State of Dreaming (10/12)

My efforts to have lucid dreams seem to have regressed lately. For a while I was regularly remembering my dreams, at least one nearly every night but now I seem to be remembering them less frequently and most of those I do recall seem to have fewer details and rather generic. I had a solid week where I didn’t remember any dreams or the dreams faded almost immediately upon waking.

I’ve reading Robert Waggoner’s Lucid Dreaming Plain and Simple and taking a lot of notes. Since I’m reading it on a Kindle, it’s taking a while. In the book, he has some exercises that looked interesting.

One was a practice for the MILD technique in which you look at a recent dream, find a point in the dream which could have triggered lucid awareness, and rewrite the dream from that point as if you were lucidly aware in the dream. I chose to try it with the pool dream I had on September 20th. [State of Dreaming (9/22)]. The main difference between the dream and the rewrite was that in the dream I just found myself in the air with the others while in the rewrite I had become lucid and chose to fly up there. I was only able to rewrite it as far as the original dream went. I was at a loss as to how I would have moved the dream forward.

Another exercise from the book was an exercise to find symbolism and meaning in dream objects. The exercise was to review the written dream, list all the nouns and then, next to each noun, write three descriptive words or short phrases. Then I rewrote the dream, replacing the nouns with the descriptive words. The results were interesting.

On a couple of occasions I tried a technique from the book called “Countdown to Lucidity.” This is a technique that can be used when you’re already drowsy or have awaken in the middle of the night. You close your eyes and begin counting: “One, I am dreaming. Two, I am dreaming. Three, I am dreaming.” And so on. So far, I haven’t had any success with this technique. I first tried it one afternoon when I felt drowsy after reading and decided I’d try to take a nap. I’d counted up to over 400 before deciding that it wasn’t working.

That same night I tried it again after having woken up around 1AM. I fell asleep sometime after passing 100 but didn’t recall any dreams other than a dream that occurred about five hours later.

This morning I set an alarm to wake me up early so I could attempt a WILD and used the countdown technique to get back to sleep after being awake for about half an hour. After reaching 100, I stopped and drifted off to sleep normally. The only dream I recalled was one I had just before my alarm went off.

On the other hand, I’ve made progress in my meditation practice and have been meditating twice a day. Aside from my meditation, I find the shower to be a good place for contemplation. I’ve been reading the online magazine, Lucid Dreaming Experience, and found some articles about surrendering to the lucidity in a lucid dream or the awareness behind the dream. That got me to thinking about my concept of surrender. In Western culture, surrender is seen as giving up, admitting defeat, or relinquishing control through demand or compulsion. In many Eastern philosophies, such as yoga and Buddhism, surrender often means willingly submitting to a divine power, a higher consciousness, or the Inner Self. I prefer the Eastern connotation but I’m a product of Western culture. Maybe I need to reword my intentions to reflect a willingness to accept the gifts and blessings of the Inner Self or the Greater Awareness.

Letting go is another concept I have trouble with. It seems to imply loss because when I let go of something (an object, an idea, a belief, a habit), I no longer have it. It seems that having “something” is empowering, even if that something no longer serves me, holds me back, or may be harmful or toxic. I’m still working with that one.

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State of Dreaming 9/22

I read in Robert Waggoner’s book about the various level of lucidly in dreams and it’s possible that I’ve been at a lower level of lucidity where I’m aware that it’s a dream but it’s interesting so I opt to see how it plays out. I’ve also read how one’s beliefs, fears, and mental attitudes can interfere with having lucid dreams. I don’t have any beliefs that would prohibit delving into lucid dreaming and I’m quite open to the ideas of it and the possibilities of lucid dreaming.

In waking life, I’ve never been one to take control or be in the forefront, preferring instead to work in the background or on the sidelines. I’ve always preferred to observe, document, and draw conclusions. I think that carries over to my dreams. There are inhibitions in my waking life that carry over into my dreaming life and I need to overcome them and be more willing to assert myself in both realities.

Here are a couple of recent dreams (non-lucid or low lucidity)

September 15
The dream starts out in an apocalyptic future on Earth. The land is barren but we still have much of our technology. I’m a manual laborer, and I’ve been recruited to work in the cargo hold of a spacecraft. I tell the recruiter that I’m not qualified for that kind of work but he says that’s not a problem as he puts a helmet-like device on my head and flips a few switches. I hear the device hum and I feel it vibrate, then I feel a current flow through me for few seconds, and suddenly I’m fully trained for the job.

