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.
If we're completely honest, lucid dreaming isn't really known for being the most social of interests. In fact, often it's a lone pursuit - just you, your dream journal and the landscape of your mind. But this technique called PAL (or Partner Assisted Lucidity) breaks down that wall and turns lucid dream exploration into a social event.
Members of our lucid dream forum have been asking how to create dream characters in lucid dreams. The most common problem is having characters who look nothing like they should. Or they seem disinterested in your company. Or they fail to show up on command altogether. So, how to combat this? It's a matter of finding creative solutions that bypass logical expectations.
To lucid dream, I recommend being able to remember at least one vivid dream per night. That will boost your self awareness in dreams (making lucidity more likely) and also means you can actually remember your lucid dreams. Which is nice. Here are four detailed tips on how to remember your dreams more frequently. And if you don't think you dream at all - trust me, you almost certainly do. It takes an extraordinarily rare sleep disorder to deprive someone of dream sleep.
It is estimated that these wise and wily Indians have been using mugwort in their healing and ritual practices for 13,000 years, where it is known as the ‘dream sage’. They use the herb to promote good dreams, which they consider an essential aspect of normal human functioning! But that’s not all...
Silene Capensis has been used for millennia by the Xhosa shaman of the river valleys in the eastern cape of South Africa, where it is known as Undela Ziimhlophe or 'white paths'. It's fragrant white flowers open only at night, when they emit a fragrant and almost hypnotising aroma. Also known as African Dream Herb or Ubulawu, Silene Capensis induces spectacularly vivid dreams - yet has never entered the mainstream and remains a fringe taste within western culture.
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?