Are You Awake?

wintersolsticeIt’s two o’clock in the morning on December 21st, also known as Winter Solstice.  I can’t sleep, so, in the spirit of Diamond Lantern, Waking-up to Who You Really Are,  I’m doing a little research on Winter Solstice and Awakening.

According to catholic.org, December 21 was once celebrated as the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle.  In England, this was a day of charity, when the poor women went a “Thomasing” or begging. In some parts of central Europe the ancient custom of “driving demons away” was practiced on the Feast of Saint Thomas.  During the following nights, activities included noises loud enough to awaken the dead.  Whips were cracked, hand bells rung, and figures paraded through the streets in horrible masks.

In Austria, legend says that unmarried girls can see their future on St. Thomas Night, if they climb into bed over a stool and throw their shoes toward the door, the toes of the shoes pointing downward. If they sleep with their heads at the foot of the bead, the dreams will reveal visions of their future husbands.  Try it.  It might be worth a shot!

Speaking of dreams and awakening, it’s now 3:30am.  I’ve switched gears and am listening to a recording by Andrew Holecek on “Dream Yoga”.  Given that we spend 1/3 of our lives asleep, Holocek outlines this Buddhist methodology to capitalize on this.

Buddhism is a philosophy based on Shakyamuni Buddha’s instructions on how to alleviate suffering.  What better thing to study when you’re suffering through a sleepless night?

Buddhism teaches that everyone is a Buddha.  At the core of your being, you are divine.  However, you must often peel away layers of emotional baggage and ancient beliefs to uncover your true divinity and awaken to the peaceful, loving and compassionate soul you really are.  Dream yoga is a way to achieve this perpetually awakened state.  If you do it right, you can operate on  just 3 or 4 hours of sleep yet always feel alert and refreshed.

The word “Buddha” means “the awakened one” which implies that the rest of us are asleep. Holocek explains that we’re asleep for most of our waking lives.  This aligns with scientific findings that show we’re on auto-pilot 95% of the time.  During most of your waking hours, your subconscious mind, also known as your memory bank, is driving the bus.  When something startles you, you’re making decisions, or learning something new, you “awaken” and your critical conscious “thinking” mind takes control.  However, once you’ve learned something, for example, once you’ve learned to drive a car, this knowledge goes into your subconscious and becomes a habit.  You no longer have to “think” about how to drive.  You just “do it” automatically.

That’s why hypnosis works.  As a hypnotist, my job is to “awaken” you from your trance and teach your subconscious new or better habits.  After that, you can go back on auto-pilot with more beneficial behaviors. 

Now, you can also put your “sleep state” to work with Dream Yoga!

Holocek takes it one step further by asking the fundamental question, “How do you know that you’re not dreaming right now?”  In response, he provides the following quotes:

“There is no characteristic of waking experience that clearly distinguishes it from dreaming.  It is only a matter of degree and of one’s emotional predisposition.  You believe you are awake because you want to feel secure and feel that the world is solid, real and supportive around you.  If you were to seriously doubt you were awake, you would feel frightened and confused and have to even question your sanity.  The stability of the experience of being awake reassures you so you believe in it and give it a reality that you do not afford to dreams.  I’m not saying that there’s no difference at all between waking and dream experience, but I am saying that the difference is not one of an essential difference in substance.” Khenpo Rinpoche

“The distinction that we make between waking experiences and dream experiences is purely based upon the fact that we do not wake up from our waking experiences.  The waking experience has been going on since the period of time that never began and is never really interrupted except by the additional overlay of a dream time confusion.  We know that dreams are not real because we wake-up from them periodically and therefore have contrast.   However, we have no such contrast by which to recognize the unreality of conventional appearances.  All the things that we experience when we dream are obviously the appearance of habits that have somehow been placed in our minds.  In turn, we understand that the reaction we have to dream images, such as pleasure and pain, and the various sensations that we have in dreams, do not have the slightest true reality, although these sensations and experiences are quite vivid, when we awake from sleep we understand that they are not real.  The only reason that we do not have the same understanding of conventional waking experiences is that we have not woken up from them yet.  But you see, this is precisely the Buddha did and this is the path that he left for us through the practice of dream yoga and illusory form.” Maha Sida (Spiritual Master), Or Gompa

Think I’ll sleep on all this.  Wishing you Sweet and Productive Dreams and a Happy Winter Solstice!

Elizabeth Rose
Diamond Lantern, Waking-Up to Who You Really Are