Friday 14 September 2012

Sleep meditation, dream yoga and astral playdates

So, I’m reading The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep.  Slowly. Cos every time I read a page I fall asleep. J

Why? Cos I wanna be able to meditate when I’m asleep. Seriously, how cool would that be? The idea is that, eventually, you learn to remain aware at all times, even during deep sleep.  Why? Um, cos it’s possible I suppose. Because I love meditating while awake so figure more of a good thing is great. Because sleep seems like such a huge waste of time. And also because I’ve had a glimpse, just the tiniest glimpse, of what maintaining consciousness during sleep can do.

When I was younger, I used to be able to lucid dream really well, quite easily. At first I used it just for fun. I'd go eavesdrop on friends or I’d head off travelling.  It was awesome – shooting over huge waterfalls in Brazil or scooting over the desert in Arizona. Or flying up and up and up, through the atmosphere and out into space. 

But then, after I did art therapy and  read a lot of Jung, I started using lucid dreaming in a more serious way.  I trained myself to ‘go lucid’ whenever I had a nightmare – and I would confront the monster or whatever and find out what it really was, underneath its scary skin, beyond its sharp teeth.  And, once the skin was removed, the teeth had stopped tearing and biting, once the bright light of consciousness had shone on it, had brought it out from the shadows, the monster stopped being fearsome – and that particular nightmare would cease.  

If you stay lucid in a dream, you can ask anything – and receive answers that just aren’t possible in the waking state.  

But now? Oh who am I kidding?  I can’t even keep control of my mind during daytime consciousness. I really am like Dory in Finding Nemo – a two minute, nay two second, memory span. And I have lost the ability to lucid dream entirely.  But I'm not giving up.  Nobody said it was easy but if I’ve done it before, I can do it again, right?  Because really, it shouldn't be hard.  After all, everything is a dream anyhow.  We dream our world, our experiences, each and every one of them.

Whether we’re awake or asleep aren’t we just experiencing our mind’s projections?  Of course there are logical limitations – if we jump off a building we won’t tend to fly (in waking life); if we walk into a fire we will get burned (ditto) and so on.  Though humans can do extraordinary things under certain circumstances - I've had a few strange experiences myself.  And bear in mind that there are yogis who think nothing of flying or walking through (not just over) fire or translocating. But I think I’ll have to save that training for another lifetime. Unless, of course, I take a quantum leap. J

But the dream training is actually quite helpful, particularly when it comes to emotions, desires – even if it doesn’t result in lucid dreaming.  When a reaction arises, you simply remind yourself that you, the object or person and your reaction to said object/person are all dream. Your reaction to anything and anyone does not originate ‘out there’ but 'in here'. Your reaction is entirely down to you, your thoughts, your mind.  Your choice. 

Easy huh?  I wish. Maybe I’ll start by going back to astral touristry, or astral playdates.  Y’know…baby steps. J


Isobel Morrell said...

Certainly sounds a worthwhile objective to strive for! Except, maybe, ignorance can be bliss too?

Exmoorjane said...

@Isobel - I'm an expert in ignorance... hasn't brought too much bliss so far. :)

Rob-bear said...

Most of my dreams are unsettling. Not monsters, but all-too-human experiences that are going very badly. They tend to lead to brutal awakenings, after which I keep reminding myself they are only dreams, while trying to sort out my shortness of breath and chest pains.

In comparison, astral playdates sound just fine. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

@ Jobo: (Ab)so(l)u(te)l(y) Music. :o)

Just me and the dog said...

Have you ever studied Rudolf Steiner? Apparently his spiritual path also leads to awareness in the sleeping state.

Found what you said about lucid dreaming interesting. Too bad you can't do it anymore. I was going to ask if you could teach me how to do it.

Exmoorjane said...

@Bear -- our psyches talk to us in symbols and metaphors. Don't like the sound of your shortness of breath and chest pains. :(

@Jobo - Love that track. But how curious - the other day, the link didn't work. :

@ET - Absolutely indeed. :)

@Dancer - my mother loved Steiner...I have read a fair bit but not 'studied' per se... I'll get back to the lucid dreaming, I'm quite sure... there are all kinds of techniques that supposedly help but can't say they're working for me...yet. :)