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Dream Yoga

The goal of dream yoga is to liberate ourselves from all relative conditions. The first step in this practice is recognizing the great potential that dream holds for the spiritual journey. It is necessary to understand that waking life is as unreal as dream, and in exactly the same way. Then dream yoga applies to all experience, to the dreams of the day as well as the dreams of the night.
There are three types of dream that form a progression in dream practice:

1. Ordinary samsaric dreams are those we have most of the time and arise from karmic traces (results of actions, which remain in the mental consciousness and influence our future). These common dreams can be non-lucid and lucid.

2. Dreams of clarity happen when we bring more awareness in dreams. They arise when the mind and the prana are balanced and the dreamer is stable. Dreams of clarity can be non-lucid and lucid.

3. Clear light dreams occur when we are far along the path. They arise from primordial prana in the central channel, this is not an easy accomplishment; the practitioner must be very stable in non-dual awareness before the clear light dream arises.

The vital energy of all our experiences is called lung in Tibetan and prana Sanskrit. We assume various postures in different types of meditation to alter the flow of prana in the body by manipulating the channels (tsa), which are the conduits of energy in the body, and to open different energetic focal points, the chakras. Consciously guiding the energy in our body allows for an easier and more rapid development of meditation practice than would occur if we relied only on the mind. Channels, prana, and chakras are involved in death as well as life. 

In dream yoga we are concerned with three root channels with six major chakras located on and in them. The three root channels are, in women, the red channel on the right side of the body, the white channel on the left, and the blue central channel. In men, the right channel is white and the left channel is red. The three root channels join about four inches below the navel. The two side channels, which are the diameter of a pencil, rise up either side and in front of the spine and through the brain, curl under the skull at the top of the head, and open at the nostrils. The central channel rises straight up between them, in front of the spine. It is the diameter of a cane and widens slightly from the heart area to the crown of the head, where it ends.

The white channel is the channel through which energies of the negative emotions move. The red channel is the conduit for positive or wisdom energies. Therefore, in dream practice, men sleep on their right side and women on their left in order to put pressure on the white channel and thus close it slightly while opening the red wisdom channel. This contributes to better experiences of dream, involving a more positive emotional experience and greater clarity. The blue central channel is the channel of non-duality. It is in the central channel that the energy of primordial awareness (rigpa) moves. Dream practice brings the consciousness and the prana into the central channel, where it is beyond both negative and positive experience. When this occurs, the practitioner realizes the unity of all apparent dualities. 

Dreaming is a dynamic process formed by the mind, but the basis of the vitality and animation of the dream is the prana. Karmic prana is the energetic basis of the karmic traces produced as a result of all positive, negative, and neutral actions. When the karmic traces are activated by the appropriate secondary causes, karmic prana energizes them and allows them to have an effect in the mind, body, and dreams. When the mind is unstable, distracted, or unfocused, the karmic prana moves. Developing mental stability is necessary on the spiritual path, to make the mind strong, present, and focused. 

In dream yoga, once we have developed the ability to have lucid dreams, we must be stable enough in presence to stabilize the dreams produced by the movement of the karmic prana and to develop control over the dream. Until the practice is developed, the dreamer will sometimes control the dream and sometimes the dream will control the dreamer. According to Tibetan teachings it is better for the lucid and aware dreamer to control the dream than for the dreamer to be dreamed.
There are three kinds of karmic prana: Soft prana, virtuous wisdom prana, which moves through the red wisdom channel. Rough prana, prana of negative emotion, which moves through the white channel. And, Neutral prana, neither virtuous nor non-virtuous, but it is still karmic prana. The experiences of neutral prana leads the practitioner toward experience of the natural primordial prana, which is not karmic prana but the energy of non-dual rigpa residing in the central channel.

Wisdom prana (ye lung), is not karmic prana, is the prana involved in the first moment of any experience, before a reaction occurs, there is only pure perception. The wisdom prana moves in the central channel and is the energy of rigpa. 


For balancing the prana, men should use the left ring finger to close the left nostril and exhale strongly from the right nostril. Imagine that all stress and negative emotions flow out with the exhalation. Then close the right nostril with the right ring finger and inhale deeply, very softly and gently, through the left nostril. After inhaling let all the air, the prana, pervade your entire body while you hold the breath for a short period. Then gently exhale and remain in a calm state. Women use the reverse order. 

