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ACTIVE IMAGINATION, DREAM YOGA, AND SLEEP YOGA: Paths to Individuation, Liberation, and Enlightenment, Tim Lyons

  • Thursday, March 12, 2015
  • 7:30 PM
  • Thursday, April 16, 2015
  • 9:30 PM
  • Jung Society Library


  • Members who are Seniors over 65 and Students with ID

Registration is closed

Six Thursdays


Tim Lyons

Active imagination, dream yoga, and sleep yoga are powerful transformative practices that can bring about the experimental psychic state that was Jung's goal. Jung said about individuation that: If man does this consciously and intentionally, he avoids all the unhappy consequences of repressed individuation. In other words, if he voluntarily takes on the burden of completeness on himself he need not find it "happening" to him against his will in a negative form. This counsel can be applied to liberation and enlightenment, the goals of the Tibetan Buddhist practices of dream and sleep yoga. Each of these practices can create value out of our suffering and yield productive growth and not repeated negative patterns of unconscious suffering where we are "hopelessly petrified."

Active imagination is a meditational practice, which Jung developed, during which one's waking consciousness enters into a dialogue, through one's imagination, with different parts of one's self that are rooted in the unconscious in order to explore the unknown other for self-realization. Dream yoga promotes the use of lucid dreaming, wherein waking consciousness reawakens into the dream to interact with the dream environment. This lucidity is mirrored in the ability to recognize the dream-like quality of daily life. Lucidity in dreams can demonstrate the illusory quality of fears and reactivity and can be understood as a way of building psychic immunity to our own conditioned mind. Lucidity in the dream potentially leads to lucidity in deep (non-REM) sleep during which it is possible to experience liberation from samsara, our karmic delusions, and ultimately attain the "clear light." This, in a sense, 24- hour-and-beyond, mindfulness practice is intended to penetrate the states of waking, meditating, dreaming, deep sleep, death, and the bardo, and is aimed at "abiding in non-dual awareness," the primordial, unconditioned state of mind.

One need not be able to attain lucidity in dreams or deep sleep in order to find benefits. Developing lucidity in our waking life helps us to turn inward to reconnect with ourselves in spite of the increasingly addictive distractions of daily life that can numb us into passivity regarding our pursuit of self-realization. Lucid-dreaming themes increasingly appear in our culture, in movies, and the rapidly evolving digitally enhanced virtual-reality technologies. In this course we will explore these practices in light of Jung's alchemical psychology and Tibetan Buddhist perspectives on liberation, the obstacles, and cautions, and the personal and collective implications in our modern world.

Tim Lyons, LICSW, is a Jungian-oriented psychotherapist in private practice in Capitol Hill and Silver Spring. He has studied Tibetan Buddhism and yoga for many years, and has given lectures and classes on Jung and Eastern Spirituality at the Jung Society of Washington. He is also an architect, has written for the Washington Post, and has lectured at the Smithsonian Institution.


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