This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)
I have always been curious about the Afterlife, but when my grandma passed away in 1988 my curiosity turned into the urge to check on her and make sure she was safe. My first discovery was that dreams were a door leading to other dimensions, but, owing to my grief, I seemed to have no control over the nightmares that grief could lead to. Here is why I would like to discuss the power of lucid dreaming and how meditation can help.
A lucid dream is a dream in which we are aware that we are dreaming. On the other hand, meditation is a simple practice, usually performed by sitting in a quiet room or outdoor setting, with the aim of quietening our mind and focusing inwards. How and why are these two states linked to after-death communication?
People often report visitations by their deceased loved ones in dreams. However, in a dream in which we are aware of dreaming it is much easier to actually plan to meet our loved ones on the other side, because we are partly in charge of the experience.
Now the real question is: Why is after-death communication more easily achieved in dreams, lucid dreams and meditation?
In his essay ‘The Doors of Perception’ Aldous Huxley (1894–1963) refers to the theory of French philosopher Henri Louis Bergson (1859–1941) whereby the chief purpose of the brain, the nervous system and the sensory organs is to eliminate information rather than produce it. Here is what the essay says:
“Each person is at each moment capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and of perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe. The function of the brain and nervous system is to protect us from being overwhelmed and confused by this mass of largely useless and irrelevant knowledge, by shutting out most of what we should otherwise perceive or remember at any moment, and leaving only that very small and special selection which is likely to be practically useful.”
According to such a theory, each one of us is potentially Mind at Large. But in so far as we are animals, our business is at all costs to survive. To make biological survival possible, Mind at Large has to be funnelled through the reducing valve of the brain and nervous system. What comes out at the other end is a measly trickle of the kind of consciousness which will help us to stay alive on the surface of this particular planet.
Therefore, the ordinary or ‘normal’ state of consciousness is a measly trickle of concepts compared to what we are capable of knowing.
Upon physical death, this reducing valve ceases to exist. Hence, many people who have had near-death experiences report the sensation of being inundated with a universal consciousness.
There are other circumstances, however, such as the meditative state or dreams, which allow us to loosen our reducing valve and tune into the spirit world.
[The above section is quoted from my book The Afterlife: Hereafter and Here at Hand]
In order to achieve this goal, it is very important to disconnect from daily tasks or concerns that require our full and/or earthly attention (such as driving a car, cooking a meal, worrying about what so-and-so may be gossiping about and so on) and allow our reducing valve to loosen. In our case, this is not aimed at being inundated with a universal consciousness, but at shifting from our ‘ordinary’ state of consciousness to what scientists call a ‘modified’ or ‘non ordinary’ state of consciousness. Like a laser beam, we will use this opportunity to focus on something specific, such as communicating with a loved one in spirit.
As mentioned, meditation is a simple practice, usually performed by sitting in a quiet room or outdoor setting, at a time when we are reasonably sure we will not be disturbed. Most people find it easier to meditate with their eyes closed, so that their attention is directed inwards. All we need to do at this point is focus the mind on something, such as:
- following or counting one’s breath
- a meaningful word or phrase
- visualisation of a peaceful place
In our case, the purpose of meditation is threefold:
- Silencing our mind and inner dialogue so as to disconnect from the outer world
- Loosening our reducing valve and increasing our inner awareness so that we may increase the chances of having a lucid dream
As J. Alexander suggests in his books on the topic, starting with two-minute sessions at a time is an excellent way of approaching a new habit (or resuming it) because two minutes is such a short time that we would really have no excuse to avoid it. Even a person in deep grief, who may suffer from concentration problems, cannot be put off by this exercise. Once we feel confident about the practice and realise how beneficial it can be, we may find ourselves naturally extending the session if we so desire.
There are three ideal times to use meditation in order to plan our dreams and then enter a lucid dream directly from our waking state:
- Just before going to bed.
This is usually a time when we are probably too tired to enter a lucid dream directly. However, meditation will help us fall asleep and will grant us the opportunity to plan our lucid dream visitation for later on.
- After 5 or 6 hours of sleep.
At this stage, our body will be refreshed enough for our mind to easily enter a lucid dream. This is the best time to resume our evening meditation and use it to observe the fleeting visual, auditory and perceptual sequences that we usually experience during the stage known as the hypnagogic state, which takes us directly from wakefulness to sleep – in other words, from a state in which we are mostly aware of physical reality to one where we are asleep, disconnected from most of the stimuli of the physical world and have access to the finer dimensions known as astral plane and spirit world.
With exercise, we will find that we can extend the hypnagogic stage and, sooner or later, we will be able to hold on to this twilight state of awareness and actually enter a dream in which we are aware of dreaming with no interruption in our waking consciousness.
- Upon waking up in the morning if we have no urgent engagements.
At weekends or on days in which we have no pressing commitments, we may count on an added bonus. Our mind will be even more refreshed and relaxed and we will have extra time to train.
All the above suggestions also apply to out-of-body experiences (or OBEs). Indeed, during a lucid dream our mind is aware enough to actively seek greater awareness and reach a stage called ‘mind awake – body asleep’: in this state our physical body is disconnected from the physical world but our mind is in a state of daytime wakefulness. The only difference between lucid dreaming and a full-blown OBE depends on the degree of ‘mind wakefulness’ we reach while asleep: the greater our awareness, the more solid and tangible the experience, as well as our recall upon waking up.
One last piece of advice: take a few minutes to write down your dream or OBE memories as soon as you wake up, before your reducing valve shuts down and you are back to waking-time consciousness.