The Mother Tantra says that if one is not aware in vision, it is unlikely that one will be aware in behavior. If one is not aware in behavior, one is unlikely to be aware in dream. And if one is not aware in dream, then one is unlikely to be aware in to bardo or intermediate state after dead.

A dream yogi must be stable enough in presence to avoid being swept away by the winds of karmic traces. Then it must performed the practice "calm abiding" (Zhiné) that develops concentration and quiets mind. Zhiné begins with mental fixation on an object and, when concentration is strong enough, moves on to fixation without an object.

Begin the practice by sitting in the five-pointed meditation posture: the legs crossed, the hands folded in the lap in meditation position with palms up and placed one on top of the other, the spine straight but not rigid, the head tilted down slightly to straighten the neck, and the eyes open and relaxed. The object of concentration should be placed so that the eyes can look straight ahead. During the practice try not to move, not even to swallow or blink, while keeping the mind one-pointedly on the object. Let the breathing be natural. For practice you should use the Tibetan letter A as the object for concentration. Write it down in a piece of paper and set it just a foot in front your eyes. Many signs of progress can arise during the mind settle, then try to not be disturbed by them.

The first practice is called "Forcefull Zhiné" because it requires effort to concentrate in the object, the mind is easy distracted. So try to do short practices and alternate with breaks, during them practice a mantra but not let the mind wander. This practice must be done minimum once a day and more if you have time. During the practice keep the mind on the object, do not think about the object neither follow the thoughts only remain in the present moment in total awareness.

In the second practice "Natural Zhiné" we abandon the physical object and we dissolve our mind in space, this lead us to establish tranquility.

The third prices "Ultimate Zhiné" is characterized by a mind that is tranquil but light, relaxed, and pliable. Thoughts arise and dissolve spontaneously and without effort. The mind is integrated fully with its own movement.

In developing the zhiné practice, there are three obstacles that must be overcome: agitation, drowsiness, and laxity.

1. Changing karmic traces
Practice during the day the recognition that everything is dream-like. This is the base of scientific practice to get lucid dreams. The emphasis must be in the dreamer more than in the objects of our experience. 

2. Removing grasping and aversion
The practice should be applied as soon as any grasping or aversion arises in response to an object or situation. The grasping mind may manifest its reaction as desire, anger, jealousy, pride, envy, grief, despair, joy, anxiety, depression, fear, boredom, or any other emotional reaction. When a reaction arises, remind yourself that you, the object, and your reaction to the object are all dream. 
As the practice progresses, objects and situations are not only experienced with greater clarity and vividness but are also recognized as ephemeral, insubstantial, and fleeting. This levels the relative importance of phenomena and diminishes the grasping and aversion based on preference.

3. Strengthening intention
Involves reviewing the day before going to sleep, and strengthening the intention to practice during the night. As you prepare for sleep, allow the memories of the day to arise. Whatever comes to mind recognize as a dream. The memories most likely to arise are of those experiences strong enough to affect the coming dreams. 
Then develop the strong determination to recognize the dreams of the night for what they are. Make the strongest intention possible to know directly and vividly, while dreaming, that you are dreaming. 

This preparation is remembering what you dream if it was lucid or not lucid. You can record dreams in a notebook or with a tape recorder, as this will reinforce the habit of treating your dreams as something valuable. If you did have a lucid dream, feel joy at the accomplishment. Develop happiness relative to the practice and resolve to continue to develop the lucidity the following night. Keep building intention, using both successes and failures as occasions to develop ever stronger intent to accomplish the practice. And know that even your intention is a dream. Finally, during the morning period, generate a strong intention to remain consistent in the practice throughout the day. And pray with your full heart for success.



1. Nine Purifications Breathing
Sitting in meditation posture before lying down to sleep, do the following nine purification breaths: 

First Three Breaths
Men: Raise the right hand with the thumb pressing the base of the ring finger. Closing the right nostril with the ring finger, inhale green light through the left nostril. Then, closing the left nostril with the right ring finger, exhale completely through the right nostril. Repeat this for three inhalations and exhalations.

