Witnessing Sleep

Witnessing Sleep

As consciousness awakens within, we can have periods of time when we experience being a detached observer or witness of our life. Our life continues but we are no longer seen as the doer. We observe while life continues.

What I describe is not a disassociative state or escape from life’s problems. We don’t get there through avoidance or hanging out in the dreamy astral. This is a shift into consciousness itself, beyond all that. We find it through acceptance of what is here.

If we’re well-rested, this witness may continue throughout waking, dreaming and deep sleep. Alertness continues during dreaming, somewhat like lucid dreams, and we may find we can manipulate and play with them. We watch the body fall asleep and turn into an immovable lump, leaving us in a deep meditative state.

However, as long as there is experiencing taking place, the mind is still awake, and it’s not deep sleep. If the witnessing becomes established, we’ll soon tire of exploring and let it be. We’ll settle into a timeless sleep without content, a form of samadhi.*

The TM organization considers witnessing sleep to be the key marker for Cosmic Consciousness (Self Realization). However, there are some like myself who began witnessing long before the shift. Some other teachers mention witnessing as a possible pre-awakening stage. As I described here, the witness can develop in stages. Self can wake up within but not yet wake up to itself yet. Only the second is true Self Realization.

There can be an expectation that witnessing means waking state 24/7. While there is continuity of awareness, this is not the same as being in waking state. An ongoing experiencing requires the mind to be awake. But the mind is dormant in deep sleep, and we settle into a timeless state that zooms by. When we awaken in the morning, the mind and body change states as usual but the continuity of Self is now unbroken.

This is quite distinct from the usual experience of waking from sleep. Prior to the witness, the me-sense sleeps each night with the mind. It is revived each morning while waking. In other words, we surrender our ego’s control each night. But the ego doesn’t really know this because it’s off-line. It has no awareness of its own.

This becomes very apparent when you observe the personal self waking up and coming on-line, grasping control again as if it had just spaced out for a moment.

Some people confuse witnessing with not being able to fall asleep. They lay on the bed alert, thinking themselves awake when they’re actually in a light sleep.

Believe it or not, awakening is easier than falling asleep. The trick is, we have to let go of control consciously. That’s not something we’ve ever done. Often, it takes cranking up the intensity of presence or Self before that happens. This is why shifts often happen around very awake people.

Sometimes, we can seem to have an awakening but not quite make the shift. The physiology is not yet ready to support it. Sometimes, the shift can happen but we fall back into the mind for a time. Further processing is needed to support the shift. At some point, the shift will become clear and can then be embodied.

Witnessing brings with it a continuity of Self but may not yet be Self Realization.

*just like a meditative samadhi, there will be periods of transcendence in sleep, leading to the pausing of breath. This is distinct from sleep apnea as became clear in a sleep test I did a few years ago.

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  1. michael

    Now you poor out bomb after bomb!

    Really good one!

    I have that from time to time of moving into the breathless state in sleep (i am aware when that shift happens). when my wife and i still slept in the same bed (we now sleep in two different rooms and sleep much better) she sometimes got anxious as i was not breathing for a time and waking me up. 🙂 now that happens more seldom.

    How is it with parabrahman during sleep?


    1. Thanks, Michael
      Still catching up, though the one after this is the last in the cue.

      Have the book to get back to now.

      (laughs) I had a partner many years ago who felt like she was suffocating when my breath stopped. Mostly this happened sitting together on the couch or similar. She’d jab me with her elbow which did the trick. 🙂

      After waking up, it’s mostly about deepening. The states stay the same as usual but what’s behind that goes deeper.

      At a certain point, consciousness lights everything up, then it can go dark post-consciousness, and then light again with ParaBrahman. 🙂

  2. gayanee

    Agreed with Michael! Really good stuff coming through!

    “At a certain point, consciousness lights everything up, then it can go dark post-consciousness, and then light again with ParaBrahman.”

    David, What do you mean it can go dark post-consciousness?

    As in when the identity goes beyond atmamaya kosha there’s a collapsing and may not engage the subtle koshas for a while till ParaBrahman.

    1. Thanks, Gayanee
      Consciousness is self-luminous (liveliness, bliss) so as it becomes increasingly clear, things get brighter and brighter (including inside the body).

      When you go beyond consciousness, you go beyond the self-luminous. Dark is perhaps the wrong word as it’s dualistic (relative to light). But we could say Brahman is unilluminated.

      But then as pure Divinity comes on the scene, it is profoundly luminous. In fact, it is the source of all the other luminance.

