Dreaming Yourself Awake by Alan Wallace

Summary
  1. Dreaming Yourself Awake describes the two most effective forms to control dreams though lucid dreaming and Tibetan Dream yoga. These two practices will help bring you a lucid and spiritual awakening – great tips, habits and daily practices on how to improve your chances of entering this awesome state of consciousness
Key Takeaways
  1. Lucid dreaming and spiritual awakening are intimately tied as both require a complete awareness for the present moment which helps facilitate peace and happiness. Your thoughts and decisions are not clouded and you become a master of your destiny. You are aware of how your actions and decisions are unfolding and their future ripple effects. Such clarity leads to inner freedom
  2. Lucid dreaming is simple the conscious controlling of your dreams. Steven Laberge the father of lucid dreaming
  3. Tibetan dream yoga helps attain enlightenment. A central tenet is samatha which is a deep stability of attention. This type of concentration once can be called on at will to turn onto any subject or thought. Focusing on inflow and outflow of breath or on a mental or bodily image. Perspective memory, retrospective memory, cues to signal you’re in a dream state and acts of concentration on images
    1. 10 stages of samatha training (combo of mindfulness and introspection)
      1. Directed attention – focus on a chosen object
      2. Continuous attention – attention on object for up to a minute
      3. Resurgent attention – recover attention swiftly when distracted from the object
      4. Close attention – Object of attention is no longer completely forgotten
      5. Tamed attention – one takes pride in samati (single pointed attention)
      6. Pacified attention – no longer resistance to attentional training
      7. Fully pacified attention – lethargy, melancholy totally pacified
      8. Single pointed attention – samati sustained without excitation or laxity
      9. Attentional balance – flawless and effortlessly sustained samati
      10. Samatha – effortless attention on a single object for at least 4 hours. Extremely rare but many benefits
    2. 3 samatha practices
      1. Mindfulness of breathing (stages 1-4)
      2. Settling mind in natural state (stages 5-7). Observes all mental events (thoughts, emotions, distractions) neutrally and objectively
      3. Awareness on awareness (stages 8-10)
  4. Must individualize practice as each person has different sleep patterns, habits, strengths, etc. However, anybody can learn to lucid dream with proper motivation
  5. Samatha in practice – 3 sessions towards journey of samatha
    1. Relaxing – basic meditation sequence to improve tactile sensations of body to improve relaxation and sleep. Settle body and mind into natural state, quiet mental presence, don’t move, awareness to both interior and exterior of body, straight spine and sternum up so no pressure on belly and can expand fully when breathing, breathe into tightness (especially face, nose and eyes) and start with three large breaths through nostrils to diaphragm and lastly chest. Breathe effortlessly after this. Be patient with busy and distracted mind. 24 minutes ideal time for beginner’s practice
    2. Stabilizing the attention – after being relaxed and having the attention on the tactile sensations in the body, breathe deeply through diaphragm, body in natural state (stillness, relaxation and diligence). 3 deep breaths and then natural breathing and focus on tactile sensations, sense of ease/comfort/relaxation through every breath. Stability = voluntary focus of attention. Start with focus on rising abdomen (duration, relaxation, depth of breath). Counting breaths helps ease active mind. Agitation and dullness are the two major obstacles to overcome
    3. Vividness of attention – deep focus to nostrils and upper lip where breath is felt, eyes soft and rest of face relaxed, may be helpful to count towards end of inhalation, continuous flow of mindfulness with tactile sensations around nostrils. Bring session to a close after 24 minutes
  6. The first time people lucid dream they often notice some anomaly, realize they’re dreaming and get so excited they wake up
  7. People wake up briefly about 15 times per night and with training, these moments can be used to enter into lucid dreaming
  8. Dreams are an exciting realm as they are not bound by physical laws
  9. Must have a strong motivation to learn to lucid dream. Before going to bed say to self “tonight I will definitely recognize when I’m in a dream state.” Can also prime self while awake by imagining realizing you are in a dream state throughout the day
  10. Keeping a dream journal helps with recollection and ability to enter into lucid state. Also helps identify personal dream signs (people, places, moods, etc) that you encounter in a dream. Identifying and later recalling these dream signs is a crucial step
  11. Trying to recall a dream immediately after waking helps recall
  12. Words, gravity, clocks very different in dreams. Bizarre anomalies seemingly normal in dream states but you can make yourself more sensitive and aware in order use them as cues to self
  13. State checks – ask self throughout the day or during certain events (walk through door) whether you’re dreaming. This will transfer to dreams and help recognize when you’re actually dreaming
  14. Can use alarm clocks throughout the night to quickly wake you up in order to cue yourself about dream state
  15. Deep and stable sleep on a regular basis necessary for lucid dream training
  16. Once you become a very skilled dreamer, you can practice physical skills like playing an instrument within your dream. However, author feels best use of dreaming is to explore the mind – neuroses, fears, desires, biases, etc
  17. Upon awakening, remain immobile and recollect as much as you can about your dream and write down anything you remember 
  18. 3 requirements for lucid dreaming – Adequate motivation, correct practice of effective techniques and great dream recall
  19. If in a dream but details getting fuzzy, spin dream body with eyes open. Rubbing hands or other part of body also helps reawaken dream senses
  20. Can escape bad dreams by closing eyes in dream body or simply change reaction to it and learn something about yourself psychologically
  21. Buddhists believe there are three states of consciousness – waking, sleeping and dreaming. Waking state has the least potential for spiritual growth
  22. Substrate consciousness is the gateway to wisdom and enlightenment and dream yoga provides access to this realm and a means of transforming it
  23. Primordial consciousness transcends all concepts and is the deepest form of awareness. It is timeless and unborn and the source of virtues. The ultimate goal of dream yoga and all Buddhist practice
  24. Ethics, compassion, empathy at the core of dream yoga. In short, altruism key. Want to attain enlightenment to help other sentient beings reach it too
  25. Faith not enough to reach enlightenment, must practice often and diligently
  26. There are no absolutes. Objects exist interdependently
  27. Speaks to the frailty of what “truly” exists and how dream yoga helps you focus on the important things instead of fleeting objects or emotions
  28. Waking consciousness is simply dream consciousness with physical constraints
  29. Helpful to realize that self image is a mirage that falls apart when examined closely. So, imagine self having enlightened qualities which helps recognize dream state
  30. Want to fall asleep with sole thought of wanting to recognize dream state. Don’t want a lot of internal chit chat
  31. Sorcery state of dreaming – change size, number, texture, etc of things you encounter in dreams
  32. Part 3 of the book discusses the fun, experimentation, physical/mental healing, athletic performance (Jack Nicklaus), creativity, visualization of speech or other performance and growth you can explore during lucid dreaming. Will often face your biggest fear which if confronted, can be hugely beneficial  
  33. Our participation works together with the world and our observations to co-create our universe. Both are required. We are all observer participants 
What I got out of it
  1. Exciting book which helps you realize the possibilities that lay in lucid dreaming and striving for higher planes of consciousness