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Dreaming yourself awake by B. Alan Wallace – Remarks

Posted by Raul Barral Tamayo en Martes, 24 de marzo, 2020

© 2012 by B. Alan Wallace

Some of the greatest of life’s adventures can happen while you’re sound asleep.

That’s the promise of lucid dreaming, which is the ability to alter your own dream reality any way you like simply by being aware of the fact that you’re dreaming while you’re in the midst of a dream.

There is a range of techniques anyone can learn to become a lucid dreamer and this book provides all the instruction you need to get started.

But B. Alan Wallace also shows how to take the experience of lucid dreaming beyond entertainment to use it to heighten creativity, to solve problems, and to increase self-knowledge.

He then goes a step further: moving on to the methods of Tibetan Buddhist dream yoga for using your lucid dreams to attain the profoundest kind of insight.

B. Alan Wallace, PhD, has been a scholar and practitioner of Buddhism for more than forty years, and has been leading workshops and retreats on dream yoga for more than twenty. A former Tibetan Buddhist monk, he is also trained in physics and is a respected scholar of religion. He is the founder of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies.

Comments extracted from the book, they could be right or wrong, you decide for yourself:

  • How are spiritual awakening and lucid dreaming connected? In both cases you are poignantly aware of the unfolding of your experiences in the present moment. You are not carried away by distractive thoughts and emotions. Your mind is fully focused. Awake to the potential of every situation, you become the master of your destiny.
  • Dream practice can heighten creativity, solve problems, heal emotions, or provide scintillating inner theater, the ultimate in entertainment. It can also be a valuable aid to the attainment of spiritual awakening.
  • Castaneda claimed he mastered the “art of dreaming” to the point that he could visit other worlds.
  • Stephen LaBerge, phD in psychology from Stanford University, proved the existence of lucid dreaming.
  • Dream yoga is part of a spiritual tradition (Tibetan Buddhists) whose goal is the complete awakening called “enlightment”.
  • In the Tibetan tradition dream yoga comprises a set of advanced spiritual practices that act as a powerful aid to awakening from samsara. Samsara may be briefly described as a dreamlike experience of life after life, propelled by ignorance.
  • True and ultimate happiness results from the elimination of ignorance, from awakening from the dream the dream of samsara.
  • Although it initiates this process during sleep and dreams, dream yoga involves practices employed during the daytime and aims to awaken our entire life form the sleep of samsara.
  • Zong Rinpoche, an eminent Tibetan lama explained that dream yoga is one of a group of advanced practices called the Six Yogas of Naropa and that it requires a strong foundation in meditation.
  • Once having attained a degree of stability in shamatha, the skills required for successful lucid dreaming and dream yoga come much more easily.
  • Practices and points of view that work well with one personality may be confusing and inappropiate for another. Fine tuning will help you maximize your effectiveness as a dream yogi, a lucid dreamer.
  • Whatever our limitations, awakening within dreams can be learned by anyone willing to make the effort.
  • Ordinarily our dreams are characterized by a lack of stability.
  • Stability of attention is a crucial step to freedom.
  • Although in shamatha we are developing concentration, it is achieved not by force but through deep relaxation.
  • The techniques leading to successful dream practice include prospective memory (preparing to remember something in a future dream), retrospective memory (remembering sequences of dream events from the past), remembering cues that alert one to the dream state, and steady, relaxed concentration on visual images. Since our ordinary states of consciousness are dominated by varying degrees of agitation and dullness, we presently lack the clarity and stability needed to make effective use of such techniques.
  • Ordinary sleep is dominated by forgetfulness.
  • Spontaneous awakenings provide one of the most useful opportunities for entering into lucid dreams.
  • Unless one has an extremely relaxed and balanced mind, full achievement of shamatha may require many months or even a couple of years of concentrated solitary practice.
  • Although training in shamatha is not absolutely required for successful dream practice, I highly recommend it.
  • Accomplishing the more advanced stages, not to mention achieving shamatha itself, will make dreams practice relatively quick and easy.
  • The ten stages in the development of shamatha (very briefly described):
    1. Directed Attention: One develops the ability to focus on a chosen object.
