Saturday, February 25, 2017

Your departure lounge for adventures in lucid dreaming

Your departure lounge for adventures in lucid dreaming is open to you anytime you are ready. It is is the twilight zone, the half-dream state on the cusp between waking and sleep, and between sleep and waking the French used to call dorveille. Frazzled by the pressures of everyday life, many of us tear through this zone without pausing to notice the magic that is there.
   Active dreamers tend to spend a lot of time in the twilight zone, even whole nights. In everyday life, the easiest way to embark on conscious dream journeys is to practice maintaining full awareness as dream images rise and fall during twilight states. The twilight zone offers optimum conditions to develop your ability to make intentional journeys beyond the physical body to learn the nature and conditions of other orders of reality.
    As you spend more time in the twilight zone, you will discover a notable increase in both your creativity and your psychic awareness. Going with the flow of spontaneous imagery in the twilight zone puts you into the stream of the creative process. It puts you in league with your creative source, mediated by mentors who appear to you in the half-dream state, or coming through cool and clear as a mountain spring. It is no accident that highly creative people — from Einstein to the romance writer and the powerboat designer I met on plane trips — are very much at home in the twilight zone.
     In the language of the sleep scientists, the twilight zone is the realm of hypnagogic and hypnopompic experiences. Hypnagogic literally means “leading toward sleep”; hypnopompic means “leading away from sleep.” But these terms do not take us to the heart of the matter. You may enter the twilight zone before and after sleep, but you may also enter it wide awake, with no intention of sleeping. It is not the relationship to sleep that defines the twilight zone; it is its character as a border county. It is the junction between sleep and waking, certainly. But more than this, as Mary Watkins writes beautifully in Waking Dreams, it is “the plane of coexistence of the two worlds.” 
     In this borderland, you will find the gates to other worlds opening smoothly and fluidly — if you let them and are prepared for what may follow. When I allow myself to drift through this frontier region with no fixed agenda, I have the sense of leaning through a window or a doorway in space. Sometimes this feels like hanging out of the open hatch of an airplane. I have come to recognize this as the opening of a dreamgate. Depending on circumstances and intention, I can step forward into the next dimension or haul myself back into physical focus.
     From this departure lobby, the great explorers of the imaginal realm have used many gates and flight paths. This is why the twilight state has such vital significance in dream yoga, in shamanic training, in the Western Mystery traditions, in the “science of mirrors” of the medieval Persian philosophers, and in other schools of active spirituality.
     According to Tantric teachings, it is by learning to prolong this “intermediate state” and to operate with full awareness within it that you achieve dream mastery and, beyond this, the highest level of consciousness attainable for an embodied human. The Spandakarika of Vasagupta, which dates from the tenth century, recommends the use of breathing exercises to focus and maintain awareness as you move from waking into the twilight state. The dreamer is urged to place himself “at the junction between inhaled and exhaled breaths, at the very point where he enters into contact with energy in the pure state.” This is the entry into conscious dreaming, whose gifts (according to Tantric text) could be immense: “The Lord of necessity grants him during dreams the ends he pursues, providing that he is profoundly contemplative and places himself at the junction between waking and sleeping.”
    The aim of the practice is to achieve continuity of consciousness through sleeping, waking, and the intermediate state. When this is attained, the practitioner has ascended to the mystical Fourth State — the turiya of the Upanishads. This is the highly evolved consciousness of a person who has awakened to the reality of the Self; it now infuses his awareness at all times.
     As you become more practiced in maintaining full consciousness at the junction between sleeping and waking, you may find yourself moving beyond the flow of images to a perception of the source of those images — the dream matrix — and the stuff of which they are formed. Here is an excerpt from my journals, describing an experience of entering the dream matrix:

Into the Astral Sea

I am floating in a twilight state, shortly before dawn.
    I watch a parade of faces.
    I step forward, leaving my physical body on the bed. I have the impression of immensely tall doors. Beyond them, shining through the gape, is deep blue-green light. I move towards it.
    I find myself in the astral sea. It has substance, but this substance is lighter than foam rubber and endlessly malleable. I see temples and palaces rise and dissolve back into the matrix.
    I seek clearer understanding. I am told by a higher intelligence that I am in the “high subplanes of the astral.” The inhabitants of these realms can create their environments by thought and are aware of this ability. But they still work with the inheritance of earthly lives and memories of form.
    I slip into a more vivid scene of construction. I am amazed by the detail of this work. Is it due to the limited understanding of the astral builders — or will it give greater substance and beauty to the finished structure — or is it simply part of their pleasure?

Text adapted from Dreamgates: Exploring the Worlds of Soul, Imagination and Life Beyond Death by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.

Art: "Pegasus" by Odilon Redon (1900)

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