Tibetan Dream Yoga
All of us dream whether we remember dreaming or not. We dream as infants and continue dreaming until we die. Every night we enter an unknown world. We may seem to be our ordinary selves or someone completely different.
Sometimes you may wake up feeling depressed. You have breakfast, everything seems to be all right, but there is a sense of depression that cannot be accounted for. We say in this case that some karma is ripening. The causes and conditions have come together in such a way that the depression manifests. There may be a hundred reasons for this depression to occur on this particular morning, and it may manifest in a myriad of ways. It may also manifest during the night as a dream.
The karmic traces are like photographs that we take of each experience. Any reaction of grasping or aversion to any experience—to memories, feelings, sense perceptions, or thoughts—is like snapping a photo. In the darkroom of our sleep we develop the film. Which images are developed on a particular night will be determined by the secondary karmic conditions.
The first step in dream practice is quite simple: one must recognize the great potential that dream holds for the spiritual journey. Normally the dream is thought to be "unreal," as opposed to "real" waking life. But there is nothing more real than dream. This statement only makes sense once it is understood that normal waking life is as unreal as dream, and in exactly the same way. Then it can be understood that dream yoga applies to all experience, to the dreams of the day as well as the dreams of the night.
Through Dream Yoga practice we can cultivate greater awareness during every moment of life. If we do, freedom and flexibility continually increase and we are less governed by habitual preoccupations and distractions. We develop a stable and vivid presence that allows us to more skillfully choose positive responses to whatever arises, responses that best benefit others and our own spiritual journey. Eventually we develop a continuity of awareness that allows us to maintain full awareness during dream as well as in waking life.
Then we are able to respond to dream phenomena in creative and positive ways and can accomplish various practices in the dream state. When we fully develop this capacity, we will find that we are living both waking and dreaming life with greater ease, comfort, clarity, and appreciation, and we will also be preparing ourselves to attain liberation in the intermediate state ( bardo) after death.