    2. Continous Attention: One can maintain continous attention on the object for up to a minute.
    3. Resurgent Attention: One recovers swiftly when distracted from the object.
    4. Close Attention: The object of attention is no longer completely forgotten.
    5. Tamed Attention: One takes satisfaction in samadhi or “single-pointed concentration”.
    6. Pacified Attention: There is no longer resistance to attentional training.
    7. Fully Pacified Attention: Attachment, melancholy, and lethargy are pacified.
    8. Single-Pointed Attention: Samadhi is sustained without excitation of laxity.
    9. Attentional Balance: Flawless, effortlessly sustained samadhi.
    10. Shamatha: Once can effortlessly maintain concentration on an object for at least four hours; this is accompanied by greatly increased mental and physical pliancy and other positive side effects.
  • The experience of the breath provides an excelent grounding, allowing physical and mental relaxatin to become the basis of the practice from the very beginning.
  • Without a good night sleep successful dream practice is difficult it not impossible.
  • When we being learning meditation, we quickly discover just how agitated and cluttered our minds are. We are sometimes inundated with a cascading flow of thoughts and emotions. Cultivate a positive attitude, one of patience, when you encounter these distractions.
  • The basic technique of shamatha involves the interaction of two mental faculties: mindfulness and introspection. Mindfulness can be defined as continous attention to a chosen object, which requires that one remember what the task is and nbot become distracted by other phenomena. Introspection is “the repeated examination of the state of one’s body and mind”.
  • At bedtime, try this practice in the supine position for a short time (five, ten, twenty minutes, or more if you like) before you go into your normal sleeping position. On the initial exhalations release first all muscular tension in the body, and once you are throughly relaxed physically, also release all thoughts that appear (slowly breathing out … out … out …) and then allow the inhalation to flow in its own accord. Before long you will find yourself in a deep, relaxing rhythm. This will not only contribute to a good night’s sleep, but is a useful prelude to lucid dreams.
  • We need to also introduce the element of stability, the voluntary continuity of attention. Let’s step up this practice now by narrowing the focus of attention.
  • The first shock beginners usually encounter is the sheer volume of mental “noise” that clutters awareness when one beings to meditate.
  • Soon we discover there are two majors types of distraction that cause us to forget our task: agitation and dullness.
  • For most of us, agitation is our biggest initial problem in focusing on a chosen object. We are in the habit of thinking rapidly, flitting among a variety of subjects. We have developed a craving for objects and experiences that demands a lot of activity.
  • When we are not agitated, we are often dull, fatigued from the fast, stressful pace of modern life. At these times, when we try to meditate, we find our focus hazy. The object of attention lacks vividness.
  • What we must seek then is a middle ground between agitation and dullness.
  • The root of the whole practice is relaxation. The trunk is stability. Relaxation supports the stability of attention. Without the stability of the trunk, the foliage (the vividness of shamatha) is unsopported. If relaxation is too strong, you are likely to become dull and sleepy. If vividness is too bright and energetic, you may become agitated.
  • While we are developing shamatha, experiences relating to much deeper layers of consciouness may spontaneously appear.
  • Western psychology only accepted the validity of lucid dreaming in the late 1980s when LaBerge proved its existence in a laboratory experiment.
  • All statements about mental events being located in the brain, attributing cognitive functions such as “knowing”, “remembering” and “perceiving” to neurons, are based on the imagined equivalence of mental and neural events. This is tantamount to anthropomorphizing the brain, while dehumanizing ourselves as conscious beings.
  • Pshycology, the study of the mind, was a central issue (perhaps the central issue) for Buddhism ever since Shakyamuni Buddha began teaching in India 2,500 years ago. Because according to the Buddhist viewpoint the world of experience is the gateway to knowledge, the idea that the mind might be a physical entity was not seriously considered.
  • When we arrieve at dream yoga, we will be studying theories and practices derived from the Six Yogas of Naropa, dating from the eleventh century, as well as the presentation of dream yoga within the Six Bardos taught in the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.
  • Dream yoga is an advanced technique appropiate for students who already possess relatively stable minds, and is usually taught only to those who have accomplished a certain level of other yogic training. Therefore it may be difficulot for Westerners to enter into dream yoga without some preparation.
  • The sleeper usually awakens briefly fifteen times or more during the night, though these awakenings are rarely noticed. They can be used to enhance the practice of lucid dreaming.
  • Stephen LaBerge: “Dreaming can be viewed as the special case of perception without the constraints of external sensory input. Conversely, perception can be viewed as the special case of dreaming constrained by sensory input”.
  • In lucid dream training, one of the earliest acquired skills is to fly at will.
  • Lucid dreamers sometimes have to train themselves to fly. The notion of gravity is so ingrained that it may carry over into the dream state. One believes that gravity prohibits one from flying, one can’t fly.
  • As we dream, we are often involved in activities that are inconceivable from a waking perspective, assuming all the while that they are real, without ever questioning whether we are sleep or awake. The science of lucid dreaming has evolved a number of effective strategies for combating this state of torpor.
  • One is not likely to get very far in lucid dreaming by taking a casual attitude. Many of the practices of lucid dreaming derive their effectiveness from a positive, proactive motivation based on an intense interest and desire to achieve and develop lucid dreaming.
  • Another usefull way to prime ourselves for lucid dreaming is to anticipate lucid dreams during our waking hours. This kind of anticipation is especially effective if we do it as we are falling asleep.
  • Keeping a journal with detailed descriptions of your dreams serves several purposes. First, in order to have something to write in your journal you must be able to remember your dreams. It has been shown that excellent dream recall is a crucial factor in developing lucid dreaming.
  • This more advanced form of prospective memory requires that you discover personal dream signs. These are typical objects, characters, situations, and moods that appear in your dreams. Once enough material has been gathered in your dream journal, an analysis is made to discover things that repeat frequently and to categorize these phenomena.
  • It also happens that in dreams printed text and digital clock numerals tend to change when you look away then return your gaze.
  • As you become skilled in remembering your dreams you will being to notice oddities or anomalies, things that are so bizarre that it is surprising you don’t question them as you dream along, believing your dreams are real.
  • Another training strategy that enhances this attitude is to make periodic state checks during waking hours. One may simply get in the habit of asking oneself, “Am I dreaming or not?” ten or fifteen times per day.
  • One could cultivate the habit of asking through a doorway or when something bizarre or unusual occurs.
  • One variation on this is to use an alarm clock to awaken yourself periodically during the night. You have trained yourself to remember your dreams upon waking, you may be able to fall back into the dream consciously and continue the dream lucidly. You can extend this possibility by sleeping in an extra hour or two.
  • If you can’t get a good night’s sleep, developing stability in lucid dreaming is impossible.
  • I recall one extremely skilled lucid dreamer who in waking life was confined to a wheelchair. Lucid dreaming was her opportunity to escape this situation and move around in ways far more varied and fulfilling than the normal activities of those of us free of physical disabilities.
  • Once can also train physical skills in lucid dreams. This parallels the kind of mental training athletes employ using imagination to rehearse physical movements.
  • Your imagination is the only limit as to how you can entertain yourself.
  • Personally, I prefer to view lucid dreaming as a laboratory for exploring the mind. If you take, say, a Western psychological viewpoint, lucid dreaming can allow you to explore your fears, neuroses, psychological obstacles, and so forth.
  • Outline of lucid-dreaming techniques:
    • The power of motivation, making positive affirmations.
    • Prospective memory, planning ahead and imagining an outcome.
    • Noting dreams signs and writing them down in a dream journal.
    • Performing state checks.
    • Noticing anomalies.
    • Developing a critical reflective attitude.
    • Following hypnagogic imagery.
    • MILD, Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams, performing a state check when you see a dream sign.
    • DILD, Dream-Initiated Lucid Dreams, deliberately waking in the night and returning to an ongoing dream lucidly.
    • WILD, Wake-Initiated Lucid Dreams, waking in the night, reading, then reentering sleep lucidly.
    • Reconstituting fading dreams, spinning your dream body, giving it a rub-down.
