Open Practice: Vipassana-Induced Lucid Dream (VILD)

The following was originally posted on Dharma Overground. It was a serendipitous learning on my part while doing Vipassana practice. So I’m posting it here and filing it under Open Practice. Give it a try and let me know what happens.

For those who are new to lucid dreaming, read Lucidity Institute’s very informative Lucid Dreaming FAQ.

Discussion: vipassana induced lucid dream (VILD)

i’ve been doing lucid dream practices on and off for a number of years now. i won’t go into details with my experiences, since i already shared some of them on different threads. see:

> head being ripped while meditating
> flowing like a sine wave
> series of lucid dreams and false awakenings
> merging with the light in a lucid dream

i recently learned that lucid dreams can be easily induced by vipassana techniques. i’d like to share what i learned for those who are interested to develop their lucid dreaming skill.

i understand that some of the hardcore Theravada practitioners may have objection to this. what does lucid dreaming have to do with “enlightenment”? isn’t it just another distraction along the path? another phenomena to cling to? in general, i agree. however, the practice i’m about to describe is a complement to vipassana, not a replacement. my main intention is not to develop lucid dreaming skill as an end in itself, but as a means for extending awareness in the dream state. think of it as concentration (or samatha) practice. mastering it is not required, but enough proficiency with it could lead to insight. from this perspective, lucid dreaming is just another doorway into the nature of things.

for lack of a better term, i’ll call this technique VILD (vipassana induced/initiated lucid dream). it has similarities with MILD (mnemonic induced lucid dream) and WILD (wake induced lucid dream). see http://bit.ly/Q7lS for a description of these techniques. however, VILD is slightly different since it is specifically initiated via vipassana meditation, as opposed to altering sleeping cycles (i.e. WILD).

it’s a work in progress. but in my experience, i’m able to have lucid dreams 80% of the time. (need more data points to be more conclusive though).

here’s how i do it. i do my meditation practice for 1.25 hours every sitting (one in the morning and one in the evening). in the morning i divide my “sitting” practice. the first half is regular vipassana sitting (Shinzen Young style, see http://bit.ly/sxsPN ). then i do lying down meditation for the second half. below is the algorithmic sequence.

1. 30-45 minutes of sitting vipassana. after this session the body and mind should be peaceful and relaxed.

2. continue with lying down meditation. focus on breathing (rising, falling), relaxation, impermanence.

3. sooner or later you will sense big waves/vibrations (maybe even high pitched ringing in your ears). notice them. label them as “flow”, “expansion”, “contraction”. stay with it. surrender to it. until…

4. WHAM! you’re in a dream state. (note: you might see a flash of light, prior to the change in scenery). initially you might be disoriented or get lost in the dream. but hopefully, the clarity of awareness from the vipassana meditation (step 1), would spill over the dream state and make you lucid.

5. once you’re lucid, you can either continue to explore the dream world. have fun in it (i always fly), OR you can continue with vipassana practice (i.e., noticing the phenomena in the dream state).

in my experience, there’s an initial disorientation when i shift to the dream state (step 4). but most of the time, as soon as awareness shifts, i still have some awareness that i’m dreaming and lying down in meditation at the same time. at times, i can even hear myself snoring. then i just note it 🙂

i understand that Tibetans have highly developed dream yoga techniques. but since i choose to practice vipassana, this is my own way of incorporating my practice into the dream world. again, VILD is *not* a replacement for vipassana, it’s my own approach for extending awareness in the dream state and continue with my chosen practice.

if you decide to give this a try, let me know how it works for you. we could use more data points. but never let the dream state be a distraction to our waking practice.

thanks!

~C

Comments (22)

  1. Very interesting – this sounds similar to the exploration of the content of the ‘formless realms’ or the development of the ‘powers’.

    Wednesday, March 25, 2009 at 6:51 am #
  2. Chris wrote::

    I’ve tried extremely hard at lucid dreaming, but the funny thing is that I ended up doing it right after I gave up. It’s amazing.

    Wednesday, March 25, 2009 at 11:05 am #
  3. (0v0) wrote::

    AWESOME!!!

    Thanks.

    Friday, March 27, 2009 at 4:08 am #
  4. Omnipleasant wrote::

    I practiced lucid dreaming for years and had some minor success with it. This VILD method appeals to me, so i’ll try it out. I have a question though: when I fall asleep I notice my thoughts start to drift into fantasies. I find it hard to imagine it to be possible for me to fall asleep with vipassana awareness of the present moment. What are your experiences with this?

