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Michael Katz

Dream Yoga and Lucidity

     As I developed the dream yoga and lucidity workshop training, the concept of lucidity has always had a central place. First, lucidity within the dream state represents exceptional potential, or the gateway to mastery of the dream process. Obviously, lucidity within the dream state allows for extraordinary creativity. Whereas in waking state we are limited, in the dream state our potential is limitless, and we have the opportunity to explore or learn or experiment. Additionally, from the metaphoric standpoint, lucidity represents a greater or heightened state of awareness.
     I like to compare lucidity within the dream state, to awareness in our waking state. For example, many of us go through large portions of the day without having any real awareness. This might be compared to sleepwalking . During the workshop I often ask people to pretend that they are now in a dream.
Imagining that we are in an actual dream heightens our perception, even if only for a moment. Perhaps it helps us to stand back a little bit and observe the world more carefully.
     Many of us, have created a very solid barrier between “dream reality” and “waking reality.” When we are in the dream, we are largely unconscious and imagine that this is our reality. Then, when we wake up, the dream quickly is forgotten and we’re into our new experience: which we call reality. By imagining that we are in a dream during waking hours, it helps to create a permeability between the 2 states; those being the state of dreaming while asleep, and the set of experiences (or perceptions really), that we call our waking reality. Once one has achieved this, half the battle towards actually having lucidity in the dream is won.
     As the goal of developing lucidity is one of the goals of the dream yoga and lucidity workshop, I have developed a pleasant method of inducing lucidity within a dream by combined deep relaxation training, and hypnotic or trance induction. Afterwards in order to work with the dream material, lucid or otherwise, which the various participants manifest in the course of their induced sleep period, I synthesized a process which incorporates aspects of Gestalt therapy, psychodrama and a style of dream interpretation developed by Montague Ullman. During the duration of the dream yoga and lucidity workshop which is often one day, but also has been as long as a weekend and as short as two hours, we commit ourselves to working with all classes of dream material.
     Subsequent to the previously described guided nap, we perform those dreams which are volunteered. Then each person in the audience, as well as the individuals who have acted out the dream, are encouraged to give an interpretation of the dream as if they themselves were the dreamer. The technique of going around the room with the perspective that each person had the dream is adapted from the “Ullman” technique. By going one step further and acting out what is often lucid dream material, there is a powerfully synergistic and multi-sensory experience. Many of us who have participated in this process have left feeling that they have participated in the creation of mythology, or in Jungian terms touched upon the ‘self’ archetype.
    Occasionally someone has approached me and confided that they hesitate to participate in a dream yoga and lucidity workshop for one of a few common reasons. They might feel that their own dream production is not creative, or they doubt they could offer the other members of the workshop any interesting dream material. If you have similar reservations i offer you this true story. I had been approached to induce a lucid dream for the show “Good Morning America”. With very little advance notice a group of 6 or so volunteers were assembled. Many of these individuals had previous experiences of lucidity within a dream. In fact all of them except for one had lucid dreams previously. As I gave instructions for relaxing in preparation for the dream induction I had doubts. It was perhaps the most contrived situation I had even attempted. Imagine cameras lit by 200 hundred-watt bulbs shining down on a few individuals who were expected to have a lucid dream within a 15 minute nap. Ironically several volunteers including the one person who had never before dreamed lucidly produced extraordinary lucid dreams.
     At a recent workshop, one of the participants offered a lucid nightmare, induced during the short nap, for the group to process. This lucid dream took place in a subway station. On one side of the station was a bright light, on the other side was a homeless person sleeping under a bench covered by what appeared to be a shroud. The homeless person beckoned towards the dreamer. The dreamer felt an almost irresistible pull towards the homeless person.
     Offering a few of the different interpretations may serve to illustrate the depth, power, and opportunity for involving all participants simultaneously of this technique. After a great deal of fun acting out the dream, one participant not the actual dreamer, observed that for him to process the dream was insight into the feeling that despite career successes he still had a great deal of anxiety over security issues.
   Another women observed that the attraction she felt to the homeless person who was covered by the shroud, was the attraction she felt towards the dark side. She qualified the dark side by saying that she had always been a “very good girl” and that she had felt repressed. Her attraction to the dark side represented a desire to break out and to have a fuller experience of life. Many other explanations, allowing for full participation by all , were also offered to account for this particular dream.  Upon returning to the actual dreamer, she was highly excited, and felt that she was finally seeing all facets of old patterns very clearly. She also reported that virtually all of the explanations had given her new insights into herself.
     The benefits of this process are not limited to the actual dreamer. Subsequently the yoga and lucidity training assists all participants to transform and break through old patterns by creating new endings for their dreams. This process offers invaluable opportunities to both see and change rigid habits and conditioning. In the aforementioned nightmarish example, many alternative solutions ranging from, having a dialogue with the homeless person, ignoring the homeless person, or pulling the shroud off of them were offered. These suggestions have obvious adaptive value for all.  There is a great likelihood of personal transformation even startling self insight, when issues which arise as dream material are looked at in such a complete manner.


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