      The koshas don’t loose their luminance in the meantime but as our attention is often on the leading edge of development, that goes through the above. The koshas could be said to be reduced in stature in our attention. (creation is seen as never created in Brahman)

      Make sense? 🙂

    2. Of course, the experience can vary. A friend of mine here managed to skip the loss part by touching into Brhaman and back out again a few times. When they finally shifted, they brought the refined values forward without a fallow period that’s more typical.

      They have a very well developed feminine/flow side.

      1. gayanee

        A friend of mine here managed to skip the loss part by touching into Brhaman and back out again a few times.

        hmmm backing out?? not clear on that!

        Thank you for the lovely replies!

        1. In later stages, the surrendering process becomes very clear and choice arises. Do we let this go all the way or stick a toe in and pull back?

          In the case of the Brahman shift here, I was unexpectedly informed of one of the consequences of the surrender but chose to continue.

          In her case, she started but didn’t complete the process a couple of times. Somehow, this allowed her to complete the process and retain the refined values. This may be related to the Personal vs Impersonal choice of God Realization at this juncture But she didn’t frame it that way.

          It’s useful to mention this isn’t a “person” making this choice. Even the choice is a kind of surrender. It’s simply the way one point is seeing the process unfold, guided by innate intelligence.

  3. Lindsey

    Hi David,

    In my present experience sleep is for me timeless, awareness samadhi to use some of your words. Don’t know how to put this, except that a gentle alertness is noticed when morning comes for example, or if someone pulls up in my driveway, movements in the house, etc.—this is a vibrational liveliness within me. Otherwise, I just am in sort of transcendent awareness/beingness. What would this be? To me I am, before I…then the liveliness of bliss is experienced and mind body comes on line…I mention the alertness/awareness has to be there within my full experience, because it is noticed with the movement physically someone entering my awareness, etc…is embodiment the Unity experience of my day to day human life then, with continued refinement? And content is noticed in daily activity within my beingness, but not noticed when deep sleep (except as mention before or if mind pops in with a lucid dream of sorts, movement in house).
    Hopefully, you get the gist of what I am trying to convey. Thank you so much for any imput on where/what this stage or stages I am in or touching on. 🙂

  4. Lindsey

    Although, content has two meanings for me. There is the fullness experience of content which appears within me, as movement, bliss, humanness, mind, etc., and then there is the calm quiet, knowingness, beingness content that is the only…best I can describe…is this an example of Brahman with embodiment coming online? I am again at a loss with words to use… Thanks!

    1. Hi Lindsey
      Well – assigning stage based on a few comments is a little fraught. The larger question- is this the ongoing experience? And has it been there for a bit? Time is your greatest test to see what life can sustain.

      Sounds lovely though.

      If it is sustained, this sounds like Self Realization where “transcendent awareness/beingness” is the Self or Atman. I am That.

      There is usually a distinctive shift and release into that stage whereas a nice experience can arise without that.

      The “vibrational liveliness” you mention with others is also called flow. This relates to Refined experience but there is usually an awakening heart to bring this on more fully.

      Noticing others as within you is an aspect of Unity but Unity itself is another distinct shift where we contain everything, not just noticing flow. It also develops progressively as more and more layers of experience are integrated, increasing the inclusiveness. It can be like a progressive series of awakenings.

      Self Realization has been described as the 2 Fullnesses. Fullness of the world and fullness of Self within per your second comment. These merge with the Unity shift as they’re seen to be the same.

      Don’t worry too much what stage it is. Thats mind wanting to know. The point of the map is to give a sense of the road. There is a LOT more to unfold.

  5. Lindsey

    Hi David,
    Your right a few comments don’t help with any sort of assessment from you. I really just like to understand my experience.
    Briefly, I have since childhood had witness sleep, lucid dreaming, experiences of bouts of bliss and energy flows, past lives, experiences wit DI vine beings (not astral-though had some of those too-but cleary different). I came into this life with this unbounded sense as normal. I thought everyone did and that it was normal. I also came equipped as an empath, and have always been highly sensitive and found it difficult to have sense of my self.
    Throughout the years I have had several distinctive shifts (self realization, CC, crashing above crown chakra, merging/painfully blissfull explosive experiences, vibrating stillness (always here, but now more content within it) and knowledge within those many experiences have been unpacked and clarified to a degree, however I continue to have more unfolding and more to understand with each shift. And the mind does want to know, but deeply I feel no need to…it’s funny mind resistance stuff.

