Altered States -or- Dream Yoga

Dreamer: Eto, 26, Single Asian male

My dream starts with me talking to one of my friends, a male friend. I don't remember much about the place but I do remember that it was daytime. I think I was outside. My friend was talking to me about something. I notice that my vision started narrowing almost like a tunneling effect, and I felt that my mind was pulled. I was conscious that my visual perception was changing. It resembled a change in mind state which occurs during LSD trips. It was like I was tripping in my dream. This is a very odd thing really because I never dream about taking drugs though I am a regular user. It felt more lucid than my usual dreams. Normally I am totally unaware but in this dream I was not aware that I was dreaming but I did convince myself in the dream that I was tripping. Information that my be useful which is not part of the dream: I have been doing a meditation for sleep also known as dream yoga; and I have been doing a Tibetan practice called the practice of natural light.

Mr. Hagen's Reply: Altered States or The Doors of Perception

Transpersonal psychologists are those primarily interested in dreams that represent altered states of consciousness. In the '50s Aldous Huxley wrote a book, "The Doors of Perception", which explored drug use. Huxley found that drugs change perception because the nervous system filters reality and perceives a "reduced reality." By altering this process, drugs make the user more aware of this filter and how it works. The film "Altered States" (see video trailer) is a good representation of such experiences. Huxley's book pre-dates several other popular treatises on drug use and/or psychological experimentation such as Ken Kesey's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (video trailer) Tom Wolfe's "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" and Hunter Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream" (video trailer) among others.

I do not advocate drug use except for medical purposes. Most of us self-medicate and this certainly must be our right, but drugs are usually, though not always, used to escape from social reality and therefore can only add to the alienation of the individual. The cost of such a habit both monetarily and to one's health also needs to be considered.

I subscribe to the pursuit of meditation and dream yoga, although the latter is a newer concept for me. These are natural ways to stimulate naturally occurring drugs such as endorphins in your body. This can allow you to move more freely through various states of consciousness, producing greater awareness of consciousness itself.

Literature that might be of help understanding includes:

  • Shirley Sugarman (ed), "Evolution of Consciousness"
  • Daniel Goleman, "The Meditative Mind: Varieties of Meditative Experience"
  • Stephen LaBerge, "Lucid Dreaming"
  • Montague Ullman (ed), "Variety of Dream Experience"
  • John White (ed), "The Highest States of Consciousness"

Hope these thoughts are of help and provide some insight,
Mark H.

All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.