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I noticed a reply Andrei made on a post on the results of meditating, that you become aware in your sleep while dreaming, so that your mind knows it's a dream:

This is a major confirmation sign of correct practice in Ancient Daoism (which i've been reading for years now, not knowing which is correct practice) -- and i would like Andrei's advice (and whoever else would like to share their insight) on practice technique and how you have managed to get to this advanced level.

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    At the bottom of the question there are four button, labelled 'share', 'edit', 'close', and 'flag'. To the right of those buttons (under the centre of the question) is some text which says how long ago that text was edited (e.g. "edited 1 day ago"). That piece of text is also a clickable hyperlink, and if you click on that piece of text, it will show you the edit history: so you can see who made what edits and when. – ChrisW Dec 26 '14 at 4:39
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    Although there are connections between Taoism and Buddhism, I am not sure if discussion of the Tao is within the scope of possible questions. – Yoda Bytes Dec 26 '14 at 20:04
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    Anlaf, I can't be sure (since I'm not the editor) but I reckon the edits were done simply to make your question more generally useful to a wider readership. As it stood, it looked a bit like a very personal request for advice from you to Andrei. The edits have simply opened it up a little so that it will be easier for other people to benefit from any answers. StackExchange tends to see questions and answers more as "community property" and open to improvement by anyone. That's in contrast to traditional forums where questions "belong" to the original poster. – tkp Dec 29 '14 at 2:43
  • Can we have a link to Andrei's original reply, to which this question is referring? That would help other members of the community provide answers. – Anthony Jan 3 '15 at 20:14
  • My guess would be that while experiencing lucid dreaming may be a sign of good practice it is not a useful practice in itself until one has reached a quite skilled stage in ones other practices. – PeterJ Nov 19 '18 at 16:40
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This is Lucid Dreaming and (AFAIK) it isn't typical practice in most schools of Buddhism, nor should it be used as a gauge for how your meditation practice is going.

With that said, there are some connections.

  1. Dream Yoga. A set of practices in Tibetan Buddhism for using dreaming (including Lucid Dreaming) to further the path.

  2. Using your improved concentration (thanks to meditation) to enter the hypnagonic state intentionally and from there initiate a Lucid Dream.

  • Tibetan Buddhism is mainline if you are in the right location in the world. – MatthewMartin Dec 29 '14 at 14:24
  • Good point. I was thinking of the Sutras people were likely to encounter, all else remaining equal, but didn't articulate it properly. I'll reword the answer. Thanks! – R. Barzell Dec 29 '14 at 14:50
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I just attended a meditation retreat with Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche where he discussed sleep meditation. First, meditation while in lucid dreams is absolutely possible. For this first pursue normal techniques for lucid dreams and separately for meditation. Then in a lucid dream state, meditate.

Second, and more surprisingly, you can enter sleep in a state of open awareness and you can maintain awareness in a dreamless sleep. Honestly I didn't believe him until I managed to do it myself the other night. It's really odd to be aware of sleep paralysis, but the meditation state is amazingly clear and open.

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I've been experimenting with Buddhist meditations and sleep for about ten years now. This post could easily stretch into a few thousand words long containing my ideas, experiences, insights, and guidance.

I'll try to answer your question about the overall point in regards to dream practice in Buddhism as well as Taoism first, then I'll talk about practice.

In Buddhism, once you have penetrated throught the conception skandha you are always aware in your dreams. "Penetrated through the conception skandha" means you have achieved initial enlightenment. It means you have attained a stable state of emptiness understanding, seeing the heart of reality.

"Buddha says that someone who has freed themselves from the form and sensation skandhas, but still operating within the conception skandha, can be compared to someone talking in their sleep. When you are talking in your sleep you are still operating with thought. Bystanders sitting by your side can understand what you are saying and doing, but you are not the complete master of your state since you do not actually know what is going on. Although you are at an advanced stage of attainment, you still are not in control of the situation like a master! If you can break free of the conception skandha, your dreamlike thoughts will dissolve, and your mind will remain the same whether you are awake or asleep. Thus, we sometimes describe this stage by saying you will know no crudities in your mind when you sleep. You cannot accurately say that ìdreams will disappearî at this stage, which is what you often hear. Rather, it is more proper to say that whether you are asleep or awake, your mental realm will always remain the same. If you dream you will still remain so clear that you can even make decisions. A Chinese saying runs, ìSages have no dreams, and dullards have no dreams,î and the phrase that ìsages have no dreamsî refers to the fact that there mind is always clear even during the state of sleep."