Then I’m aboard the spacecraft and we are traveling in outer space. Several other workers and I are in the cargo area of the craft. We are notified that some sort of alien entity is attacking the ship and we start making preparations for the attack. We don space suits and ready our weapons. There are not enough weapons for everyone so I don’t have one. The entity attacks and the hull is breached. The entity looks like a shark. In the initial attack, several workers are killed and I’m able to obtain a weapon. We fire laser weapons at the “space shark” thing but they don’t seem to have much effect on it. All seems lost.

Next I find myself back on Earth many years later. I had apparently survived the space shark attack and lived to be quite old. I’m in a vehicle with several other people and we are stopped by a cop. The cop recognizes me and says, “Romig, eh?” somewhat derisively. He says that I shouldn’t have survived that mission when no one else had and hints that I must have been a coward. I don’t respond. I know that I’d fought valiantly but I have no recollection of how I survived or how I was rescued. I think that the event had either been so traumatic that I’d blocked it from my memory or that my memory of it had been deliberately and permanently erased.

September 20
A small dream fragment. I am at a large outdoor Olympic-sized pool. Three athletic-looking men, around college-aged, are skinny-dipping in the pool and they suddenly leap out of the water like dolphins to a height of maybe 20 feet n the air. When they reach the apex of their trajectory, they stop and hover in the air. At this point, I am watching them from the same level as they are so I am apparently also hovering 20 feet in the air although I don’t know how I got there. Then one of the men decides he’s going to belly flop into the pool and drops straight down with his arms and legs outstretched. He hits the water and makes a big splash while the other two and I watch from above. This is when I awake.

Dreaming Update (9/15)

Lately, I haven”t been remembering many dreams and what I do remember seem to be small isolated fragments with only a few details. I’ve also noticed that the dreams I remember aren’t as vivid as they were a month or so ago. I still haven’t had a lucid dream.

Looking over my dream journals, I’ve noticed a general lack of continuity in my dreams. There are a few general themes that come up fairly often but most of the time they have few common or recurring elements. That’s even true of dreams that fall into one those themes. I don’t recall ever having having recurring dreams.

My meditation practice has been becoming more regular over the past month or so and I’ve been doing at least one session a day and two a day is my goal. I’d been doing a mantra meditation but for the past week or so I’ve been doing a simple Vipassana (mindfulness) practice which seems to be working well for me. From what I’ve gathered from guided Vipassana meditations and what I’ve read online, I see to be on the right track. The hope is that this meditation practice will increase my mindfulness and awareness while awake and carry over into the dream state.

During meditation I usually hear a continuous high-frequency tone in my head. Actually, the tone seems to be always there, I’m just more aware of it when I’m meditating and at other times the mind is quiet. I’m not sure what it is but it’s been there for as long as I can remember. Another phenomena that occurred frequently during mantra meditation but not so much in Vipassana, was a vision of swirling, red cloud-like shapes behind my eyelids. It’s like watching clouds float across the sky while looking through a red filter.

This afternoon I laid down for a nap. I covered my eyes with a towel folded over several times to block out some of the light and I mentally repeated “When I dream I will see my hands and realize I’m dreaming.” I was hoping that maybe I would have a lucid dream. I can’t say for sure whether I slept but a couple or hours later I was still mentally repeating it.

I seemed to be very much aware of the tone in my head the entire time. Could that tone be some kind of a mental barrier or white noise created by my mind to block conscious access to my unconscious? That’s an interesting thought. I’ve been hearing the tone a lot today even when I’m not resting or in meditation.

08-25-17 Update

Event attended
This past Saturday my 45th high school reunion. It was a small, low-key affair held at a local Italian bistro. I’d estimate that maybe 40 out of about 325 graduates (yearbook count). We had a larger turnout at the Class 60th birthday party three years ago (about 85). We’ve been having annual gatherings since then.

Until the 60th birthday bash, I hadn’t attended any reunions. I was overseas when they had the 10th and 20th reunions. I tried to make it to the 25th but something came up. I’m not sure there were plans for the 30th and 40th reunions.

Truth is, I lost track of my classmates almost immediately after graduation. Other than having gone to school with them for 6 to 12 years, I didn’t feel that I had that much in common with them. After 45 years, that really hasn’t changed much. I’m not particularly nostalgic and I view different periods of my life as chapters in my life story. Sometimes characters make cameo appearances in later chapters.

My life since high school hasn’t been anything I could have imagined while in high school. Nor can I imagine my life if I had not left my hometown. All I can be sure of is that it would have been quite different. I’m grateful for the life I’ve had and the blessings I now enjoy are a result of path I chose long ago. Would I have done some things differently or made different choices. In hindsight, maybe. But every choice I’ve made, good or bad, has led me to where I am now. Who can say how any deviation from that path might have altered my present? I really don’t see any purpose in pondering that. In some ways I’m much the same as I was then but in many other ways I’ve evolved and grown so the last 45 years haven’t been wasted.

