In this video, Andrew presents how being awake in a dream, or lucid dreaming, can cultivate greater awareness, incorporating reflections on our usual relationship with darkness. Becoming awake in a dream, by practicing lucid dreaming and dream yoga, helps develop the ability to make the unconscious conscious.
With these nocturnal practices altogether, I think is worth iterating here an analogy that I’ve come up with, because it is very similar to what happens if we were to completely illuminate this room and just saturated with light. And then all of a sudden, the light was removed. Or we are to step outside for the first few moments of course, we can’t see a thing. Your pupils are highly constricted in the daylight and so when you step into the dark you’re, you’re actually blinded by the light.
But yet if you remain with your eyes open in the night and that is in fact what these nocturnal practices do is they teach you how to keep your “nightlight” on, how to keep your night eyes open, you slowly start to see things that have always been there, but you’ve never seen before. It is this kind of charter of making the unconscious processes conscious, which one could argue is one of the themes of liberation all together and that is what underlies these nocturnal practices.
Also, when we engage in these meditations and if you undertake this invitation, you will discover, as I have over decades, is that you’re studying origins. When you study darkness in both Greek mythology and the actually the book of Genesis is put forth the darkness always precedes light. Every day rises from the dark. Every thought arises from the dark returns to it. Every moment, and even cosmologically one would argue that even the entire cosmos arise out of a background darkness and returns back to it.
So if we can establish a relationship to darkness, we will see things that we’ve never seen before. The other thing that we’re doing here is we’re replacing this kind of archetypal Western relationship we have to consciousness, which is either as Black or White, as on or off, it’s dead or alive, it’s represented in these light switches in this room. So what we’re doing with these practices, is we’re installing a type of dimmer, where we can grade our mind we can titrate our consciousness as we descend into sleep in we can maintain using this metaphor a few photons of awareness, as we go from the full waking consciousness state into the dream and it’s a dreamless state.
In so doing our meditation becomes more complete, and it also helps us illuminate the way we relate to waking reality. Because if you only relate to your worldly problems from a purely wake centric or egoic stance, you’re leaving out different perspectives that you can bring to your worldly problems that can be exercised to dreaming consciousness and deep, dreamless consciousness.
So, this is not just kind of metaphysical mumbo jumbo. Cultivating this type of awareness can help you solve your worldly problems. Many studies have shown that lucid dreamers (and the Buddha really was the ultimate lucid dreamer), are better at problem solving, because they have these increased capacities for perspective. Ken Wilber has written about this – repeatedly heightened perspective is a central ingredient of evolution itself. So, you’re working with evolutionary capacities of your mind body matrix when you engage in these practices, whether it’s a diurnal practice, or in this case a nocturnal one.
Here’s a final quotation from a beautiful book by Barbara brown Taylor, “Learning How to Walk in the Dark”. This is a fantastically elegant book from a Christian theologian.
A bed in short is where you face your nearness to or far-ness from God. Whether you are in pain or not, whether you are an anxious person or not, even I think whether you are a religious person, or not, a bed is where you come face to face with what really matters, because it is too dark for most of your usual shallowing distractions to work. You can turn on the lights if you want, but they are all artificial. The most they can do is postpone your encounter with what really matters. They cannot save you from that reckoning forever. Today seekers seem more interested in getting God to turn the lights on, then allowing God to turn them off.
This is one way to turn these lights off properly and with some elegance, so pleasant dreams.
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