--from Conception Skandha part of Chapter 5 of William Bodri's book "How to Measure and Deepen Your Spiritual Realization"

In Taoism, this is equivalent to the state where your shen is full and you will no longer be able to sleep. Many practitioners at this stage (Buddhist, Taoist, or Christian) when they achieve this level of "mental clarity" (a little bit of shen) cannot sleep for days and wonder if they are going crazy. (The solution to this common issue, which happened to me last night, is to just use that special time to do calming meditation some more. Don't worry too much about worldly sleep [unless you are experiencing Zen sickness, which is a similar phenomenon that is best faced by taking some sleep medicine to forgo brain damage through over-creativity].)

From this point of view, people say that you no longer dream anymore; everything will seem clear whether you are awake or asleep. While this is not a perfect match of realms, we can begin to understand that Chuang Tzu also knew of this stage of cultivation, for he wrote: He does not dream while asleep, does not worry while awake, does not take satisfaction in eating, and his breathing is deep.

The above is from William Bodri's book again same chapter about clarity in dreams due to breaking the conception skandha. Please see Tao & Longevity by Master Huai-Chin Nan if you want to understand the energetic connection. Master Nan himself was a Taoist Buddhist Esoteric and Zen Buddhist master and he said that for our generation of analytical people, no less is sufficient for our information-addicted minds to be cautious and self-aware along the path..

From these passages, I hope people can be alerted to the importance of dream awareness.

In Tibetan Buddhist books, it is also exclaimed that if you cultivate within your dreams, your power of cultivation is tenfold! This is a loud fact that was emphasized very much whenever I managed to succeed in meditating during my lucid dreams (3 times I can clearly remember over the past years but probably more I cannot). Each time, I felt fundamentally transformed, mainly because I made it so (long explanation).

People that master the ability to be clear in their dreams, thus should not waste such opportunities. And people that are not yet aware, should train themselves to be so! Lucid dreams are emotionally healing and having them is not only a means of cultivation but a sign of proper cultivation as the book I excerpted indicates and Buddha's Surangama Sutra also indicates!

I highly reccommend the book I excerpted, you will find ample answers to satisfy your questions about the Tao, cultivation, dreaming, and how it all still falls under/works with Buddhism.

So what techniques do I reccommend to achieve lucid dreams (LD)? Honestly, I'm still conflicted between causing them through cultivation. Nonetheless, LDs positive effects are undisputed (in the scientific community at large now as well)[google it].

It's easy to be practicing awareness meditation like a dog and then fall asleep like a dog, waking up not even remember a dream.

It takes finesse, gentleness... and outcome detachment to succeed.

Out of the many techniques I'm going to end my post here with I would reccommend the WILD technique. I would also reccommend combining all the other techniques but not too many. I have taken them from many different traditions and these are the best out of the many I have experimented with in the past 10-15 years.

  1. WILD: go to sleep for at least 3 hours. Wake up and meditate for 20 minutes using one meditation technique (try either breathing or something below) and the go to sleep again. you will enter REM for a longer time and it will be easier
  2. affirmation: before you go to sleep affirm your intention. I reccommend binaural assistance for this, especially during a WILD session.
  3. Tibetan Buddhism: imagine a green light in your right hand, put it over your heart. Imagine a white light over your left hand, put it on your throat. Fall asleep being clearly aware, imagining yourself as your deity. All of these can be done simultaneously but they were taught as separate practices.
  4. breathing meditation: for some reason I had a lot of spontaneous LDs just watching my breath
  5. vipssana: i had a few LDs just watching my thought. Two where I was really tired physically due to PE and long school day but aware due to meditation practice, fell asleep, and I went through hypnogogia into dream state.
  6. Toltec hand watching: intend to yourself, i will watch my hands. this is extremely powerful. at least 10 LDs like this in 2014. see Carlos Castaneda.
  7. reality testing: ask yourself every hour "am i dreaming?"
  8. reality testing Tibetan Buddhist edition: realize you ARE dreaming. You ARE always in a dream. What kind of dream is this one? test. once you master lucid dreaming manipulation you will be able to master all realities similarly. (no jumping off buildings now!)
  9. dream incubation: this worked only when it was gentle and not pushed. even with fantasies of girls, I would have a pleasant, easy-going dream relationship of that girl when i had a light or gentle fantasy. if it was a very erotic fantasy, the dream sometimes about her or some other girl with element of violence.
  10. mantra meditation: my favorite mantra (see if you can guess from my picture)... i've had countless healing dreams when i fell asleep to this, blissful and full of light. sometimes when i needed it the most, 2 times spontaneously healed of injuries and fatigue from a 20min mantra nap. most effective if you have faith in that Buddha and are not doing it out of greed/fear/delusion. it will fail if you are doing it for the result.
  11. polyphasic sleeping: almost forgot this one. trick: the smaller your "core sleep" the more awesome your short naps will be! please don't do this if you are below 24. you don't want to mess up your growth spurt like i did -_-'

