Shamata, first personal insights

hi all,
just wanted to share some personal experience after having increased shamata practice following Alan Wallace‘s teaching methods.
Currently, I am practicing the burmese method, i.e. observing the breath in- and outflow in the stomach region. I took this method into the waking up phase and noticed an interesting effect on the hypnopompic imagery.
While focussing relaxed but single pointedly on the breath induced movements of the stomach, two things seemed to happen: firstly, my presence becomes slowly more stable and continuous, and secondly, hypnopompic imagery arises more vividly and spontaneously…
While practicing to - and getting slowly better at - letting go of wanting to control any upcoming imagery, i.e. engaging it to early, with the underlying wish of wanting it to become clearer and more detailed, the imagery gets more detailed and clearer by itself in direct proportion to the degree of keeping the focus of attention stable on the initial focus point…
Conversely, the imagery breaks down, if I engage it too early in the hypnopompic phase, i.e. switching focus of attention to the imagery. It seems that Shamata really does hone the ability to observe this imagery while not being sucked up by it, without losing the anchor of stability and lucidity. It seems to me a bit like a paradox, that I need to disengage my attention with the imagery, i.e. let go, in order for it to manifest in a clear and detailed fashion, automatically, all by itself.

While being in a lucid dream, I do exactly the opposite, i.e. engaging the dream with full attention…

My first take on this is, that if one is lucid in a dream, one’s mind is already somewhat stable, quiet and passively disengaged enough in order to then softly re-engage the mental imagery with introducing minimal energy/disturbance, so that the dream can still maintain its coherence although being engaged…

Anyone with some thoughts or experience on this?
best regards


When I get up I find I have to go to the bathroom first before I can engage in hypnopompia for any length of time, and by the time I get back into bed, it is very difficult to return to the hypnopompic phase. Is this also problem for you, or how do you deal with it?

Hi @_Barry ,

actually, for me it depends on the time of night. It works best when I have had a good night’s sleep and can sleep in. Then, when I am slowly awakening, I find it relatively easy to relax and lay in the supine position, focus on the movement of the stomach while passively watching the breathing. I am then already rested enough so that I will not drift directly into unconscious sleep.
For me it is much harder to do the same in a hypnogogic phase at the beginning of the night‘s sleep and succeed to drop into a lucid dream. In fact I only succeeded once in this kind of a WILD technique, I remember having been rested and having gone very early to bed.
But most of the time, imagery still comes up, but I tend to „lose“ lucidity before crossing the threshold to the dream.

How is it for you - what do you experience that makes it difficult?

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In general, when I wake up during the night I go to the bathroom, I purposefully do that. I sometimes drink water before sleeping or when taking pills. I find it difficult to just wake up and stay in hypnopompia except for rare occasions, but perhaps I should focus more on that? So you don’t have bathroom breaks between arising and liminal states? Maybe it’s age.

Well, I do have a bathroom break, usually in the early morning, but then I can return to bed and probably since I have had some rest already, I can stay „awake“ enough to do the practice.
In both phases i.e. hypnogogia and hypnompia - the imagery usually comes up very quickly provided that I manage to totally relax the body and have a focus of attention.
For me, the fascinating new discovery is that I get much better results by not engaging the imagery (too early) but simply staying with the focus of shamata. The imagery gets more detailed by itself when not engaged.
Are you sticking to a specific focus when doing the practice?

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Just observing whatever comes up.

@_Barry Here‘s what Alan Wallace writes to that topic:

The mode of observation should be „gentle and passive…“, „…making no attempt to hold onto or enhance…“

That mode of observation seems to be the skill that is key to success.


Thanks . . . . . . .