Q: I’ve a question about Dream practice. I’ve been trying to work with Dream practice for about 20 years. I completed 6 Yogas of Naropa in retreat, in 3Y retreat. I understand about preparing wind as you’re falling asleep for Dream practice and I don’t recognize I’m dreaming. I totally believe I’m absorbed in the dream and there is no distance or awareness happening. Do you have any tips?
A: Yes, so in order to catch the dream, you call it [སྤྱོང་།་] “chong” there’s a catching a dream and then there’s a creation and there’s a multiplying and visiting places and so on.
So the first stage is to catch the dream. In order to catch the dream obviously you need to be in the retreat. So you can’t just say that “I need to go here and do there, meet this people and maybe take a break for few months from retreat and then go and visit my family and have a Christmas and argue with everything that’s going on with life then go back and catching the dream”. That wouldn’t help.
So as you know yourself as a lama who has done the 3Y retreat, I’m just letting the other participants know. So they’re not wasting their time by making an attempt, in case.
So in order to catch the dream you need to develop a continuation of awareness throughout the daytime and daily basis. And then if you’ve accumulated that sense of genuine awareness in daily basis for at least for a week or two and then combined with the Guru Yoga practice, combined with the Deity practice or the protector practice. More or less, even during the session break, carrying on with a sense of mindfulness and then awareness in mind, even during the session break. So basically don’t stop your awareness of the mind just because you’re in a session break. Just rather continue with a session break, even during the session break, minimize chatting with other people, that’s very important. No need to stop talking to other people just minimize chatting with other people. That’s number two.
Number one is to be in the retreat, number two is a continuation of awareness and number three is talking with other people. Retreat, continuation of awareness, even during the session break, and talking to other people, even they are happened to be your dharma brothers or sisters whatever you call them. So if you have these three steps and then of course retreat means being in one place. Right? And then minimizing the chatter with other people and then continuation of awareness. If you implement these three and then catching the dream is a possibility.
Q: So if I’m not in retreat, should I not attempt to do Dream practice?
A: I mean it depends on how you define the retreat. If you’re living all by yourself, and that’s, eventually that’s more or less the retreat. But then again if you are living with the families and the partners and kids and work and all sorts of things, obviously that’s not a retreat. Right? So that’s that.
Q: I live alone with a dog, that’s kind of it.
A: Yeah, it’s okay. It’s okay. So that’s that. I think doing a retreat can be helpful. Even with your dog it’s OK, it’s a retreat.
And I think, and also what you consume is also very important. That’s the number fourth one. If you eat very heavy. I like to eat rice, that’s my only weakness, that’s the only form of sugar that I eat. Other than that, nothing. So like if you are aware of what you’re consuming also that matters into the thickness of your sleep as well. If you are careful with the amount of food you eat, with the awareness of your body and mind combined together and then that also creates the weight of your sleep, the depth of your sleep. If you consume very heavy and then obviously you’re going to fall asleep like a, it’s going to be a pitch dark and then you’re going to wake up like “Yeh, how do I actually fall asleep, I didn’t know how”. So therefore, maybe it’s like having a light meal that will create more subtleness to your mind and avoiding such sugary food. I think that is important. Because when you eat sugary food, then it gives a spike in your brain and then it goes down and then you kind of feel sleepy afterwards. So that sort of food has to, just at least give a break little bit. You know? So that’s that.
The most important is that when you have this continuation of awareness and then falling in sleep, awareness is also very important. So it doesn’t mean that you have to wait until a few weeks later. You can attempt on your first day, you can attempt on the second day, but I think that, once you have a continuation for at least one week or two weeks, and then catching the dream is a possibility.
Like an example, I will tell you my own experience. Like one time I was in a retreat and then, not during the time of the Dream Yoga retreat. So I said, you know, I just felling asleep and doing my practice and so on. Then I fallen asleep. And then, within the state of the dream, and then I was sitting in the meditation box then I walk, and then I see myself I’m in a dream. Then I walked a little bit, then I walked in front of the temple of the retreat center. Then I said, “Okay, I’m in a dream so now I visualize myself as a Chakrasamvara”. Then I visualize myself as a Chakrasamvara. Then a few moments later, I said “Ok this is enough, so now I wake up”. Then I wake up physically. So you can do certain things like that. So I was still, even in a dream I said “Ok, I’m in a retreat center right now. So that’s that. Let’s just cool it down a bit.” So things like that.
So you can experience it. If you’re doing a Yoga. You do Yoga, you are careful all these things, not eating food given by other people, making food by yourself. And keeping the portion in balance. Avoid the sugary food because that gives a high spike in your brain activities and then kind of crash, it kind of crashes down after probably hour later. That’s not really good for your brain, for your body. So you need to consume something that is beneficial to the body, but also gives you in a very good sort of rhythm. Avoiding something like sugary, salty things, avoiding that, just keeping it good, moderate, balance and then minimize chatting, or at least not talking even, and then being in a retreat. And then all these things combined together then can help a lot.
But in order to create a foundation of the Dream Yoga you need to have a Toumo practice as a really solid foundation. You need to have Illusory body practice as a second layer of foundation. And then the Dream Yoga practice can be quite helpful.
I don’t know so much about the Six Yogas of Naropa. I’m talking by experience of the Six Yogas of Niguma. I don’t know how you do it but at least try to do it from the beginning until the Dream Yoga. Don’t try to skip towards the Dream Yoga only.
I’m not saying that you have to do “འཁྲུལ་འཁོར།” “trünkhor”, just some sort of a toumo, breathing exercise, I think that’s good enough.
Niguma’s “Amulet Mahamudra” by Kalu Rinpoche (2nd afternoon session – 2h 22′ 05”)
Kagyu Sukha Chöling – Friday March 11, 2022
To be continued …