I was scrolling down on the Lucid Dreaming subreddit two days ago when I noticed the ad for the Night Club! How delighted! I then realized I had received this email a little while ago about the Nightclub community/forum being now for free. And as I was looking for ways to Reconnect with the world of dream yoga and “soak into the material”… Here I am.
I wanted to share my “Lucid Dreaming Journey” with you. This is going be a long read cause it’s been a long journey. But there’s a point to it. I really meant to share it here in the hope that through this, I would be simply understood by people who are on a similar path and also explain why these night-time practices matter so much to me. Why I really take those to heart, and want to go even deeper in the coming years and decades. So. I may have written a little too much, given too many details and probably have made grammar mistakes. But it felt right to share my story now, and it all comes from the heart.
Here it goes:
As a kid, I had a few spontaneous lucid dreams due to nightmares. I was fascinated by these night-time adventures. I believed these could even be a doorway onto something bigger than I thought, perhaps leading to those same realms I had read about in Near Death Experiences testimonials, which I had discovered thanks to an extreme fear of death and Google when I was about 8 years old. These stories had a huge impact on me as a kid, but I couldn’t really talk to anyone about it. I couldn’t share my excitement and wonder.
I kept searching for Answers and when I was 13 I stumbled upon (i.e.: looked for and found on Amazon) “Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep” by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, one of the only book on the topic available in French at the time. I had no idea, but this book was to be a major turning point into my life. I obviously didn’t understand everything I read back then (Emptiness? Clear Light? Yeah whatever!) But I read the whole thing. And I was, strangely enough, utterly fascinated by it. I really liked that “weird symbol” on the cover, which I know now to be the Symbol of Dzogchen. I particularly remember those few pages on “Dream and Reality” and “The Foundational Practices”, the chapter on Illusory Form that I used to call “Alice’s Technique” (in reference to Alice in Wonderland) before reading Andrew’s book…
Anyways. I always had a deep interest in Lucid Dreaming and Buddhism (Tibetan, mostly) as a teen. Actually, that’s all I really wanted to study: the meaning of life and death. I was spending hours and hours reading and learning everything I could on my own, both through books and online, which led me to a profound state confusion (Wait a minute, did they say emptiness !?) and to an existential crisis: At age 15 I was torn apart between the idea of becoming a Dentist… and a Tibetan Buddhist monk. I was seeing mundane existence and spiritual life as antithesis of one another. Like you had to choose one at the exclusion of the other. To the point I went through depression only reinforced by personal events. Bullied at school, issues with the family. That kind of stuff. I never really felt good and at ease, as if disconnected from the world around me and its values. I didn’t understand it. So, I escaped through video games for hours on end (“when I could have practiced Shamatha, damn it!”). However, Music, my other passion, was That One Thing which kept things together in my head and helped me pretend being a seemingly relatively normal teen. Although I enjoyed it, it also was an escape. But it worked. At least, for a while and up to a point.
At the age of 17, I became really sick. Now I can clearly see this as the accumulation of my ill-beingness reaching its paroxysm, where my body couldn’t hide nor handle it anymore. It all started with a hypnosis group session at school before exams, followed by another emotional shock a week later. Something must have happened unconsciously. I felt it in real-time. Everything collapsed within a few days: Severe IBS, Depression and Anxiety for the big picture. I was terrified. Nobody was able to help (at first nobody would even believe me) and I quickly became profoundly disgusted with the very same Western Medicine I was praising up to that day and had been admiring for so long. I soon figured I would have to find the way out myself. Convinced that, if it had all started from an Altered State of Consciousness, I’d have to go back there to find the answer and fix it all.
I finished high school in a bad, bad mental and physical shape (the last year was traumatic for me, both at school and at home) and I was unable to attend university for medical studies as I had planned for years and years and years, nor could I even work. My mental and physical state were disastrous, being constantly in pain, depressed and suicidal during the day and unable to sleep at night. When I did manage to do so, I would mainly have “dark dreams” and wake up terrified, to a waking-life situation at home with my family that was hardly better than my nightmares. But having only one way to go, I slowly started to experiment things on myself, looking for a cure on my own since everybody was convinced (doctors included) that I would “have to live this way for the rest of my life” but that it was okay because “I wasn’t going to die from it" even though it was “extremely incapacitating” (words of doctors). I still went to see a great number of specialists and therapists and other “healers” of all kinds, which turned out to be a. expensive, but also and mainly b. ineffective. They had no idea what was wrong with me. So, I started reading tons (and tons) of books and learning and watching everything I could find (mostly in English, where the information was - that’s how I learned to speak) about diet, health, medicine, psychology, philosophy and so on. I had to be my own doctor and therapist, especially when I realised doctors had little to no training or knowledge on the impact of Diet on health and guts – GI doctors included! (“No, no, no GI disorders have nothing to do with the food you eat. At whatever you want. It don’t matter.”) My mum was my main support, and that was definitely not the best option at all, but it also was the only one I had at that point.
Well, actually I did have the possibility to live off 10+ drugs a day (antidepressants, immunosuppressors, anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory and the like) – “to see what it’d do in a first place” - and optionally having my bladder removed (having interstitial cystitis as well – “but there’s nothing we can really do about it”) in the long run, if they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. Like they were doing with other people in a similar situation. Knowing where it would lead, I refused to follow this path against my family’s will (took them some time to understand, I kind of had to prove them, giving them articles and books to read and videos to watch to understand). They were mostly unsupportive for the first 3 years, and my dad would throw tantrums on a daily basis (silent ones were the worst) simply because I was sick and unable to study (it was his way of expressing his fear and hopelessness.). I felt like a complete failure on all levels. Hopefully, things have changed since then and my dad has now become really supportive. But these were really rough times…
Throughout these times, Lucid Dreaming and Dream Yoga protected me and kept me alive. I read Charlie Morley’s first book when I was 18, and it gave me hope anew. I decided to read Tenzin’s book a second time and understood it a little more (but now the notion of emptiness, misunderstood, completely freaked me out.). I would practice illusory form during the day but the pain at night was so intense I could barely sleep and concentrate. Over the few LDs I managed to have, I would most of the time become completely paralyzed within the dream upon lucidity. I succeeded in asking a few questions and receiving a few elusive answers, but overall, it was really hard to work with these. So, I looked for other ways to dive into my unconscious mind and beyond, while still keeping a dream journal. I was lost and hopeless. I wanted and needed answers and help. Nothing had worked – not the 14 day water fast I had done (not with the best set and setting), not all the Hypnotherapy and Osteopathy sessions we had paid for, not all the supplements we had bought (I can’t even tell how much was wasted on these over the years) so that’s why and when I turned to psychedelics. I took mushrooms several times with my mum as my trip-sitter. We had no idea, in spite of all the material I had read (“Ego-Death? Yeah. Whatever!”) And increasing the dose, the 5th experience I had completely changed my vision of the world (“Wow, EVERYTHING is… Alive and Sacred? I am responsible for my own existence? And for others Well-Being and Happiness? I cannot hide from This One Awareness? And… “I”… “I” do not exist ?! How can I live now with such knowledge ?!”).
I was highly disturbed for a few months (again, no one to see, no therapist to talk to about my experiences that could help me here, as psychedelics really are something rejected/condemned/disregarded in France.) I was on my own with the help of some books to find mental balance. “The Power of Now” was a turning point too, but the translation lead me to a greater confusion and fear of emptiness – I was falling into the Nihilistic view. I was on the verge on derealization, which I had already been on as a teen, when I had these moments of doubt upon whether things actually existed (“me” included) or not, when I was about 15. Obviously, I didn’t know whom to talk without taking the risk of being put on anti-psychotic medication, which I knew were not the answer I needed. When I finally did recover 6 months later, still sick physically, I decided I needed to go deeper, because I had no choice and just couldn’t live this way anymore. I wanted to heal and free myself and do something for those who suffered from chronic illnesses, physical and mental. I wanted to bring something beneficial to this world. I felt I had all this potential enclosed into and behind this sick body. I just prayed for help.
I had tried CBD oil, I had also tried Cannabis, but nope. I needed someone to move on to the next level, and drink Ayahuasca on my own. I knew mushrooms could only act on a mental level but were not meant to heal my body. Causes and conditions reunited (ask and it is given?), I met A Friend on my way, thanks to our common interest for lucid dreaming. She played an essential and significant role in my Life, and although the lesson was short lived and quite painful, I’m still deeply grateful for her. A few months later, I was finally cooking Ayahuasca in my kitchen, and drank it in my bedroom, with the assistance of this one Friend, while my parents were downstairs, waiting. (They obviously knew what I was doing, but also didn’t. Me too, and me neither, actually.) I thought I was prepared. But I had no idea. Indeed. It was a Real Medicine and it was life transforming. But I thought I would never, ever come back from it. Never, ever do that at home. Psychedelics are potent medicines. I didn’t know it could go this far. But as highly clumsy and hazardous my actions were, my intention to heal was sincere. I was just lost and needed help. And couldn’t find it in humans, so I asked the plants instead. Surprisingly, I survived. And joked about it in the morning after having cried so many tears for the whole evening. Both from Love and Fear.
I did it a second time but, the Friend was gone. It was just my parents and me this once. Which was a terrible idea (my dad was yelling at my mum because she was panicking, while I was vomiting and freaking out in the bathroom). Somehow, I survived again. And I realized I couldn’t do that on my own anymore. I also knew this was a Real Medicine (but oh my, why, why does it have to be so hard?) and I still couldn’t seem to work with Dreams. I couldn’t see any other path than this one. So I decided to continue to work and learn with these plants.
I went to Peru and over the course of several months, drank Ayahuasca and Tobacco and various other plants in a ritualized context and sometimes isolation (aka, “Dietas” and Ceremonies) in an attempt to heal myself. I learned tremendously. I had the single most significative “experience” of my life out there. The One of Home. Being Home. I made Peace with Emptiness. It turned out that this “Nothingness” I had always been so scared of, was the single most beautiful “Thing” there ever was. In this Nothing, everything was. I understood it to be Pure Potentiality. Everything was here. Not negativity, not a depressing vacuum. Pure, Absolute Peace. For a moment’s eternity, I had reached the summit of the mountain. And from that point on, I understood this was what I had always been looking for. The ultimate destination. Of course, I came back from this Honeymoon after several hours. And in spite of this, knowing that “Ultimately Everything is Perfect as it is”, well. On a “Relative” level, I didn’t heal and the pain didn’t improve. And it was pretty bad. In the very end, during my last retreat, I had a traumatic ceremony where I experienced absolute insanity. I had had such experiences before. But never, ever to that point and extent. Weirdly enough, prior to that, I had ordered another copy of “Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep” -the original, finally- just before going to that retreat. I finally understood (at least more than before and on a sheer intellectual level). As it turned out, it is illusory form that saved me from insanity and prevented from doing the worst, both during and after this ceremony. The recognition in the middle of madness, that it was all a display of the Luminosity of my own mind. (Those “Isles Of Clarity” of which Dr. Edward Podvoll talks about in his book “Recovering Sanity”. Now I understood.) It was all a dream. Emptiness couldn’t harm emptiness. That’s the key moment of realization that made the difference between life and death.
I came back to France with very little support from the Center I had been in (even though I had been there for a while). I reconstructed myself mainly through Meditation, Prayer, Fasting, Qi Gong, Cold Therapy (Wim Hof, I owe this man a lot) and Lucid Dreaming. I very probably had PTSD (but obviously, couldn’t go and see a psychiatrist to tell him about my Peruvian journey) and was almost constantly on the verge of madness for 3 months. We were lost. Extremely fragile mentally, with terrifying nightmares and moments of pure terror and almost delirium. I didn’t want to sleep anymore. I didn’t want to be awake either. I was afraid to go back to the hell I had been to. As I was still being really sick, I also was unable to “move” and reconnect with people and the outside world through working. I couldn’t study either. I was paralyzed. But I went to one of Charlie Morley’s retreat in Scotland, and being alone and in silence in the Center on the first night before the retreat started, I went to sleep with the firm intent to face my nightmares (“I’m tired of being scared! Bring it on!”) and in three short but powerful lucid dreams that night, I integrated the trauma, wrathfully hugging and embracing madness, holding warmly it into my arms and dissolving it into light. Those psychotic nightmares and anxiety crisis almost completely stopped from that point on. Cold Therapy and Qi Gong helped me bring my mind back into my body. I was free from insanity (hurray!) but IBS and depression were still here to be dealt with. Finally being able to move away from my parents, I managed to start giving English courses part time for a living (I had taught English in a small school while in Peru, I figured I could do that here too.) And Somehow, people really enjoyed these. It was hard to handle physically, but it reconnected me to people. And I think I even brought some kindness and joy to people.
After having survived this Ayahuasca ceremony, I swore to the whole Universe I would dedicate my life to the practice of Dream Yoga, as it was what had saved me. It had always been here since the beginning. I am no longer so up for psychedelics (without serious preparation – serious meditation practice should be a prerequisite. And Psychedelics are not for everyone.), though I’m not against micro-dosing. For the next year and a half, my sleep was so bad (partying neighbourhood didn’t help, being on the street level downtown) I could hardly work through the night with dreams. But I did my very best. I had to experience a lot with diet to find balance and avoid being (too much) in pain at night. And I still managed to have interesting experiences and a handful lucid dreams in spite of everything.
In July 2019, I found Andrew’s book and audio program. I have no words to describe how much it helped me. I discovered the NightClub, and listened to all the podcast I could. I booked for the retreat in France, and finally Charlie replaced Andrew. (A month before that happened, I had a lucid dream in which Charlie told me Andrew wouldn’t be at the retreat. I sent Charlie an email before receiving the actual news from the center, and it did really occur to be true!) The retreat was great, Charlie is awesome. I had a lot of issues to sleep due to the food but out of persistence, I managed to have a few lucid dreams and insights. I witnessed serious mental resistances, like a security system in my psyche preventing me to fully apply my plan. Or perhaps was it because I needed to know/do something else in the first place. I’m still unsure.
But I kept on practising anyways, even though the quality of my sleep was making me feel hopeless. Staying in touch with Charlie helped. I was considering meeting his teacher, but it turned out to be complicated. Around December, moving in a calmer city, I started to focus intensively on Shamatha (As a consequence of listening a lot to Alan Wallace, of whom I am now a big fan) after hearing that one interview on the NightClub Podcast and listening to/reading “The Attention Revolution”. This went on until Lockdown, where I meditated up to 6 hours a day, in spite of the sometimes intense pain in my belly (in the case of Shamatha “No pain, No pain” Alan says, but here, my gut were making it difficult to concentrate on my nostrils. It must be awesome to practice without chronic pain.) and practising Qi Gong up to 3 hours, while still on a very strict and limited diet, and even fasted some more. Weirdly enough, in a more than a month, I had some very, very clear dream (especially dreams of “precision/accuracy”, e.g. targets and arrows), but almost no lucid dreams at all. My sleep was severely disrupted, and events at home made things even more difficult. Once again, I thought about giving up, but I just couldn’t. Dream Yoga (and Illusory Form) is my Mind-Shield against depression and anxiety. Meditation is my Ground.
But here we are now. About a month and a half ago, June 2020, I changed my diet for something ridiculously strict. I had already restricted my diet to meat, cooked fruits, nuts and chocolate (for the “fun” part, but that was probably too much), the only food stuff I still seemed to process partially. But after considering it for a while, and seeing no improvement, I finally cut everything out and down to a Carnivore diet. I know it may sound extreme. Having been a vegan for 2 years prior to that, and identifying mostly as a “Buddhist”, it was highly disturbing. Being sick and suicidal and useless (but vegan), OR eating animals but being able to function to be able to heal and help others? I had tried Keto, and even this didn’t help, because there were too many things I couldn’t digest. I had tried the GAPS diet (Gut and Psychology Syndrome, excellent book on the connection between mental illnesses and the Guts), but none of these had work.
For the first time in SEVEN years, I felt relief. My belly stopped being completely painful and bloated and burning all the time. I started to sleep properly again. I can fall back asleep anew even if I wake up in the middle of the night to write down my dreams. Before that, the pain would keep me awake anywhere from 2 to 4 hours with the impossibility to stop it (no drug or treatment or supplement or essential oil or whatever, ever calmed down the pain). I would often go mad in my mind, in spite of trying to meditate through it, or pray or visualize, or generate kindness. Practising WILD or MILD was impossible. And my mental state would hardly move from “terrible” to “really bad” with some rare peaks of joy, followed by mental crashes. A constant mental and physical rollercoaster, which no one could understand - not even me (“why are you crying when you were laughing an hour ago?” would ask my dad, confused and upset. Answer: I have no idea what’s going on, except the pain became intense.)
After a month, I decided to add a few cooked fruits back in (Apple, Pineapple, Coconut cream. That is luxurious.) And I’m not so sure about it yet, but I’m somewhat close to digestive balance. And I wish I could eat nuts and drink veggies juices. Trust me. I still have a myriad of symptoms, including intense fatigue, muscle cramps, and weird stomach pain (here from the beginning), difficulties to concentrate during the day. But I am able to sleep and rest again on a regular basis. To me, this is Priceless for it open doors onto the possibility of Healing Myself Through Lucid Dreaming .
This gives me hope again. Hope for Dream Yoga. Hope that I can finally practice and descend into my unconscious and do the work I’ve always wanted to do. I already had succeeded in meeting my disease months ago in the form of an old and ugly hag who told me she was here because I had “stopped loving myself when I was 4 years old”. And have called out my deepest fear in other Lucid Dreams (There’s something dark inside, coming from some sort of trauma I had as a teen. Something really scary I saw. I worked through it with Ayahuasca, but it’s not over yet.), and other experiences. But now I plan on going a lot deeper than that. I have written my Lucid Dream Plan and keep on rehearsing it.
Now, I have a strong, strong motivation to heal. I recently finished reading “Man’s Search For Meaning” by Viktor Frankl, and I realized that 1. I don’t really have the right to complain and 2. I MUST generate a strong motivation (both mundane goals and spiritual ones, Bodhicitta) to find the strength to overcome those obstacles regardless of their nature and heal myself through once and for all. I want to become a dream yoga master. Even if this takes years and decades to achieve.
I acknowledge Healing may also come and happen in a different way than the one I imagine, I do not reject that possibility and keep on trying new modalities ( the latest discovery being REST therapy/ Float Tanks. I a first experience on last Saturday, and I can see a lot of potential in this) but I must envision myself healed and free to create this possibility, which seemed up to recently quite impossible (But for that matter, “Breaking the habit of being yourself” by Joe Dispenza is also being of Great, Great help. This is what I’m combining with Dream Yoga.)
So here it is. I feel like Bruce Wayne who’s back from the pit in “The Dark Night Rises”, even though my suffering is ridiculous and negligible compared to what’s going on in this world for many people. But I want to transmute it into gold. Although I still feel weak in some ways, I’m fully determined to make it happen and heal once and for all. This is also why I am writing this message and sharing this story: to make this dream come true. To assert it and make it real. To let my own mind know this is going to happen. I’m going to heal, and take “control” and power back over my life to live a new existence.
On the one hand, what I yearn for is to start living a quote unquote “normal” (i.e. mundane, but balanced and wise) and “softer” existence than the one I’ve known while working towards the Goal of DOING something for others. I want to give something back to this world, in any kind of way. I would especially love to help 1. People suffering from chronic pain and 2. People suffering from mental illnesses. That’s my day-dream.
On the other hand, I also consider the idea of One Day, dedicating myself full-time to meditation practice, starting with Shamatha and earning a “Ph.D in contemplative studies" Reaching irreversibly the path. But, I have things to live before. Some leftover karma, I guess. Otherwise I won’t be able to do this. And of course, things may still change (they constantly do) and still wonder if it is possible to live in this world and awaken (e.g.: more like the spirit of the Zen tradition) or if one has to sacrifice everything but anyways. This, really is on my mind.
I want the suffering I went through to be transformed into Love and Wisdom for people around me. As many people as I can. I’m very far from being a bodhisattva, and far from even being a great human being, I have so much work left to do, but I’m doing my best and walking towards this.
Anyways. I really meant to share this here, it felt like the right place (I hope I was right!) To share this with people who will be able to read through (and through) these lines and see simply who I am. Just another human being, on his way to waking up.
Thanks for Reading.
Thank you, Andrew and the whole team behind the NightClub for everything you are doing. And thank you everyone for being part of this awesome community. It feels good to be part of Something like this. It feels a bit like Being Home.
Lots of Love and Lucidity.