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Lucid Dreaming in Tibet

October 30, 2007 on 8:56 pm | In Dream Books, Lucid Dreams | 2 Comments

Tibetan lamas teach that lucid dreaming can be used as a path to enlightenment. They teach a number of practices, called dream yogas, using lucid dreaming as a spiritual path.

Both Tibetan Buddhism and Bon, the indigenous Tibetan belief system, teach that daily life is an illusion, a sort of dream. So lucid dreaming, the practice of controlling your dreams, is considered to be perhaps as real as daily life.

Tibetans have other meditation practices for becoming aware that daily life is a sort of dream and for remembering that fact at all times. One of the most famous and powerful is dzogs chen, which is practiced by the Dalai Lama.

Some of the training for the dzogs chen practice is, in fact, much like the hypnogic imagery method for lucid dreaming. The practice itself is much like lucid dreaming in that you must learn to remain aware in every waking moment that what you are experiencing at any given time is not quite real. That keeps you from being lost in the illusion.

The dream teachings say some lucid dreams are, and some are not, out-of-body experiences. In either case, they say, the dream body is made of energy-mind and mimics the tendencies of the physical body. That is, you will probably pretty much feel and look as you do in daily life.

The instructions for using dreaming as a spiritual path are known in Tibetan as rmi lam gyi gdams pa . There are various versions of the dream teachings, as the various Tibetan religious sects have their own teachings.

Lucid dreaming and other dream yogas are among the many Tibetan esoteric practices described in The Treasury of Knowledge, Book Eight, Part Four: Essoteric Instructions, A Detailed Presentation of the Process of Meditation in Vajrayana, by Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye, translated by Sara Harding. The book comes out in January, but you can preorder it from Snow Lion Publications now.

These teachings are from the Kagyu or “Red Hat” order of Tibetan Buddhism. They say that in the beginning, one must accept

…two vital points: unbroken mindfulness in the day, and rigorous techniques of esoteric instructions at night.

There are four impediments to recognition: excessive emptiness, excessive sleepiness, excessive wakefulness, and excessive complacency. Once these are dispelled by remedial esoteric instructions, the dream is recognized to be just that, and that is dream recognition [lucid dreaming].

Moreover, like the dream, all phenomena are essentially empty and as such can appear as anything at all. Thus the two truths are combined.

For more information read the cover story of the new Fall 2007 issue of the Snow Lion Publications Buddhist News & Catalog (newspaper). To request a free copy of the newspaper-catalog, call 1-800-950-0313. Or visit the website:


Do You Have Lucid Dreams?

October 12, 2007 on 11:43 pm | In Lucid Dreams, Nightmares | No Comments

Until Steven Laberge popularized the term with his book Lucid Dreaming in the 1980s, I don’t think very many people had ever heard of lucid dreams. That didn’t mean people weren’t having them. They just weren’t using the term lucid dream.

Ancient texts describe lucid dreams and methods for having them. And many of us had had them without knowing what they were. If you have ever become concious, during a dream, that you were dreaming, even for a second, you have had a lucid dream.

Becoming lucid, at least for the moment it takes to realize you’re dreaming, seems to be an escape mechanism. If you’re having a nightmare, it allows you to stop the dream or move on to a less scary one. That has been my experence since childhood, but it has been rare.

I knew a girl in junior high school who could dream of going out with any boy she fancied. That was long before the best-selling book came out, and it was the first time I had heard of anyone controlling dreams.

In a comment on another post on this blog, Tony Hogan mentioned trying to remember to look at the backs of your hands in dreams to become lucid. That’s the method Carlos Castaneda described in the Don Juan novels, and I’ve often wondered where he got it, or if he really used it himself. I’ve heard people say that they have tried it, but not with much success.

In his book, Conscious Dreaming, Robert Moss describes a different method for lucid dreaming, and I think it sounds more promising. We’ll talk about that, and the Tibetan method, another time.

What I’d like to know is this: Have you had lucid dreams? What were they like?

Did you deliberately induce them? If so, how did you get started?

