Lucid Dreaming:Part II, The Mentor
Lucid Dreaming: The Muse, the Mentor and the Medicine
Part II: The Mentor
Dreaming is the most sophisticated of all spiritual arts. -Zen Master Rama
Being lucid in the dream is being able to move freely through the endless landscape of imagination. Robert Waggoner asks the question, in regards to the “control” aspect of lucid dreaming: Does the sailor control the sea? Of course not. So too is it that the dreamer may only direct their attention in the dream, not control it. Lucid dreaming is often “advertised” by some teachers as a way to control your dreams. While many dream elements may certainly be manipulated and rearranged, the totality of the dreamscape appears to be contained and organized by a greater awareness, a higher Self, if you will. This awareness behind the dream is more than willing to be our Mentor if we choose to approach it in this way. Approaching the dreamtime as a humble student will bring the Mentor forward.
In my own experience of approaching the dream as Mentor, I wanted to learn Qigong, a moving meditation and soft form of martial art designed to heal the body with chi energy. Inspire by the movie, The Matrix, and already having glimpsed the power of the Muse within the lucid dream, I began exploring the possibility of learning this craft directly from my dream state. And though I have never in my waking life taken instruction in Qigong, one night I remembered my intention when I became lucid, so I cleared the dream room and stood still with my intent to practice. Right away, I began to feel tingling building in my lower belly and I just let go. I let my body to move in a formation I immediately recognized as Qigong, and with a precision that astounds me to this day.
There is beautiful research already making the distinct connection to lucid dreaming and waking life performance. Paul Tholey explains that “a lucid dreamer can simulate a world in which the usual physical laws apply, as well as a world in which they are not applicable. Both such simulations are significant for sensory-motor learning.” Allan Hobson’s research data shows connections in neural circuits with behaviors being dreamed and those same behaviors in the waking world. And Dr. Daniel Erlacher has conducted studies that show direct improvement in performance through lucidly dreamed practice. So we can begin drawing concrete conclusions that skills can very well be developed from enacting them in the lucid dream state: Laboratory work at Stanford showed that when people dreamt of performing an action, such as singing or engaging in sexual activity, their bodies and brains respond as if they were actually doing it, except that their muscles remain paralyzed by the REM process. Apparently, the neural impulses from the brain to the body are still active and quite similar, if not identical, to those that would accompany the same acts in waking. (LaBerge)
One explanation for what I experienced could be that I was accessing the forms from what Jung calls the Collective Unconscious. In which case, it could be said that it’s entirely possible to access anything that anyone has ever done and master it. Without ever having to look outside again. I don’t say all this to imply that we don’t need teachers in our physical life. Certainly I would be lost without all the mentors that have graced my path. We are all guides for one another. Essentially, what I am suggesting is that you don’t need a guru, you don’t need anything outside of you. You can simply go to bed and dream yourself awake. This is what all the great masters have always taught. Lucid dreaming is one pathway to vividly access the Inner world of which they speak. No wonder it is revered as one of the six pathways to Enlightenment (in Tibetan Buddhism)!
Another explanation for what I experience in my dream training could be that my brain has seen the form practiced at some point in waking life and I then accessed that subconscious stored information and acted it out. I muse that it’s a bit of both, and both hypotheses are exhilarating! These are powerful implications. The dream in this framework acts as a holographic simulation stage for our lives. This is precisely why we dreamers are called Onieronauts. We are the explorers and we are the frontier. Not only of the dream on high, but of expanding the limits of human potential. Magic is the natural order of things. Why not just get out of it’s way and let it leave you in awe? Let go of what you were taught about the way things should be learned and deepen into this magical potential… opening, refining and embracing the natural intelligence of the dreamer within.
So back to the case of my lucid Qigong training, zooming in on the personal experience, I remembering I had an immediate authentic experience of Qi (or chi) energy coursing through my body. I later compared my experience to the accounts of several advanced level Qigong practitioners, and saw them to be the same. So what happened is that I had accessed also metaphysics of this spiritual practice, and could therefore conclude that, based on the work of Foley and LaBerge regarding performance and dreams, that I may be developing not only motor skills, but sensory and subtle psychic ones as well. Interestingly, during the series of Qigong training dreams, what manifested in the “outer” dreamscape was earthquakes and tornadoes each time I practiced. Jungian thought might suggest that earthquakes, tornadoes and other natural “disasters” in dreams symbolize incredible transformation. The utter majesty of the dreams were in-forming on many levels.
Over the years, I’ve engaged in many new practices with my lucid mentor, such as meditation, bellydance, capoeira, yoga, singing and songwriting; each time with almost mystical energies permeating the experience. Bringing in allies from the animal, plant, mineral and elemental kingdom can also be wondrous and bewildering when we come into a dream training practice. Other forms of lucid mentorship are to actually call upon a Teacher to actually appear in the dream.
One can also address the awareness behind the dream. Questions can be posed to this awareness behind the dream. For me it responds as an omnidirectional voice with coherent intelligent responses. Sometimes it comes through the other dream figures in the dream. Robert Waggoner goes into great detail about this in his book, Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self. He describes an a personal relationship with this intelligent awareness behind the dream that reaches far beyond the physical self. Knowledge and wisdom that is all pervasive and astounding to behold.
While we are lucid, the psyche feels like it has been softened open. Inquisitive activities, such as talking with dream figures, asking what they or the symbols in the dream are there to say, addressing the Mentor awareness behind the dream, or approaching the Muse… I humbly invite you to connect with your lucidity in this way. Come as a student. Empower your relationship with your world, not as a Seeker, but as a Source-rer.
Continue on to Part III of this series, where we attain the Elixir and bring it back to our world…
Originally posted on Aluna’s Dreambender blog, an excerpt of her senior thesis in art school.