Dream Yoga

Further Experiments with Zhine


Since my original post about Zhine, I've been continuing to work with the technique and as is often the case I've taken to doing a bit of experimentation with it. My experiments have involved the core technique of maintaining awareness, without actually thinking or analyzing what you are maintaining awareness of. This has been challenging on occasion, as will be evident by how I've chosen to experiment, but it's also been a good discipline tool.

My first experiment has involved focusing my awareness on an object someone else is using. For example, at a networking lunch, I choose to focus my awareness on a fork. Thus I continually maintained awareness of the fork, including not only when it wasn't being used, but also when it was being used. I was able to do this at a networking lunch, although that could be a challenge as well, because I did need to maintain enough awareness of myself to not come off as staring, or being aware of when people were addressing me. Consequently I split my mental focus so that part of me focused on the fork, while the rest of me observed the social niceties around me. I did feel I was able to focus and be aware of the fork, but I'll admit that my zhine experience wasn't as deep as it could be by virtue of needing to maintain a specific level of awareness. I've repeated this exercise a few times and each time while I've been able to achieve a meditative awareness its not as deep as when I'm alone just focusing on an object.

My second experiment involved focusing on a living creature, one of my cats actually. I sat down in the living room and chose one cat to focus on. Whatever he did, wherever he moved, I stayed focused on him, while ignoring the other cats. Maintaining Zhine with a living animal was an interesting experiment because every time I started to get interested in what he was doing, I needed to refocus on the intent of the exercise, which was simply to be aware of the cat as opposed to studying the cat. I didn't find that his movements distracted me per se, but more what he was doing. Still as I continued practicing Zhine with my cat, it gradually became easier. One interesting side effect of this was that this particular cat showed up in my dreams while I was doing Zhine.

My third experiment involved focusing on a leaf outside my window. What was challenging with this experiment was that sometimes the leaf would move and when my eyes tracked it I'd become aware of dust on the window. I'd then need to refocus on the leaf and its movement. Still this exercise has been steadily getting easier as I've continued to do it. However the leaf hasn't shown up in my dreams. I wonder if my emotional attachment to my cat is part of why he shows up in my dreams.

As always when doing Zhine at a certain point I find that the "reality" of what I am studying shifts and seems to become more real than anything else, myself included. It's as if I'm entering into a dream, which makes sense given that Zhine is supposed to help you achieve dream yoga. Nonetheless I'll admit I find this shift fascinating and I am already thinking of how I can use it for other acts of magic beyond dream work.

Dream work update

I've been continuing to do the Dream Yoga work each night. Consistently my dreams have focused on issues that I'm currently working on via other forms of internal work. I've lately been focusing on the positions that you need to enter into when you got sleep, and when you wake up at different times of time, in order to facilitate more lucid states of mind while dreaming. Combined with the breathing technique I found its easier to remember the dreams after I've woken, as well as be consciously aware I'm dreaming while in the dreams. The dream work is proving using for the internal work that I'm continuing to do. One possible avenue that I'm goign to explore is purposely planting a suggestion or focus for the dream, that wouldn't focus just on internal issues, but could even be used as a way to connect with the consciousness of the body. I'll keep people updated with what I find.

Karmic Traces and Dream Work

I've been continuing to do the Tibetan Dream Yoga each night and I've found that I've been more aware of my dreams as a result. In the book I read on Tibetan Dream Yoga the author talked about karmic traces, which are essentially patterns, behaviors, attachments, etc. The karmic traces are something we all have and they show up in our reactions and they also show up in our dreams. The dreams I've been having have been ones where I've been aware I'm dreaming. But what I've also been aware of is he karmic traces that have shown up in my dreams. I've had dreams about prior relationships, or occurrences that happened during the day and throughout the dream I've been aware of how what's really being shown to me is the karmic traces, the attachments to certain outcomes and behaviors. And when I awake with this insight, it's lead to deeper internal work that's helped me continue to dissolve and release the karmic traces.

Consistently doing these practices leads to greater awareness of how you can continue to imprint these karmic traces in your dreams, as well as how your dreams can be used to help you resolve and work through them. In each dream, I've been able to see in the dream how my role in a situation has been sustaining karmic traces in my life. This awareness is helping me to target my internal work so that I can continue to dissolve the karmic traces and change my identity in the process. It is a very freeing process.

Dream Yoga work

I've recently been integrating into my dream work, dream yoga techniques from Tibetan Buddhism. What I've mainly done for the moment is breathing techniques that you do right before you go to sleep. I like to integrate steps of a new practice gradually. Kat's also doing this practice. Even though we've just started with this first step, we've already noticed that we've been sleeping a lot deeper and that the sleep is more restful.I've also noticed better dream recall and more awareness of the dream. I'll post further reports as I continue to integrate more steps in, but it always fascinates me to see how even doing one step of a process can produce changes, provided you're consistent about doing it. I think that consistency is what makes anything you do effective. You can be a really powerful magician, but if you don't exercise the magical muscle, it won't mean as much as the person who diligently practices and follows through.

Book Review: The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

This book provides what I would consider to be the best practices of lucid dreaming and dream practice. The author doesn't focus on the psychology of dreams, though he does provide some insights on what dreams can reveal about issues you're working on. Instead the focus of this book is on how the techniques can be used to help you release attachment to those issues and achieve a state of connection with the universe, without being drawn back to samsaric existence. It's a very good book to read, but an even better one to do the practices. I've started doing them and already noticed some positive results. I'd recommend this book for anyone interested in learning more about Dzogchen and for anyone who wants to use dream yoga for spiritual and physical well being. You can purchase it at Amazon (Affiliate link) or Powells (Affiliate link)