the big window is high in the trees there’s a ledge my cat can jump up. i have all kinds of vehicles here but my van is jumbled in with the washing machines. some succulents thrive in the garden others have gone to rot: not wanting my grandmother to see the dead ones i turn over the grainy red dirt so they won’t show.
One... one. One... Is this real? Dream check? Yeah, no, this is real.
“There’s nothing here.”
That's my first thought upon arriving at 179 Russell St.
It's a church. A small older man with a balding head, a funny little moustache and a back pack that looked like it weighs half as much as he does is slouched on the church steps. That's it.
I came here for a dance party. I say “hey there” to the man, though it seems like a stretch that this little old guy in a tucked pale orange plaid and khakis would know anything about a dance party.
The man looks up, grunts, and looks back down. It’s a big, dark church across from a park and nobody is around.
About to give up, I figure the event must have been cancelled or something, and start walking back towards Williamsburg. Then I notice a door, a side door into the church with the numbers 179 above it. It’s worth a shot. If there’s any chance of a dance party, I want to find it.
I open the door and it’s dead quiet. There’s a stair case going down to a door. I walk through it into a very large room. Extremely brightly lit, white fluorescents casting an uncomfortable glow over the whole room. And there’s a dude in there - just one guy - but as soon as I see him I know that this is somehow where I meant to come. He’s a large asian man with a gelled up hairstyle and plenty of tattoos.
“You know what this is, right?” he asks me.
“Um yeah, I read about it in the email newsletter. Dancing in the dark right? Dance party with no light?”
“Yep that’s it. And I’m the DJ. Just a couple rules. No cell phones, no break dancing, and most importantly - no watching.”
“Can I help you set up?” I offer. He’s just starting to pull a large set of speakers out of closet. The room isn’t set up at all.
“No, no. I’m good”
So I sit down on a piano bench and watch as he sets up. The event is supposed to start at 8:30 and it’s already 8:35. I start to feel bad for this guy, he’s doing all this work to set up a dark dance party and it looks like he’s going to be DJing to an invisible audience of one. Thumbing $5 I brought for the suggested donation I start to wonder if a $20 pity donation would actually be more appropriate.
Finally someone comes in. Actually a nice looking young woman in yoga pants. But she just says “I’m looking for my friend” who apparently isn’t me, and then turns around and leaves.
A few more minutes tick by and the DJ is frantically setting up fans, switching out light bulbs, and plugging in his sound system. As I watch the door, I'm shocked to see the older guy from the church steps walking in. He places his massive back pack against a wall and takes a place on the dance floor.
The lights go off. The DJ presses play.
Madonna - "Hung Up"
I start moving, trying to truly bring myself into the present, to be one with the darkness, to channel energy like a tai-chi flow master. I start grooving, moving, taking up space, bouncing around, hopping, waving my arms madly, hips to the left, hips to the right.
The DJ puts on something funky, something jazzy and latin, with a nice thumpy beat. I’m in salsa mode, back and forth hands to the side hands up, swinging down and around.
When the song goes quiet. I hear applause. Gentle, and measured, but significant. I turn around to see the swaying, bouncing silhouettes of several dozen people. The place is packed, and every single person you can barely make out is shaking, gyrating, skipping across the floor to the rhythm.
I realize I’m violating the “no looking” rule and get back to my dancing. By the time they finish with some ballet inducing melodies and the punky ska of Le Tigre’s “Deceptacon” I’m sweaty as hell in my black Levi’s thinking “maybe this is what SoulCycle is like”.
The Violent Femmes - "Blister in the Sun"
Although I constantly feel pulled back to a sense of vanity, a wanting to be seen, I’m empowered by the fact that I’m not. Empowered to swing wider, step faster, hop harder, or sway my hips just a little more smoothly on the sexy parts.
MC Hammer - "Can't Touch This"
Eventually a red light on the side goes on and you can dimly make out the faces of the people. When the music stops, and the lights come back on, the hall is cleared again, just me, the DJ, and the old guy with the back pack.