Or did they just happen? Were you able to control them? What did you do? Where did you go?

Three Kinds of Dreaming

October 8, 2007 on 9:23 pm | In Dream Types | No Comments

Many people are unaware that there are three kinds of dreaming associated with sleep. Yet each kind of dreaming is interesting. Each is a necessary part of the sleep process. And each kind of dreaming can be valuable to dreamers.

Rapid-Eye-Movement Dreaming

When most people hear the word dreaming, they think of the rapid-eye-movement (REM) stage of sleep. That is the type of dreaming that has been most studied in laboratories.

REM sleep is easy to recognize by the fact that the sleeper’s eyes track back and forth as though watching movement. You can see the eyes move even through the closed eyelids of the sleeper. It is easy to awaken dreamers during REM dreams, and they generally can tell researchers what they were dreaming.

We spend about a third of each night in REM dreaming, in phases lasting half hour to an hour-and-a-half each. So there is a lot of time to dream. REM dreaming begins shortly after we fall asleep. REM dreams are the ones that we generally remember on waking. And REM sleep is what we generally think of when we think of dreaming.

Deep Dreaming in Theta Sleep

Few people realize that there is a deeper level of dreaming, in the state called theta sleep. Theta dreams are harder to recall, so they are harder for researchers to capture.

Since theta sleep is such a deep sleep level, we are less likely to awaken. Only delta sleep is deeper.

We very seldom remember theta state dreams. When we do, they tend to be vague feelings of movement rather than the often-brilliant visions of REM state.

Hypnogogic Imagery

Another type of dreaming, sometimes called hypnogogic imagery, is the image-rich reverie that occurs on the thresholds of sleep, while drifting off or awakening. At that time you may see quick glimpses of beautiful patterns or unfamiliar scenes and people. Occasionally you may have an abrupt sensation of falling.

Generally there is no sound with these dreams. They don’t usually form the elaborate stories that we often experience in REM dreaming. Yet this dreaming on the edge of sleep can carry valuable information, such as messages or solutions to problems.

Exploring Your Dreams

October 7, 2007 on 7:14 pm | In Dreamwork | No Comments

Dream Visions is dedicated to exploring and working with dreams. There is a lot to know about dreams, from ancient wisdom to modern medical research. And there is a lot you can do with dreams: get messages, explore other worlds, diagnose illness, solve problems, see the future, and just have fun.

This site will explore many areas relating to dreams and many ways of interacting with them. Dreamwork includes many ways of interpreting dreams and learning from them. We will explore some of the different ways you can work with your dreams.

Everyone Dreams

Everyone dreams, though not everyone remembers dreaming. You can easily train yourself to remember dreams, just by making an effort to remember whatever you can and writing it down.

How to Remember Your Dreams

If you make a commitment to yourself to try each day to remember what you dreamed, especially if you begin to keep a dream journal, you will quickly find that dream memories come back to you, sometimes later the same day, sometimes weeks, months, or even years later.

Information in Dreams

Listening to you dreams can provide you with information about your life, your body, your health, your relationships, and the lives of the people around you. Dreams can provide warning of illness that has not yet been diagnosed or problems that you are not consciously aware of. They can also provide reassuring answers to questions.

Getting Answers in Dreams

Several famous scientists have admitted to finding solutions to major research problems in their dreams. Various other prominent people, from artists to military commanders, have similar stories. We will discuss those stories here, and many more.

Importance of Dreaming

There are many types of dreams, and not all of them are significant. Yet all dreams are valuable. Dreaming is essential to physical and mental health.

Research has shown that people who are deprived of sleep for long periods, or simply deprived of dreaming by medications or other drugs, become psychotic. In effect, they start dreaming while wide awake, and cannot tell the difference between dreams and reality.

Dream Symbols

We will discuss dream symbols. There are certain symbols that are common in the dreams of people in many cultures. Most symbols, though, are personal. The same symbol may mean something quite different in your dream than it does in mine. We will talk about the common symbols and how to discover what your own dream symbols mean to you.

Will You Share Your Dreams?

What are your dream visions? How would you like to explore them here?

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