    Friday, April 17, 2009 at 3:10 am #
  5. c4chaos wrote::

    Omnipleasant,

    great to see you here 🙂 thanks for your comment.

    to answer your question: in my experience, when i start to fall asleep and drift into fantasies, then that’s the doorway in the the dream state. if i lose lucidity and plunge into the fantasy then it becomes a full blown dream. the trick, of course, is to maintain the awareness that i am dreaming without getting completely caught in the fantasy. it’s easier said than done. but with practice i get luckier and luckier 🙂

    good luck with your practice. let me know how it goes.

    ~C

    Friday, April 17, 2009 at 8:27 am #
  6. Peacemaker wrote::

    It’s nice to see someone practicing in this way. I wouldn’t worry about traditionalists if I were you. Actually lucid dreaming is used as part of the path, not so much a side track- unless your doing it for the sake of dreaming only without combining it with Shunyata. In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition there is a practice called “sleep yoga” (clear light sleep) and “dream yoga” working with dreams like you say. And Dzogchen or Mahamudra- (same Vipassana tecnique just different emphasis on “insight meditation”) use the mindfulness meditation also as a preparation or preliminary to dream yoga. The idea is that you meditate with a subtle level of mind in dream yoga so that you realize the nature of your mind more powerfully (quick path to liberation and enlightenment). You can try to induce a subtle level of mind before Vipassana/Mahamudra with highest yoga tantric tecniques such as Tummo meditation. But messing with your inner energy system is dangerous and not even necesary. Because there are traditions that really upon sleep and dream yoga- the moment when your energy system naturally goes more subtle without the risk of energy imbalance. Either way Vipassana is the foundation to everything and a very powerful practice. Just watching your own mind during daily meditation will give you the mindfullness to be able to recognize when your sleeping and to practice lucid dreaming tecniques.

    Sunday, June 14, 2009 at 3:52 pm #
  7. haquan wrote::

    Nice!

    I’m going to try it. I’m very good at producing WILDs in conjunction with progressive muscular relaxation – have you tried that? Basically autohypnotic technique.

    Obviously lucid dreaming could be an ideal platform for Tantra – meeting the 5 Buddhas, becoming the 5 Buddhas, actually walking around inside the Mandalas – the possibilities are endless!

    Have you tried the Turing test on the dream people you encounter? Check it out!
    D

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 10:13 pm #
  8. c4chaos wrote::

    thanks, haquan.

    i’ve tried WILDs (as taught by LaBerge) but i wasn’t particularly good at it. that said, the vipassana-induced lucid dream technique i described above is a variation of WILD since it’s also wake-induced.

    Turing test on the dream people we encounter? i haven’t thought of that. good idea. i’ll try that next time i’m lucid enough in my dreams 🙂

    let me know how VILD works for you.

    ~C

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 11:52 pm #
  9. j greene wrote::

    Ya, vipassana==increased lucid dreaming. My experience is similar.

    I do vipassana while sliding into sleep too (well, vipassana all the time ideally, but u get the idea) – good results.

    Just today a guy suggested behaving really well while in dreamland. Exercising great control over self, controlling anger, being really self-sacrificing – u know, really saintly. Planning to give it a go.

    Sunday, December 20, 2009 at 11:45 pm #
  10. j greene wrote::

    o ya, what peacemaker said. Take the traditionalists with a grain of salt. We are the astronauts. Every step is a bold new world.

    Sunday, December 20, 2009 at 11:47 pm #
  11. unknown wrote::

    yesterday i had the lucidity of a lucid dream while seemingly awake and without any kind of dream anyway other than trying to concentrate on what i understand ’emptiness’ to mean. i’m trying to practice samatha at the moment but haven’t got a teacher yet so i thought that it might indicate some progress but probably not?

    also i have had that lucidity while i seemed to be dreamlessly asleep but still hearing the music i had on on headphones. the more recent experience was more interesting though. this was before my meditating much at all though i had been to a couple of classes i don’t remember practicing what they taught, not to the degree that was asked at least.
    i also have suffered from psychosis with grotesquely grandiose [quasi?] buddhist themes: when i was briefly an inpatient i even spent a lot of time thinking about those little lines you see in your vision in the sky which are seem like a bit of a theme in buddhist philosophy. i wonder if it’s all connected and who’s ever going to take me on to teach me with such a bizarre history? but i’m stuck because i have a serious sincere belief in not just in being able to alter your conscious states through buddhism [is this just scientific fact?] but in nirvana at death for all sentient beings. which isn’t really buddhist exactly which is just another problem is getting really started with things. oh well, any advice from anyone appreciated…