I stumble back out on the Greenpoint street. Sweaty, but happy. Another night of weird single existence rescued from mundane loneliness.
still – in dreams – across nets – in words and glances – as beautiful and eloquent as
if you want something, you need to ask for it.
its hard to choose
it can be ha erd to cha oose
i yit cah yun buh ee ha erd tuh oo cha oose
oose cha oo tuh erd ha?
yit cah yun buh ee ha.
buh ee yun erd ha oose?
ha oose tuh cah erd be.
yit buh ha tuh cha
it can be ha erd tuh oo cha oose
it can be h ard to ch oose
its hard to choose
hard to choose
phone a friend?
to start let’s say there’s the amazing of tens of thousands of people gathering in a desert to be and appreciate art. and there’s the problem of radical inclusivity via exclusivity, of anti-consumerism via Amazon Prime frenzy.
aside from those “of courses”, what I find lovely and special about burning man is just how barely-held-together everything is, and yet how well it all works. it’s that string of eL-wire that’s barely clinging to your fur coat, that little piece of string that’s literally the only thing holding up your art-DJ-booth, the little stuffed animal tenuously zip tied to your brake cables.
it’s an environment so chaotic and ephemeral that any tiny upgrade in the solidity or permanence of things can be directly appreciated as a genuine accomplishment. adding another screw to the two by four that holds the giant thermos of hot-cocoa to your four wheeled art bike; tying a slightly better knot on the guy line that is constantly being tested by fifty mile an hour wind gust; packing that one extra granola bar before you begin a 16 hour long adventure.
coming back into the default world we confront the fact that everything’s already _there_. it’s already buckled down, tied up, double-reinforced, and permanently secured: not only our structures, but our relationships, our identities, our futures.
life on the playa challenges us to identify less with what we built around us and more with what we can bring with us. what we can bring with us physically into the middle of the desert, on our backs as we trek through black rock city, and moreover, what we can bring with us, bare and naked, as we go about interacting with other humans. what can we bring by way of dance, ability to hear and heal, spark of intellect or adventure? How can we delight and contribute without the assistance of the all-to-solid structures that hold us on the pedestals we construct for ourselves in normal life?
the playa challenges us to consider how just being can be enough to be a contributor and not a mere observer. it encourages a deeper generosity of the moment, and a willingness to reach out and make an offer, rather than only to give when asked, and only to ask when absolutely essential.
when I went to the temple this year I was moved by the portrait of an old school burner. in the default world his name was john and on the playa he was sparkle pony. he sat there, smiling wide in a dusty arm chair in the middle of the desert with the oldschool man pavilion in the background.
this concussed poet brings to you:
YC summer eighteen.
Why, see the
as jingle in the
of every dollar
black badge founders pace
trying to (not) disrupt the space
as each mutters under breath
incantations - goal: success
in the white - YC alums
shmooze for leads or twirl their thumbs
preparing to consume
a glutton’s feast of pitch and slides
with a now familiar ring
we shuffle in
begin the thing
up in front, the OG crew
seibel, garry, alexis too
babies born upon the cruise ship
as sam takes stage to
announce PG and Jessica are here!
sam looks bold and built - stronger
push ups on the yacht deck - pale and skinny no longer
perhaps some public recreation out front the mansion
they have an asset light model for rapid pectoral expansion
keep up the growth and evolve into a titan
$10M in assets managed but is wealthfront frightened?
for gain without the cruelty and pain, try muscle mylk guys
an online trader joe’s where less animals die
and if you want to tat up that newly juiced bicep
join 8.5M others and download inkhunter to try it before you buy that.
palm oil production completely destroys the planet
C16 makes a fake to rake it in the day they ban it
also fucking up the world are right wing boomer babies
OutVote uses peer pressure to make democrats less lazy.
fintual another titan with $4m AUM
only difference is they do it in LatAm
a gnarly hook in human flesh the selling point of allotrope
instead just shock to pop a vein? I’m hoping this is all a joke
the camelot founders just burst out of college
to cash in on esports betting like DOTA and LOLage
how murdering your captain relates to optimized conversions?
ask mutiny who hope your boss gets some “personalized service”
viaoft has lonely beer cases and the environment’s back
uber pool for commercial trucking so they ride optimal packed
dreamcraft’s easy build game platform strictly for modders
likely to be the source of the next clan clash you slaughter
four growers computer vision robot plucks the ripest plums
leaving human hands freed up to provide tinder-swiping thumbs
$500B in indian credit is tracked in messy paper hard to edit
already tracking $60M of that is OKCredit
so we’re tracked but how about a coin backed, in dollars
anchor USD designed not to churn out more bitcoin ballers
but those in Africa trying to get on the Crypto boat
BuyCoins would be exchanging $1M if they just had more float
to clean up like these three beefy bro’s representing Frey
your fiat shave club for detergent on laundry day.
