know more about concrete experiences/advice on such practices.

I realized that this could be a great aid to practice and eventually a way to enlightenment. If you consider that we sleep around 1/3 of our lives, practice while sleeping could be equivalent to being on retreat every day!. Definitely, this could be a way to practice in our modern busy world

I would appreciate any experience, advice or thought on this subject.

mautelino
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 4/5/08 2:21 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/5/08 2:21 AM

RE: Practice while dreaming

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Yverc

Sometimes i've done practise while dreaming. Lucid dreams are wonderful for practise. Especially trance work and qi gong works very well while dreaming because your body is already hyper relaxed and your brain waves lower.
Nathan I S, modified 14 Years ago at 4/5/08 5:35 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/5/08 5:35 AM

RE: Practice while dreaming

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/26/09 Recent Posts
I have experimented with dream yoga and lucid dreaming. I always found the wake-induced lucid dreaming easiest after already getting 6-8 hours of sleep--set an alarm to go off and keep hitting snooze; if it catches you during a dream cycle you can slip back in fairly effortlessly. It also would help my recall--and hence my "lucidity" (I have to question the nature of lucid dreaming, it is very clear that it isn't exactly like being awake but that is a longer point)--if I had some object that I would hold lightly while I was falling asleep. I always found, and still find, that a visual, like a symbol (e.g., the red tibetan "A" in the throat) or complicated object would work better than an object like the breath (I would rehearse qabbalistic rituals and found this the most efficacious). Autosuggestion never really worked for me. I also think that LaBerge's various reality-testing exercises are a great help, and even did lead to some very unusual realizations, thought these were more magickal in nature, rather than insight. Another thing I found helpful was, rather than lug around a dream journal and spend twenty minutes every hurried morning writing in it (do illiterate shamans have journals?) I'd just tell the lady about what I had dreamt when I woke up, or barring that I'd just say outloud what i remember if I was alone.
Nathan I S, modified 14 Years ago at 4/5/08 6:06 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/5/08 6:06 AM

RE: Practice while dreaming

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/26/09 Recent Posts
With regards to actual practice in dreams, in my experience the "psychic powers" are far more accessible while dreaming, since the dream is very pliable and largely composed of "karmic traces" and intention (though at times I have run into dreams that felt very, very absolute, alien in origin, and nearly completely unresponsive to my intention, and that is always spooky) so my experience has a very heavy content overlay. Because of this I believe that it's possible to will a certain amount of insight, or, at least, insight makes itself available if the intention or proclivities for it are is also present, and it's usually dramatic, at least in its content. I can think of two instances that are suspect arising & passing away events and both involved becoming lucid, then getting a feeling that "something" was going to happen, and then following the story rather than, e.g., deciding to fly off into space or whatever. And for what it's worth, I've never tried to find the breath while dreaming. I haven't, however, done any experimentation with dreams in months.
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Florian, modified 14 Years ago at 4/5/08 7:47 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/5/08 7:47 AM

RE: Practice while dreaming

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Mautelino,

I remember one lucid dream which incorporated mindfulness of breathing, a few weeks back.

Here's my experience: I had my eyes closed in the dream. I felt something rushing at my face repeatedly. Aware that I was dreaming, but unable to wake up, I decided to focus on the breath. During the day, I try to become aware of the breath as often as possible, and somehow, this carried over into the dream. I was able to find the breath, and was about to do my usual dedication of merit for the meditation, when I thought "I'll dedicate the merit to whatever keeps rushing at my face". I was able to concentrate on a few breaths, then woke up.

I think my habit of "finding" the breath as often as possible during the day somehow helped me find it in that dream.

Since we dream only part of the time during sleep, and lucid dreams are so rare (in my experience at least), I doubt that regular practice and an accumulation of "cushion hours" is possible using lucid dreams. But the experience is certainly very unusual.

Dreams are really interesting. "We're all schizoid in our dreams" (semi-remembered quote without attribution) The other personalities we interact with while dreaming are, after all, produced by the same psyche as the one we identify with. Anatta for materialists emoticon

Cheers,
Florian
Guillermo Z, modified 14 Years ago at 4/5/08 11:00 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/5/08 11:00 AM

RE: Practice while dreaming

Posts: 20 Join Date: 9/8/09 Recent Posts
Thanks for the commentaries and the hints!

@nathan28: Yes, lucid dreams have a very thick layer of content... that is why they are so dam slippery and you can easily loose lucidity (it is easy the get caught in the story and it is pretty easy to indulge in the dream if you are lucid, e.g. flying, psychic powers, etc). Thank you for the practical advice, I am trying with the white tbetan "A" in the heart.

@all: from a logical point of view, if dreams are composed of thoughts and only thoughts, it might not be possible to note a physical sensation while dreaming (what you will note is your "dream breath" and not the breath, right?). Again, this make the whole thing very slippery: you must note thoughts (and their three characteristics), but actually you are inside those thoughts while dreaming (please any comment on this point will be very valuable). This very point is intriguing me: If you are lucid, HOW should you proceed with the practice in order to gain insight?
Guillermo Z, modified 14 Years ago at 4/5/08 11:12 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/5/08 11:12 AM

RE: Practice while dreaming

Posts: 20 Join Date: 9/8/09 Recent Posts
I agree with monkey mind when he says that lucid dreaming is rare, hence it can not replace the "cushion hours" from a practical point of view. I guess that it would not be rare if I could have enough concentration power in order to retain lucidity while falling asleep and then by dreaming. So far, I have only been able to acquire some lucidity while dreaming, but never while falling asleep (any hint on this point is more than welcomed).

RESUME: it is hard to be lucid, it is hard to retain lucidity and for me is not clear how to practice insight if I retain lucidity! Still, I see a big potential in such practices.
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 14 Years ago at 4/5/08 2:28 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/5/08 2:28 PM

RE: Practice while dreaming

Posts: 3231 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Other points to ponder, from one who got into this by his fascination with lucid dreaming...

Lucid dreams tend to follow a pattern: first taste of lucidity, then it establishes itself, then there may be flying, bliss, sexual situations, aka all 2nd vipassana jhana territory, it is concentrated, easy, linear. Then the flying ability fades or diminishes, one falls or can't maintain altitude, things turn darker, pleasure and the objects of pleasure dissolve or mutate to something other than enjoyable, sinister encounters are more likely, chase/fight situations more common, fear/anger predominate, clashes may turn ugly, the landscape is more foreboding, all 3rd vipassana jhana stuff. If one can remain in the dream through the climax of the dark period, then one enters the broad, luminous, amazing, free, highly symbolic, highly archetypal realms, all very 4th jhanic. Recognizing the pattern can help one remember to stay with it.

I agree with all of Nathan28's points.
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 4/5/08 9:07 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 4/5/08 9:07 PM

RE: Practice while dreaming

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Yverc

Depening on talent and practise lucid dreaming can be rare or common. A few people (i've been attending to a lucid dreaming community regulary since 2002) cannot lucid dream at all no matter how hard they try. These are the minority. Most people can learn it. If you go for it and really from passion focus on lucid dreaming you can learn to have it have every night.

Meditation practise also helps you to get more lucid dreams. But this takes time. Most people who has practised for example zazen 10+ years only get lucid dreams.

I do not actively try to get lucid dreams anymore but sometimes get lucid dreams anyway.

It is also possible to remain conscious and lucid during all stages of sleep. This is however much more difficult.

LaBerges EWLD really provides all instructions needed to master lucid dreaming.

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