Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Tantric Principle in Lucid Dreaming

An aspect of my own lucid dreaming experience has been the concurrent activation of powerful energy and sound, which in the East is referred to as the kundalini. Just two nights ago, I meditated at 5 am, and then returned to bed for a while. As I drifted into a half-sleep, the energy awakened. At first it sounded like wind coming in waves, as usual. But as I meditated on it, it increased in intensity and became a constant flow, flattening out instead of coming in pulses. (When I was younger, this would be uncomfortable, but at this stage in my life, it is quite pleasant.) As I meditated on the energy, trying to put aside my ego assessment of what was happening, I noticed that my field of vision was brightening and revealing a subtle lattice-like pattern as it became whiter and whiter. Meanwhile, I was aware of dreaming, as well. I was lying down on the slope of a hill, with a couple of colleagues who were waiting with me for entrance into a conference where we would speak or teach.

When I was younger, the activation of this sound-energy would often escalate into a full-blown kundalini activation. That is, a full-body vibratory experience of light and ecstasy. This still happens, but not as often. More recently, the activation has usually stopped with the flat flowing sound. At the moment that it flattens out, I discover that I can roll out of my body and enter into a fully conscious lucid dream/out of body experience. Robert Monroe, in his book Journeys Out of the Body, said that without first awakening this sound/energy, he could not leave his body. I have found this to be so true.

What can we make of this energy experience as a component of the lucid dream? As early as 1974, when I wrote my master's thesis on lucid dreaming, I suggested that lucidity and the white light were subjective and objective aspects of the same thing; that is, heightened consciousness. The Tibetan tantric system gives us more insight into the relationship between consciousness and energy by stating that the two are interchangeable, or reciprocally related. This means that any movement in consciousness has a corresponding movement in energy, and vice versa. Lucid dreamers do not always report a concurrent energy experience. Indeed, in my experience, it is relatively rare. Perhaps some lucid dreamers simply do not experience the energy as much as others do. But in the tibetan tradition, dream yoga is considered one of six accelerated yogas - accelerated because they involve activation of the kundalini. Well, this is good news and bad news, because the kundalini awakens dormant memories, some of which are disturbing and heretofore repressed or at least forgotten. Thus the energy component "forces the issue" into consciousness, and thus can result in destabilization of the ego as it confronts necessary unfinished business and emerging archetypal forces. All good in the long run, certainly. But in the short term, it can awaken fear as the ego struggles to retain is supremacy.

In the Tibetan tradition, meditation is treated as a slower, but less destabilizing approach to enlightenment. By focusing on awareness, the energy awakens, but only a a byproduct of mental activity. This approach (mahamuudra) is advocated unless the seeker has a guru who can oversee the dynamic process of kundalini awakening.

For myself, I believe I've had a rather rough ride over the past 40 years of meditation, lucid dreaming, and kundalini awakening. I wouldn't trade it for anything, but I have grown to respect the power of unseen forces, and counsel  others to take a more cautious approach, especially if their journey includes frequent kundalini awakenings alongside the quest for lucidity.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Lucid Dreaming Course Coming this Winter

I am working with Ryan Hurd (of dreamstudies.org) and Alice Grinda (www.aliceinwakedreamland.com) to launch an intensive lucid dreaming training program on Shadow | Community of Dreamers this winter. Shadow will be launching a smartphone app that works wirelessly with a sensor that will awaken you when you are dreaming, and allow you to dictate your dreams into your phone, and then have them converted to text and uploaded to a cloud server. In addition, Shadow will be creating a vast online community of dreamers who will be able to share dreams, learn from each other, and be able to participate in training programs such as the one that we are developing. I Skyped with Ryan and Alice for the first time last Wednesday, and we have started to pool our knowledge and experience in order to create a dynamic month-long program. I will be announcing the program as we get closer to the launch sometime in February. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Darkness in Dreams

Last week, I was an invited guest at Craig Webb's online dream class. I have known Craig for several years as a fellow IASD member, and a serious lucid dreamer. He wanted me to be available to his class as a lucid dream pioneer. It was a great meeting, and I had a chance to review a great deal of my own history in the field. One class member, whose name was Jim, asked me about a phenomenon that has recently concerned him--darkness in his dreams. He described being in darkness, unable to see anything. I immediately connected with him, saying that for the past several years, many of my dreams have been characterized by darkness. While the darkness may suddenly shift to bright settings, I spend a great deal of my time "groping" through dark scenes.

I am finding that darkness is a phenomenon that many people experience. I saw a woman for the first time in therapy three days ago, who told me a recurring dream that has worried her. She is on a mountain road, with sheer drop-offs on both sides, and a very narrow passage between the cliffs. Suddenly, it becomes pitch dark, and she does know how to make it through safely. It's important to know that she faces two severe existential issues: the normally fatal disease of scleroderma (now in remission, thankfully), and an adult daughter who has suffered a psychotic break and now lives the streets of LA. My client is deeply aggrieved by her daughter's predicament, and by her inability to help her. As if the narrow mountain passage is bad enough, lacking any way to gain feedback from the situation so she can negotiate the challenge has brought her to a standstill.

Darkness in dreams may represent, simply, a sense of feeling alone and lost in life. From a deeper perspective, it may signify the beginning of trusting another source of support, which is, as yet, not evident. Sometimes we have to be brought to standstill before we learn to rely on deeper resources. I am inclined to have hope for my client, as I have hope for myself. Perhaps we are poised on the threshold of a new life that bears little resemblance to the one that preceded it. Regardless, I am there for her, and so at least there is another voice in the darkness.

  I've just launched a new podcast, titled DreamStar Institute Presents "Dreamwork with Dr. Scott Sparrow." My first episode i...