The Bliss of Sleep

The Bliss of Sleep

When we settle into bed, we all enjoy at least 2 states of consciousness: sleeping and dreaming. If we have a history of samadhi (yoga) in meditation, that creeps into our sleep time too, with various periods of transcendence (turiya) in sleep. This is especially true after the witness is established and there is a value of awakeness 24/7.

Part of our night is spent in the mind and emotional bodies, processing the day’s and life’s experiences. This shows up as dreams, in many combinations.

In deep sleep, we settle into the bliss body and are deeply soothed. However, this detail is often masked by the fog and noise of unresolved experiences.

The rest we get in sleep is not deep enough to process the deeper traumas so some of it tends to build over time. And if we’re experiencing major or constant stress, sleep will not be enough to process it all.

With a good meditation practice, rest, and some supplementary healing, we’re able to clear this backlog and settle more deeply.

With the witness and awakening, this processing becomes more conscious, although there shouldn’t be an expectation of constant awakeness in sleep. While hyper-alertness can arise, it usually settles out into a simple continuity. As the mind and senses go off-line in deep sleep, awareness settles from experiencing into a simple continuity of being.

As the burden of our past is resolved and the clarity and depth of the awakening deepen, sleep becomes deeply enjoyable. We might compare it to a lovely deep meditation. Yet the style of experience is different. In sleep, we’re dipping into bliss within the state itself.

Happy Slumbers!


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  1. Enjoys Glow

    David, I am hoping you can offer some insight to help a long-time meditator I know, who previously fell asleep quickly, enjoyed sleep more than any other state, and was becoming increasingly aware during sleep. Now, for two years, her extreme anxiety and panic has focused on not being able to be innocent and let sleep (or transcending) happen. As soon as she begins to notice dream thoughts come in, she believes she “wakes herself up.” In her anxiety, it seems her growing awareness of the process became a liability.

    Also, she often believes she has not slept at all. She is definitely often tired, but seems more functional than she could be with no sleep. I suspect she is sleeping more (with awareness) than she believes, but she adamantly won’t accept that possibility.

    1. Hi EG
      OK – theres 2 things here.
      First – yes, it’s not uncommon for people to feel like they have not slept if witnessing is happening but it’s not quite clear enough to be obvious. Alertness often increases during retreats, so it’s a common instruction to stay on the bed, for example.

      The other part is the anxiety. That can certainly disrupt sleep. If there is also some alertness, that can make it worse. A liability, as you mention.

      The first thing is addressing the anxiety. That will resolve everything around it.

      There can be some anxiety around sleep if we don’t understand what’s going on. For example, if we are alert in deep sleep and discover we can’t move the body, that can be disturbing even if its normal. Or if there is something arising we’re having difficulty facing, dreams can mean loss of control to the ego. But in both cases, it’s not true sleep if this is going on as mind is too active.

      Blind spots are very curious things. No matter what others tell us, we refuse to see what we’re unwilling to. I know someone in a similar place at the moment.

      It’s possible she’s being pushed somewhere she doesn’t want to go or there was an opening and the ego is on high alert, afraid of losing control. It will adamantly defend its position. As it goes off-line in sleep, it would try to avoid that.

      Occasionally, people can get into internal battles over the shifts.

      She may find hanging around people awake useful.
      But addressing the anxiety is the most important. That disturbs everything.

  2. Tim Owens

    Once there was a way,
    To get back homeward.

    Once there was a way
    To get back home.

    Sleep, pretty darling,
    Dot not cry
    And I will sing a lullaby.

    Golden slumbers,
    Fill your eyes
    Smiles await you when you rise
    Sleep pretty darling
    Do not cry
    And I will sing a lullaby.

    Once there was a way
    To get back homeward

    Once there was a way
    To get back home

    Sleep, pretty darling
    Do not cry
    And I will sing a lullaby.

    How could I not cite this? Thanks to Paul McCartney and Thomas Dekker(the 17th century author of the original poem McCartney adapted).

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