The origins of Daoist Yoga of Dreaming can be traced back to various Daoist schools. Its central birthplace, however, is considered Huashan mountain – the place that harbored followers of Dao for many centuries (according to some sources for over 2000 years).
In the peak of its development, Mt. Huashan gathered few hundred monks who used the special energy of the place to strengthen their practice. At present about 50 monks (male and female) reside in the monastery at the foot of the mountain and another 10-15 Daoist recluses roam around all but isolated from society and usually dwelling close to the multiple hidden caves.
According to the legend, the popularity of Mt. Huashan among Daoist recluses was explained through the influence of the Daoist patriarch Chen Tuan who won it from Zhao Kuangyin in a game of chess. Chen Tuan was promised unrestricted access to this mountain for the Daoists if Zhao becomes emperor – which he did in 960 AD. After receiving the mountain, the Daoists spread along it and remained for long, forming the Huashan sect in Daoism which became popular and is preserved to this day.
It is considered that the practices of Dreaming are rooted in the practices of the Huashan Daoists who used them most extensively. The first Daoist to attain immortality through Dreaming practice was Chen Tuan. The statue of his in Dreaming position is found in the monastery of the Jade Source and still testifies of his contribution to this art.
In Daoist tradition, the practice of Dreaming represents an art which first aims at explaining the nature of Dreaming, its conscious understanding and usage to improve self-cultivation. Development of the dreaming process is dependent on different forces and their understanding requires systematical knowledge of rhythm. Daoists believe that if we cannot acquire knowledge of the rhythm, embodied in the circulation of the energy during the dreaming process, Dreaming itself becomes useless. By knowing the rhythm of Dreaming, we acquire knowledge of naturalness which, in turn, allows us to control the dreaming process and understand the principles of dreaming.
Daoists also consider that the simplified attempts to decode dreams – as is usually done today – are a pointless activity that demonstrates the necessity to perceive the process deeper. Every attempt to approach Dreaming on the level of images creates the conditions for substitution of the process of dreaming with the form which conditions it. The most important aspect is to grasp the rhythm while in dreaming state. After that we learn how to connect our internal energy with the energy of the dream which is the basic task of the art of dreaming.
Successive development in the Art of Dreaming depends on the understanding of the three rhythms which govern the dreaming process. These are:
The rhythm of the 5 yin organs
The rhythm of the 8 movements
The rhythm of the three spaces.
Each of these three rhythms has a corresponding breathing.
Knowledge of the rhythm of Dreaming gives the possibility to master the quality of the dreaming process.
Eight qualities of dreaming
Preservation of energy (nengliangshouhengzbi)
Substitution of energy (qitihuan)
Development of energy (zhengfa)
Suppression of energy (qiyizhi)
Change of rhythm (jiezo ubianhua)
Successive experience of time (shijianguoqu)
Interconnection of space (kongjiandingxin)
Activation of space (didianxiaoguo)
The Art of Daoist Dreaming consists of four levels.
Level 1 Directed towards gathering the dreaming process.
Level 2 Directed towards gathering in the dreaming process.
Level 3 Directed towards connection between the gathered dreaming process and the gathered body.
Level 4 Realization of unified space, which connects the energy of the dreaming process and the personal energy.