    • Maintaining fading lucidity, reminding yourself, “This is a dream”, creating story lines.
    • Using later hours effectively, the last two hours of sleep are best for lucid dreaming; even better, on weekends you could sleep a couple of extra hours.
  • The stress and long working hours that epitomize the modern lifestyle interfere with the natural sleep pattern.
  • Another excellent remedy for coping with the vicissitudes of life is shamatha meditation.
  • Original entry: https://raulbarraltamayo.wordpress.com/2020/03/24/dreaming-yourself-awake-by-b-alan-wallace/
  • The first step toward lucid dreaming is to generate interest in your dreams.
  • Tonight, as you are falling asleep, develop the strong resolve to take interest in your dreams. I am going to remain still from the very moment I begin to wake up. And having achieved that through prospective memory. I am then going to engage in retrospective memory. I am going to cast my mental glance backward within the dream from which I have emerged or to whatever dream I can remember.
  • When we move upon awakening, we inmediatly engage in a new environment with all of its sensory information. A dream that seemed riveting only seconds earlier can vanish instantly.
  • If you’ve picked up the tail end of a dream, ask yourself, “Where was I, and what was happening just before that? How did I get there? Why was I there? What did I want? What was I fleeing from? What was I chasing after?”-
  • Learning lucid dreaming does not require special talent.
  • Naturally you will pass through periods when the going is easy and other times when it is more difficult.
  • Lucid dreaming is more of an art than a simple skill like learning to type. Each dreamer is different, so each pathway to learning lucid dreaming varies somewhat.
  • Before long, you will be able to remember longer and longer passages from multiples dreams, if not entire dreams.
  • A dream sign is something that repeats in your dreams. Therefore, the appearance of one of these recurring phenomena is a clue revealing that right now you are dreaming.
  • Note that dream signs may change over time. One that was hot six months ago may stop appearing, replaced by a new one.
  • Through psychoanalysis you may discover that you have a hidden fear of some object, person, or situation, and you may discover its origin, say, in a childhood trauma. In lucid dreaming you may not only discover such a hidden fear but also be able to confront that fear lucidly in your dreams and overcome it.
  • To develop prospective memory, make a list of twenty-five to thirty typical activities that you perform on a daily basis. Try to have your list cover activities that involve all of your senses. Then choose four or five for each day of the week, at random. At the beginning of the each day, memorize the handful of activities listed for that day, and the first time you perform that activity, you are to notice it inmediatly and then perform a state check.
  • These are the two main obstacles to extending lucid dreams: losing your lucid awareness of the dream and losing the dream itself.
  • If, as you dream lucidly, you sense that the visual scenario of the dream is losing its integrity, spin your dream body with your eyes wide open. Another time-tested method is to give your dream body a rubdown. You can also concentrate your focus on some object within the dream.
  • The most basic way to ensure that you maintain lucidity in dremas is to repeat to yourself frequently, “This is a dream”.
  • You can use anticipation consciously to maintain lucidity.
  • The most dramatic difference between lucid dreaming and dream yoga hinges on what it means to be lucid or awake. Buddhism considers normal waking consciousness itself to be a dream state relative to our deepest dimension of consciousness.
  • Since treading the Buddhist path to enlightment requires an ethical foundation, ethics is relevant to the practice of dream yoga. The foundation of ethics in Tibetan Buddhism is the intention to avoid injuring anyone and to be of service when the opportunity arises. Beyond that, ethical conduct prevents the accumulation of negative karma, which would impede the individual’s quest for enlightment. Ethical conduct is also one of the guarantors of the kind of tranquil mind required for advanced Buddhist practice.
  • Buddhism has numerous guidelines for ethical conduct. One is the Ten Non-virtues, a list of behaviors to be avoided. The are the non-virtues of the body: (1) killing, (2), stealing, (3) sexual misconduct; the non-virtues of speech: (4) lying, (5) harsh speech, (6) slander, (7) idle chatter: and the non-virtues of mind: (8) wishing harm, (9) coveting, and (10) wrong views. The Six Perfections comprise a list of virtuous activities directly related to advancement on the spiritual path. One is encouraged to practice (1) generosity, (2) ethical discipline, (3) patience, (4) enthusiasm, (5) meditation, and (6) wisdom. The Four Inmmeasurable Virtues comprise a list of positive aspirations for the well-being of all sentient beings. One cultivates the aspirations with the greatest of all sentient beings: (1) “May all sentient beings have happiness and its causes”, (2) “May all sentient beings be free from suffering and its causes”, (3) “May all sentient beings never be separated from the happiness that is without suffering”, and (4) “May all sentient beings abide in equanimity, free of attachment and aversion”.