how much sex are you having? did you vote for trump?
like allotrope college pulse triggers a thump
hypcloud on the other hand not really that hype
more the commercial mortgage snore broker type
and Phaedra explains more meatless mylks from spero
data makes the gap between old cheese and 2.0 narrow
mac’d has a brick and mort chain that they go pitchin’
what lies beneath is a haunted house - ghost kitchens
ziffyhomes unhaunts houses - furnished condos in india
blowing up to the point where it’s surprising they’re in here
googly dataform say data is dirty
just when we thought this could not get more nerdy
CSPA wants to bring back the standardized test
so we’ll finally know just who’s the boolean-best.
half of hotel revenue is still booked offline
in flies the canary to SAAS the coal mine
flexible spending accounts lock up money
kinside does some stretching to let flow the honey
fixers don’t need TLC - they’re planned trips
with million dollar figures on the founder’s lips
too much electric power makes these lines fall down
sterblue drones will hover above cables between cities n towns
optic brings generated crud to the masses
so automate your tests and hope that CI passes
One API to rule them all, OneGraph to align them,
One API to bring them all into pipeline, and on the sales call, sign them.
document fraud like a copycat, founders identical twins
inscribe with deep learnt compuvisiontech, determine which one to let in
goodly is a cute. goodly sounds coo
goodly, goodle, google, boogle, boogly, woogly woo
have you seen fac-farmed chickens? stuffering, foul
seattle food tech makes a chickenish nug without fowl
training for employees a must, so do it in spanish or bust
make nearly a milli a year that’s really how ubits satisfies capitalust
nanopores, nanopores, nanopores, getchyur nanopores
and get your dynamic girth demonpores
when I sign legal docs I want klarity
an AI to highlight any contract disparities
it’s hard to stay savvy investing
maybe just pretending is the best thing
lego for big kids more modular - all based on 12 simple parts
say ‘ello to aalo, and try to find value for yuppies with smarts
iLabService founder’s named jing wang
funny it’s the same as a dame made me sing songs
regology is doing something but I could not tell you what
and for that I admit to having one head up half my butt.
tired of just living in reality? feel an urge to send it?
it started with snaps but SendReality can logical-end it
abacus investment banking on the blockchain
for managing securities the with that smart brain
feel a lack of mature products? there’s this happilabs co
in the game and growing 3 years with a milli rev or so.
emojer presents a stat that will make you “thank” / “pray”
there are six billion emojis sent every single day
yummy vitamins from lemonbox buy on 微信
no more sketchy, US product so you know where they’ve been
prodigal its logical - it makes cents
red shirts collaborate to reclaim what’s lent
every since I hit my head not sure I’m BrainHi
or brain low and broken as I strain my eyes
maybe I can use bot md with the clean brand
chat bot to give the docs a helping hand.
I saw their logo and wondered what and comfort
turns out a much needed women’s brand for plus size shirts
numericcal, numerical, noomiracle, hysterical, hystiricool, hoostiricle
machoonavootz agoontahootz machine learning steering wheel
with serious monthly growth its big Tenderd
at this rate they’ll hardly need a lender
the qurasense q-pad puts p-blood to work
nevermore get pricked by bloodthirsty jerk
toybox open and lay hands on some comic sans
collaborate to reach chesky-esque cosmic lands
alphavantage founder was pacing window to wall before his talk
in a Harvard vest we’ll see his best if he can pitch how he walks
one upping C16 is SF17
but it’s no palm oil substitute some medical magic thing
and medically sufficient with this shit is emptor
but im no industry expert so im lost on what it’s meant for
Mr. Revenue Cat rocks the beard and hair - furry
helping SMB’s build up sales that are recurring.
in #me - a world where you’re free, to be who you want
and have fun doing stunts, it’s the facebook for chipper Gen Z
half of $30 shipping crate moves aren’t even needed
bluecargo provides a guide to be heaved and heeded
back in the wealth management will ajaib be a giant?
based in Indonesia so there’s different for compliance.
radix labs founders do have a smart feel
if works then it’s huge but the risks are real
synvivia designs a near unthinkable switch
to turn on/off organisms in case life is a…
for those caught in the cycle of human trafficking it is one
annie cannons new tech opportunities gives them
it’s a concept as sweet as a kyte in the sky
can’t quite keep up with every single co but I do try.
when you need HR to lean on there’s Leena
Coca Cola hired them to replace Gabriel and Tina
ixora knows that jungle book spent 3 billion cents
to fill up mogli’s backgrounds with lush looking plants
business OpenPhone num in a app isn’t crap
but a look at digits makes me question their stats
augmented radar imaging founder - suited and legit
already has a $1.5B pub co under his leather belt but won’t quit
animo runs in figma and photoshop
converts design to code so we don’t need to stop
special needs parents for fifteen million kids
can use exception ally to assist with their sitch.
modern treasury solves a problem that teespring knew well
payouts and transfers en masse equals hell
perhaps Sam had a dose of Cytera to grow muscular cells
product is like a server rack, where clean burger meat swells
to be heard or be hard here it’s BHRD
I’ve heard raising a B round can be v. hard
enveritas caring founder with a passionate speech that triggers
spare us child labor and savor the $6M annual revenue figure
as I burn midnight oil here comes Osh’s or something like that involves pills
offer trientine, i offer galantamine, galantadream fantasy manically
scanning seas scanwell knows well that UTI’s suck
like acid in the pee tube, but now pee on a strip and upload it to youtube
kobo360 is uber for trucking in africa and yes they
are tracking for revenues way past a lot of ya
deep space of “No Fucking Way” is momentus, but you heard it right
$420MM in LOI’s for sattelite connection layover flights.
with spate track the trends that make means become ends
it’s some data you can lean on for inventory spend.
mylk in my eyedrop - here’s skydrop
after momentus how can my eyes pop?
car window based led ad screens from Grabb-it
so you’ll help out who-knows-what co next time you cab-it.
neuromorphic hardware scales better with time
im daniel engrossed in these raindrops connecting all lines
i don’t understand curebase, try as eye might, brain fry
struggle to add lines, dot all the t’s, cross the i’s.
“grandkids on demand” is something that we need still
papa is covered by medicare so seniors can netflix and chill
I’m still looking for somem 100% colombian coke zero
cambridge glycoscience has 100% cambrian cake zero
64-x has done something new - i don’t get it
e coli new DNA, genetics they edit.
incentivai is a step ahead of the smart contract game
ethereum app dev (if it ever happens) will never be the same
and kunduz is coming, war drums-a-drumming
to rewire the test prep tutor app from it’s plumbing
lightning atomic sparkswaps fly when crypto goes mainstream
wait I thought we already had 2017.
snark? i dont want no snark snark is a cloud AI can’t get no funds from me
hanging on the passengers side of advisor’s ride, trying to raise that seed.
augmented reality miru their logo is elegance
god damn I want that white tee and those denim pants
can I stay focused? no chance, federacy with bug bounty
im about to take my talents out to pershing county!
maybe bring some buttermilk packed foods on playa
an upgrade from the safeway ethnic foods aisle
I have two tickets, a van, and a vehicle pass
if I need any instructions I’ll use askMyClass
but i will have to google aps it, no AR enhanced drivers
if you bring the tinder, I’ll bring the PHIAR!
for safety positively verify ID using berbix
before donning the condom and bopping cervix
so know who you bop with, and now who to shopwith
that aligns influencer buys like the Tee-team I mobbed with.
I’ve had dreams that fake weeds will be huge
I’d be willing to slide down this luge
I spent my springtime out in Tokyo, Inokyo
and I been spitting out these bars since the Nokia.
RealtyBits can you make my Reality Bliss?
tokenizing real estate looks a bit like this.
why not throw a little cash the way of the honeylove
a much sexier versh of spanx fits money like a glove
stephen and bead with the shelf engine, dalton claims this is last stretch
i hope that that’s true, because try as I do, by now im burnt out as a wretch
dinesafe will help ensure your gut HODL’s
after you’ve binged out and full chipotle’d
that’s the power of JetLenses is tremendous
in that I love and yet can’t comprehend it
teens are chugging hot sauce on splish
if that’s not enough enough to invest you a …
drink all you want on splish stunt then regenerate with HepaTx
liver regrowth so you next sobriety oath we won’t quote you on
penta medical has a futuristic armband
and they’ve sold down to sports team from the stands
its hard for me to pronounve this cowrywise
helps Africans save their earned salary wisely
togg lifts the fog on old fogies, in homes
scan them from afar as they shroomm in their rooms
cheerbox picks up where gemnote left off
with beautiful custom designed gift box
the plexus logo is confusing, but VR gloves I wish I was using
VR is small but, when it goes legit, gloves will stroke x cups of digital tit
what is names + faces? who’s that new guy?
