I am happy to have a place where some others may understand the question I have. This is regarding illusory form. I stumbled into this practice by myself after having a few dreams that were so life-like I kept interrogating the dream, “Is this a dream? How can it be? Or is this real life? And how can it be!?” Since then I have read Andrew’s book and have integrated the practice into my lucid dreaming journey.
While doing illusory form has helped me, I’ve had only two days where I really, REALLY “did” illusory form. I will not forget these two days. I was walking around at work in a bliss cloud, the real dream, everything unfamiliar, interesting, perfect, present, everyone and myself “dream characters” that I just poured total love on: if these characters, including myself, were part of me, I wanted them and the ego avatar of myself to just feel great pleasure. It was a crazy time, and I had amazing lucid dreams after each time. Life became a big giant reality check.
This is not how my usual illusory form practices goes, however. So I have tasted what it might mean to be doing it “on maximum” … but since that second time and the most intense time, a few weeks ago, I have had trouble getting back into it. I have described it to my dreaming friends as if there is a muscle depleted. I try it and its just very difficult to “look” at the world like that. I can fake it, sometimes that works. But it isn’t the same. I use ‘hacks’ to get back into a similar feeling, like pretending this is VR, or a video game, or realizing I am only interacting with and experiencing the “phenomenal world” inside my own mind. But its not like the great success I had, or even like the day to day practice of illusory form I had before those big successes.
Has anyone felt this way or had a similar experience? I’d like to get back into it but it feels very “tired” now and somehow more difficult than before.
I wonder if the “novelty” of doing this with such intensity made it difficult to repeat? Perhaps because like anything stimulating, it gets harder over time to maintain the same effect and indeed may become as you described “depleted.”
One day a couple of months ago I engaged in many day-long illusory form activities to promote lucid dreaming healing and was the most successful I have ever been. However, I didn’t stick to my plan for that circumstance, and quickly lost lucidity and haven’t had much success since. I’ve been trying many different things since but with only limited success. The hardest thing is to not get discouraged, but I keep reminding myself of the nature of attachment being so strong, gripping and pervasive, so I try to take it one day and night at a time.
I find it helpful to have a couple of different but complementary approaches so that when one loses its edge a little I can work with the other instead.
For instance, lately I have been working hard during the day and night on exercises that are aimed at dissolving my sense of physical substance into an empty and luminous state. While this may seem a bit on the esoteric side, it has given me a deeper understanding of how the images that we perceive in both the waking state and the dream state have form but no substance…kind of coming at Illusory Form from the opposite perspective.
While this has drastically increased my clarity and my presence in the dream state, the lucidity had been more passive and in the last few days I have felt a need to be more actively lucid.
Your reminder of the importance of practicing Illusory Form has me thinking of switching my perspective again. Thanks for that.
Thanks for sharing your experience. What you wrote reminded me of a extremely blissful experience during meditation which I experienced some time ago. It was so beautiful that I wanted it to repeat. It didn‘t, although - or because - I tried hard. Sometime later I realized that I had become attached to the wish to experience it again. I could actually feel that like a kind of nagging emotional pain. Frustrated, I kind of gave up after a number of futher tries. At the end of the last session I just didn‘t care anymore, frustration of failure to achieve gave way to calm indifference. And then it happened by itself. Perhaps paradoxically, it felt similarly blissful but the experience was not exactly the same as the first one. It was of the same quality but manifested a little differently. And that was fine. Only after the session did I start again to compare both experiences (habit). When I go now into a meditation session, I actively relax and drop my expectations. For me, I realized that the intensity of the experience is actually not so important. I try to focus without expectation - not too tight, not too loose but always try to remember to relax and host experiences and myself with kindness.
Thanks for the responses everyone!!
I’m glad I’m not alone in the struggle. There doesn’t seem to be a “troubleshooting” page in any of the books I’m reading, which perhaps is a good thing. Got to go full in all on our own path.
I’ve been practicing what KhungMar has proposed: dropping expectations. Coming at the practice with a “beginner’s mind” again. I feel all sorts of thoughts, frustrations, habits, etc., boil up when I start doing the practice, and slicing through these one by one has been “fun”…
Here’s a suggestion that is out of the box and maybe even off the paper, but it worked for me spectacularly the first time I tried it! I then had about a year’s worth of vivid dreams, probably lucid without recognizing them as such, years before I started doing Dream Yoga. I wasn’t as successful the next time I tried it, but that was more for physical reasons, so I am trying it again and perhaps this is something you can try to “shake up your snow globe,” as Andrew Holececk might say.
It’s called “Rebooting Your Brain” by John Reese. I came across this hokey video one evening and liked his presentation of how to “reboot” the brain by emptying it of things that were always on our mind, conscious and unconscious. You can check it for your self here. It doesn’t cost anything and there are no guarantees that it will do for you what it did for me the first time I tried it, but hey, when you think about it and see what is suggested, you might find something here to help you move forward in your dreaming endeavours.
I’m doing the method again this week because I think I can mitigate some of my physical roadblocks, so I hope to report success in getting back to much more lucid dreaming, sooner rather than later. Good luck.
Over the years I had times of great success sometimes for a few months in a row only to have those disappear for a while as my ego tries to defend itself. I am constantly changing the tack…
So, I guess there is a need to go slowly and tactfully about it, attachment to success seems to lead to failure at least for me.
However, you can always note small victories if you carefully review what happened during the night.
I remember that at one point I had no entry back into the dreams, until I had a nightmare and started to sob in the dream… and there was immediately within the dream, awareness that this is just a dream!
It did not kick in during the nice happy dreams, but once there was a nightmare ego quickly ran to re-assure “it is a dream”.
Do not assume that all or anything is lost just because you cannot repeat it. Take it slowly and give it a lot attention, care and love, it is there but perhaps needs a bit of nudge to appear. I too think that changing approaches work, alternate.
Small victories can be large if you sharpen your perspective to a single night or even to a single moment. When I meditate on how impatient I can become if a bus is just a bit late, or if things don’t happen as fast as I want them, I try to make myself recall how long it would take to walk a mile or two or three—so then what do I have to get impatient about? Andrew Holececk recently talked about the amazing speed of our brains and how that speed fools us into developing extraordinary misperceptions. It’s never a straight line, even when others discuss their progress, they often leave out the pits and stops along the way. It’s easy for forget the the deep and long valleys when the heights are so exhilarating!
Hi there! I’ve had similar experiences with illusory form. The first one was a flash of “seeing” myself and everything “disappear” into pure white light. More recently, I’ve been experiencing more consistency. I’ve been working with connecting to and experiencing emptiness in meditation and accessing this moment to moment. Of course I slip out of the moments but when I remember I slip back in. It’s becoming easier to be the observer and the observed. I look at this as a process in the journey of becoming luminous emptiness. Being in a body tethers is and unless we die, moment to moment is as close as I can come to this. It’s still a challenge to consider that I am one with all (in some circumstances) and as you experienced, it is heart opening to all. You might find The Other Shore by Thich Nhat Hanh interesting and helpful.