Tibetan Dream Yoga is the original form of lucid dreaming documented for at least 1,000 years.
Also known as Milam - the yoga of the dream state - it's a suite of advanced tantric techniques.
Just like our Westernized understanding of lucid dreams, the initial aim is to awaken the consciousness in the dream state.
However, as for what happens next, Tibetan lamas have more esoteric goals in mind...
Dream yoga is taught within the trance Bardos of Dream and Sleep. In the tradiditon of tantra, it's usually passed on by a qualified teacher, once the student has passed an initiation.
It's considered a passing on of enlightened experience rather than reading texts, and requires the student to develop sufficient self awareness to achieve conscious lucidity during sleep.
Their aim is to harness the power of the lucid dream state by "apprehending the dream". Students are then required to complete set tasks to take them to the next level. These tasks include:
The ultimate goal in Tibetan dream yoga is to apprehend the dream - and then dissolve the dream state.
When deprived of physical and conceptual stimulus from the dreaming mind, you can observe the purest form of conscious awareness.
The philosophy of Tibetan Buddhism is complex, but you don't need to be an expert to practice dream yoga techniques. However, you do need to show commitment; a technique is only as good as you are prepared to work at it.
One very broad but basic rule is this: continually compare your dreams to waking reality and know what it feels like to be conscious. This will increase your self awareness and you will find it easier to induce lucidity in dreams.
Here's an example of a dream yoga technique. If you already practice lucid dreaming, you'll find it familiar because dream recall is the key to lucid dreaming which ever way you look at it.
Every time you wake up, reflect on all the dreams you can remember. In Tibetan Buddhism, it's believed that the ego travels about during sleep - revisiting places we have been to in real life, and repeating all our experiences.
So it's important to meditate upon your latest dreams and recollections. Stay completely still while you do this, because the "dream body" is disturbed by physical movement and the memories are lost.
As you meditate on your dreams, repeat the mantra: RAOM GAOM, accentuating the O and splitting each word into two syllables. This will help focus your awareness on memories from the unconscious.
To learn more about dream yoga, I recommend The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. Unlike many other books on the subject, Tenzin is clear and concise and offers lots of practical examples.
This book is aimed at beginners to dream yoga, starting with the nature of dreams and their relationship with reality. He also emphasizes how you can incorporate dream yoga into your daily life and reap the rewards of this profound lucid dreaming practice.
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Books are a powerful way to increase our understanding and generate new perspectives. Good books are immersive and profound: they can change the way we live our lives. In teaching us new lessons, stripping away fallacies and inspiring independent thought, the following books on lucid dreaming are bestsellers for a reason - they are groundbreaking and thought-provoking reads to expand your awareness and develop your lucid dreaming skills.
Galantamine is best known for its ability to improve memory and provoke intense lucid dreams. Research by Dr Stephen LaBerge has found that taking galantamine intensifies your dreams on many levels, including cognition, lucidity, recall, control, bizarreness and visual vividness. If you want to boost your dream life, and maybe prompt some lucid dreams, it's worth taking the occasional galantamine supplement.
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Humans are unique in our endless capacity for imagination. According to Steven Mithen, an anthropologist at the University of Reading in the UK, we needed to evolve seven critical mental skills before we could have imagination as we know it. Each of these abilities serve a distinct purpose in their own right, while imagination is the culmination of them all.
This dream starts out pretty violent but then suddenly goes all profound on me. I'm having a nightmare in which a thin, gray-faced man is trying to kill me. I become lucid and battle him with ease, firing shots of lighting out of my hands and hitting him in the chest. He falls to his knees and I lock him in a gated prison using only my mind. But then my lucid dream evolves into a lucid nightmare. Another villain, who looks like Krang (or Krang's body at least) from that delightful cartoon about giant mutant turtles, frees the gray man using his telepathic powers. I am no match for him.
Experts agree that everyone is capable of having lucid dreams. Dreaming itself is a normal function of the mind. We all dream every night, even if we don't remember. And we all achieve conscious awareness while awake every single day. So what does it mean to combine these states? Why, the amazing ability to have conscious - or lucid - dreams. Sounds simple, doesn't it? So why do I keep hearing from people who say they can't achieve their first lucid dream?