by Dr. Alberto Villoldo: Shamans believe that an enlightened person is one who not only recognizes truth but…
is able to bring forth truth in every situation they encounter―whether awake or asleep.
To shamans, our waking reality is very similar to the world we experience during our sleeping dreams. This does not mean the world is not real, but our perception of that world is flawed. Our mind barely ruffles the surface of the reality it observes, and only perceives its own distorted reflection, thereby obscuring the truth of a greater Reality.
Amazon sages feel it is unfortunate that people in the West relegate dreaming time to the domain of sleep, where clouded consciousness inhibits recollections and blurs the images and insights that dreams are meant to reveal. To them, the enlightened person is fully awake even while asleep, while the unenlightened human is fully asleep even while awake.
These sages know that by becoming lucid in our dreams, we can change their tone and we begin to dream―awake and asleep―of our world with greater originality and lucidity. We guide our dreams to extraordinary domains where we learn from great teachers, visit distant lands, communicate with friends across the world, and meet with deceased ancestors.
They also recognize that dreams come to us in the form of daydreams, a pastime for which many of us have been criticized for squandering time. But shamans respect all dreams because they contain messages from the spirit and the biosphere.
Through this Dream Yoga exercise, you will be able to better recall your dreams and prepare yourself for the next exercise, Lucid Dreaming.
Set your clock to awaken you five or ten minutes earlier than usual, ideally with gentle music rather than a radio talk show host or an alarming buzzer. Keep a notebook and pen by the side of your bed.
If you are likely to get up during the night to go to the bathroom, keep a recorder next to your bed and dictate the essentials of any interrupted dream.
If you do not recall your dreams easily, try the following technique. Drink one half glass of water before you go to bed and tell yourself, “When I wake up, I will drink the other half and remember my dreams.”
As soon as you wake up in the morning, drink the rest of the water and lie in bed with your eyes closed, allowing your dream images to flow back into awareness. Take a few moments to write what you recall in your dream journal, always using the present tense, as if you were still dreaming, even if your dreams seem fuzzy or blurry at first. As you do this exercise, you might be amazed at how much more you recall as you write.
Lucid dreaming is important because it helps us bring consciousness and awareness into our dreams. Once we learn the technique, dreams no longer just “happen” to us. As we realize we are dreaming, we can guide and direct our dreams.
Lucid dreaming is the first of three steps in the shaman’s dream practices. The second is to bring awareness into their dreamless sleep. The third is to bring their dreaming practice into their waking state, to understand that they are dreaming the world into being at all times.
Through lucid dreaming, shamans can agree to convene at a certain time and place of power in nature. They may use a crystal or some other beautiful stone to facilitate their dream meeting. When they compare notes in the following days or weeks, they recognize that they had indeed shared the same psychic space and were able to recall what the others had said or done.
Select a stone―perhaps a beautiful crystal―with no sharp edges and that fits nicely in the palm of your hand so that you can rub your hands together while holding it.
When you go to bed, set your intention to dream lucidly. You can decide to dream about whatever you want—a mountain in the Himalayas, a home you once lived in, to visit with relatives who are long gone, or even to visit a “university” where you will receive teaching and training.
As you concentrate, blow a soft breath into your stone and ask your subconscious mind to bring the image of the stone into your dreams. Hold the stone in your hand as you fall asleep.
During the night, the stone will fall out of your hand and end up somewhere in the bed. If you turn over and lie on it, just take it into your hands and imagine that you are bringing it with you into your dreams as you reassert your intention to dream lucidly.
After a few tries, you will find that the stone will begin to appear in your dreams. You will realize that you are dreaming while you are in the dream. With time, you will be able to steer your dreams in your intended direction.
To succeed, you must practice this exercise daily.