Anyone who has experienced lucid dreams and plant medicine ceremonies will notice the similarities and differences between the dream state, and shamanic visions. You can have a lot of similar experiences in each state, though those experiences tend to feel much stronger in the visionary state. But the dreamstate and visionary state has key distinctions, largely around what you are capable of doing in each state.
The Difference Between Ayahuasca Visions & Lucid Dreams
Shamanic visions, especially those received in sacred plant medicine ceremony, tend to much more directly attuned with information coming from spiritual realms, because you are in an expanded state of consciousness. And if you purged, in addition to clearing your body temple, chances are, emotional, mental, and other subconscious junk got cleared out along with the vomit. So whatever visions, downloads, and spirit world journeys are experienced in a much clearer and more powerful way.
Shamanic visions also tend to “unfold”, with the journeyer being taken along for the ride, like a boat on a river. The more open your mind is, the more incredible visions can come through. Unlike dreams, shamanic visions tend to have more visual consistency, in that some of the realms you visit can seem remarkably real, in landscape and architecture. Versus a dream, where you are naked, at the office, surrounded by coworkers, and your boss has turned into a giraffe. And now that you are lucid, it’s time to fly out of the window and get away from all of that.
Dreams tend to be considerably more surreal and filled with noise ejected by your subconscious as it processes your day-to-day experience. It can be more challenging to determine what is a divine signal, and what is subconscious noise.
However, dreams can be radically altered through will and intention. They are a powerful metaphor for life and our experience of reality, so the mastery of subtle art of dreamstate navigation and dreamscape transformation is an excellent shamanic skill.
The primary difference between lucid dreaming and shamanic visions is what you can change and how you can change it. Dreams are much more easily altered at will, while it’s difficult to change or modify an ayahuasca vision. The sacred medicines will show you what THEY think you need to see.
The main thing you can change in a plant medicine vision is yourself, primarily through shapeshifting. You can also change your location, but not in the way this works in the dreamstate.
Too much mental focus and hardness of concentration tends to make a shamanic vision dissipate. Or result in a “contrived” vision, largely directed by your conscious mind. Because of this quality, a lot of the lucid dreaming techniques may be difficult to apply to a shamanic journey.
In a similar way, too much mental focus can wake you up out of a lucid dream. In either scenario, conscious navigation of dream states and visionary states is a subtle art that balances your capacity to maintain a wide open consciousness, with a dash of intention. However, mastery of these subtle states of consciousness will make you a master navigator of dreamstates, the Spirit World, and waking life.
8 Lucid Dreaming Superpowers You Can Use In Shamanic Journeys
Tibetan dream yogis used lucid dreaming practice as a path to enlightenment. Because dreamwork was a spiritual practice, dream yogis had specific goals they would pursue in the lucid dream state, goals that would strengthen their conscious awareness and accelerate their attainment of enlightenment. Even though many of these dreamstate attainments are fun and exhilarating, dream yogis did not engage in the sacred practice of lucid dreaming for entertainment!
Here are time-honored Tibetan Dream Yoga attainments that will help you hone your dreaming skills, and give you freedom and empowerment in life. These are skills you can also hone as you journey in plant-medicine induced visionary realms.
- Flying. Flying in the dream state is the ultimate experience of freedom. Pay attention to how you fly. Do you sprout wings and soar like an eagle? Or do you find yourself doing the breaststroke through the sky? Can you fly in different ways?
- Shapeshifting. You can transform yourself into anything, such as your power animal, the opposite sex, your favorite superhero, or a fire-breathing dragon. Is there a particular dreamstate avatar that you assume? See how shapeshifting shifts your perspective on who you are and how you can be in waking life.
- Facing Your Fears. Have you noticed that if you find yourself being chased in the dream state, the more you try to get away, the scarier the dream becomes? Try turning around and face your pursuers. Chances are, you will discover that they aren’t so scary after all. In fact, they might just even vanish.
- Meeting Other Sentient Beings. Without physical distance separating you, you can potentially meet anyone you want. Or get to know the other dream people in your dreamscape. Or find your mission-aligned soul tribe and create a pact to try to meet in real life.
- Communicating with an Enlightened Being (Yidam). Encounters with divine beings in the dream state are highly sought after, and as with shamanic journeys, not uncommon. Try invoking the divine beings you are allied with and see what happens.
- Receiving Teachings, Empowerments & Transmissions. In addition to encounters with divine beings, you can also meet with healers, elders, teachers of the past, present and future. This is a great opportunity to receive wisdom, guidance, a blessing, empowerment, or a direct transmission. Just ask.
- Visiting Different Planes, Places, or Worlds (Lokas). Can you push the boundaries of your dreamscape? What happens if you fly out to outer space? Or dive deep into the the deep ocean? Or burrow into the earth? How about stepping into other dimensions and visiting other worlds. What do these places look like?
- Exercising Your Super Powers (Siddhis). As yogis developed in their mastery of spiritual teachings, they would develop siddhis, or supernatural powers. The dreamstate is the perfect place to exercise your siddhic powers. Walk through walls. Levitate. Chased in a nightmare? Fling fireballs at your enemies.
Both Lucid Dreaming & Ayahuasca Prepare You for Death
Ayahuasca is also called “El Soga del Muerto”, the Rope of Death. This is because many who drink ayahuasca experience dying, and while it might feel literal in the moment, it is typically an experience of ego death. However, the ayahuasca journey is a spiritual journey into the unknown, and for many it feels like practice for the ultimate journey. And for those who walk this shamanic path, the more familiar one becomes in navigating these realms, the less frightening physical death becomes.
In a similar way, in the practice of Tibetan Dream Yoga, lucid dreaming is one of the techniques that the Masters would practice in order to be able direct ones consciousness at the time of death and navigate the Bardo realms. In fact, the Tibetans have a practice – the practice of Phowa – which is the transference of consciousness at the time of death. In Vajrayana Buddhism, Phowa practice is considered to be the quickest, most direct path to enlightenment. In order to be successful at Phowa, you need to develop the essential skill of lucid dreaming.
The Tibetan Masters understood that we create our own reality, because everything originates in the mind, our experience arises from our own consciousness. If you can change your mind, you can change your reality. Just like changing your dreams.
Art by Alex Grey