When a reaction arises, remind yourself that you, the object, and your reaction to the object are all dream. Think to yourself, “This anger is a dream. This desire is a dream. This indignation, grief, exuberance, is a dream.”

The truth in this statement becomes clear when you pay attention to the inner processes that produce emotional states: you literally dream them up through a complex interaction of thoughts, images, bodily states and sensations. Emotional reactivity does not originate “out there” in objects. It arises, is experienced, and ceases in you.

Every situation and reaction should be recognized as a dream. Do not just slap the sentence onto a piece of your experience; try to actually feel the dream-like quality of your inner life. When this assertion is actually felt, not just thought, the relationship to the situation changes, and the tight, emotional grip on phenomena relaxes. The situation becomes clearer and more spacious, and grasping and aversion are directly recognized as the uncomfortable constricts that they truly are.

The teachings generally refer to this particular practice as a method to give up attachments. There are healthy and unhealthy ways to give these up. It does one little good to suppress desires; they are then transformed into internal turmoil or external condemnations and intolerance.

And it also works against spiritual development to attempt to flee from pain through distraction or by tightening the body in order to choke off experience. It can be healthy to give up worldly life and become a monk or a nun or it can be an unhealthy attempt to escape difficult experiences through suppression and avoidance.