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Movement Medicine and Lucid Dreaming

The Poetry of Presence Movement Medicine and Lucid Dreaming Workshop with Ya’Acov and Charlie Morley is coming up in September. Here, bestselling author, Charlie, talks about the connection between Movement Medicine and lucid dreaming practice.

In a lucid dream we become conscious within the unconscious while we sleep. We have not woken up though. In fact we are sound asleep but part of the brain (the right dorsolateral pre-frontal cortex, in case you were wondering) has reactivated, thus allowing the dreamer to experience the dream state with self-reflective awareness. We know that we are dreaming as we are dreaming and thus gain access to the most powerful virtual reality generator in existence: the human mind. And so our story begins…

As a teenager, it was the free accessibility of lucid dreaming was one of its real selling points for me. There was no equipment to be bought, no initiation to be done, no club to join. The only commodities required were sleep and determination. Also it was great place to have lots of dream-sex and as a teenager, sex (whether in dream or waking) was one of my driving motivations to start any new project!

A few years later when I got into Tibetan Buddhism I started to read about something called “dream yoga”. Dream yoga is the term given to a collection of lucid dreaming, conscious sleeping and (what in the West we refer to as) “out-of-body experience” practices aimed at spiritual growth and mind training. Within the context of dream yoga the lucid dream state is used to go way beyond sexual fantasy and instead used as a way to do spiritual practice while we sleep. I was captivated by this possibility.

Once my lucid dream practice became my spiritual practice things really started to take off and I spent the next 5 years reading everything I could find on the subjects of both lucid dreaming and dream yoga. I received teachings on these practices from the rare few who were offering them, and went on Buddhist retreats with dream yoga specialists such as Lama Yeshe Rinpoche, the man who would eventually become my guru and suggest that I start sharing my experiences with others.

But what was I doing before I started running the lucid dreaming workshops full time? For 10 years I managed and was part of a hip hop collective of break dancers and hip hop performers called THROWDOWN. The collective had workshop leaders, a professional crew and an events team putting on monthly dance battles at a nightclub in downtown Brixton, South London.

Living these two lives of dream and dance was not as contradictory as it may seem. In the breakers I saw a certain panoramic gaze shining from their eyes as they danced that I had seen in meditators before. It was the wide angle, peripheral vision that allowed them to see the whole dance floor as they spun on their heads and the same steady mind that takes in space without preference as we meditate. After the bravado of battle was over with and they actually hit the lino the b-boys were not in a state of trance, they were in a state of meditation: one pointed focus set within a broad panoramic awareness. It’s not that they were meditating while dancing, it was that dance was their meditation.

I saw that same look again a few years later in the eyes of the dancers at last year’s Poetry of Presence retreat and realised that dance as meditation wasn’t just being practiced by the breakers in Brixton but by the hundreds of Movement Medicine practitioners around the world who use their dance to go deeply into stillness.

The nocturnal practice of meditation within sleep and dreams known as lucid dreaming is one of the most dance like forms of meditation there is. Lucid dreaming is not about dream control, it’s about making friends with the dreaming mind, it’s about dancing with our dreams. Just as some dances require one to lead and the other to follow, so too in our lucid dreams. One night we let the dream take the lead as we allow it to guide us but another night we may lead the dream with a firm hand round the waist, directing the dance as we go.

When we become conscious within our dreams the first thing we need to do is to listen carefully to the music of the dream. Each dream plays a different music, with no tune ever the same. We take a moment to feel the beat, to move to the rhythm of the dream and once we are in synch, then and only then, can we  begin to choreograph the dream at will, dancing with “the dreamer” to the music of our mind.

The dreamer is the name that I give to the part of the unconscious mind that creates and plays out our dreams. Using our own internal archetypes as actors and the wellspring of  memories and creative possibilities as the stage the dreamer is a the theatrical choreographer of our dreams. She directs each scene and creates the plot, masterfully encrypting message and meaning into even her most fringe and experimental works. Once we become lucid we will often be invited to the stage by the dreamer where we can humbly make plot requests and suggestions which will be incorporated into her play.

My connection to Movement Medicine begun around 3 years ago when a cold call from a friend of friend called Ya’Acov led to a series of synchronicities, including me dreaming of this strange named man before I met him, (in the dream he looked identical to how he actually looks!) These co-incidences soon blossomed into some lucid dreaming workshops for Ya’Acov, Susannah and a few of their friends and then culminated in the first ever Movement Medicine Lucid Dreaming retreat last year. Since then my relationship with Yaacov has moved still deeper as we shared ceremony together and I opened fully to the guidance of his experience.

Dance has been linked to dreaming for millennia. In some African shamanic traditions the friction caused between the feet and the ground as you dance is said to awaken the umbilini (an energy source comparable to kundalini) leading to more energetically powerful dreams that night. To dance is to connect with body, synchronise the two hemispheres of the brain and allow creativity to flow freely;  the exact three qualities that we need to foster in order to dream lucidly.

At last years retreat we found a level of lucidity far higher than we would have expected as we spent the days dancing and learning the lucid dreaming techniques while spending the nights engaging in the optional “group dreaming” practices which involves sleeping side by side and briefly waking every 90 minutes for the last few hours of sleep, allowing us to fall back into the dream lucidly and collectively.

To all the Movement Medicine practitioners I say this: to dance is to dream so please come join us for what is set to be an amazing few days of movement, dreaming and high levels of lucidity!

Charlie Morley June 2104


The Poetry of Presence workshop led Ya'Acov and Charlie will take place 24th - 28th September at Rill Estate in Devon.  Please follow the link for more details


Charlie Morley is the Hay House author of the bestselling Dreams of Awakening. He received the traditional “authorisation to teach” within the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism from Lama Yeshe Rinpoche in 2008 and was described by mindfulness expert Rob Nairn  as “the most authentic practitioner of lucid dreaming teaching in Europe”.  For the past 5 years Charlie has run retreats and workshops around the world, written two books on the subject, taught dream work for the Mindfulness Association  and given the first ever talk on lucid dreaming at the well-known TED conferences. For the past 4 years Charlie has lived at Kagyu Samye Dzong Buddhist Centre in London. 

Watch Charlie’s TED talk here:



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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the School of Movement Medicine. Roland Wilkinson, Nappers Crossing, Staverton, Devon TQ9 6PD, UK Tel & Fax +44 (0)1803 762255 http://www.