have fun researching!

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This is an answer directed at the following part of your question:

how you have managed to get to this advanced level

Short answer: Go to bed, sleep for ~5 hours. Wake up. Meditate with focus only on your body. Get your mind out of the stories every time it wonders. Know that this cycle of focus on body, detach from story is the practice you are meditating for. Meditate for 15 minutes or so, go to sleep.

Long answer:

First I would abstain from the weight you add to this state of mind: advanced level. This is not advanced, nor a level, it is more a different state of mind. Just like being happy and frustrated are different states of minds producing different experiences. Neither of them is more advanced than the other, or on a higher level. You could say that being happy is a state of a more advanced level. But consider that you feel happy while you are trying to do get something done which is failing for the 40th time already. It would be unhealthy to just feel happy and no frustration, as otherwise the stimuli to change your approach is absent. It is more healthy that you feel frustrated after many attempts, which motivates you to do something else, or do it different.

Now on the topic of getting in this state: You can get in the state of being wakeful while dreaming when asleep by getting into a state of mind of self-reflection and detaching from stories that you are creating with your mind. You can get into this state of mind in like 15 minutes or so doing the following:

Only focus on your bodily feeling, and your bodily feeling alone.

Accept that you will wonder, be attentive to notice it, and let the story in your mind go. Label it as not important and bring your attention back to your bodily feeling. The repetition of these transitions (from focus on the body, into story, out of story into focus on the body) will start to gain momentum on its own. And your mind will automatically do it, some time later again, without your effort.

Just like when you are interested in race cars, you will notice them earlier when they come by. Personally I am more interested in bikes, so my mind is more focused on spotting bikes. With the exercise mentioned earlier, you mind will become focused on noticing you lost focus on your body and became part of a story.

Do this after 5 hours or sleep or so, and when you still have 3 hours left to sleep. Your mind is prepped to notice when you find yourself in a story, and there you go, you are in a dream.

Everything is chance, it is not a guarantee. The more you could get yourself out of the stories everything that your mind created while you were focusing on the body, the higher the chance will be you become self aware during a dream.

A good hallmark that you have had an efficient meditation is the following. Imagine you did this meditation during the day, and you then after move on with your daily business. Suddenly you will find yourself realizing you were lost in a story in your mind, regained self awareness, just like you did in meditation. But this time, you did not intend it to happen, it just happened. This means you prepped your mind and the pattern got momentum of its own.

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If you want to learn about Buddhist techniques, this forum is a resource for all sincerely interested parties. It is also confusing to me when edits are done but I can understand the need for some of them.

This simple exercise can serve as a guide to increase awareness. Breathing exercise - use normal breathing - do not force. If you are feeling emotions rising up, want to focus awareness, or just want to calm down, you can try a breathing exercise that takes the attention away from the focus on the personal self with a simple tool of counting breaths.

Find a comfortable position seated or laying down. Begin to relax your breathing. Silently count 1 on the inhale, and two on the exhale. Then silently count 3 on the inhale and 4 on the exhale. Continue up to 10 or until you lose the count then return to one. No judgement. I sometimes end up at 18 then smile and return to 1. The idea is to focus on the breath and the counting and not get sucked into the anxiety or anger trigger. Also works to quiet the mind.

This exercise is designed to increase awareness in this moment of what is here besides the noise of the world.

Another way to learn is to study the teachings of a master. Shunryu Suzuki is an American master of Zen that teaches students to get back to what is already here, beginner's mind. This might be the state that you have pointed to in your question. It is not specific to any sect or religion but is here universally, whether one is aware of it or not. Here is a link to a book by Roshi Suzuki. www.arvindguptatoys.com/arvindgupta/zenmind.pdf

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