Lucid dreaming has many spiritual benefits, and actually forms a core element of Tibetan Buddhist spiritual practice. Whilst lucid dreaming is not something that I claim to be an expert at, it is something that I have been aspiring towards for some time.
I have achieved moments of lucid dreaming in the past, but the realization that it is actually happening is usually accompanied by the disappointment of then immediately awakening. Well, last night, I had the first lucid dream where I did not spontaneously awaken, and was able to just be aware of my situation and surroundings for a sustained period of time.
One thing I had noticed during previous dreams where I had attained a certain degree of lucidity was just how “real” things seemed to be. In one particular dream a few months ago, I was hugging arguably the most precious person in my entire life, who had recently died, and telling him, “I know you’re not really here. But I just want to say that I love you so very much.”
Imagine that! Part of me knew that he could not possibly be here i.e. that there was something not quite right about this picture, and yet another part of me took the opportunity to enjoy the experience of his presence and say what I really wanted to say, while I had the chance to say it!
The other amazing thing about this specific dream was that, while I was saying “I know you’re not really here,…” the statement itself seemed to be the absurdity. In other words, the reality of the situation was so great that the so-called “real world” seemed like a very distant, vaguely imagined dream. It seemed so ridiculous to deny the reality of what I was experiencing that a part of me asked, “Is that really true?…”
When I eventually awoke from that dream, it was over a period of seconds, and I could feel the difference in my psyche; of being in that loved one’s presence, and then gradually experiencing that feeling fade away to zero as normal waking reality returned and I lay in my bed with my eyes open.
I have even had one dream (not really lucid as such) rather like the Leonardo Di Caprio movie Inception, wherein I traveled from one place in the dream to another totally different one via a kind of gateway, and later came back to the original place and told people there that it felt so real, even though I was dreaming. And all along, while telling them that, I was still asleep, in a dream!
So, onto last night’s lucid dream…
I was in some sort of building with lots of rooms and corridors and was making my way to the top, where there seemed to be some sort of exit. However, when I got there, the exit was nowhere in sight. Baffled, I stopped and collected my thoughts. It was then that I wondered where I actually was, looked around, and suddenly realized that in fact it was all a dream!
However, rather than awaken in that moment, I remained in that state. I also found that by not concentrating on the realization that I was dreaming, but just remaining lightly aware of it, I did not trigger the awakening response. In fact, when I felt it coming, by focusing on some element of my surroundings, I was able to stay in the dream. Maybe that can serve as a tip to you when you find yourself in the same situation for the first time.
Again, I had the same uncanny experience as in the other dream. As I sat there pondering the situation, everything felt very REAL, including a piece of pizza that I was holding. It was so real that normal waking reality seemed to be the distant fantasy. Moreover, when I did eventually slide into wakefulness, reality did not seem any more nor less real than the state I had been experiencing just seconds before. They both seemed as real as each other!
This set me thinking about how metaphysical teachings relate that everyday reality is itself a dream that we shall someday awaken from. It seems very credible indeed once you have had an experience such as the one described. Are we already not already in a dream? How can we be so certain that we are not? If a dream feels totally like reality, and in that moment “reality” seems like a distant absurd fantasy, how can we be so certain that our entire lives are not in fact the exact same thing? Indeed, the term Tathagata to refer to the Buddha means “The Awakened One.” Hence, experiencing this awakening from what seemed so firm and real helped me to understand that it really is possible to awaken from the dream that we consider to be Reality.
I look forward to developing this lucid dreaming capacity even further. It is a goal I have set myself to do so. There are many spiritual benefits. As stated earlier, in Tibetan Buddhism, the time spent asleep can be usefully spent doing sacred rituals and practices that one also does during waking life. Perhaps one can ask oneself questions and get answers far more clearly and rapidly than in waking life. The possibilities are endless.
Here are some useful resources about Lucid Dreaming:
The video below features some useful things that you can try to do as and when you achieve lucidity within a dream. He seems to have become quite an expert on being able to do lucid dreaming and his tips are pretty good, especially the one about asking your higher self some meaningful questions.
Here is a pretty good lucid dreaming article that includes a 5-step process to use to achieve lucid dreams:
Great books about Lucid Dreaming: