What is Dream Yoga?
It would be easy to say that dream yoga was a Tibetan Buddhist form of lucid dreaming, but that would also be lazy and inaccurate. Dream yoga is a collection of transformational lucid dreaming, conscious sleeping and what in the West we refer to as out-of-body experience practices aimed at spiritual growth and mind training. Lucid dreaming may form the foundation of dream yoga, but through the use of advanced tantric energy work, visualizations of Tibetan iconography and the integration of psycho-spiritual archetypes or yidams, dream yoga goes way beyond our Western notion of lucid dreaming. If we translate the Sanskrit word yoga as meaning ‘union’, we get a clue as to what dream yoga is about: the union of consciousness within the dream state. It is a yoga of the mind that uses advanced lucid dreaming methods to utilize sleep on the path to spiritual awakening.
In some lineages, dream yoga was reserved for those on a three-year retreat and was only taught as part of the famous Six Yogas of Naropa. These days, however, some of the veils of secrecy have been lifted, allowing it to become a practice that allows dedicated practitioners to extend meditative awareness throughout sleep and dreams, and subsequently throughout death and dying as well. Dreams and death are closely linked in Tibetan Buddhism, as we will explore throughout this book.
The Dalai Lama has said, ‘Dream yoga can be practised by both Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike,’7 and that through dream yoga the lucid dreamer can now engage in spiritual practice while they sleep. So, I encourage you not to feel excluded from this esoteric sounding practice just because you’re not a Buddhist. Although some of the advanced dream yoga techniques should only be engaged in under the guidance of a qualified teacher, there are many techniques that can be practised on your own. Ultimately, it is the motivation behind dream yoga that is the most important aspect of all, fueling the use of lucid dreaming as a path to spiritual development.