By Alexandra Enns © 2017
For a long time, one of my primary goals included learning to achieve detachment from my expectations, as they often resulted in disappointment and suffering if not fulfilled. When stumbling upon the term “finger yoga,” I made up my mind to meditate with a suitable mudra in the waking state: Kshepana, the gesture of letting go. Surprisingly, on the same night this lucid dream occurred:
“Reunion with my Shadow”
Lucid, I run along an empty street until I notice a black shape in the distance. When it approaches me, I am startled to recognize my shadow which I already met in a dream a few weeks ago. The black, large panther is wandering around aimlessly, his eyes closed. While I wonder if it is blind, which would be unusual, I start to feel sympathy for this creature. So I walk straight towards the panther and embrace its neck, listening to its faint heartbeat. Suddenly, the animal opens his eyes, giving me a jerk. It stays by my side until the dream ends as a faithful friend and companion.
Having noted the correlation between the mudra and the lucid dream that followed, I decided to practice Kshepana directly in the dream world. Consider the unexpected event it evoked in this account:
Strolling on a beach after a group of holiday-makers, I hear by chance a handsome man speaking, pretending to be a god. This statement astonishes me because it reminds me of a short, lucid dream I had the same night where I witnessed several statues of Greek gods coming to life in a giant fountain. Is this a sign? I thoughtfully look at my hands and become lucid. Then, I instinctively go for a swim in the turquoise blue sea.
Having recalled my intent, I find a stone to stand upon while forming the Kshepana mudra in front of my heart. Instantly, I see a huge pair of hands in the sky, holding the same mudra, which gives me a shiver as I recall this position also symbolizes the “Buddhist seal of enlightenment.”
Spontaneously, I say aloud the mantra of the Vedanta philosophy I’ve been practicing in physical reality: “So’ ham!” (“I am in God, and God is in me”.) Immediately, a soft, female voice booms from above: “Sing with me.”
A wonderfully harmonic chant in an unknown language fills the sky. While swimming back to the shore, I try to sing along by humming and singing the only word I understand, “Anahata.” On a pier in front of me, I note an elderly, Indian woman in an orange sari, apparently waiting for me. “Continue your journey,” she tells me gently in the English language, “continue Anahata.”
I wake up detached and in a lighthearted mood.
Intrigued by having received explicit guidance from the Indian woman, I make up my mind to integrate the Anahata mudra I have already been practicing while meditating in my next lucid dream:
This dream turns out to be a nightmare from the beginning: I firstly get frightened and secondly lucid by two ugly faces pressing against the window pane.
Quickly, I leave the strange, sinister house, only to find myself in darkness again with many menacing dream figures. Oh no! On second thought, I just go to my knees, surprised at the success of performing the complicated Anahata mudra without distortion of my fingers. Not paying attention to the murmuring dream figures, now surrounding me, I slowly close my eyes and start to recite the accompanying mantra of the heart chakra, “Yam.”
Then, something strange happens: the sound of the eerie voices gets increasingly dimmed by an invisible cocoon, engulfing my bodiless presence. I no longer feel bothered—instead, I start to feel calm and safe.
I stay meditating in this position until I wake up, recording in my dream journal: Apparently, the Anahata mudra with its Bija (i.e. seed) mantra has a direct effect on the heart chakra, cleansing from within and bringing about emotional balance.
I selected the following challenging two mudras along with their recommended mantras still in the context of compassion, yet putting them into practice according to their assumed degree of intensity.
The next lucid dreams occurred successively on the same night:
Awake and with my eyes closed, I notice that I must be in the hypnagogic state, so I wait until the swirling colors around me stop existing, and a new dream environment emerges.
Walking along a beautiful landscape, I find myself in front of a well-tended pond. Out of the blue, a pushy, dissatisfied Buddhist monk appears, mourning about the imperfection of humanity. Nevertheless, I firmly concentrate on my task, form the Hridaya mudra, the compassionate heart gesture for experiencing unconditional love, and solemnly pronounce the Sanskrit mantra: “Lokah samasta sukhino bhavantu” (“May all beings everywhere be happy and free”).
Right after my last word has fallen, I watch the entire atmosphere as through pink glasses, my heart filling with love and compassion. While the monk is still mumbling something in the background, the dream scene gets blurred and collapses.
I awake again, feeling myself floating slightly above my bed. At once, I try to leave the room by rolling to the side and landing on the floor. After having performed a reality test, I go straight into the hallway where a large window with the view of the night sky stands out. Fascinated, I open the window and enjoy this peaceful moment, looking at the sparkling blackness. Suddenly, I recall my task and get intimidated while forming the Nirvana mudra to awaken compassion in the yoga tradition. Still trembling with nervousness, I bow my head slightly and quickly announce this peace mantra towards the infinite sky:
A-SATO MA, SAT GA-MA-YA TA-MA-SO MA JYO-TIR GA-MA-YA MRIT-YOR-MA A-MRI-TAM GA-MA-YA.”
(“Lead me from the unreal to the real, from darkness to light, from death to immortality.”)
And: “OM SHANTI SHANTI SHANTI OM.” (“Peace Peace Peace.”)
Instantly, I feel something is happening with the amount of light around me. When I look at the stars again, I am captivated by their greater graceful presence. Unexpectedly, they start approaching me and melt into a dazzling white light that encompasses me completely, leaving me standing in an entirely white, glowing area.
The description of the feeling I had upon waking goes beyond words. I lay awake for a few hours. The mysterious light which I had apparently called in the lucid dream, left a part of me feeling very clear and spacious. But another part of me felt disillusioned, as if my ego’s knowledge of life seemed rather tiny. A feeling of guilt enveloped me while I thought about my veiled egocentric attitude, the sudden nothingness of my personality, relative to the real connectedness and equality of all things. Finally, I understood the true meaning of the expression “loving eyes,” generated in the symbolic imagery of the color pink that, together with green, is associated with Anahata, the heart chakra.
As far as I can see, the thorough combination of certain mudras and mantras while lucid dreaming seems to possess the potential to enable the dreamer to enter the realms of the unconscious in particularly profound ways. However, from my experience, while carrying out similar experiments, it is vital to regularly ground yourself emotionally in the waking state to keep in touch with the concerns of everyday life.
Christine Stecher, (2015), Mantras: Was sie bedeuten, wie man sie einsetzt, warum sie helfen, O. W. Barth Verlag, München.
Swami Saradananda (2015), Mudras for Modern Life: Boost your health, re-energize your life, enhance your yoga and deepen your meditation, Watkins Publishing.