Sadhana Dreams

Originally published Mar 13, 2017

The first time I fell asleep on a yoga mat, stood up, and realized I was dreaming was on day 27 of the first 40 consecutive days of my kundalini yoga sadhana in 2017. This was the first of a handful of vivid, lucid dreams that I had while committing to this practice. Luckily, I wrote about these experiences shortly after they occurred, otherwise I probably wouldn't be writing this post for lack of precise memory.

For those just tuning in, I sometimes go do yoga, meditate, and chant mantras with a bunch of people dressed in white from four to six thirty in the morning, long story short. I mentioned in my last blogpost that the lucid dreams I've had in that space merit a blogpost all their own, so about day 27..

(The following is written in present tense, as I had jotted down notes about my experiences as soon as I could after the fact.)

Dream One

I decided to sleep through the mantras this morning because night classes at massage school on top of this have been killing me, and the dream I had was unique in that my sense of hearing was still connected to the room and the mantras that were being chanted.

I "got up" from my mat to find myself in the same room, only it had grown to cathedral-like proportions and was occupied by many more people than I had remembered. The wall at the front of the room where the teacher was sitting on a raised platform had opened up into the darkness of the morning, and an ambulance and some other emergency vehicles had pulled into the opening to take away someone on a stretcher who I, by some strange sense of intuition, knew had died. I was very confused; most people seemed ok with this, though a handful were standing in the hallway to the side of the room and were quite shocked. I still wonder what this could possibly mean. Once I had assessed the scene and determined my help wasn't needed and people were mostly nonchalantly observing the proceedings, I thought to myself that the mantra that was being sung was taking way too long and I walked towards a kitchen to grab something from an abundant array of food that was laid out over the counters (I've never physically been in a kitchen in this place, but when I told someone about this dream they confirmed that there was a kitchen in the general direction towards which "dream self" walked).

A few random people were in the dimly lit kitchen with me, one of which was a white woman in traditional sikh garb who told me that I wasn't "supposed to be here." I sort of "yeah, yeah;" brushed her off and reached for a massive candy-coated pretzel. She said again, "no, really, you're not supposed to be here," and forcefully grabbed one of my buttocks, as if to lead me out of the room by it.

Suddenly, time/space seemed to shift, as if she really had taken me out of the room. We we seemed to be in an alternate version of the kitchen we were just in, alone now, and most of her clothes were off. She was bent over the kitchen counter, looking back at me and inviting me to do something far more scandalous than eat a handful of sweets. At this point, I could still hear the longest and most important mantra being sung in real time and remembered that, while I'm committed to this practice, I've pledged not to dispel any of my sexual energy. I refused the advance, especially given how sacrilegious it felt to engage while I was still hearing what some consider to be the most sacred of sounds.. And suddenly it seemed like I was teleported back into the room where I was sleeping, still dreaming.

A woman in the group of yogis was throwing a temper tantrum like a small child, lying on her back, beating the ground with her fists, and wailing petulantly. She cried out, "Why can't I just have sex with whoever I want?" The leader of the sadhana responded something to the effect of, "because it needs to be done with a foundation of love between two people."

Now, dreams have been said to demonstrate the inner workings of the psyche with figurative and symbolic language, but it seems like this dream couldn't get more blunt with the message it was trying to convey to me. In what seems like is becoming a trend with this blog, some discussion about that message might appear in a post of its own in the future.

I shared my experience with a few people when I woke up, and some explained similar stories of being "tested" by "entities" that come into the space created by the early morning classes to try and trick their dream-selves into giving away their life force in the form of sexual energy. Looks like I passed my test.

Dream Two

I went to sadhana again this morning (day 41, I guess I had FOMO and didn't wanna quit cold turkey) and had another weird astral projection experience involving some sort of entity while napping through the mantra chanting portion.

I "got up" in the same room I fell asleep in, and like the last similar experience, it was much bigger in dream space. There was a table in the middle of the room, and everyone was up from their mats and socializing around it.

I had just finished talking to someone when I heard loud breathing behind me and turned to see a man I hadn't seen come in that morning; he was extremely sweaty and looked intoxicated, so I helped him sit down and asked if he needed any water while I was turning around to grab him some. He said nothing, but when I turned back around to face him, he quickly grabbed ahold of my collar and pulled his face centimeters from mine. His eyes began to roll back into his head and his face pulled into an expression of psychotic rage and hatred; eyebrows almost parallel, nostrils flaring, lips grimacing until they split into pieces hanging from his mouth.

