Tibetan Dream Yoga & Lucid Dreams
Tibetan Dream Yoga, also known as Milam or Yoga of the Dream State, is a collection of advance tantric spiritual practices dated to be at least 1,000 years old. They stem from Tibetan Buddhism and the Mahasiddhas of Vedic India.
Tibetan Yogis/Lamas sought spiritual awakening with techniques to use within the Trance Bardos of Dream and Sleep, which many still do. Just like lucid dreaming, the goal was to awaken in the dream, but they would apply more esoteric practices within it, using it as a means to attain enlightenment.
A term used loosely, a Bardo is a transitional state between states of consciousness. The Tibetan Buddhist state that there are 6 Bardos: The Waking, The Dreaming, The Transcendent, The Moment Of Death, The Hypnogogic, and Sleeping/Being.
1. The Waking - (Kyenay bardo) is the first bardo of life. You are in this bardo from birth until death. This is your waking state of consciousness.
2. Dreaming - (Milam bardo) is the second bardo of the dream state. The Dream Bardo is a subset of the above Waking Bardo. This is your dreaming state of consciousness, and you move between these two bardos every day.
3. Transcendent & Metacognitive - (Samten bardo) is the third bardo. This bardo is usually only experienced by meditators, though some may have a spontaneous experience of it. This is also a subset of the Waking Bardo. This is your transcendent state of consciousness. You should be entering through all three of these bardos everyday if you want to master lucid dreaming..;)
4. Death Bardo - (Chikhai Bardo) is the fourth bardo of your moment of death. "Sleep is the cousin of Death." The subtle winds outside and inside of you have begun leaving the body.
5. Hypnogogic Bardo (Chönyi bardo): is the fifth bardo of the luminosity of the true nature. It begins after the last of the subtle winds leave your body. It is within the Hypnogogic Bardo that visions and auditory manifestations occur. In the Dzogchen teachings, these are known as the spontaneously manifesting Thödgal visions, along with these visions come feelings of bliss and pure awareness. Those that have not cultivated enough awareness or do not recognize that this is a manifestation of themselves, at their moment of death are usually deluded throughout the Hypnogogic Bardo.
6. Sleep/Being (Sidpa bardo): is the sixth bardo of sleep or being. This bardo continues until the subtle winds enter into the new Waking form. This is the deep sleep or pure being state of awareness that exists between life and death. It is the state you are in when not conscious within Waking Bardo and its subsets.
The Yoga Of The Dream State was transmitted by MahaSiddhas in Northern India entering the Himalayas. The concept is closely tied to the Vedic sacred sound Om, representing the waking, dreaming, sleeping, and transcendent states as written in the Mandukya Upanishad.
Both Tibetan Buddhism and Vedic scriptures use the idea of reincarnation and Samsara as representations of moving through these different states of consciousness. To them, the rise and fall of consciousness that happens within your everyday life, like moving from waking, dreaming, and sleeping, also mimics the process of death as a whole, moving from life to death to new life.
Given this, the idea is that the same mechanism that allows you to be aware of your waking dreaming and sleeping states is the same mechanism that allows one to be aware of death and its process.
When moving from one state to another there is always a form of consciousness that is aware. While we are asleep, there is an aspect of consciousness that is aware of our external environment. That’s why when we sleep, we can be awoken by the sound of our name being called. In the west, this is known as our subconscious, or that part of our psyche that handles unconscious processes.
In Eastern Tradition, it is this part of us that is believed to be the most aware. It is always aware, amongst any of the transitional bardo or states of consciousness. To become the awareness that is always aware, is to free oneself from the cycle of birth, death, and the rising and falling of awareness in waking, dreaming, sleeping, and other states.
To enter into this awareness, they used meditative, yogic, and other practices, like Yoga of The Dream State. To help enter into this awareness using Tibetan Dream Yoga, the Buddhists described basically three steps.
Tibetan Dream Yoga Techniques
1. Think of your life and your dreams as being the same
The goal is to row your boat gently down the stream. To do this, throughout the day, think of your life like you would a dream. I'm not saying to jump off a building and try to fly, but think of it as illusory as a dream is. Think of the temporal nature of it, how nothing lasts, how you will die (haha I know how that sounds). Think of how dreams feel like reality too, how you just accept reality for what it is, how your sense of self fades away and comes back.
You are questioning reality the same way as you would a dream. The lamas say the important realization in this, is that you recognize that reality is a manifestation of your own consciousness, just like dreams are.
2. Transmute the Dream
When you're lucid, you're to change things from one form to another, to aid in the realization that everything is illusion.
- Make yourself extremely large, then extremely small to aid in realizing the relativity of reality
- Make your body disappear to aid in realizing you are not your body
- Be in multiple bodies at once to aid in realizing your awareness is not only local
- Completely dissolve the dream state. Dissolve everything into nothingness and experience what lies beyond the dream.
Meditate to enter the transcendent state and increase self-awareness. Meditate to help increase your subtle winds to help increase your subtle awareness to help you keep Livin' Lucid Dreams ;)