We all know the truth of the benefit of a night’s sleep to making a decision or getting a clearer perspective on a question or a concern. Why does this work? How can we actively use the mystery of sleep to live richer lives?
Here are some of my thoughts.
What is sleep? What happens to consciousness? Where do “I” go when I go to sleep?
When I was a little girl my mother would tuck me into bed and tell me I was going to Lily White’s party which referred to the white bedsheets. I loved the idea because it seemed to make sense that when I went to sleep I was going somewhere where others would be interacting with me.
But … my living body was there in the bed so how could I be going somewhere else?
When we fall asleep there is a separation. Our soul and spirit separate from our living body and the world/life of our senses and enter what is called the Spirit World, the supersensible realm of Source beyond time and personal story. It is there we are refreshed and restored.
Each time we sleep we cross the threshold between waking and sleeping twice. Once when we fall asleep and then when we wake up. The thresholds of sleep are similar to a death and birth of earthly, sensory consciousness. Thresholds hold rich meaning for us. We cross thresholds when we enter into different space or begin something new and we reach thresholds of magnitude or intensity that must be exceeded for a certain reaction, phenomenon, result, or condition to occur or be manifested.
When we sleep on a decision, question, or concern we seek a new or intensified sense of selfhood. We reach and cross thresholds.
Sleep is a spiritual activity. In meditative practices, we essentiallly work to create the phenomenon of sleep without sleeping, while remaining awake.
There are three spiritual activities during sleep.
- we spiritually “digest” all that has entered our consciousness during the previous waking time
- we offer the spiritually digested, morally alive content of our earthly day to the spiritual records known as the akashic records since ancient times.
- we receive insight, guidance and comfort from spiritual beings inspiring new thoughts and understandings, clarification of feelings, and directions for impulses for actions and deeds for the future.
While we are sleeping and in this state of separation, our living physical bodies are also actively restoring. Healing and (re)growth take place during sleep. Consciousness (thinking, feeling and willing) use up the resources of our living physical bodies. The brain is only 2% of your body but uses at least 20% of your energy. If you think a lot or are emotionally intense managing CPTSD, or are super active, you are using much more than 20%. So when your soul or consciousness is finding its reSource in the Spirit World and not depending on your brain, your heart or your gut, your living body can use the creative, renewing energy of life to restore, heal and grow itself. Ideally, every night your living body becomes a better earthly home, servant, vehicle for your consciousness and your inner divinity.
We can certainly just fall asleep in simple physical exhaustion. In this case, we still go into the spiritual world, we still get inspirations and our living physical bodies still restore, heal and grow. However if we consciously prepare for sleep, the benefit is much more powerful.
Preparation for sleep is a discipline requiring a self-awareness and a self-regulation that can challenge your tired soul who that would just like you to brush your teeth, read a few pages, and fade into dreamland. However, beginning a practice with the preparations below you will find sleep is much more restorative and inspiring.
These preparations are best done sitting up on the edge of your bed. I keep thinking about them once I am under the covers when it is all too easy to fall asleep in the middle of the exercise (which I often do). As I write this, it’s occurring to me to use my meditation timer (I use the insight timer app on my ipad – it announces that time is up with the sounds of a variety of Tibetan gongs.)
This preparation is not prayer or supplication, nor is it meditation. You are opening a particular pathway in your soul to the guidance available during your sojourn in the spiritual realm of sleep.
Review of the Day – This is a slow methodical review of the day. You do the review backwards as if you were unwinding something you just wound up. Essentially, you are recollecting, reviewing and releasing the sensory perceptions and the material expressions and impressions of the day.
You are undressing the day and getting it ready for bed. You wouldn’t go to bed with your clothes on, would you. If you did you probably wouldn’t feel like you had had a good night’s sleep. So undress your soul from all it put on during the day.
Here are some of the ways you can undress your soul:
- Think of the interactions you had with other people during the day (you might want to include all the people you thought of)
- Think of all the activities of your day – your work activities, your home activities, all the things you did and all the things you thought about doing. Try not to load them with emotions but keep you judgments neutral.
- Think of your experiences of nature.
- Think of your experiences of material things.
- Think of your feelings during the day – try to do this with equanimity – anxiety, annoyances, delight, sadness.
Now put on your soul pajamas.
Asking A Question: Each night before you go to sleep, ask an open question. You are not asking for a specific outcome when you ask an open question. You may say
“I am confused about …., how can I find a organized structure on which to find clarity and certainty?” or
“I am concerned about my child (or any other person), is there something I can say, do, feel, meditate on, to support their life?” or
I feel I must make a decision or take action in a particular situation, how do I make the right choice, do the right thing, make the right change, let go of my anxiety?”
The gesture must be open. Imagination, inspiration and intuition only come to those who are free. If you have an agenda, you are blocking your development through and of sacred sleep.
This is also the time to speak to members of your karmic community that have crossed the threshold of death. Imagine them with warmth and light, then ask them a question or invite them to help you. If you are aware that your deed is significant to the future, you can also reach out to those human souls that are close to a new incarnation, asking for direction.
Have a good night’s sleep in the Spirit World. You will wake up to a new you, a new perspective, a new understanding and a good day’s waking.
I will address your sleeping environment and the mysteries of insomnia in the next couple of weeks.
PLEASE COMMENT – Share your practices for preparing for sleep. Thanks!
I will be sending out the full description of the Intensive Inner Summer Program on developing inner balance in a few days. Meanwhile you can visit my store for the short description and the opportunity to register early – there are only 12 spots in each session.
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