My thoughts progressed from:

1. oh man, this guy is really drunk and doesn't know what he's doing,

2. some kind of force is working through him to try to attack me,

3. oh shit, I'm not awake and this isn't actually a human/this is another "entity" experience.

I didn't react while these mental gears were turning because I was observing and was curious of this thing, but when I reached my conclusion, the thing's tongue darted out and touched my chin, which grossed me out and made me think that I shouldn't be so curious or tolerant should this happen in another lucid dream. With the knowledge that I was actually dreaming becoming more concrete, I began to come out of the experience and wake up.

I hypothesize that I had this dream because I had just been running a booth at a Burning Man event at which I was essentially helping people take drugs safely (I ran a booth where we tested people's batches for purity and dispensed information about how to be safe at those types of events). The being in the dream that approached me and that I tried to help could have easily been one of these people at the Burn. "Spiritually" inclined people who I've talked to seem to agree that, at these gatherings where people "blast open their energy fields" by taking many kinds of different drugs, the energetic boundaries between people can get blurry and there can be some "psychic debris" that can be unintentionally picked up and trapped in the energy body or "aura." They also told me that these kinds of beings with negative intentions that can interact with us in the "astral plane" often take our good intentions and use them against us, as seemed to be the case here.

(There's a certain demographic of my audience that will know exactly what I'm referring to with the above paragraph, and there is another that will brush it off as nonsense because they don't understand. Feel free to ask me any questions if that vocabulary is a little to nebulous for you.)

Dream Three

Taking place on the last day of my streak of getting up for sadhana, day 46, this is the dream that influenced me to stop, at least for a few days.

I had been considering committing to a kundalini yoga teacher training, so after the opening mantra that morning during the time we are called to set an intention for the practice, I put the question out into the universe. I had attended my night class at massage school the night before until 11, and getting up at 3:30 had me tired to the point I slept through the mantras after the kriya (the physical movement part of sadhana) as I usually do if I'm short on sleep.

The same seven mantras are sung every morning, but many different recordings exist for each one. I'm not going to lie: some of the recordings, from a musical standpoint, are fucking terrible.

As usual when I dream in sadhana, I "woke up" in the same space to the sound of the longest mantra that is played out of the seven, clocking in at 22 minutes. I remember thinking that the mantra had gone on for way too long and that it must have been stuck on a loop or something; like, the sadhana leader had to know and was going to stop it soon, right? It was horribly repetitive, waltzy number, way too upbeat and musically simple to be tolerable for more than a minute, let alone 22.

I turned to see two girls in the space near me. One of them must have seen the disgusted expression on my face and said, "this music is awful, isn't it?" I vociferously agreed, but then one of them pulled out a guitar and they started singing along, mocking me. Supremely irritated, I got up from my mat and leapt at the one with the guitar, stretching my arms out to grab and rip it from her hands. Her grip was so strong the guitar might as well have been bolted to a wall. I landed on the ground and she zoomed across the room, laughing at my failed attempt.

The room was rapidly expanding to the size of a high school gym now, a recurring theme in these dreams. The girls were getting farther and farther away from me, and now there were more people in the space singing and playing instruments as the music got louder and louder. I was hopelessly outnumbered. I began to realize I was dreaming, and that there was no way to stop the music in the dream because I was hearing it in real time. I curled into a ball on the floor with my hands pressed over my ears, which didn't help either.

Shortly after giving up in the dream, I woke up, extremely agitated but more alert and awake than I had been in a long time. I saw with clarity that I could never be a kundalini yoga teacher if I had to try to pray along with music that could easily be used to torture people. The religious aspect of the whole practice had already been weirding me out, so I left as soon as I could without saying a word to anyone, went home, napped, and didn't come back to sadhana for another two days.

I ended up returning because for those two days I didn't get up early, I felt much more tired and unfocused despite getting more sleep. After discussing my dilemma with other teachers in the community, I was relieved to hear that most of them aren't completely sold on the religious aspect of the practice either, and teach mostly by picking and choosing what they like from it. Long story short, my first weekend of the teacher training program is March 24th.