A third of our life is spent sleeping — this relates to approximately to 25 years of the average person's life! For most people this is either a blank void or a time when the best we can hope for is some confusing and often incomprehensible dream memories. What if we could utilize that one third more effectively, so that it becomes as important a part of our lives as the other two thirds, which we spend physically and actively awake?

For millennia ancient cultures such as the Toltec of the Mexica/Aztec tradition and the pre-Buddhist Tibetan Shamans known as the Bonpo (amongst others) actively engaged their dream states and realized the incredible creative and spiritual potential when the physical body is asleep, a potential that is far greater than that which we ordinarily have in our waking state.

An exciting and unique new event, "Gateways of the Mind," taking place on the 3rd-4th November 2012 in London will, for the first time,  bring together some of the foremost practitioners of these ancient traditions, and show how our ancestors were experienced conscious explorers of the dream state and paved the way not only for their modern day disciples, but also for the many other experienced practitioners who are now teaching in the west.

For many centuries in the west, the commonly held view was that the only valid reality was the one that we experience in the physical waking state, with the possibility of some kind of afterlife, depending on one's beliefs.

Eastern philosophical thought has taught, for more than 2000 years, that we are more than our physical bodies, that we can experience and explore various levels of consciousness from our current physical existence. Mankind is once again waking up to the possibilities of an accessible and expanded awareness in a more profound and beneficial way.

The practices of Lucid Dreaming, becoming consciously aware in your dreams that you are dreaming and then actively engaging in that state, and of Out Of Body Experiences (OBE), a complex phenomenon where it is actually possibly to perceive one's own physical body sleeping but from outside the confines of that physical body, are now becoming much more widely known as both a global phenomenon and as valid scientific processes and practices.

Bringing together five recognized authors and teachers, Gateways of the Mind will join the dots between ancient and modern perceptions and techniques on the dream-state and will also highlight how the realities encountered there differ from those in the Out Of Body Experience.

Robert Waggoner is author of the acclaimed and game changing book, Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self. In it he explains that while lucid in the dream state and able to act and interact with dream figures, objects, and settings, he experienced something transformative and unexpected. He was able to interact consciously with the dream observer — the apparent Inner Self — within the dream. At first this seemed shocking, even impossible, since psychology normally alludes to such theoretical inner aspects as the Subliminal Self, the Center, the Internal Self-Helper in vague and theoretical ways. Waggoner came to realize, however, that aware interaction with the Inner Self was not only possible, but actual and highly inspiring. He concluded that while aware in the dream state, one has both a psychological tool and a platform from which to understand dreaming and the larger picture of man's psyche as well.

He was also consulted as a lucid dream expert for Christoper Nolan's highly acclaimed movie Inception, which has really helped propel lucid dreaming into the mainstream awareness and encouraged and inspired many new people to try for themselves.

Fellow lucid dream speaker Charlie Morley has been a self taught lucid dreamer since the age of 17 and a practicing Buddhist for the past 10 years. Because of his own personal beliefs, 4 years ago Charlie started teaching lucid dreaming within the context of Tibetan Buddhism. Soon after he started teaching, he received the traditional Tibetan Buddhist "authorisation to teach" from his teacher, the famous Lama Yeshe Rinpoche, the Abbot of Samye Ling Monastery in Scotland, which is not only a great honour but also a valuable seal of approval from such a highly regarded Lama. Working from his own vast experiences and combining with his Buddhist understanding in late 2010 Charlie and his mentor Rob Nairn began to create and pioneer a new holistic approach to lucid dreaming and conscious sleeping called 'Mindfulness of Dream and Sleep'. Just last year he gave the first ever talk on lucid dreaming at one of the well known TED conferences in San Diego.

Charlie and Robert will demonstrate from their own vast years of lucid dreaming experience the scope and potentiality of this state and how each of us can reach it through a variety of simple but effective techniques.

Active Engagement in the Dream State across the Ages

One of the interesting aspects of the Gateways concept is that it will highlight the profound experiences that our ancestors had millennia ago in the dream state and how modern day disciples are still using the ideas and techniques formulated by those ancient cultures.

The Tibetan pre-Buddhist shaman culture of the Bonpo and the Aztec/Mexica tradition of the Toltecs at first glance would seemingly have little in common, based as they are on almost opposite sides of the world; yet upon closer inspection they start to show in their approach to the dream and non-physical states a close resemblance, which possibly indicates a common but as yet undefined shared origin lost in the passage of time.