What I’m reading
Still working my way through Lucid Dreams: Gateway to the Inner Self. I think I’m at the beginning of chapter 16. I still haven’t experienced a lucid dream but I’ve had some unusual dreams in the last couple of weeks. I’ve read that taking 100mg of vitamin B6 before bed can lead to more vivid colorful dreams. I had a vivid experience the first night I tried it but haven’t noted any effects since then. I’m not even sure that one experience was a dream as I seemed to be aware that I was awake with my eyes closed. I’ve also begun to transform my sporadic meditation practice into a part of my daily routine.

Quote I’m pondering
“Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free.” ~ Unknown

Most people like the idea of freedom but, in reality, freedom scares the shit out of them and they resent or even hate those who choose to be free. When you are free you have to think critically, think for yourself, and take responsibility for your actions. Most are not ready or willing to do those things. Far too many people are content with others granting or withdrawing their freedom as if it was some kind of privilege. Freedom is not a privilege; it is your birthright! You were born to be free.

Weird Images

This occurred early this morning.

I don’t think this was a dream but it was dreamlike. Before bed I took 100mg B6. A short while later I went bed and listened to a 61 points of light relaxation exercise then a 30-minute binaural audio track. While listening the binaural track, I repeated my intentions to remember my dream, to know in a dream that I was dreaming, and to see me hands and become lucid.

I must have drifted off to sleep. Around 1:30 AM I became aware that I was no longer asleep. My eyes were closed, I was aware that I felt warm and was lying atop the bedsheets. I could also hear the air conditioner when it kicked on. I don’t recall waking from a dream though that’s possible and I didn’t remember the dream.

Random images began to appear in my mind. They were mostly swirls of dark colors – red, green, brown, black – and they seemed to be kind of hallucinogenic or psychedelic, like how you see an acid trip portrayed on TV. Occasionally, there would be more cohesive images which seemed to be centered around the New York Central railroad trestle in my hometown.

I suspected that these images might be hypnagogic or hypnopomic and I might be on the verge of falling back asleep so I tried to repeat my intentions but the words would be replaced by these images. When I would repeat the intention to see my hands when I was in a dream, sometimes I’d see my hands though not clearly and they seemed to be detached from my body (almost like a ghost image). The image of my hands would attempt the fingers through the palm reality check but the fingers wouldn’t pass through.

I finally decided that I wasn’t going to fall asleep so I wrote it down in my dream journal notebook. My handwritten account is a bit out of order so I put it in a more chronological organization as I transcribed it into my digital dream journal.

The railroad trestle has some significance in that in April 1973 some friends and I walked across the trestle after my friend’s car broke down and we parked it at an abandoned gas station near the railroad tracks. We followed the tracks and walked across the trestle to get to the house of my friend’s brother.

This was the first time I’d tried taking B6 before bed. I’ve read the B6 can be helpful for more vivid lucid dreams. Probably less significant is that in the last couple of days, I’ve been having more WTF moments in waking reality than I usually do.

08-11-17 Update

What I’m reading
I’m still reading Lucid Dreams: Gateway to the Inner Self. I’m a little halfway through the book, having just finished Chapter 13: Healing Yourself and Others. Once I get the hang of lucid dreaming, this is something I eventually want to investigate.

I’ve also been browsing back issues of the Lucid Dreaming Experience and listening to YouTube videos. I’m absorbing a lot of information and I hope I’m not getting overloaded.

I used to only remember a dream once every month or so and now I remember at least one dream almost every night so that’s progress. The habit of reality checks hasn’t become ingrained yet but I’m working on that. I’ve had a couple of dreams lately that contained dream signs that should have alerted me that I was dreaming. Before going to sleep I’m trying to set an intent to have a lucid dream but nothing yet.

Quote I’m pondering
“Both dreams and myths are important communications from ourselves to ourselves. If we do not understand the language in which they are written, we miss a great deal of what we know and tell ourselves in those hours when we are not busy manipulating the outside world.” ~ Erich Fromm

After-Mom

I’ve recently taken an interest in lucid dreaming, especially its potential as a tool in exploring consciousness, investigating the psyche, and gaining psychological insights. In beginning this practice it’s useful to know the landscape of one’s dreams so I’ve begun keeping a dream journal to record my dreams. Additionally, I’ve been going through my personal journal in which I’ve recorded remembered dreams over the years and transcribed them in dream journals. In the process I came across a dream about my mother I had a couple of years ago and it brought to mind a couple of other experiences I’ve had since her passing.