Women: Raise the left hand with the thumb pressing the base of the ring finger. Closing the left nostril with the ring finger, inhale green light through the right nostril. Then, closing the right nostril with the ring finger, exhale completely through the left nostril. Repeat this for three inhalations and exhalations.

With each exhalation, imagine all obstacles linked with male potencies expelled from the white channel in the form of light-blue air. These include illnesses associated with the winds (pranas) as well as obstacles and obscurations connected with the past.

Second Three Breaths
Men and Women: Change hands and nostrils and repeat for three inhalations and exhalations. With each exhalation, imagine all obstacles linked with female potencies expelled from the red channel in the form of light-pink air. These include illnesses associated with bile as well as obstacles and obscurations associated with the future.

Third Three Breaths
Men and Women: Place the left hand on top of the right in the lap, palms up. Inhale green healing light into both nostrils. Visualize it moving down the side channels to the juncture with the main channel, four finger widths below the navel. With the exhalation, visualize the energy rising up the central channel and out the top of the head. Complete three inhalations and exhalations. With each exhalation, imagine all potencies for illnesses associated with hostile spirits expelled from the top of the head in the form of black smoke. These include illnesses associated with phlegm as well as obstacles and obscurations associated with the present.

2. Guru Yoga
Practice guru yoga which develops the heart connection with the master. Generate strong devotion, then merge your mind with the pure awareness of the master, the ultimate master that is the primordial awareness, your true nature.

3. Protection
Lie down in the correct posture, men on the right side, women on the left side. Visualize dakinis surrounding you, protecting you. Use imagination to transform the room into a protected, sacred environment. Gentle your breathing and calm your mind, observing it until you are relaxed and present, not caught up in stories and fantasies. Create a strong intention to have vivid, clear dreams, to remember dreams, and to recognize the dream as a dream while you are in it.


In order to fully develop dream yoga, there are four tasks that need to be accomplished in sequence: 1) bringing awareness into the central channel, 2) cultivating clear vision and experience, 3) developing power and strength so that we will not become lost, and 4) developing our wrathful aspect in order to overcome fear. These tasks correspond to the four qualities of dreams – peaceful, joyful, powerful, and wrathful – and to the four sections of the practice. 

1. Bringing Awareness into the Central Channels

After working with the preliminary practices during the day, and after doing the practices prior to sleep, it will start this first practice. Lie in the lion posture: Men lie on their right side, women on their left. Bend the knees enough to make the body stable, rest the top arm along the side, and place the lower hand under the cheek. Visualize in the throat chakra a beautiful red lotus with four petals with a luminous Tibetan A in its center.  This part of the practice is meant to bring the mind and prana into the central channel. The quality is peaceful, and as we merge with the deep red A we find peace within ourselves. The teaching says that focusing on this chakra produces gentle dreams.

2. Increasing Clarity

Approximately two hours later, wake and engage the second part of the practice. In the same lion posture, practice the following breathing seven times: inhale and hold the breath very gently. Lightly clench the perineum, the muscles of the floor of the pelvis, so that you have the sense of pulling the held breath upward. Try to experience the breath as being held just below the navel, compressed by the pressure from below. After holding the breath for a few moments, gently exhale. During the exhalation, relax the muscles in the pelvis, the chest, and the whole body. 
The point of focus is the chakra center in the brow, where you have to visualize a white luminous ball of light. When connected with this tiglé our mind remains clear and present. Allow the white light to dissolve everything, until you and the light are one. In this part of the practice, the dreams will be characterized by colorful enjoyment.

3. Strengthening Presence

After approximately two more hours, again wake. Lay back against a high pillow with your legs lightly and comfortably crossed. The point of focus is the chakra of the heart, inside of which the black, luminous, syllable HUNG is visualized. Merge with the syllable so that everything is the black HUNG. Become the black HUNG. Let the mind rest lightly in the black HUNG, and fall asleep. The quality being developed here is power. This is about finding the power you already have inside. The dream may take place in a situation that makes the dreamer feel secure, and there may be another person in the dream who confers a sense of security, safety, and strength.

