What is Lucid Dreaming?
Lucid dreaming is the art of becoming conscious within your dreams. A lucid dream is one in which you realize, ‘Aha! I’m dreaming!’ while you’re still asleep. Once you become conscious within a dream, you can interact with and direct it at will, partner-dancing with your unconscious mind.
If you have any interest in psychology, mindfulness, imagination, or the power of the unconscious, you’ll love lucid dreaming. It allows you conscious access to the deepest depths of your mind, and the opportunity to guide your dreams at will.
In a lucid dream you’ve not woken up – in fact, you’re still sound asleep – but part of the brain has reactivated (the right dorsolateral pre-frontal cortex, in case you’re wondering), allowing you to experience the dream state consciously with self-reflective awareness. Once you know that you’re dreaming as you’re dreaming, you gain access to the most powerful virtual reality generator in existence: the mind. Most people have experienced this type of dream at some point in their lives, but through the process of learning lucid dreaming induction techniques, we can come to experience this amazing phenomenon at will.
What is Dream Yoga?
It would be easy to say that dream yoga was a Tibetan Buddhist form of lucid dreaming, but that would also be lazy and inaccurate. Dream yoga is a collection of transformational lucid dreaming, conscious sleeping and what in the West we refer to as out-of-body experience practices aimed at spiritual growth and mind training. Lucid dreaming may form the foundation of dream yoga, but through the use of advanced tantric energy work, visualizations of Tibetan iconography and the integration of psycho-spiritual archetypes or yidams, dream yoga goes way beyond our Western notion of lucid dreaming. If we translate the Sanskrit word yoga as meaning ‘union’, we get a clue as to what dream yoga is about: the union of consciousness within the dream state. It is a yoga of the mind that uses advanced lucid dreaming methods to utilize sleep on the path to spiritual awakening.
How Can I Start Having Lucid Dreams?
OK, so the first thing you can do is to start recalling and documenting your dreams.
How? Set your intention to remember your dreams before bed. Most people will start remember their dreams within a few nights if they put in some effort to remember them.
So tell yourself, before you go to bed and even as you’re falling asleep: “Tonight I remember my dreams. I have excellent dream recall.”
Is lucid dreaming dangerous?
One worry that seems to crop up quite sometimes is that that by lucid dreaming we may somehow be interfering with the integrity of the unconscious and that this might even be dangerous. Thankfully, this fear is groundless.
Rather than lucid dreaming polluting the pure message from the deeper part of ourselves, it actually allows that message to be heeded more easily, which I believe is exactly what the unconscious mind wants. The unconscious actually enjoys lucidity, because finally a line of direct communication is being set up between it and the conscious mind and it ‘takes joy in dealing with greater awareness and greater consciousness’.
Finally, it can talk to us face to face. With every dream, the unconscious mind is offering us a hand of friendship. But far too often this is an offering we ignore, either by not remembering our dreams or by failing to acknowledge their value. Once we become lucidly aware within the dream, however, we are extending a hand towards the unconscious mind and finally making friends with it.
In a lucid dreaming you are inside your own mind, not out of your body in the astral planes or anything like that, but safely within a vast three dimensional virtual reality simulation of your own psyche.
And yes, you will always wake up, your bladder, alarm clock or the maximum length of a REM dreaming period (60-70 minutes) will make sure of that! Really, the worst that can happen is that you have a nightmare and you wake up.