From Insomniac To Astralnaut

1316 Relax and Succeed - A busy ego before bed sets us up to sleep with the enemy

Today, many people have turned their concept of ‘sleep’ into some sort of terrible terrain that they are afraid to traverse each night. If we choose to think of sleep that way then it only makes sense that it will feel that way when we get there. We’ve pre-demonized it.

Half the joy of dinner at a great cook’s house is built by our anticipation of how good the meal will be. Half of the joy of a horror film is that something might jump out of a closet. Anticipation and fear are both projections of the future that are known to consistently exceed reality’s ability to deliver. Thoughts do a lot.

Without our thoughts about it, Disneyland is just another paved lot filled with fake storefronts, common rides and cute characters. Take our thoughts about sleep away and a bed is not dangerous territory, it’s just a rectangular piece of soft furniture for laying down on. There is no reason to fear it. It’s our thinking about the act of falling asleep that we’re afraid of. But now the bed and bedtimes trigger those courses of thought.

It is time to reinvent bedrooms into meditation salons. We don’t go there to sleep, we go there to commune with spirit –to break the bonds of our earthly selves. Dreaming is a very spiritual thing.

Part of the problem is that so many people today use sleep aids. Those impact memory, so people don’t remember their dreams. Even if they are having fun at night too many of us can’t recall what happened.

Even more than just regular old exciting dreams, lucid dreaming can be an extremely enjoyable and rewarding experience. But again, to do it most of us will likely need to have a drug-free mind. If we can work our way through that however, we do get a reward…

Rather than turning the idea of sleep into something scary, let’s make it into something exciting and desirable. Let’s make it into a meditative opportunity. Instead of seeing our beds as hostile territory, we can see it more like a shaman’s platform, or some kind of test area in a science lab.

Bed is the surface that we lay on when we want to explore inner space –where we transport into our lucid dreams –as Astralnauts.

It might seem over-the-top and unattainable, but all it really requires is for us to take the task seriously. I learned it in about 2-3 months as a kid. But I tried every single night. No practice, no skill.

1316 Relax and Succeed - Make sleeping a meditation

The easiest way is just to repetitively tell ourselves we will wake up in our sleep every night, and then stop to remember our dreams in the morning. Repeat then wait.

I did it by accident, by trying to ‘be awake’ for the moment that I fell asleep. However we do it, it’s important that we understand what we’re doing. We’re simply layering our waking consciousness over top of our sleeping mind much like our ego controls our biological mind while we’re technically ‘awake.’

When I succeeded and woke up in a dream, I’m not sure that was because I caught the moment of falling asleep or not. But after a few weeks of trying I suddenly found myself in a weird state of mind. I was in a dream, but part of me was awake. It was like achieving superhero status. In the dream I could do anything.

Many people have learned to do this. It’s better than labelling ourselves as insomniacs and just surrendering into that victim state. There’s no reason to do that when we can just as easily turn the Torture Chamber of Insomnia into the Horizontal Temple of Dreams. But again, it takes practice before the payoff.

We can all start by just remembering the unguided dreams we do have. If we don’t remember them now, no problem. If we start taking a few minutes each morning to try to, I have yet to meet the person who couldn’t over time.

Even within the first week of trying most people notice they are grabbing more snippets, and eventually the snippets get longer and within a few months people can often remember them quite easily, and in fair detail.

Over time we just get better at it like any other thing our brains do. And, if we remember them we can also think about how fascinating many of them are. They are also good clues as to how our mind is processing the world at any given time.

If we can come to see dreams as a kind of temporary freedom, then bed time isn’t scary. Instead, it becomes more like an opportunity, or a trip to the holodeck, or some fantastic theatre where we even feel what’s on the ‘screen.’ They can be great learning experiences.

Bottom line, sleep will never come easy if we see our beds as hostile territory. But that conception is made entirely of our own thoughts, so to change those we must first accept responsibility for them. From there we can use our minds to turn our time in bed into the very activity of falling sleep, all so we may have the lucid experiences that can not only make bed time quite fun, but they also make for a wonderful and useful form of meditation.

