The preparation stage for dream yoga is to experience consensus reality as a dream. This seems counter to our Western instincts to “call a spade a spade.” We “know” that waking reality is not a dream, so why call it one?
Yet, do we really know? The famous statement by Descartes, “Cogito Ergo Sum” has lasting power because of its truth. This was the penultimate realization he had after many thought-experiments about what one can truly know for certain. For example, he realized there is no way to know whether or not one’s brain is contained in a large jar (the brain in the vat argument) being controlled by an evil being. The Matrix movie is a popular expression of this timeless debate. How do we really know what we are experiencing is real? Answer – we don’t. We know we exist because we have consciousness. Beyond that, everything else is calculated guesswork.
Ready to try an experiment this week? Join me in thinking of life this week as a dream, both when you are awake and asleep. Here are some practical ways to reinforce the “life is a dream” concept.
1) Notice when you want something badly. “I really need a coffee,” or “I’ve got to have that dress.” This is an example of the mind grasping for something external. Though it is common knowledge that happiness is not found externally, we all still chase after the myriad distractions of life. When you notice intense desire, tell yourself, “This desire for coffee is a dream” or “This desire is no more real than when I want a coffee in my dream.”
2) Affirm your desire to recognize you are dreaming before sleep. Think back on the days events and imagine it was all just a dream. Try to feel the same way about the day as you do about your dreams.
3) Don’t move when you first wake. When you rouse from sleep, don’t even open your eyes. Instead ask yourself, “what was I just dreaming?” Go through the details several times before writing it down. If you weren’t successful in becoming lucid in the dream, don’t worry. You have a whole new day to experience as a dream.
These techniques are not the common techniques you will find for lucid dreaming on the internet today. However, they are the foundation for practicing continual awareness. While Tibetan yogis have been practicing lucid dreaming for 100s of years, today’s WSJ article shows that it is only now moving from the fringes to mainstream.