4. Developing Fearlessness

Another two hours later, wake again. No particular posture or breathing is necessary. Focus on a black, luminous tiglé in the secret chakra, behind the genitals. This is the darker aspect of the imagination; the dreams generated here are likely to contain wrathful dakinis, fire on the mountain and in the valleys, torrential rivers, or winds that destroy everything in their path. These are dreams in which the elements destroy the image of the self can be terrifying. Discover if this is true for you. The quality of dreams in this section of the night should eventually become wrathful.

In the morning, the final waking of the night, immediately be present. Review the night, generate intentions, and continue with the practice during the day. In addition, it is helpful to make time to do the calm abiding (zhiné) practice during the day. This will help to make the mind quiet and focused and will benefit all other practices. The most important point of both the preparation and the main practice is to maintain presence as consistently as possible throughout the day and the night. 

Developing Lucidity and Flexibility
There are many different levels of lucid dreaming. At the superficial level, one may realize that one is in a dream but have little clarity and no power to affect the dream. Lucidity is found and then lost, and the logic of the dream prevails over the conscious intent of the dreamer. Also lucid dreams can be extraordinarily vivid, seemingly "realer" than ordinary waking experience. With experience, greater freedom is developed in the dream and the boundaries of the mind are overcome, until one can do literally anything that one can think of to do.

Developing flexibility of mind is very important because the rigidities of mind, the limitations of wrong views that obscure wisdom and constrict experience, keep us ensnared in illusory identities and prevent us from finding freedom. To progress on the spiritual path we must lessen grasping and aversion until we can penetrate the ignorance at their base and discover the wisdom behind it. Flexibility of the mind is the capacity that, when it is developed, allows us to overcome grasping and aversion. It allows us to see things in a new way and respond positively rather than being driven blindly by habitual reactions.

The Mother Tantra lists eleven categories of experience in which the mind is usually bound by appearance. All of these are to be recognized, challenged, and transformed. The principle is the same in all, but it is helpful to spend time thinking about each to introduce the possibilities of transformation to your own mind. The categories are: size; quantity; quality; speed; accomplishment; transformation; emanation; journey; seeing; encounter; and experiences.
Tamaño. Cambien su tamaño en el sueño, 
Size. Change your size in the dream, become as small as an insect and then as large as a mountain. Take a big problem and make it small. Take a small, beautiful flower and make it as large as the sun.

Quantity. If there is one buddha in your dream, increase the number to one hundred or one thousand. And if there are one thousand problems, make them one. 

Quality. Think about the possibility of change, and then practice it in the dream. When you are angry in a dream, change that emotion to love. You can change the qualities of fear, jealousy, anger, greed, incessant hopefulness, and dullness. 

Speed. In just a few seconds of dream, many things can be accomplished, because you are entirely in the mind. Slow down an experience until each moment is a whole world. Visit a hundred places in a minute. The only boundaries in a dream are the boundaries in your imagination.

Accomplishment. Whatever you have been unable to accomplish in life, you can accomplish in dream. Do practices, write a book, swim across an ocean, finish what needs finishing.

Transformation. Learn to transform yourself. Try everything, transforming yourself into a animal, thing, Buddha, etc. Transform yourself from an angry person into a compassionate person, from a grasping, jealous human into an open, clear buddha. 

Emanation. After transforming yourself into buddha, emanate many more bodies that can be of benefit to other beings. Be in two bodies, then three, four, as many as you can, and then more. Break through the limitation of experiencing yourself as a single, separate ego.

Journey. Visit places that you wish to go. You can travel to another country or  to another planet, or a place you have not seen in many years, or to the bottom of the ocean.

Seeing. Try to see what you have not seen before, like a volcanic eruption, an angel, the center of universe, your cells, the top of Kilimanyaro. Generate ideas for yourself and then make them real in dream.

Encounter. You can feel the desire to meet with your masters, then meet them.
When you do, right away ask if you can meet a second time. That creates more of an opportunity to meet them again. Then ask for teachings.

Experience. Use the dream to experience something you have not done yet. If you are uncertain about your experience of rigpa, then have it in the dream. You can experience any mystic state or experience of the path. You can breathe water like a fish, or walk through walls, or become a cloud.

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche “Tibetan yogas of dream and sleep”.