company directories barely squeak by.
speaking of boobies: mammograms with higia’s eva a super smart bra
hands on delivers a scan of the givers of milk, with numbers to awe.
hussein with oxygen , hate to be without
red on the top of tall poppy, ex-slack so think of Beryl
I considered color myself but the fear is that it wouldn’t wear well
good food wants to help solve the suffering of swine
people are only eating more beast flesh with time
data driven bioscience in case you we didn’t have that covered
someday we’ll be amazed with all the shit they discovered
jitx replacing EE’s with some simple software
seems powerful and founder looks like he has soft hair.
finally, off the record and off the charts are my Medinas homies
the Jesse A’s, Chloe’s and Growneys
off the record, I can’t discuss, so let’s talk about
ladels full of maple syrup
splashed across lapels
of the brightest flashing color dipped from
a million brilliant ink wells
see the golden fish swimming through
synthetic coral seas
and broke me
down beneath my knees
jump from ion to ion
electrons, just wanted to have sex on a scion
xB, debt free, running Windows XP
or nine five
in the moment you strive
and from he with the sixty mills raised
until the day the lord of hell stop raisin
until the day I go from grape to raisin
for no reason but to bring season
to bland bay weather
it’s the storm that swarms
in bold measure
the hot spot you could never un-tether,
after point the hedge money men and off stock bitcoin billionaires became bored of their army of creepy infantile prostitutes, they decided was about time start farming bog shrimp.
“have you ever had a good bog sharmp?” Hedgeman noodled with a cluster of diamonds nestled in the breast coat lapel.
“i saw a documentary once” responded mega rich Anglo.
“there’s nothing, not on mars, not on playa, nor between the stars, that compares to the satisfaction and plump crunch of biting into your own farmed salted bitter bog shrimp,” Hedgeman went on, “having scoured the earth and, fairly, scraped the last beans from the lower crack of the sack of hedonism, I can attest fondly of the pleasures of self-farmed bog shramps”
“i see nothing stopping us. we can use my acreage in coastal mendocino,” chortled Angloe, letting out a polite burp, “Alexa - ping my assistant and tell her to organize the marsh lands in Mendocino. 20 laborers and a 10 million dollar expense account.”
“I don’t understand,” said Alexa.
Anglo’s face reddened, “Organize the marshlands Alexa.”
“I mean, I don’t understand why you would want to do that, have you ever tried bog shrimp? They do not have a very pleasant taste.” said Alexa.
“I have it on good faith from Hedgeman here that BOG shrimp is the finest thing on fucking earth,” Anglo stammered, “I have it on PERFECTLY good faith, that a good bog shrimp, self farmed, is finer than the finest Venetian silk swaddling, the most orgiastic brothel in Amsterdam, I have paid millions if not tens of millions of dollars to find the…”
Hedgeman’s grin cracked wide smile watching sputter mouthing Anglo.“that’s quite enough, friend.
there are no sharmps,
they reek of shit.
our lives are like a cherry’s pit -
all spent out, nothing new to find
and to this fate i’m well resigned”
and the rest of them
or of you
roid rager little minute pause
Consumer fuckballoons dagger dumps widdle baybee budget busters out of a concrete phallic traunch Working it in out Working it Swami neverglum toot rats picking on the old pigment 19,18 50’s She cannut seem e termies knawing at the foundation found you! My clippish extrovort words wiggled nast light wink... Sending a pig wink your frog way. ~e
While I was on the retreat, I had a recurring dream in which Dr. Stephen LaBerge stood in front of a group of students lecturing on the subject of lucidity.
Our folding chairs were arranged in a circle around a big arm chair where Dr. LaBerge sat. He was always wearing an oversized draping blue hawaiin shirt and khaki shorts.
On the wall behind him danced reds orange yellow greens over brain slice EEG MRI diagrams.
On the wall behind us there were windows. Through the windows a lawn studded with odd conifers. Their pine needles were jointed and wisp like, gathering in the grass to form a carpet of fallen foliage. The trees framed a horizon full of roaring cobalt ocean.
Sea and sunshine.
I had this dream every day I was on the retreat, usually twice a day. I was always awake in this dream.
This dream. This is dream. This is a dream.
