Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More on Lucid Dreaming

A passing and recurring thought about lucid dreaming: if your experience is like mine, lucid dreaming arises seemingly spontaneously at some point in your life, then it subsides for a long time – for me, it subsided for many years. Then perhaps you have an experience or engage in a mind practice that touches the connection between awareness and subconscious, and it arises again for a time. Then it subsides again. It seems binary – on or off. Mostly off.

For me at present, it’s currently off.

At least mostly.

Mostly? Yeah. I’m beginning to question the binary nature of it.

Recently, I’ve been getting up early more or less consistently to meditate – earlier than I have done for a long time. I still haven’t mastered the getting-to-bed-on-time part to make this an easy process. The net result is that at least part of the time I’m meditating, I experience sleepiness.

And that, itself, is kind of interesting. I find that even when my mind is sleepy, my awareness is just pure, undiluted awareness. Not sleepy, or anything else, so far as I can tell. Just awareness. Though I don’t stay steadily in the witnessing awareness in my meditations, my mind (me?) does stumble into the state more frequently than I/it used to do. Often on my mat. Sometimes in daily life.

What I’ve come to realize is this: that “witness” state? It’s always present. Always. It’s not only present whenever I’m awake and alert – it’s present when I’m drowsy and sleepy. It’s present in the dreaming mind the instant before I awaken in the morning, and it’s present the consciousness the instant after I awaken in the morning.

But most times, my mind is not, itself, aware of the awareness.

In this morning’s meditation, my mind switched back-and-forth between normal thoughts/ sensations and awareness. And as it switched, it occurred to me exactly how much that the shift from thoughts to awareness is like waking up, like seeing clearly the background that has always been there, is always there.

And in that moment, I realized that the experience of lucidity while dreaming isn’t any different than the experience of lucidity while “awake.”

Both conditions are pretty rare. Both seem to occur more frequently when I practice mindfulness and resting in the witnessing awareness. Both feel more than a little like a kind of curious freedom.