Humans sleep a third or more of our lives and most of us lose consciousness during that time. How powerful would your mind-body connection be if you could continue a state of meditative awareness while your body sleeps deeply? Lucid dreaming is the phenomenon of spontaneous or controlled conscious awareness in one's dreams. In these dreams you can do anything you please: scout an unclimbed peak you have your eye on, defy gravity and send your project, or test the feeling of tirelessly powerful lungs on the steepest hill you can imagine--you might even choose to exhale the aurora borealis in a state of rapturous love. Lucid dreaming comes in many forms and may even progress to dream yoga; each oneironaut's practice is curiously unique.
I've been lucid dreaming since I was six years old and believe its application to alpine climbing and mountain running to be one of the most exciting and unexplored frontiers of training. After introducing my former partner, Chad, to lucid dreaming and helping him further cultivate his already strong visualization practices, I began promoting the use of oneironology (or oneiromancy, if you prefer) as part of an alpinist's training toolkit.
Already an experienced meditator, Chad took to lucid dreaming and even astral projection with characteristic efficiency. The first night I introduced him to basic methods of awareness in the dreaming state, he surfed barrels in Hawai'i. Later that week he progressed to envisioning his next big first ascent peak: Seerdengpu. After a few weeks of nightly work on the various crack systems in the massive granite dome he woke with a solution. In his dream that night he found a continuous crack system leading from base to summit. When he and his partner arrived at the previously-unclimbed peak they knew exactly where to go, following his dream crack system to the summit.
Though I cannot explain Chad's ability to divine the specific topography in intricate detail of a place no one had ever been, I can tell you he reached that strata of mind-body movement through his meditation and lucid dreaming practices.
Another anecdote: I learned to ice climb in the friendly Hyalite Canyon and had grown accustomed to one- to three-pitch routes. On my first trip to the massive drips of the Canadian Rockies I balked at the base of Murchison Falls. The entire 180 meters of the vertical plane of ice seemed to rock and groan in the cold and the spindrift as I stood petrified and shaking in the snow as my partner flaked out our rope. I only made it up the approach ice before telling my partner I couldn't go on. We rewound our long walking approach and four hour drive back to Canmore - my proverbial tail was between my legs.
Since I live in the Pacific Northwest without comparable ice to climb in the off-season, I spent at least one night a week visualizing Murchison throughout that next spring, summer, and fall. I saw myself confidently approach the base of the route, find my optimal runnel to ascend, and swing and kick proficiently to the top just beneath behemoth ice gargoyles hanging over the summit ledge. I focused on detail, on feeling, on emotion in my dreams often waking exhausted from my climb and the arctic cold.
The next winter solstice the same partner and I trekked to the base of the falls. When the sheet of vertical ice came into view my spirit said 'yes!' and at the base, though I still shook with fear, I didn't need to rope up until the second pitch soloing easily up a portion of ice that 360 days before made me cry and give up. We swung leads to the top of the climb, I set v-threads on the descent as a rosy dark set in, and we walked uneventfully back to the car.
This means of mountain gnosis is for practitioners of mountain sports and meditation alike. You'll find this material and resulting skill useful only if you have a strong spiritual connection to your alpine work and mountain movement.
Given the extended time period for training in this way and its experimental nature, I'll offer this training module as a remote learning opportunity on a donation basis. Throughout six months of exercises and one-on-one check ins, participants can schedule up to two Skype meetings to discuss progress or obstacles encountered along the way. I am unable to cultivate a student/teacher dynamic in this course as I feel after twenty-four years of practice that I am still juvenile in my mind's dream yoga potentials. We will, rather, shed light on one another's experience as you follow a loosely-formed series of waking and dreaming mental exercises.
I am excited to offer this experimental, cutting-edge program to a small cohort of practitioners. My heart is open to your response.