“7 Portraits”

“7 Portraits”

I’ve self-published 7 poems (let’s call them “verse observances”) from a greater work that I’m finishing up. I hope you enjoy the neato cover photo as well – yeah, that’s right, I’m gonna leave you hanging on that poorly played 7th chord suspense (its resolution is a click away).


Zion National Park, Zion Narrows in Utah, slot canyon walls and sky, photo by Timothy Tiernan


Dream Yoga: No Time to Lose

Actually, technically, you have about 25 years to lose to “mindless” sleep (assuming 75 avg lifespan with 1/3 of your life asleep).

In this video, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche gives a straightforward, pragmatic explanation of how mindfulness/”clear intention” before bed can carry our practice into this oft-neglected part of our lives.

Turn off [the TV] and tune in. Thanks for reading.

Wind Down, Tune In, Dream On

I want you to take a quiet leap of faith. Go to bed tonight without setting an alarm on your cell phone (do people still use alarm clocks?). Set the intention of the time you want to awake–this can seem a bit scary if you’re new to this, but try it anyway. Get to bed at a decent time to give yourself sufficient sleep. I can nearly promise you that, if you truly set the intention, you will wake up very close to the time you want to wake up.

Chances are, you’ll be surprised at how good your internal clock is. If you’ve done this before, well, I’ve got another challenge for you.

Tonight you’ll dream and tomorrow you’ll remember some dream story. If you read these words and intend to dream and intend to remember, you will. It’s just like the internal clock. Set the intention, focus on it, remind yourself a few times before bed, even repeat the intention aloud, and be mindful by morning to recall some storylines.

But let me state my caveat to qualify my boldness: “Intention” is just not repeating “tonight I will dream” to yourself every five minutes before bed, though that helps. It entails preparation too: This includes turning away from your digital devices at least an hour before bed. I also turn the lights low at least 30 minutes before bed and meditate for a bit. I light some incense, count breaths, and let my monkey mind let go of getting lost in thinking, as it so often does during the day. This is all a part of intention, too. Prepare for the dreamstate.

Tell me how it goes. And please, no reports about how you were late to work. 🙂
dreamstates, dreams, mindfulness before bed, internal clock, setting the intention to dream


Sometimes poetry is water for a parched soul.

W.H. Auden, poetry quote, Thousands have lived without love not one without water

Dream Hub: Noted News on Dreams

1. Cellphone Lucidity: Developed by psychologist Richard Wiseman, the app Dream: ON helps the user to lucid dream by creating a “soundscape” during the final REM stage of sleep and then wakes the dreamer when that REM cycle is over. The app is free and can be downloaded by iPhone users; the Android version is planned for later this year. (Intriguing app, but I have an issue with sleeping with a tumor-producing phone right by my head for 7 hours a night.) Ah well, read more.

2. Perchance to Dreamchat: A man in Costa Mesa, California, is working on dreamer-to-dreamer communication–and we’re not talking idealists at a futurism forum. Daniel Oldis has worked on a device that connects two dreamers to a brain-wave monitor while both sleep. Their brain waves trigger a red light to blink during each one’s REM sleep and signals that they’re dreaming. He is author of “The Lucid Dreams Manifesto.” Oldis says: “In our society, the importance of dreams has become relegated to mere conversation pieces … and the lucid dream ignored.” Great point. Here’s the article.
3. From the Book of Duh: Researchers at Yale University have concluded that lucid dreamers can teach themselves skills in their dreams. I’m feeling snobby, but c’mon, haven’t we know this for a while? Well, science needs to conduct apparently redundant studies, and we need reminders. So it doesn’t hurt.

3 Lucid Dreaming Resources to Bookmark

Check out these resources to inspire your dream cultivation:

1. Dreamviews is a fantastic lucid dreaming forum for the community of lucid dreamers. Includes dream journals, chat, and more.

2. Dr. Stephen LaBerge’s Lucidity Institute website has the bare-bones luster of a site c. 1997, but its wealth of information is undeniably useful.

3. The Lucid Dreaming Wikibook covers everything you ever could know about lucid dreaming, from the induction techniques to dream stabilization to a very handy LD glossary linked to the wikibook.

Are there any resources online that you recommend? Leave a comment.

Happy dreaming, subtle waking!


Beginner’s Luck

Sometimes a dream discussion is itself enough fuel to launch one into the lucid-dream mindset.

Case in point: A few months ago I was sharing dreams with a friend when we decided that we would try to cultivate a lucid-dream scenario that night. We set our intention to meet at a landmark that we had both visited. She had never lucid dreamed–that she could recall–but that night became aware and decided to fly. Something prevented her from getting to our predesignated locale, but she had at least remembered to try for it.

She wrote me pages of details the next day. I, on the other hand, just had a paragraph of imagery to jot down.

Weeks later I’m talking to another friend about LDing, and days after our discussion he calls me up at work to rave about his first-ever flying, lucid dream. In fact, he claims he has never had a lucid dream before this.

