by Vaishali, author of “You Are What You Love”
Imagine the value in being able to ask a dream character or image: Who are you? Who am I? What can I do for you? What would you like to tell me? What do you feel I should know? Imagine the dream interpretation problems that could be solved by going immediately to the dream character and getting the skinny directly from the source. Imagine the possibility of rapidly accelerating the amount of growth done in a single evening’s nocturnal journeys. Imagine the benefits to be had when the dream state you experience is fully “awake” to the reality that this is what you are trying to tell yourself; this is what is going on behind the closed doors of your own mind. Once lucid, what was previously the circuitous road of nonlucid dreaming could now be traveled instantly, directly and most importantly, clear to question and answer discourse. It is like the know thyself quest gone completely, psychedelically accessible in a Kurt Vonnegut sort of way!
As a hardcore dream worker I’d read about experiments at the Lucidity Institute by Dr. Stephen LaBerge on the DreamLight before this device hit the streets — or the sheets as it were. The DreamLight is a creation designed to augment the dreamer’s state of awareness from the typical R.E.M. into the hyperspace state of dream lucidity. The dreamer wears a mask that flashes when R.E.M. is achieved to signal to the dreamer that he is experiencing a dream-produced reality. Imagine my surprise when my pal, Howard Rheingold, then editor of The Whole Earth Review and coauthor of “Exploring The World Of Lucid Dreaming” with Stephen LaBerge, Ph.D., asked me if I was interested in helping the Lucidity Institute refine the DreamLight.
“Am I interested?” I asked Howard, flabbergasted, “Of course I’m interested! I would walk naked down Market Street in downtown San Francisco for the chance to try the DreamLight!!” Howard was hardly impressed. From his perspective I would have walked naked down Market Street just for the hell of it. So Howard, completely unfettered by my vocal dramatics, told me that Dr. LaBerge was soliciting the assistance of established lucid dreamers to support the Lucidity Institute in the final phases of completion of the DreamLight. This marked the beginning of my relationship with the Lucidity Institute.
All the people I met who were associated with the Lucidity Institute were like a dream come true themselves. They were all very generous with their time, open-hearted, caring, lovely people. Doing dream work in groups can provide amazing support and insight. Everyone at the Lucidity Institute was motivated by the need to direct their attention to self-growth and self-mastery. I learned so much from those group sessions and sharing — everything from technical tricks of the trade to how to recognize and overcome personal limitations.
The first thing that I learned from my work in the lucid dream realm was how uncooperative my own mind was with itself. I was shocked and astonished to discover how uninterested my lucid dream characters were in responding to my questions or in helping on any level. Could I really be a house that deeply divided against itself? Could the major activity of the unconscious/unintegrated aspects of mind really be giving each other the bird? When working with other lucid dream workers, I found that they too had not made their minds their friends. In fact, one of the first things that people who start this conscious interaction with their dream characters report is that the dream characters either ignored the presence of the dreaming personality, or were not forthcoming in providing information when asked.
There are two pieces of advice that I got from Dr. LaBerge that I will never forget. The first is that dream characters will never tell you what you expect. This completely makes sense; after all, the other dream characters are fragments of our own mind that we are experiencing as separate. That is why they are appearing as “separate” from ourselves. The second bit of advice was the old Christian adage to “love thy neighbors.” I still remember the forcefulness of Dr. LaBerge’s face and voice when he leaned over to reinforce the power of this approach. “It works in your dreams! Love everyone you see in your dreams. Just like the old Christian adage ‘Love thy neighbors’. It really works in your dreams.”
That was the piece I needed! I needed to unconditionally love myself in order to make my mind my friend. The lack of cooperation absolutely coincided with the absence of unconditional love these various parts of mind suffered from. I have spent years following that advice and speaking and acting in an unconditionally loving manner in my lucid dreams. I have focused on remembering that what I am looking at is my own mind. The message I most want communicated to it is that it is one with unconditional love and acceptance. The results have been phenomenal! I have gone from disengaged, disinterested dream characters to dream characters that come and teach me new things. Dream characters even come to me when I am in a nonlucid state, make me look them directly in the eye and remind me, “We met here last night … remember? We met here last night.” Until I finally do remember that I met them in a dream, and they are showing up now to assist me in waking up!
Whenever other lucid dreamers come to me and share their disappointment in their lucid encounters, I always try to underscore that what they are looking at is their own lack of unconditional love and acceptance within themselves. It is merely showing up in their lucid dreams, because this is an arena we cannot fake it in. We are either unified, or we are not; we either love, accept and cooperate with ourselves, or we do not.
The first step is to honestly see where we are in relationship to embracing ourselves with love and tolerance, versus how much of our interior have we fragmented and divided with criticism, doubt, impatience and fear. Prior to my lucid dreaming, if someone had come to me and told me that I was not making my mind my friend, I would not have believed it. I would have assumed that they had mistaken me for someone else or were on some kind of perceptually distorting pharmaceutical. I had to experience it for myself. I had to run straight up against my own inner resistance to personal wholeness before I was willing to admit there was a problem. “We have seen the enemy and it is us.” And to think, all this time I’d been “Sleeping With the Enemy.”
Lucid dreams are an incredible experience. They are very, very vibrant, amazingly alive with brilliant color. There is a sense of seeing with enhanced dimensional clarity. What I have most enjoyed about lucid dreaming, aside from the advantages of these immediate self-love healing sessions, is the opportunity to have a realm in which I can practice showing up utterly fearless. I know I am dreaming. I know I have an immortal dream body that cannot be harmed, injured or killed. Therefore, I can literally face my greatest inner demons and transform them into loving angels. In many lucid dreams I have made a request such as, “to encounter a part of my mind that has a gift for me.” I can then take off flying and allow that moment of meeting to come to me. I have learned not to force life from my lucid dreams, but rather to surrender into unconditional trust. I know and trust that I will be there for myself, guiding myself when and where I most need it.
The insight I have gained on how my mind works and what the different parts of it look like, is simply astounding and life altering. I remember once in a lucid dream coming across a dream character that was a two-faced, disembodied head that lived in a box. When I asked my personal “Jack in the Box” who he was, the answer that came back was perfect. The two-faced head introduced itself as “the ego.” Of course! A part of the mind that is thoroughly disconnected from the wisdom of the heart, that is deceitful, that resides in an altogether limiting place. I remember how hard I laughed, how flawless this imagery was, how sobering its effects are whenever I take myself too seriously. And, no, I didn’t get the large fries!
There are no limits to where one can go in a lucid dream. Well, none that I have found yet. It costs nothing but awareness on the part of the dreamer. The feeling of invincible wholeness I have upon awaking from a lucid dream is the greatest drug of choice I have ever found. For me, lucid dreaming has solidified the Eastern concept that we are all dreaming this waking reality level of existence. Lucid dreaming is the last thing I devote my attention to when falling asleep at night and the first thing I celebrate upon “awakening” in the morning. I could not encourage people enough to attempt this state of focused attention. I have neither found a downside to lucid dreaming, nor have I come close to exhausting its potential. I always try to include lucid dreaming in all the spiritual teachings and writings that I do, because if there was a faster, better way to grow, love and liberate oneself, I’d be doing it.
Vaishali has been a lucid dream research volunteer for the “Lucidity Institute” at Stanford University. She has written about the nature of dreams and dreaming in her four published books, You Are What You Love®, the companion Playbook, Wisdom Rising and Wisdom Rising II and for The Huffington post. Vaishali has interpreted countless dream for listeners on her radio shows and for personal clients for over 20 years, and has appeared on The Dr. Oz Radio show and has been quoted on Oprah.com
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