  • Dream yoga, when supported by the achievement of shamatha, can also give one access to supernatural powers such as clairaudience, clairvoyance, and precognition.
  • It is also theoretically possible that dream yogi may receive teachings from realized beings in dreams.
  • Over millenia, Buddhist philosophers have searched systematically and thoroughly for evidence of an absolute personal self. None has been found. Buddhist contemplatives train for many years searching for this self to see whether there is any experiential evidence for its existence.
  • This could be the first, the primordial dream sign of Buddhism: If you are reifying, you are dreaming
  • Stephen LaBerge: “Dream consciousness is waking consciousness without physical constraints. Waking consciousness is a dream consciousness with physical constraints”.
  • As long as you are operating from the assumption that you are the person in the dream you are stuck in that point of view. If that’s who you think you really are, you’ve sealed the nonlucidity of your dream. You are locked into your illusory role.
  • In Dzogchen it is said that all beings are already enlightened and the billionfold universe is a buddha real. In essence we are not ordinary sentient beings but enlightened beings that fail to recognize the fact.
  • Nothing that appears in the dream is independent of your consciouness.
  • Do not be surprised if after a time the deep practice of dream yoga occasionally brings up unpleasant experiences. We are exploring the substrate, which contains the good, the bad, and the ugly of our experience of not only this life but countless past lives.
  • Tibetan lama Tsongkapa: “whenever anything of a threatening or traumatic nature occurs in a dream, such as drowning in water or being burned by fire, recognize the dream as a dream and .. make yourself jump or fall into the water or fire in the dream”.
  • This is the final exam for this phase of practice, to allow your worst nightmare to take place knowing perfectly well it is an illusion.
  • For the hedonist the lucid dreamscape is the ultimate playground. When it comes to pleasures such as eating and sex, your imagination is the limit.
  • Your mind may not be younger, but your body in the dream could be of any age you choose.
  • The freedoms that they are denied in the daytime can be regained at night.
  • Whatever you fear the most will very likely show up during a lucid dream. The gist of the practice is to “allow the worst to happen” rather than fleeing.
  • Another possible therapeutic use of lucid dreaming would be in dealing with “unfinished business” with people and situations that cannot be approached directly.
  • In the reaqlm of athletic performance, Jack Nicklaus, who still hods the record for winning major PGA tournaments, famously improved this golf game through discoveries in a single lucid dream.
  • Hatha Yoga can be a meditative practice. You can bring a great deal of mindulness to it, including mindfulness of breathing.
  • Recognition of subtle anomalies is a skill to be developed. Prospective memory especially neds to be honed, and then bring in a critical reflective attitude, asking, “How odd is that?”. That can be the catalyst. Develop the habit of looking for anything and everything that is outside the norm.
  • The scientifc history of the universe is a macrocosmic projection of the history of science over the past four hundred years. That history is based on measurements made first by physicists, then by biologists, and finally by pshychologists, and it is true only relative to those measurements but not independently of them.
  • The universe described by modern science is an imaginary one, for it assumes that consciousness accidentally arose from complex interactions of organic proccesses, and it plays no significant role in the natural world.
  • The Buddha never demanded that his followers believe anything he said. All that is traditionally required of students of Buddhims is to be open-minded, perceptive, and devoted to seeking liberation through the cultivation of insight and understanding.
  • Is it possible to awaken from this dream of samsara by experientially knowing the nature of consciousness and its role in the universe? Only if we take this possibility as our working hypothesis and apply our selves wholeheartedly to testing it in the most rigorous ways we can.

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