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Buddhadharma : Summer 2015
summer 2 0 1 5 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 31 dreams. Dream journaling also helps. Keep the jour- nal by your bed and write down any snippet of any dream. When you wake up, ask yourself, “Was I dreaming?” Close your eyes and try to go back in to recapture any part of the dream. Take advantage of prime-time dreamtime, which begins about two hours before you normally wake up. A proven technique is to wake up two hours before normal, stay up for fifteen minutes or so, then go back to sleep with the intent that “I will wake up in my dreams, I will remember my dreams.” This technique is perhaps the single most effective method for achieving lucidity. Finally, there are many specific Eastern and West- ern induction techniques, such as taking the supple- ment galantamine to increase dream clarity, wearing dream goggles (that register the rapid eye movement (REM) characteristic of the dream state and signal to you that you’re dreaming), and visualization practice (imagining a red lotus at your throat as you fall asleep). For Buddhists, one of the most effective methods is mindfulness meditation, which wakes you up to the contents of your mind. By becom- ing lucid to (mindful of) the contents of your mind now, you will naturally become more lucid to the contents of your mind during dreams. Many studies have shown that mindfulness meditators have more lucid dreams. rapid traNsformatioN The reason we might want to engage in these noc- turnal meditations is because they work directly with the tectonic plates of our experience. As any depth psychologist will tell you, whatever you do with your unconscious mind has vast repercussions in your conscious life. The smallest shifts in tectonic plates have massive surface implications. Your earth can quake toward enlightenment very quickly when you work with the ground of your experience. When we relate to our mind in meditation during the day, we’re mostly working with surface levels of the conscious mind, which is as direct as we can get. It’s a start. But these conscious levels are projections of deeper unconscious strata that underlie all sur- face experience. If we can work with these uncon- scious levels directly, which is the rare opportunity provided by dream and sleep yoga, we’re now fac- ing the mind point-blank. It’s akin to why hypnosis can be so transforma- tive. What you do “down there” has a big effect on what happens “up here.” The nighttime medita- tions are even more transformative because they go deeper. You’re not just working with the leaves and branches of the tree of samsara (the domain of psy- chology, hypnotherapy, or other self-help methods). You’re not even working with the trunk (classic meditation). You’re working with the very roots of your entire experience. Transform those roots and you’ll transform everything above. According to Traleg Rinpoche, dream yoga can unleash potentials that have not been previously accessed, tapping into untapped reservoirs of wis- dom. He relates many stories of dream yoga practi- tioners maturing dramatically in one night. The first Karmapa, for example, attained his enlightenment by doing dream yoga. You can go to sleep confused and wake up transformed. Namkai Norbu Rinpoche says, “It is easier to develop your practices in a dream than in the daytime. In the daytime we are limited by our material body, but in a dream our function of mind and our consciousness of the senses are unhindered. We can have more clarity. Thus there are more possibilities. ... If a person applies a practice within a dream, it is nine times more effec- tive than when it is applied in waking life.” The inner yogas of dream and sleep are almost like a shortcut to enlightenment, a quick inner path. They work with aspects of the mind that are the shortest distance between you and awakening. But quick doesn’t mean easy. Because it’s more direct, it’s also more difficult. Still, knowing about the potential for rapid and enduring transformation can inspire you to undertake these practices and stick with them. the fruitioN of dream YoGa With the nighttime yogas, you can bring sleeping and dreaming fully onto the path. For those who are busy, it’s like adding a night shift. You no longer have the excuse that there isn’t time to meditate. Moreover, you can transpose insights from the night into the day. Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche says: Experiences we gain from practices we do dur- ing our dream time can then be brought into our daytime experience. For example, we can learn to