TOPIC: "Dreaming Yourself Awake"-- B. Alan Wallace
"Dreaming Yourself Awake"-- B. Alan Wallace
11 Aug 2012 17:43 #6999
This may be the author's most accessible, universal, and useful book to date. It may be that is because it is a very practical transmission of practices the author has been teaching to students for years, as opposed to a philosophical exegesis.
Here's an example, to tempt you further:
"One of the best ways to lay a firm foundation for attaining proficiency in lucid dreaming is to train in the shamatha technique of 'settling the mind in its natural state.' In this practice one's attention is placed neither on the tactile sensations of the body nor on the breath but on the phenomena of the mind itself. That means that your object of attention will be the space of the mind and whatever thoughts, emotions, images, and other kinds of mental phenomena arise in that domain of experience. The goal is to simply observe this passing parade without becoming involved-- without cultivating, investigating, being attracted to, encouraging, or rejecting any mental phenomena that appear in your mind. You maintain an even, calm presence whether those phenomena come fast and furious or few and far between. You have no preference as to what might appear. Just attend to whatever arises.
Using this practice as a complement to lucid dreaming makes perfect sense. Settling the mind in its natural state closely parallels the act of lucid dreaming. When you practice settling the mind in its natural state, you are becoming lucid to the mental activity of the waking state. You recognize these mental events as mental events, not mistaking them for events in the outer, intersubjective world. Normally we are as caught up in and carried away by our mental activities in the daytime as we are in the nocturnal mental activity we call dreaming. Rarely do we step back and simply observe our minds in action, becoming cognizant of the nature of the reality we are experiencing in the present moment. It makes sense, then, that if you can become lucid in your daytime experience, this will greatly facilitate lucidity when you're dreaming. Settling the mind in the natural state can also be effective for reentering dreams when you awaken at night."
What he doesn't point out in this excerpt is that the reciprocal is also the case: cultivating-- or even recognizing-- lucidity when dreaming, can facilitate lucidity [aka awakeness/enlightenment] in daytime experience. That Naropa was one brilliant guy-- dream/sleep practice is one of the "6 yogas."
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Re: "Dreaming Yourself Awake"-- B. Alan Wallace
11 Aug 2012 20:19 #7000
How timely Kate, as I was recently trying to induce lucid dreaming through the usual techniques ("reality checking") and found that so far the only result seems to be an increased tendency to be aware during sleep/dreaming. I'll even verbalize the thought "oh, look, I'm dreaming". But when there is that sort of awareness during dreaming I find I am sort of disengaged from the dreams, not immersed in them. And it never occurs to me at those times to try to ask things or change what I'm seeing, etc. It's just sort of a drifting, resting what-it-is.
The one or two times I've had lucid dreams in the past I was very much caught up in the dream and then had a sort of "aha" moment where I realized I could change the plot etc (such as realizing I could breath underwater and thus not drown, or that I could fly to go somewhere else). In this current manifestation I don't have any engagement with the material, it's just drifting fragments of imagery. Sort of like having the TV on in the background and catching bits of the show that's on and thinking, "oh, that must be such and such show," but not getting into the story.
What I was starting to wonder is if I should work with what I have going on instead of trying to get to that specific kind of immersive lucidity. It's not actually very different from what I experience when I have visions now. In the past they tended to be deeply immersive and real-feeling. Now they also tend to be just these more fragmentary and less gripping plays of imagery and thoughts.
Re: "Dreaming Yourself Awake"-- B. Alan Wallace
11 Aug 2012 22:53 #7001
It's a short book and I've read about a quarter of it-- taking it slow-- but, so far, I think it is the most pragmatic book I've encountered on the intersection of meditation and dream/sleep practice. Maybe I think that because it's suitable for someone as averse as I am to "projects" that require my manipulating my experience in some way. He seems to indicate that what is required is the lightest and most open approach: what is wanted is not some preferred "content" of experience, but the awareness of how a given mode of experience works. This is as true of meditation as it is of dream practice [and its subtler counterpart, sleep practice]. He seems very encouraging of the idea that this is quite possible-- without having to be SuperYogi. And without having to have any Big, Mystical Dreams.