So I was jealous of these two in a dream geek sort of way, but overjoyed to listen to their enthusiasm, the pleasure-possibilities of the awakened dream mind.

Being present with our dreaming is itself a kind of mindfulness. Just talking about this seems to cultivate the right mindset. I’m lucky to hear these stories from those I love. I’m reminded of a passage from Carl Jung’s autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections, in which he speaks with a patient who claimed to have never dreamed.

Jung’s response: Tonight you will.

(He did.)

Dream surfing with the WILD

The WILD technique, or wake-initiated lucid dreaming, is a powerful method for attaining dream lucidity and is a unique vehicle in that one transitions from waking state to dream state by vigilantly yet calmly coaxing the body to sleep while maintaining mindfulness. Just the other night my friend reported to me that she had attained lucidity after trying this for the first time. I also attained lucidity on my first try with this technique–though apparently some LD practitioners find the WILD difficult to pull off. Nevertheless, here’s the primary tip you’ll need to know:

Count down: “one, I am dreaming; two, I am dreaming … ” and so on. Depending on your state of mind, you may well begin slipping into hypnagogic hallucinations, the beginnings of dream state. Stay vigilant at this point, as it’s easy to drift off. Continue to count down, letting your body relax and your mind remain alert. The analogy that comes to mind is surfing: let the wave catch you, but maintain the balance so you don’t wipe out into the unconscious. Stay between the waking/dreaming states and you may well find yourself in a dream and counting down “67, I am dreaming … Oh, I actually am in a dream!” Now, harm none and do as ye will!

Think You’re Dreaming? Check Your Hands

In the context of lucid dreaming, a reality check is a technique used to determine if one is dreaming. Lucid dreamers (LDers) practice these checks during waking state. A few common reality checks include reading the same text twice (in a dream, the text will shift or warp), reading a digital clock or watch (like text, the digits will not be stable), and attempting to fly (gravity is a shoddy little theory in the REM world).

Practiced LDers often have a regiment of performing these reality checks throughout the day. Strong anecdotal evidence, mine included, suggests that this habit carries over into the dream state, that the dreamer performs such checks during REM. Flick the lights on and off and find that the lights are “stuck” on? Check. Well then, time to fly, explore Io, and consult the oracle at Delphi in a matter of minutes!

After following some of the advice in Stephen LaBerge’s Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming, I have been able to attain lucidity four times over the past few weeks, but my reality checks have been nothing like what I’ve practiced during the day (text checks usually). With the exception of my last LD–in which I noticed that the words on my computer screen were gibberish even though I was typing correctly–my reality checks have been the simple act of looking at my hands.

When I looked down at my hands, I noticed something askew: in dream 1, there was a psychedelic glow to them; in dream 2, a dopamine-rush aura glowed around them; in dream 3, all but my left-hand thumb was invisible. Some people describe that their hands are disproportionate. One thing is certain: there’s usually something off about them (in my case, several digits off). The nice thing about this reality check is that you need only your traditional ‘body image’ to see if you’re dreaming.

Reality checks all share one similar theme: mindfulness. Just as a meditator stops to observe the frenetic goings-on of the mind, so too does the LDer take an inventory of his/her assumptions about reality. Sometimes we are fooled by a test, or something doesn’t quite work. Trying to fly is an excellent second test. If you can hold your jump for longer than Michael Jordan, it’s time to explore your dreams.

Things Fall Apart: Deviant Devices in Dreams

Hello, fellow oneironauts!

If you’re reading this blog, you probably have an interest in lucid dreaming (dreaming in which you become aware that you’re dreaming), and you likely didn’t need those two links. So, you probably also know that devices don’t work very well in dreams; they either break down or do some strange stuff. One standard reality check is to test a light switch, which will likely fail in a dream. Of course, you have to be in the habit of testing devices in waking state in order to remember to test during dream consciousness. Most important, to hone your lucidity skills you should be cultivating mindfulness during waking state (meditation helps), and maintaining the habit of asking yourself whether you are dreaming. Cell phone appointment reminders are my mindful method.

A case in point about device failure in dreams: During my final REM cycle this morning, I was bowling and hit the reset button. The pins that came down were randomly ordered, and sometimes even mannequin legs replaced the pins! If that weren’t bizarre enough, on a couple of resets World War II dioramas were built at the end of the bowling lane. Instead of questioning this wacked-out reality, I was infuriated with the owner, who had no idea how to fix the problem. (Of course he didn’t: He was part of my own machinations to dupe myself. Ah, what a rich conspiracy the mind is!)

Some lucid dreamers might be upset with themselves for failing to perceive a dream sign that’s right under their nose. As a newbie LDer, I find it fascinating how my mind played along with the beautiful breakdown of the bowling pin setting machine. I consider it progress in my dream-life studies that I should remember and record this potent dream sign. It tells me that lucidity is near, and just one phrase away: the simple, skeptical question, “Am I dreaming?”

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