Friday, July 29, 2005

Dreaming or Awake?

Am I dreaming now?
Lucid in this reality,
It could be, why not?

Today I was given one of those delicious gifts of the Spirit, a conversation with another seeker that leaves you full with a doggy bag of goodies to savor for days. Two hours discussing all my favorite topics, dreams, circle work, spiritual direction, writing and more. The unique morsel my friend, Tina, gave me was sharing her joy in finding a teacher, Byron Katie, and “The Work”. I love Tina’s image of “the Work” as “a tool which fits her hand”. That certainly sounds like an answer to a prayer.

Tina is working on a book about dreaming. She is mining many years of her own dream journals and weaving those threads together with her “awake” life. Her sharing about this project set me thinking about my own dream experiences.

Early in my life (high school or college) I taught myself to “lucid dream” a practice of “waking up to the fact that you are dreaming” while still dreaming. This skill was a coping mechanism against my terrifying recurring nightmares. When I became “lucid” in the nightmares I realized that I could not be hurt because I was dreaming. The nightmares lost their terrifying nature. I could play with different endings “create” different realities in my dreams.

One technique to learn how to lucid dream is to ask yourself many times during the day when you are awake if you are dreaming. You get the “habit” of asking the question so you will ask it when you are indeed sleeping and dreaming. This technique poses some interesting challenges for a Buddhist practitioner where one is taught that “reality” is illusion or a dream.

OK – what if that were true, I am dreaming in the state generally accepted as “awake”? What would “lucid” be? Would I be as fearless knowing I can not be hurt in a dream? Could I as easily change my reality knowing that I am after all creating it? Why not.