Waking (and Sleeping) with Practice
photo by Swaminathan
Waking up with practice
I wanted to share my experience of going to sleep with practice and waking up with practice—the next morning. Every night as I go to bed I say my prayer:
“May I awaken within this dream
And grasp the fact that I am dreaming,
So that all dream-like beings may likewise awaken
From this illusory nightmare of suffering and confusion.”
I learned this prayer from the Dream Yoga tapes of Lama Surya Dass. There are other more elaborate visualizations that go along with this prayer for lucid dreaming and for learning to touch reality whether awake or asleep, but this prayer is a good one to use at night, in the morning and all day long. Since most of us spend a significant amount of time traveling through this world of samsara and confusion, we need to keep remembering its dreamlike quality and keep invoking our own wakefulness while in the midst of it. I especially like the emphasis on waking up to help other dreamers awaken too.
Since I do not live within the monastery walls, but practice more widely, I am always looking for ways to practice when I am not engaged in formal meditation practices. Being aware of the finite nature of my own life span, and the non-renewable resource known as my knees, I am happy to spend as much time as possible practicing while sleeping and while engaging in my chores during the day. Especially when I am frustrated, I ask myself about the “dream” I have created. The “dream” is a short hand designation I have give to my own recognition that when I am encountering my idea about reality and it is not working out according to my plan, I must reset my perception to actuality. Which is correct, or which is real: my idea about how it was supposed to work, or the actual way it is working? Once I remind myself to do that adjustment of my view, I chant the prayer I also use at bedtime. There is no special time to wake up to your dream-like way of engaging.
I do find many interesting consequences to chanting at bedtime and throughout the night. I have meetings in my sleep with Dharma teachers, I have realizations during the night about practice, and I wake up often feeling that I have been practicing and connecting with something other than an ordinary dream state. If you try this, let me know how it works for you—day or night.