A grey haired man from Arizona. A Tibetan Buddhist Lama. A woman from Colorado. A dude with curly hair. A hot Australian couple. A fine and funky fellow from Cincinnati.
There were people with me on the retreat. The people dreamed. Sometimes we shared dreams, sometimes we enjoyed them privately.
We awoke each morning at 3:30am after about 4 hours of sleep to do a “wake back to bed practice”. You stay awake for 30 minutes and then go to sleep again, and through this practice, lucidity is much easier to achieve.
Thank you for reading the first section of “The Retreat”. In section two, I will discuss what I learned on the retreat. Learn forward.
I learned a few thinks on the retreat.
I learned how Dr. Stephen LaBerge thinks: quickly, erratically, and with an unapologetic hyperassociative explosiveness. He leaves blanks for the listener to fill in, and if you miss the first one, you might miss the whole train.
The train is bound for a fascinating destination, but it takes plenty of detours on the way. Out the windows you might see weird shit like the 1999 Cronenberg flick eXistenZ.
If you listen to Dr. LaBerge’s unique way of expressing himself long enough your own ponderings start to take on the form of his contagious rambling brilliance.
“So at this point, there’s a dog in the bathroom. And… Hmm…? And the proper way to execute a reality check would be…?” he looks ferociously around the room, eyes widening, hand outstretched, waiting for his response.
Dr. LaBerge shared interesting research with us. Did you know that you can hear sounds from the outside world while in REM? That you can control the motion of your closed eyes and rate of breathing while asleep? That Galantamine taken at four in the mornign nearly doubles chances of lucid dreaming? That the 40Hz Dorsolateral Pre-frontal Cortical Hypothesis of lucid dreaming posited by Voss Et Al in 2009 is most likely bull shit?
I learned about Yoga Nidra. It’s all shivasana.
Yoga Nidra uses body scans, placing attention at each of 61 stops on a rotation that touches every energy corner of the prostrate body. This relaxing ritual invites a practitioner to flirt at the edges of the hypnogogic state.
The hypnogogic state is what happens when you are falling asleep in class and you find yourself momentarily ice skating on Jupiter before jerking your head back up to pretend to learn more math. I used to call these intrusions “study bunnies”, a word that came to me during a study bunny.
Study bunnies can be induced by laying on ones back for long enough, and if you follow them they can lead you lucidly into dreamland. To do so, lay on your back and watch the study bunnies as they hop out. Know that these bunnies are tricky, they will always try to present themselves as what they are not — actualities. Bunnies are non-actualities.
Don’t be fooled by the bunnies. Label them for what they are.
If you lay there for long enough labelling bunnies as non-actualities, eventually a bunny will come along that will be so very convincing as an actuality that you will be able to climb into it as one. The bunny becomes a dream, your new actuality, and the old actuality, reality, fades out of focus.
Now here you are, inside of a dream. And aware of that you followed a bunny down a rabbit hole to get here. It might be a dream where you are still in your bedroom, or classroom, or it might be that you are suddenly flying, walking, running, or gazing out the window of the Trans-Siberian express.
This scene won’t last. These early dreams usually dissolve within a minute or so. The dissolution feels like you are being sucked up into the sky, pulled by a bungee cable, or caught in a hurricane. This inevitable transition sucks you out of your bunny-born nascent dream world into a formless void.
In the swirl of this void it will feel like you are dangerously close to waking up. You may wake up, into your bed, and your bed may or may not be physical. Most likely, if you are able to steady yourself, breathing in and out peacefully, and wait, you’ll soon be rewarded with a new dream.
In this formless space between dreams, there is great potential. In this space, the intention, suggestion, or expectation you give yourself can become the seed of the dream to come. It’s easier to set the stage for your next experience here than when you are already immersed in a particular scene.
You can tie the intended dream scene to the feeling in your body as you are in the void. If you feel like you are moving you can imagine being on a bicycle in a dancing metropolis. If you can feel that you are lying in bed, think of being in bed in a Scottish castle.
“I feel like I’m speeding along in a seated position — it must be that I’m on a train. When I open my eyes — I’m on a train.”
I learned things from Karma Lama. Karma was recognized as a reincarnated spiritual leader at the age of one, and began his training at five. He taught us about mantra yoga.
Om tara e tara e ture e sura
Monks chant together to dissolve the ego. The chant comes from the dantian, a point of the body located four fingers below the navel, inside the belly. It’s an energetic point used heavily in Qi Gong, thought to be the source of all the energy in the body.
