From the article originally titled Yoga traditions and psychic dreams. This is a copyrighted extract from my book Psychic Dreaming by Craig Hamilton-Parker ( ISBN 1-4027-0474-7 Sterling Publishers 2004 )
Tibetan Buddhists practice psychic dreaming (dream yoga) as a means of approaching enlightenment. It was first brought to Tibet 1,300 years ago and codified as the Yoga of Dream State by one of the founders of Tibetan Buddhism, the tantric master Padmasambhava. It was and is still used today by practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism as a way to awakening and enlightenment.
The Tibetan system of dream yoga recognises that there are dreams that deal with things that occurred while still awake. Similarly, dreams can be received from the living or the dead. They also believe some dreams are symbolic and others contain foresights of the future, omens or warnings. They also include ESP dreams in their dream yoga techniques as well as ‘radiant dreams’ – super-lucid dreams that bring great spiritual teaching or blessing.
Tibetan Dream yoga divides dreams into three categories:
Ordinary dreams: These are a result of the day’s concerns or past experience and karma.
Clear Light Dreams: These combine spiritual teachings, visions, healing and the charkas. (Spiritual centres in the aura and body) These dreams are also concerned with the movement of the energy of the kundalini. (The body’s main spiritual energy source at the base of the spine.)
Lucid Dreaming: This is where one is aware while the dream is taking place. During lucid dreams the yogi can continue their spiritual practice and prepare themselves in the awareness of bardo states, and prepare for death and dying.
The Tibetans have developed elaborate techniques for inducing lucidity. Some of these are so esoteric that it is hard for the uninitiated Western mind to understand or practice. However, many of the recommended techniques are strikingly similar resemblance to the techniques now employed by Western Lucid Dream researchers, for example, frequent reflection throughout the day on the dreamlike nature of reality and methods of astral travel.
Similarly in India Patanjali, the author of the Yoga Sutras, preaches that by mastery of the Yoga Powers a yogi acquires true knowledge of the past and the future. The purpose of yoga is to attain union with the divine and these powers are considered as unimportant compared to the goal of enlightenment. In fact psychic powers can be a distraction from the path to enlightenment if sought for their own sake or selfish reasons. Nonetheless for our purposes here it is interesting to note that psychic dreaming has been used as a spiritual practice for thousands of years and can, if used properly, is of benefit to the development of our spirituality.
Yoga Nidra Technique
Video: Craig explains the basics of Yoga Nidra
Video: A simple introduction exercise to the Yoga Nidra methods
The Eastern gurus point out that psychic dreaming and dream yoga have only limited use and that meditation and other spiritual practices are required to attain complete spiritual insight. You are therefore unlikely to become enlightened while sleeping but may nonetheless gain some spiritual insights that will aid your inner development. The sages tell us that having the experience that the body is sleeping and dreaming constitutes a special spiritual knowledge that goes beyond conscious thought. This impossible to describe state of being is said to release the practitioner of dream yoga from ‘impurities and the obstacles of the mind’. The mind of the practitioner will become stable and acquires spiritual knowledge.
Signs and Symbols:
During my late teens I became very interested in yoga and in particular the books by the guru Paramahansa Yogananda who lived from 1893 to 1952 and spent most of his life spreading spiritual knowledge in the USA. Some years later I decided to find out about and learn Yogananda’s Kiri Yoga methods and wrote to his organisation called the Self Realisation Fellowship. On the form when asked what was my religion I wrote ‘Spiritualist’. The reply from the organisation was that Kiri yoga was not suitable for people who are interested in mediumship and they returned my cheque.
Sadly even in spiritual organisations there is a lot of ignorance about the nature of mediumship. So I decided to ask Yogananda for myself using dream yoga. That night as I prepared for sleep I sent a thought out on the ether asking if I may be shown the yoga technique of Kriya Yoga. That night I dreamed of Yogananda who said to me “As you awake listen to your ears.”
When I awoke there was a ringing in my ears. I was to discover some time later that this is one of the most important techniques of Kriya yoga. The adept listens to the sounds of the inner ear and uses this to prepare for meditation, eventually fixing on the sound of the mantra Om.
I believe that so long as you have sincere intent it is possible to connect with great spiritual beings and learn from them through psychic dreams. In the East it is accepted that if the guru is not met in life then they may connect to you through a dream. I have also had similar experiences with the guru Sai Baba in which I have been given specific guidance in a dream and been proved to be the right course to take. Similarly I have spoken with many people who have experienced similar dream instruction from Sai Baba, Vivekananda, Milarepa, Sri Aurobindo, Mother Meera and other great beings. All we need to do is ask.
Have you had an experience of Yoga Nidra or met a guru in a dream? Please add your comments.
This is a copyrighted extract from my book Psychic Dreaming by Craig Hamilton-Parker ( ISBN 1-4027-0474-7 Sterling Publishers 2004 )