Awakening the Serpent with Tibetan Dream Yoga

Look to your experience of sleep to discover if you are really awake.

The practice of Tibetan dream yoga is not a compilation of ideas or psychological investigations but a spiritual path and practice to reveal the nature of not only dreams but of the entirety of existence. To begin, one must release any preconceived notions of “unreal and reality” as the waking life can inherently be considered equally as “unreal” as a dream. By this I am referring to the interdepenent, impermanent and empty nature of the aggregates (form, feeling, perception, volition and consciousness) which compose both waking and dream life. Thus dream yoga applies to all experience.

Experience arises from the innate karmic seeds of samsara and ignorance to ones true nature. The entanglements of dualistic mind and how we thus identify with ourselves results in habitual responses to grasping and aversion. We are culturally conditioned to this ignorance and lose pure perception to fundamental realities. All of our problems exist in the mind yet we tend to blame the environment and wish for difference which will result in searching for fulfillment in the exterior world which will only result in more suffering, never reaching the actual root cause.

Any external or internal reaction, waking or sleeping, that is rooted in grasping or aversion, will leave traces which dictate future reactions, emotions, perceptions and interpretations. Karmic traces are thus the residual imprints that seep into the mental consciousness and subconscious. Recognizing this we can choose which seeds to nature and let go of those that do not serve us. This is not however suppression, another form of aversion, which will only cause the seeds to sprout later. Turning karma into positive manifestations takes a moment of inner communication to find the “antidote”. That is through the realization of karmic residuals and rather than being pushed around by conditions and constrictions one can stop reacting and start acting.

Ideally the karma can self-liberate in non-dual awareness free of grasping and aversion as a bird may fly through an empty space. That is the emotion arises and with practice of presence and experience of emptiness, the emotion flies with out attachment to reinforcing karmic conditioning disillusions and is allowed to dissipate. All of samsaric experience is shaped by karmic traces and in dreams, these karmic traces arise unfettered by the rational mind. Withdrawn from external stimuli, the mind illuminates these traces as images and strings them together as if a a film where the psyche then works to fabricate meaning. This is the same as in waking life, the only difference is dreams are not restricted by limitations of the physical world and rational consciousness. During the day we are still engaged in the dream making process, projecting inner activity to the exterior world.

Dream yoga is essentially understanding karma used to train the mind and generate new karmic traces to increase awareness and cultivate positive choices by allowing future karma to “self-liberate” during dreams until no karma remains as obstructions to the luminous fundamental pure-light that is the end of dreaming and is thus called “awakening.”

The dreaming and waking life energetic bodies basis is prana. Assuming different postures such as sitting, laying or asana will channel energy differently and make it easier to assume withdrawal of the mind. Perfect prana is immediate and is the awareness before consciousness attaches. The karmic traces are then fueled by prana but with practice of control, the dreamer is no longer dreamed, the thinker controls the thoughts rather than the thoughts controlling the thinker.

Dreams are related to the chakras which are often represented in art for symbolic supports and maps of the energetic patterns. These chakras draw the dreamer in when they are unbalanced or energetically blocked. In dreams we can heal the psyche, remove energy blocks, take experience beyond conceptual boundaries, and have deeper communication with one-self. Ultimately the ideal dreamer is not sucked into or blocked by the chakras but balanced in the center sushuma.

The greatest issue is always whether we recognize our true nature and understand reflections manifesting as experience. Dreams are reflections of our mind as is samsara, lacking this inherent existence, we dream ourselves in waking life. The practice works thoughts into awareness, liberation by empty essence, realization that all sound is mantra, that all form is emptiness, that all suffering is teaching and the path will become transformed.

“Anger has no basis but a reflection of the mind, realization of this the know loosens, no longer binding. Realizing what we fear as a snake is only a rope, the power of it’s appearance is gone”

Stay tuned coming up next is an in-depth guide to the specific practices of Dream Yoga

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~ by Benjamin Wuest on January 23, 2012.

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