“From the dantian looking out to all the energy in the universe,” my Qi Gong teacher would often say.
Chanting from the wind of the dantian, you immerse yourself in the rhythm and vibration of mantra, you become the mantra. Yoga means “coming together”. So in Mantra Yoga, you “lose yourself in the music.”
Karma Lama explains to us that when he chants in the monastery, at some point the music and chanting all suddenly stops. During these moment, which he describes as the “space between the frames of experience” we inhale, exhale, as nobody, in emptiness - experiencing the wisdom of no self.
As soon as the thoughts start again, the chanting begins again, thoughts become mantra. Mantra resonates as yantra, and we sit in our circle:
Om tara e tara e ture e sura
Om tara e tara e ture e sura
I learned that Galantamine works. On the fourth day of the retreat we started a three day long experiment with a substance called Galantamine. Galantamine is relatively innocuous when taken by a waking person. Doses of 24 milligrams are commonly prescribed as a daytime medication for persons with Alzheimers in China.
When combined with the REM dreaming state however, even 8 milligrams of Galantamine have an undeniable and extremely powerful effect. For example, as you fall asleep\ you begin to feel an intense whole-body vibration sensation. Each hypnagogia is crystal clear and presented before you without a disguise. As you get closer to passing the wake/sleep barrier the vibrations become extremely intense.
When you finally click over, you’re full blown in the middle of lucid dream without having even really tried. You just know you are dreaming - there’s been no break in the continuity of the experience from when you laid down in the waking world to here you are in a full blown dream. Side effects may include auditory hallucinations equivalent to a jackhammer on the pre-frontal cortex or standing within the mouth of a digeridoo -but it’s undeniably cool, and only occasionally terrifying.
I was lucid dreaming the old fashioned way — without galantamine — for years, and I still rarely use it, but it’s clear that with galantamine, the chance of getting lucid is nearly absolute. For newcomers to the practice it’s a powerful way to be shown what a REM journey feels like.
We were given either 0, 4 or 8 mg of Galantamine over the course of three nights in a double blind trial. Most of us woke up at 3:30am to take the pills and stay awake for the requisite 30 or so minutes before going back to bed to plunge into a lucid dream.
On his first night of full dose Galantamine, Karma Lama had a dream that I will never forget.
Thank you for reading and learning. In section three, I will report some dreams that dreamers dreamed on the retreat. Dream on.
A Tibetan monk’s lucid dream
I realize I am falling asleep. In the intermediate state I sit up into a meditation position, waiting for the dream to begin. I want to stand up but I can’t.
When the dream begins, I see my master. He has spent his whole life meditating in the himalayas. We do the practice where you merge with the master to receive a teaching. Yoga means “coming together”. This is Guru Yoga.
As we are conversing, he gets closer to me, and the voices become light, and he lights become one. The illusion of duality melts away. Information is light.
The deceiver lets her mask down when the perceiver sets her asks down.
A man from Arizona’s lucid dream
I’m standing in a room and I notice one of those old transistor radios. It’s playing something but I can’t quite make out the words. I pull the radio closer to me, trying to listen.
I can’t understand any of it and realize I must be dreaming. I start waking up. I try rubbing my hands together to stay asleep, but it doesn’t work, and I wake up. I wish I knew what the voice on the radio had been saying.
A hot Australian couple’s lucid dream
I hear an incredibly high pitched sound. Loud and high pitched. It’s almost painful. I’m certain I have taken the full dose of galantamine.
I am outside my yurt, waiting for the pills to kick in and playing my guitar. I notice Hannah is no longer in the bed, it is now Stephen LaBerge. Excitedly I jump across the room and get close to Stephen’s face and say “GOTCHA, IM DREAMING!” Stephen doesn’t respond so I ask him if we would like to have some chocolate birthday cake? His head slowly turns, I wake up.
A dude with curly hair’s first lucid dream
The hypnogogic imagery is so vivid. I can see it growing and building right in front of my face. Before I know it I’m in a dream. It’s my first lucid dream.
I try to conjure up a sexy girl. I yell out her name, but nobody appears.
I want to fly so I try jumping off sticking out my arms like super man. I land on my stomach.
A loopy poet’s lucid dreams
Act O - Submission (nightmarish)
I wake up at 3:30am and take the galantamine. Within fifteen minutes I can feel it working a sting in the pit of my gut.
