Editor’s Note: Enroll in Jaimal Yogis’ Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness to learn more about combatting negativity bias and other mindfulness practices.
I’ve always been an active dreamer and a person who remembers a lot of dreams. For those who aren’t naturally like this, you actually can also learn to be more of a dreamer in the literal sense with just a few easy steps.
Over thousands of years, yogis and meditators developed this technique called dream yoga, also known as dream meditation or lucid dreaming. It sounds a bit out there because it takes the meditation and yoga we put into practice in our daily lives and applies it to the dreams we have while sleeping. It’s a useful mindfulness tool because it’s another way to investigate your consciousness. Ideally, you are asleep for eight hours of each day, so this really brings those mindfulness techniques into every aspect of your life.
The way to practice dream yoga, it’s pretty simple, actually, and can be applied in three basic steps broken into morning, day, and evening routines:
Start a dream journal. This is simply a practice of keeping a journal next to your bed that you will write in as soon as you wake up, jotting down anything and everything you can remember about your dreams. You’ll have to remember your dreams in order to know you’re making progress in your dream yoga practice.
Throughout the day, actually ask yourself, “Am I dreaming?”
This is a great mindfulness technique in itself because you’ll probably say, “No, I’m not dreaming.” But when you ask yourself these questions you’re taking time to reflect and understand if you are creating the present moment. You may not be creating all the circumstances of the moment in your waking life, but you are creating your experience of it through your senses, through your story, and through your reactions.
There are various techniques you can use when it’s time to go to sleep but the main one is a simple body scan.
As you are falling asleep, start with scanning the crown of your head, taking note of any sensations. Do the same as you slowly scan your entire body, moving all the way from your head down to your toes. Relax each part of your body as you move down, releasing any tension along the way.
This is a great way to fall asleep but if you’re still not ready to drift off you can also try breath awareness next. Count as you breathe in and count as you breathe out. Meanwhile, imagine a little ball of light or perhaps a snowflake moving from the crown to your heart. The snowflake (or light) falls down on the inhale and then it settles into your heart on the exhale.
There are many parts of yoga that are about working with your body energy. This is a special technique that helps you wake up in your dreams. It takes most people a while to get it all down unless they’re a natural lucid dreamer, but try it for a month yourself and see what happens.
My experience with dream yoga is that it helps me feel more freedom in my dream space. We can see the ways in which our reality is being constructed in our waking life.