    Yes, sure does seem like a lot unfolding still and with it new rules come with the territory and being sensitive already, it seems the more integration in daily life is essential for me. For instance, because sleep is like an ongoing meditation/samadhi, meditation during the day is overkill and does me no good in human life. Right now balance is so important for me to manage living as a householder this lifetime, rather than one of my previous live’s as a renunciate. It really has helped to read your blog to understand, clarify and to help me keep opening to whatever else still has to unfold. Thanks for being here!

  6. Lindsey

    Also, had embodiment downward flows to into throat, heart…cleansing going on (blocks being removed for easier flow up), etc…

    Side note on my accidental unskilled empath merges, usually feel other’s astral junk flow through my belly out and up through my throat like a natural purging. Have you ever experienced that? Just curious. ..thanks again for your time and knowlege David.

    1. Beautiful, Lindsey
      Lorne also began witnessing in childhood. It took a longer retreat to get me started.

      And yes, some gifts come with their own challenges.

      Mind wanting to know while being is content – very familiar to those of us with prominent minds. 🙂 It becomes a dance of allowing the knowing to arise so mind can catch up with the openings.

      The stages in consciousness do have an end when we go beyond consciousness but the process of refinement and embodiment is essentially endless.

      With Unity, the silence and liveliness merge, the subject and object are one. This leaves only experiencing. After Brahman a new value of silence returns and then there is another merging deeper in. There are many ways to describe it.

      Interesting. I’ve continued to find value in meditation due to the laws of this form. The process at night leads to the same place but the process is a bit different with a practice. Many people I know have shifted when they practice in later stages.

      And yes, the dance of balance. I have a robust physiology but am slowly realizing I have to be more balanced there too.

      On clearing the junk, my process is a bit different and has varied over time. With the cosmic, for example, it vacuums the crud nearby in through the crown and digests it. It can be directed to specific people but is usually all of it.

      If you’d like to explore further, probably best to use the Contact form and have a personal correspondence. 🙂

  7. Rob

    Hi, For the first time in my life I experienced being like a projector within the dream state. A projector through which contents of the dream flow and from where they can be seen although I had no control of them. Then it felt as though I jumped between this position and that of my role within the dream itself. This is a new experience for me. Can you help explain it please?

    1. Hi Rob
      This is a variation of witnessing dreams. If you recall, consciousness has 3 aspects: the observer, the objects of observation, and the process of observation between them.
      If we use the analogy of a movie theater, most people are caught up in the dream and the role they play in the film (or on the stage of life).
      Common witnessing is when we step back into the observer role and sit in the audience, watching the movie and our person playing it’s role. We simply observe.
      A variation is when we step into the process part and experience the dream (experience/ movie) flowing through us. We are what is creating the experience (although there is no personal control).
      Another variation is when we’re all of it and can shift attention from one perspective to the other.
      In your case, you stepped out of the role for a short time but stepped into the process instead of the observer.
      The question I’d ask you to consider – when you jumped into the role again, were you also observing this? ie: you were aware you were in the role and not lost in it?
      Witnessing in waking state is very much like that- acting without acting.
      Such experiences do naturally come and go. I wouldn’t try to get it back. Just allow the unfolding to continue as it’s working. 🙂

  8. Rob

    Wow thanks for helping! I wasn’t lucid as the role but I never really felt fully in the role. I felt more conscious as the dream itself as if I had superior clarity and a little of everyone’s (all roles/characters) perspectives. I guess this is what gave me the feeling that the dream was flowing through me and I was able to see so much of it. Not an experience I ever imagined possible and so different to anything I’ve had before…

    1. Hi Rob
      When the binding attachment to the ego softens, we’re not so held to being in the middle of it. While there may not be a distinctive detachment, there can be degrees of non-involvement. Like not feeling fully in it.
      As we step back into the more universal value of self, there’s that value of “a little of everyone” in there.
      There’s an almost infinite number of points of observation and of objects. This means an effectively infinite number of perspectives.
      As we move into higher stages, we’re no longer attached to one so can more and more shift between them just with attention.
      However, our point of experience or jiva does remain our default perspective so we always drop back there.
      No, it was your placement that gave the experience of the experience flowing through you. This is normal in higher stages. Life happens through you.
      Mind likes to figure it all out but those stories can lead to attachment to an interpretation of a memory of an experience. Let the mind do its thing but don’t take its conclusions too seriously. Then they don’t get in the way of more. 🙂
      While the experience may have seemed unique, did you also notice how simple and ordinary it was? This can be very normal.

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