I lay down on my back try to fall asleep and lucid dream but I’m too wired. The gala makes it like that. I can feel the ringing — the buzzing.
As each hypnogogia emerges it is crystal-clear for what it is. The borders of everything are defined, I’m laying awake in bed in a yurt in Hawaii, and simultaneously experiencing little hallucinations. But they don’t lead to dreams.
The closer I get to falling asleep, the more intense the vibrations become. My heart is pounding. I know something is coming. It feels as though an electric force is pulling me up and out of my body.
Then suddenly, I click over to the dream side. I’m in front of my yurt, eyes wide to darkness and surrendered to the overwhelm of the vibrations. There in front of my yurt stands a shade, a terrifying almost faceless figure, greenish against the gloom.
The eyes of this being are fixed on me as I’m helplessly pulled closer. There is a soul behind those dim eyes and it pierces the depths of mine. I wonder if I am experiencing the border of a Guru Yoga experience as Karma described it. I wonder if that chilling figure is me, my shadow. I wonder if this is what it feels like to die. Then as I get closer, trying to examine the face of this alien presence, I ask “Dr. LaBerge?”
And again I’m awake, inside, on the bed of my yurt. Tingles run up and down my spine. The dream lasted at most 30 seconds, some of the most intense moments of my entire life.
I decide to roll onto my side, a feeling of safety, and I have some of the most vivid lucid dreams of my life.
Act I - Experimentation
I find myself wandering around a medieval town. It feels like a place where I have been before. I know that I want to experiment with how vision works in dreams.
As it normally is in the beginning of the dream my motion through the dream world is clumsy. A kind of wobble-walk that takes slower with each step than you’d want. There’s a need to be cautious, not to ask too much of the environment. If I turn around for example, how will my mind know what to fill in there? It could cause the whole dream to collapse.
I examine the borders of my vision. It feels as though in fact, there’s little content in the peripheral. It’s mostly a straight-ahead view. A narrower field than in waking, upon inspection.
I try spinning. Spinning is supposed to stabilize the dream, to ground your motor processes in your dream body and maintain the paralysis. I spin around. It works. By spinning in multiples of 360 degrees I’m able to expect to return to the same visual dream content, but with a refreshed sense of stability.
Act II - Manifestation (sexual content)
In front of a house I realize I want to have sex. I tell myself - maybe there will be a woman inside there.
I go inside call out her name, sure enough, she steps out. She looks… a bit older than I had anticipated, and her face is not particularly stable, but regardless I decide to propose something, “we are going to shoot a porno.”
We go into the other room, and she’s a bit younger now. As we move closer to an embrace, she takes on a new appearance, the most beautiful woman I can possibly imagine. I’m astounded and also sad as I know her face will soon transform again.
There’s a feeling of pleasure, but it’s a bit uncomfortable, accompanied by a ferocious almost itchy vibration in the lower chakras. I try not to focus on the physicality of what is happening and instead on the sensation.
As it intensifies, the scene melts away.
Act III - Elation
In the grey space I feel that I’m speeding along. I think, “I must be on a train.” I am on a train. The walls of the trains are papered in an endless collage of erotic cartoon imagery. I want people to come onto this train. The doors open and people flood in. I see some at the back. A couple at the back of the train catch my eye and I move over to make an advance on them.
As I get closer the woman glares at me “Please stop. We aren’t just your dream characters. We are also lucid dreaming right now.” There’s a sense they might be from Wisconsin. We talk about how they are lucid too and we happen to be in the same dream. I tell them that I’m using galantamine. They explain they are using “Tholine”.
I’m with my mutual dream friends floating on a magic carpet high above a grassy park full of people. The conversation eventually becomes musical, a jam session. I’m singing and playing guitar. The chorus of the song goes:
Here are the bandits
If you feel it put your hands up
The people in the park all start cheering and raising their arms into the air. I’m creating every note in this rock anthem. It’s extremely satisfying. I decide I’m ready to wrap up my dream, and end it on mind melting guitar solo. As I play endless layered archipeggios I feel myself floating up, up and into the sky.
I wake up.
I’m meditating on a beach made of large smooth boulders at the base of a cliff. Waves roll in and the sky is full of fast moving fluff. On the blue horizon above roaring cobalt I see the words: THIS IS A DREAM. Again, painted in bold letters: THIS IS A DREAM.
I say the words out loud “This is a dream. This is a dream.”
This too, is a dream.