    Monday, December 28, 2009 at 4:08 pm #
  12. sensit wrote::

    Based on your post, it seems to me that you are pretty open for alternative explorations. Have a look at my review on Bonpo Dzogchen Teachings‎ by Lopon Tenzin Namdak

    http://sensit.wordpress.com/2009/12/19/bonpo-dzogchen-teachings%e2%80%8e-by-lopon-tenzin-namdak/

    Monday, February 8, 2010 at 4:23 pm #
  13. hoplite87@aol.com wrote::

    I Can’t lucid dream. 🙁 i really really really wanna do it and have been trying for a while now but i just always have normal dreams. the only notice i see in my dreams is that i remember them better after i wake up now. Plz tell me how.

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011 at 5:05 pm #
  14. Tibovation wrote::

    I always fall asleep regularly, ive been trying something like this for a while. Maybe i need to train my awareness more to not lose my awarness in that half-sleepy state. I can feel my awarness getting slow and blurry and *bamm* its morning already. Anyway…how do u perceive time while being aware throughout the night?

    Saturday, June 11, 2011 at 9:24 pm #
  15. Unenlightened wrote::

    I’m not a practicioner of any of the techniques you mention but have had 2 luck breaks with lucid dreaming.
    Both time I bacame aware, in the midst of dreaming, that I was dreaming.
    Alas I have not had any consistency with this and haven’t gotten to pratice manipulating the dream.

    Friday, July 8, 2011 at 8:21 pm #
  16. Unenlightened wrote::

    Ummm … pardon the typos above. Should have proof read before submitting.

    Friday, July 8, 2011 at 8:22 pm #
  17. Michael wrote::

    I recently began this practice on my own. I had looked in to TM, Nidra Yoga and. Tibetan Dream yoga.
    It occurred to me That (and I’ll be blasted here by traditionalists)
    in Vipassana thoughts are to be watched and let go so by relaxing and using the breath as a “physical mantra” (an anchor) allow the mind to really flow free while staying aware.
    I used some “training wheels” and allowed more relaxation at the beginning by lying down or using the back on the chair. It was much easier after complete relaxation to then again sit up straight.
    My goal is not to lucid dream but to note deep thoughts that come in waves.
    Occasionally I can contemplate while in this state. I’m still new at it.

    I prefer this to messing with my actual sleep patterns.

    Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 9:51 pm #
  18. Michael wrote::

    I want to add that I began doing this because my meditation sessions would begin great then after 20 minutes an anxiety would arise. After a month of it getting to the point of a whole hour spent in anxious tension I saw that more concentration was making it worse.
    Now, I only loosely focus on the breath (not counting or visualizing my nose)
    Only how I feel as a whole. How the air feels and tastes. If I fall asleep, good!
    I don’t think, “Sloth and Torpor”.
    Communing with myself is the goal, not blame.

    Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 10:33 pm #
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  22. Matt wrote::

    I find this fascinating, I would like to know if you are talking about the techniques taught by SN Goenka and if so you state practicing “30-45 minutes of sitting vipassana.” – could you clarify what you mean by Vipassana, as you are taught Anapana (Concentration through focusing your mind on breath and sensations around nose area) and Vipassana (Purification of mind through observation of sensations as you “scan” your body). This is how I remember the techniques being taught. You then state “continue with lying down meditation”.

    So could you clarify as to which technique you are using in each style of VILD? – I have had success with inducing a lucid dream state by practicing anapana meditation whilst laying down in bed and think this would be an interesting technique to experiment with and would like to hear what works best for you.

    Peace!

    Wednesday, November 25, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

Trackbacks/Pingbacks (2)

  1. […] ~C4Chaos (hyper)streaming with passion and compassion < Open Practice: Vipassana-Induced Lucid Dream (VILD) […]

  2. Shinzen Young On Lucid Dreaming and The Five Ways < ~C4Chaos on Sunday, November 29, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    […] I’ve been applying Shinzen Young’s Five Ways approach to my meditation practice for almost a year now and all I can say is that I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of it. It had dramatically improved my sitting meditation, relieved my migraine headaches, made me consistent with my open practice, and most importantly, it gave me a general sense of happiness and contentment in life. In addition, by applying the Five Ways, I’m also able to induce lucid dreams more frequently. That’s why I have incorporated it in my regular practice. See Vipassana-Induced Lucid Dream (VILD). […]