In 2004, I visited Kopan Buddhist Monastery in Nepal. At that time, I was a student who liked to party and go wild. Even with my life-long passion for life's hidden mysteries, I found the experience to be quite a culture shock!
As a Westerner who wished to learn Tibetan Buddhist meditation at Kopan, I participated in a 10-day retreat. During this retreat, I received the most meaningful teachings, but I also had to adhere to monastic rules, and live like a monk for the time being. That meant waking up with the birds, keep silence (no talking at all until the afternoon when the discussion sessions begin), no sex, no make-up and no alcohol.
All this seemed near-impossible to me in those days, but I obeyed the rules and I'm so glad I did. Never before did I learn so much about being human and the ultimate nature of reality.
As it turned out, proper Buddhist monks and nuns take their practice even further. They do not start meditating when they rise at 5am. They have been meditating all night long, practicing mindfulness during their sleep.
The vehicle they use for their night-time practice is carefully trained, consciously invoked lucid dreaming. The idea behind their practice is mainly that sleeping, dreaming and dying are related phenomena. Those, who learn to stay lucid during sleeping and dreaming, can stay aware after death occurs to the physically body, and for instance redirect their thoughts towards positive rebirth.
Sleep and His Half-Brother Death by John William Waterhouse, 1874
The idea fascinated me. I couldn't help wondering whether someone could learn their techniques, even if one did not have decades (or multiple life-times) worth of experience in meditation.
I got hold of some of the ancient Tibetan texts which were available in English. I read through everything I could, most notably through Tsongkhapa's Six Yogas of Naropa. Much of what I read, I could not understand at the time, but I kept on reading and thinking. It seemed there were three key points to induce lucid dreaming:
While I could rationalise the first two, the third one made no sense whatsoever to me at the time. Nevertheless, I decided to go with it. Every night before I fell asleep, I visualised the letter A at my throat. Things soon became rather interesting...
One night in my dream, a wise old man came to me. He looked like an ancient Chinese philosopher and said:
"You know, this is the one thing you must know about dreaming: in your present state, you can never be sure whether you are dreaming or awake. A dream can be the same as your waking state, your waking state can be the same as a dream. Never assume anything."
Upon awakening, I felt joy to have received such wise teaching in a dream. I went over to my childhood friend's house, with whom we always spoke about such things. We sat on the unmade bed in her upstairs room, where the only light source was a wonderfully illuminated aquarium.
My friend loves animals: her Doberman sat with us on the bed and I petted his short fur while telling her about my dream.
"Yes, the old man's right," my friend concluded. "As far as we know, we could be in a dream right now."
I nodded. We could be in a dream right now! Albeit we knew, we weren't: our bodies and our senses worked like normal. I was touching the dog with my own hands and looking at the fish with my own eyes. It all passed our reality check and I concluded, this was proper, everyday physical reality.
After that, I woke up!
Researchers of lucid dreaming call this phenomenon a false awakening. But no word or phrase can ever signify the profound impact my very own experience had on me! My mind recreated the environment of my friend's house so perfectly that there was no difference between that and what we call physical reality.
The truth is, if you ever had an experience like that, you can never again look at reality the way you have before. The theory of reality as a single, objective "world out there" no longer suffices. Suddenly, the assumption that consciousness creates reality seems to be more plausible than assuming the world is based on matter.
And I had no idea that this was only the beginning. Many more, profound experiences followed, which all made me think: there is hardly an experience in the human realm as exciting as exploring how our consciousness can indeed create our reality.
About The Guest Author
Viktória G Duda is a hypnotherapist, trainer and author, based near London, UK. She holds a PhD in social anthropology and first became aware of how human beings induce altered states of consciousness, out-of-body experiences and lucid dreams through the practices of indigenous people.
Viktória has been inducing lucid dreams and out-of-body states for more than a decade, as well as helping others to make sense of their own mystical experiences. Visit her website at www.viktoriaduda.com.
Rebecca Turner is the founder of World of Lucid Dreaming. She is currently studying for a science degree in Auckland and becoming famous as a science writer. Try our free lucid dreaming course and connect with the team on Facebook and the lucid dream forum.
A lot has happened in the last 5 months. But how did we go from business as usual to changing the face of the entire lucid dreaming supplements industry? It’s a story that I think will interest you – and you might even learn a thing or two in the process. When I was first taken on-board as Chief Lucidity Officer in 2016, one of the first things I was tasked with was taking a good look at our operations and giving things a bit of an overhaul.
What is reality? How can we define it - fit it into a box - so that whatever experiments we throw at it, our definition always holds true? I consciously observe the lucid dream world. It is real to me because the firing of neurons in my brain stem are interpreted as real sensory data by my brain. I could argue that lucid dreams constitute part of my reality.
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.
Years ago, before I had my first lucid dream, I had a very specific idea about what a lucid dream would feel like. I thought it would be intense and magical and a little bit spooky. This turned out to be a pretty accurate representation. Becoming aware in the dreamstate is like entering another world. One where physical laws can be manipulated (there is no spoon, Neo) and your fantasies can come true in an instant. There's definitely something magical about that - and it's as if the lucid dream world is a living, breathing organism that can react to your very thoughts.
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...
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?