Sergio Magaña, "Ocelocoyotl", is a well-known and respected healer in Mexico City, who has been initiated into the 5,000-year-old Toltec or Toltecayotl lineage of Mesoamerica. The tradition began with the ancient Chichimecas, who transmitted it to Teotihuacans and then Toltecs, who then taught both the Mayans and Aztecs. He believes that there was a common origin in the knowledge source of the Tibetan Dream yoga practices and the lineage of Nahualism that he is trained in. This dreaming knowledge has been passed on in the oral tradition without interruption from master to student for 1,460 years. Sergio is one of a few spokespeople asked to share this ancient and hidden wisdom with the world and believes that the time for these teachings to be unveiled is now.

Dr. Michael Katz is a psychologist, former Yantra Yoga instructor, author, artist and long time student of contemporary masters of Tibetan Buddhism and Bon. He is best known as having authored the introduction and edited the popular book Dream Yoga and the Practice of Natural Light by Chogyal Namkhai Norbu. Additionally he is the author of the book Tibetan Dream Yoga — The Royal Road to Enlightenment, and he maintains an archive of lucid dreams.

Dream Yoga and the Practice of Natural Light emphasizes the importance of using the time spent asleep and dreaming for spiritual or transpersonal purposes. The book also offers specific exercises to develop awareness within the dream and sleep states associated with the Dzogchen tradition of Buddhism. It also describes the relationship between the "practices of the night" including "Dream Yoga" and the passage through the Bardos of Death and Dying. It is these reference points and ideas that Katz will deliver at the Gateways Conference.

Between them Magana and Katz will talk at length about their own experiences from these ancient cultures and demonstrate the techniques that have been passed down from teacher to student in the ancient and traditional manner.

The link between the Buddhist intermediary state of the Bardo is one that long time OBE practitioner, teacher and author Graham Nicholls finds interesting and cites it as one of the reasons he was keen to participate in Gateways. "I was intrigued by the organisers' interest in the Buddhist notion of the Bardo, which again made me feel that this conference would go deeper than the often superficial or overly commercial claims of the more new age events and speakers."

Graham is the author of two books, Avenues of the Human Spirit, and the recently launched Navigating the Out-of-Body Experience. He is a specialist on OBEs and related research and has left his body many hundreds of times over the last 25 years. He has also spent many years teaching and guiding people through their first OBE, or helping them reach a state of inner peace or awareness through their own perceptions and abilities.

He believes in demonstrating that the Out of Body experience is a valid cognitive experience that can hold up to scientific scrutiny and as such is all in favour of collaborating with scientists as he indeed does with such notaries as Rupert Sheldrake. He continues to support a scientific methodology towards the exploration of human consciousness. In relation to the event he concludes that "On a wider level Gateways feels like an event for people interested in cultural exchange and learning something that can have real value to the world. And simply because Gateways is like nothing else happening right now."

Conference Director Davyd Farrell further quantifies Graham's comments by explaining that "All of the organization team are keenly interested in the subject matter themselves and practice lucid dreaming whenever they can. We wanted to organize an event that we would like to attend ourselves and as such were inspired to bring together these great voices and explorers of consciousness. Our aim when we set out to put this event together was to not only highlight to as many people the benefits of accessing and utilizing the non-physical realities, but to also demonstrate that as humans we have been doing this for thousands of years the world over. We believe our speakers are great ambassadors for this field of research and exploration. The concept of the 2 day conference with interactive workshops and debates will enable attendees to really get some first rate instructions and also meet like minded people as well. Its our hope that Gateways will provide a regular platform for the rapidly expanding lucid dreaming and OBE global communities and help people to share their experiences. We have already met many more new and amazing people in the process of organizing this and know that we are helping to contribute something positive to pushing the boundaries of human conscious exploration. Truly these processes are Gateways of the Mind to a vast and exciting world which is as yet undiscovered for the vast majority of us."

Gateways of the Mind is a 2-day conference taking place in London on the 3rd-4th November 2012 at the Royal Geographical Society in Kensington Gore, London.
For further information on this event please visit the event website www.gatewaysofthemind.com or email to [email protected]

Image by sutrebor, courtesy of Creative Commons license.