Going deeper, lucid dreaming can develop into dream yoga, and become a spiritual practice. This is not to say that lucid dreaming isn’t spiritual. It can be. But as a practice, and in contrast to dream yoga, lucid dreaming doesn’t have as many spiritually oriented methods. “Yoga” is that which yokes, or unites. Dream yoga unites you with deeper aspects of your being; it is more concerned with self-transcendence.
We tend to think of yoga as physical, stretching the body into various postures, but there are also mental yogas that work to stretch the mind. As a mental yoga, dream yoga may leave stretch marks on your mind. But stretching, at any level, is good for growth. Just as physical yoga makes your body more flexible, dream yoga makes your mind more flexible: that is, adaptable, pliable, malleable, supple, accommodating, compliant, amenable—and open. Who wouldn’t want a mind like this? Once a mind is open and pliable, you can wrap it around all sorts of new experiences.
With dream yoga, instead of using your mind as an entertainment center you turn it into a laboratory. You experiment with dream meditations and study your mind using the medium of dreams. At this point you become a “spiritual oneironaut.” Oneirology is the study of dreams, and oneironauts (pronounced “oh-NIGH-ro-nots”) are those who navigate the dream world. Just like astronauts explore the outer space of the cosmos, oneironauts explore the inner space of the mind.
While dream yoga originated as a Buddhist practice, the Dalai Lama says,
“It is possible [to practice dream yoga] without a great deal of preparation. Dream yoga could be practiced by non-Buddhists as well as Buddhists. If a Buddhist practices dream yoga, he or she brings a special motivation and purpose to it. In the Buddhist context the practice is aimed at the realization of emptiness [the nature of reality]. But the same practice could be done by non-Buddhists.”[i]
Dream yoga is a way to go beyond lucid dreaming. When you know how to wake up in your dreams, you transform sleep into a window to the deepest experiences of reality.
[i] From the book Sleeping, Dreaming, and Dying: An Exploration of Consciousness with The Dalai Lama, edited and narrated by Francisco J. Varela (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1997), p. 45.
In this short introductory video, I give a brief background into dream yoga.
If you want to take a deep dive into dream yoga, check out my book or 6 CD set: