How to develop insight into a dreamlike nature of the reality?

Short version of this post:

  1. Could you please recommend any guided meditations that guide the listener to appreciation of illusory nature of the reality?
  2. Dharmatalks?
  3. Books that teach to observe the impermanence of the world?

It is my understanding, that Buddhist teachings are geared toward helping a person to develop insight into the impermanence of the reality. But there are so many Buddhist books out there, I am lost!

Long version:

Here I am, re-reading the chapter on the Illusory form in Andrew’s book and I am reminded about that I should be saying “This is a dream” during the day to myself and do it with a feeling and not mechanically.

I remember reading in “The Tibetan Yogas Of Dream And Sleep” something along the lines of: if when you say that phrase, nothing changes, meaning that there is no qualitative change to how you perceive your surroundings - then you are not doing it right.

There are times when I said it in the past and I definitely noticed a subtle shift in my perception. It was a mixture of an internal feeling of calmness and lightness and colors getting brighter around me. I find that I really need to slow down to be able to catch that feeling. It is elusive.

And it is elusive because I do not have a direct experience of the dreamlike nature of reality even though I meditate. I have been meditating doing Anapanasati (breath-focused) meditation for years now and now am finally moving toward doing Vipassana (I did Goenka’s retreat in 2014, did not like:)

  1. Could you please recommend any guided meditations that guide the listener to appreciation of illusory nature of the reality?
  2. Dharmatalks?
  3. Books that teach to observe the impermanence of the world?

Wishing you health and lucidity in and out!


That will come with time. You have already tasted the chocolate. :wink:

Remember that in the Six Yogas of Naropa, Dream Yoga is considered to be a part of Illusory Body Yoga. I have found that Tummo style vase breathing is a solid way to start to feel that. When you begin to feel the subtle release of your energy body during that kind of meditation it will start to change your perception of the world around you as well.

Glenn Mullin translated Tsongkhapa’s Six Yogas of Naropa and he has some excellent dharma talks.

Here is one of my favorites were he speaks of Dream Yoga and Illusory Body Yoga.


Here are a few videos I like that may resonate:

Alan Watts - The Dream of Life (3.5 minutes)

Ken Wilber “I Am” pointing out instructions (7 minutes)

(See also: a version of the Alan Watts quote with footage from Inception, and another version with music from Nuages)


Personally I don’t find “This is a dream” (when I’m physically awake) to be helpful, but “This is dreamlike” works well for me. I also created a Spotify playlist called Dreamland with songs about dreaming, the bardo, and similar material, and sometimes I walk around listening to that, and it helps to cultivate that sense or perception that waking reality is dreamlike.


I also had an internal resistance to “This is a dream” with illusory form at first (when I was quite sure I was in the waking state) but also found, like ArthurG, that saying “this is all like a dream” helped me get into the swing of it. Once I realized that “This is all a dream” does NOT necessarily imply that “I am currently in the dream state,” I found that the resistance to “this is all a dream” fell away. Also, becoming very familiar with your dreams and the experience of having dreams, will help to get the right feeling. It helps also to differentiate the two kinds of “dreaming”: 1) our mind witnessing and responding to the objects of experience, whether from internal/memory source or external sensory source) ; vs. 2) “dreaming” (the mind is currently in the dream state, which is a physiological phenomenon). With these observations, I have no cognitive dissonance with the notion that I’m always dreaming, whether in the waking or dream state. It takes time and practice. As Andrew says, “fake it till you make it.”


I have also come to a point now where my dream state and my waking state feel the same.

I know that the life I am living while asleep is “a dream”, and yet these nights I feel as conscious and aware as I am when I am awake. An admittedly loose interpretation of the reciprocity principle tells me that that feeling must work both ways, that is, if I know I’m dreaming in one state of conscious awareness then my other state of conscious awareness must also be “a dream”. :slightly_smiling_face:

I think we may sometimes get hung up on verbiage when we speak of “the dream”. That term carries a great deal of baggage in discussions like this. Science is coming around to the view that things are not exactly what they appear to be in this waking state. The Buddhist principle of dependent arising tells us that no “things” have an inherent self nature. Western scientists such as Donald Hoffman , Neil Theise and Bernardo Kastrup all have similar perspectives.

So…I have no problem seeing life as “a dream” whether I am awake or asleep.



I have a ways to go to get there, congrats on your achievement! I’m definitely more “asleep” in the dream state than the waking. Waking life always throws me massive curveballs whenever I dial up my dreaming practice, and this time is no exception: now I’m dealing with another one (very ill very close family member).


Steve, Dream_Hacker, I see what you’re saying, and the bottom line is whatever works for each of us is the way to go, i.e. if “this is a dream” while physically awake works for you, perfect. In my case, it immediately brings up an unhelpful obstacle to pursuing that line of thought/perception, which is: a key difference in the “physically awake dreaming/dreamlike” state and the “body asleep dreaming” state is that the former features permadeath, i.e. there are all kinds of events or behaviors that would bring this particular incarnation to an abrupt end.

Another difference is relative persistence of phenomena. “Body-asleep dreaming” is a LOT more labile than the dreamlike state usually is when my body is awake.

In my case “This is dreamlike” continues to work a lot better, at least so far.


@Dream_Hacker …best wishes and healing thoughts to all involved in this current very personal curveball.

Definitely agree with that.

Pondering this more. I adopted the “This is a dream” approach from my very early reading of Tenzin Wangyal. I have stayed with it for a couple of years. I’m thinking now that it is that aspect of my practice that has brought me to this interesting place of emotional equanimity between states. It was a long and very gradual process.


I have had lucid dreams since I can remember and after maybe 20 years of lucid dreaming I had an „explosion“ of my lucid dreaming. I lived weeks in my dreams and started being aware of the periods in between dreams- my nights just seemed endless.
My problem -and reason why I did everything I could to stop lucid dreaming- was that it felt terribly lonely. It was always „just“ me and my mind. Even the periods in between dreams- though spacious and somewhat timeless- had nothing to do with an enlightened experience where I was every person and every person was me and time just did not exist.
What is your take on that? There must be a difference between people you interact with in your dreams and people you interact with in „real life“.
I feel the dreamlike nature of life and I know that ultimately we are all one- but I really struggle with the question where compassion towards all beings fit in if we equal dream life with „waking“ life.
I hope my question is clear. (English is a foreign language for me.) I would be extremely grateful for an answer.

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Are you 100% sure it was just you two?

Did not understand your Question at the end of your post, can you rephrase it?

My take is that if you achieved Sleep yoga multple times, there is a chance that you were every person and every person was you. That timeless, spacoius, empty space is the one thing you and everyone and everything in the universe has in common. This is the house or kingdom of God in my interpretation.

As for being lonely in the dreams, maybe you had a 3rd being with you? The Universe/ the source/ God, etc.

i have heard rumors of master lucid dreamers being able to meet up with other sleeping people in the dream realm. Have not heard any members on here say they have been able to do it, but it would not shock me if there were.