Enjoy your practice.

peace, s

Sleep Procrastination

Are you familiar with the condition Sleep Procrastination? Before going to bed I get restless or anxious and I pace and I have trouble actually laying down to even try to fall asleep. I’ve tried quite a few programs and drugs including hypnosis but with no success. Do you have any suggestions about what I can do?

signed,
Sleepless

Dear Sleepless,

So you think you should be asleep but you’re not. This is a good example of how subtly we are brainwashed by the world around us. You believe because your work has starting hours, and that because you’ve always heard you need eight hours sleep, you can calculate backwards to when you should be going to bed and to sleep. But all of that has to do with work, and hours and obligation. Those are all thought-forms. Those are not things that existed for cave men. Those don’t have anything to do with your nature, those are ideas that we have been 423 Relax and Succeed - Tension is who you think you areconditioned to treat like rules-to-exist-by and they are decidedly not like sleep which is entirely natural. Sleep is not a thought-form, sleep is a change in consciousness. Far from being a set of rules, it is a very special kind of freedom. Are you getting where I’m going with this?

First off, you’re not failing to fall asleep if you’re not actually tired. When work starts, and how much sleep Harvard says you need don’t have anything to do with you the individual and your experience of life in those moments. If you’re not tired you’re not tired. This is what Krishnamurti meant when he said, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” You are a natural creature existing within an inhuman mental framework. Because someone invented a clock does not mean you are being wrong by being tired at 2pm instead of 10pm. So that’s the first thing.

The second thing is that you may be tired but avoiding the bed for reasons that are inexplicable to you. So let me make them explicable. (I totally expected my red spell-check line to turn on under explicable. Who knew that was a word?) There’s a part of your brain that knows that all is well as long as birds are singing. If the birds around you suddenly stop singing, then your brain knows something is happening that’s worth paying attention to. Well you’re kind of the same way with sleep. There’s a form of sleep that’s very natural and that’s group sleeping. In most cultures you’ll have large numbers of people all sharing a very small space and everyone will be using each other as pillows. 80% of the world does this. It’s what we’ve historically done throughout our evolution. So because some guy invented houses and coved us off in small 423 Relax and Succeed - Sleep is the best meditationgroups, and then they further coved us off into individual bedrooms, that doesn’t mean that’s how we’ll get the best sleep. That was just what worked financially. The Economy liked it that way. More furniture. 😉

A while back a guy was writing a book and it was based on him taking a one year period where he did absolutely everything that was recommended in something like the New York Times Style section, or maybe doing everything it recommended for women in a year of Cosmo—or something like that. The point being, for an entire year he tried a bunch of media-prescribed solutions, and then he wrote a book about it. When an interviewer asked him at the end of the year if he still did any of the things that were recommended, he said only one. He still slept with 14 pillows on his bed. Get it? The pillows mimic the feeling of sleeping with your relatives. The sense of leaning, and being spooned into place is very similar. So after one year of experimenting, the only thing of value was to create the illusion of a group sleep situation.

This is not likely to be the answer you were looking for. Hey, you can certainly focus on ensuring you’re not thinking limiting thoughts when approaching bed, and you have to check in to see what sort of narratives you may have built around the process of going to bed, but bottom line some of what you’re concerned about is less a problem with you and more the result of us living lives that are actually quite unnatural in many key ways. You might even want to try the pillow idea.

423 Relax and Succeed - The awakened sagesRemember, sleep is a very specific state of mind. Get to know it as you lay there. Watch for the feelings that go with it. Know them. And when you’re laying there and you cannot sleep, recall those feelings. That alone will take you an enormous amount of the way toward sleep. Breathe deeply as you would as if you were sleeping. Your brain will know that rhythm and it will match it and relaxation will follow.

If you do this enough days in a row, easily falling asleep will become a habit. And then on the rare days where you still can’t get to sleep, write it off to an ion storm or something. Who knows what forces are all at play in our lives? I will still occasionally get one night of inexplicable insomnia. So give yourself the occasional sleepless night as being entirely “normal” (whatever that is). But by consciously considering how you do fall asleep, you should be able to conjure that state of mind pretty much at will with just a little practice. Just keep a quiet mind, and imagine what it’s like to be asleep.

Learn to control your thinking. Free yourself up from second-guesses and a lack of focus and things like insomnia. Guide your own mind like a Ninja and put yourself in your own personal sleeper hold. All it takes is some awareness and some practice. You can do it as long as you believe you can. Go for it. And sweet dreams.

peace. s