The completion stage contains methods of vajrayana practice that focus on purifying our ordinary dualistic relationship with death, dreams, our breath and subtle energies that flow through our bodies, the state between death and rebirth, and the mind itself. This includes instructions on Mahamudra and Dzogchen.
There are two aspects to the completion stage: the completion stage with characteristics and the completion stage without characteristics. The completion stage with characteristics includes practices that involve subtle visualizations inside the body, breathing techniques, yogic exercises, harnessing the power of sexual energies, and utilizing the states of deep sleep and dreams. One famous example of a collection of these practices is the Six Dharmas of Naropa. This collection includes: tummo (inner fire meditation), the luminosity of deep sleep, practice of dreams, illusory body, transference of consciousness at death, and navigating the bardo, or the state in between death and the next life. The completion stage without characteristics includes the practices of Mahamudra and Dzogchen, wherein one meditates directly within the unfabricated nature of mind.
Mahamudra, or the “Great Seal”, is a vast system of practicing and realizing the ultimate nature of mind. This tradition is famous in the Kagyü lineages of Tibet. Some of the specialties of Mahamudra include the gradual trainings of calm abiding and special insight, the Four Yogas of Mahamudra, the Six Dharmas of Tilopa, Coemergent Mahamudra, Five-fold Mahamudra, and so forth. Mahamudra is often practiced in retreat with the elaborate practice of the Six Dharmas of Naropa as a powerful means of enhancement.
Dzogchen (or the Great Perfection) is a vast system of practicing and realizing the ultimate nature of mind. It is famous in the Nyingma lineages of Tibet. Practices specific to innermost Dzogchen teachings include Trechö (Cutting Through) the collections of all conceptual thoughts into the naked uncontrived nature of reality, Khorde Rushen (Separating Samsara and Nirvana), and Thögal, the (Direct Transcendence) of dualistic impure vision through opening up the gateways of primordial wisdom to enter into the ultimate infinite luminous indestructible sphere of true reality.