Since she left her body on 21 May 2008, I’ve had several moments when she has touched me in in a significant way. These moments don’t confirm any particular belief in life after death, an afterlife, rebirth or reincarnation, but they touched me deeply, nonetheless. I don’t subscribe to any religious persuasion nor do I consider myself particularly spiritual. However, I am open to such possibilities and I strongly suspect that there is something that lies beyond our range of perception and our concepts of conventional waking reality.

The first two events are extracted from my Padawan Yogi blog (no longer online) and the third is from a dream I had and is extracted with notes from my dream journal.

Chants for Ma Kirtan
Sun, 08 May 2011

Michael and Melissa led a wonderful Chants for Ma Mothers’ Day Kirtan this morning. I’ve enjoyed the energy of the kirtans I’ve attended but this simple kirtan really moved me in a profound way. The first chant, Jai Ma, opened something inside me and a lot of feelings and emotions came to the surface. I had tears on my cheeks and my voice was breaking. It’s hard to describe but it was powerful and intense. At the time I wasn’t able to identify the feelings, it was just raw emotion. Looking back I can only guess the predominant feelings were love and loss. Even several hours after the kirtan, the intensity had ebbed but the feelings still weighed heavily on my heart.

My mother passed on three years ago this month and on Mothers’ Day she was going through the process of dying so I guess I’m always going to have that association with the day. The kirtan obviously triggered something inside me and brought it to the surface. Maybe I’d been holding them in for the past three years and they needed to come out.

03-17-2013 Meditation & Yoga
Sun, 17 Mar 2013

My practice since injuring my shoulder in October has been sporadic and it shows. My pranayama, asana and meditation practices have all shown obvious signs of neglect. Now with spring coming and my shoulder almost fully recovered , along with a couple of good sessions, I’m feeling motivated to get my sadhana back on track. My good friend and teacher, Melissa, will be leading a week-long spring detox next month and the more I think about it, the more convinced I become that I should do it. Hopefully, I’ll have more success than I had with the fall detox. If I can at least become semi-competent at making kitcheri, I should do alright.

I had a good home practice yesterday. Parts of it were challenging but I worked my edge and it felt good. For the first time in nearly five months, I was able to do Savasana in relative comfort without placing a blanket or something under my head. It seems strange that a pose like Savasana would give me such difficulty. I’m happy that my shoulder is finally almost healed. It’s not 100 percent yet but it’s getting close.

This morning I made the effort to make it to Melissa’s guided meditation class and her hatha yoga class at Day Yoga Studio. They were my first Sunday classes with her since she stopped holding them at S.W.O.R.D. back in September. I found that, while I enjoy classes by other teachers, I really missed Melissa’s classes. Her Sunday mediation and yoga classes will be a priority.

This morning’s meditation was a heart meditation using visualization, drawing in what you wanted to bring into your life and releasing that which you wanted to let go of. I have a little trouble imagining the process she describes but often, into the meditation, a vision will form. I saw white, fluffy clouds and in one cloud there was a hole through which I could see bright blue sky. Occasionally, I could see a refracted ray of sunshine on the edge of the hole. I don’t know if this has any significance or how it relates to the meditation, but that’s what appeared to me.

In the time between the meditation and the asana class, I rested in Supta Baddha Konasana, resting my shoulder blades and the back of my head on blocks. I find it quite relaxing along with being a nice hip opener, back bend, and heart opener. It turned out that she would have us start the class reclined either on a bolster or on blocks.

The class itself was challenging, keeping me at my edge. No particular pose or sequence stands out; it was all good. Again, Savasana was quite comfortable and without props.

Toward the end of Savasana, thoughts about death popped up. They were mostly about deaths in my family, particularly my mother and my paternal grandmother. One thought that came up was that my mother’s atman had either been reborn or was about to be and the body she occupied was (or would be) nearby. There was another recent death that appeared in my thoughts. It wasn’t anyone I knew personally but her unfortunate and random death in Afghanistan had touched my heart. I acknowledged the thoughts and let them go.

It was nice to talk to Melissa for a few moments after each class about my shoulder injury and my practice. She has always been one of my favorite teachers and I’ve learned so much from her.

30 June 2015 Dream
I see my mother and give her a hug. While hugging her I feel a sensation of unconditional love, untainted by any feelings of sadness, grief, or loss. I felt that I had transcended to a higher level of consciousness.

Notes: The dream resonated with me for several days afterward. I found it interesting that in the dream and when reflecting upon it later I felt no sadness or grief. If anything, I felt a sense of relief and it may have signaled an official end to my grieving.

See also: Ninth year remembrance