Since we spend close to one-third of our lifetime in sleep, it is important that we understand what sleep really is, and how to get full refreshment and contentment out of it. In other words, it is not the quantity (number of hours), but the quality of sleep that should matter the most.
What is Sleep? Sleep is a state that our mind experiences. According to Carl G. Jung’s analytical psychology, our mind can be at any one of three levels of depth: conscious mind (the waking state experienced in our physical body), subconscious mind (the dream state experienced in our astral body), and unconscious mind (the deep sleep state experienced in our causal body).
Why do we feel so energized and refreshed after a deep sleep? During the deep sleep state, our mind stops spinning around and becomes unconscious; we sink into our Spirit, which is our innermost reality. It is this reconnection with our inner Spirit that rejuvenates our nervous system, recharging us with fresh energy and vigor. Our daily experience of sleep proves that the source of profound peace lies within us, not outside.
According to scientific research, during the normal decent from wakeful state to deep sleep state, the brain wave frequency descends from the fast Beta waves to the relaxation of Alpha waves, then down to the drowsiness of Theta waves, and finally into the deep sleep state of Delta waves. As Delta waves in the brain become very intense, we approach closer and closer to our inner Spirit.
Since sleep is the state that our mind experiences, it makes sense to conclude that it is the peaceful state of mind that is really relevant for sleeping naturally. This brings us to a question: How to acquire such a peaceful state of mind that would induce a deep, restful sleep? There is an intimate connection between our mind and our breathing, which means, our state of mind is directly influenced by our breathing. In fact, our breathing links our physical, astral, causal bodies.
For enjoying a deep, sound, and peaceful sleep, you can try the following breathing technique, which consists of three steps:
Lie absolutely still in the corpse posture. Cross your hands on your chest, or stretch them out. Stop tossing or turning. Your sleep will be disturbed if you move too much. Sleep in one posture. Close your eyes. Empty your mind of all thoughts. To think endlessly is a terrible disease.
The first step is to become aware of your breathing. You can feel your incoming breath and outgoing breath. In this technique, all you have to do is to add awareness to your natural breathing. This can be easily achieved by becoming conscious of it – “I am breathing in, I am breathing out; I know that I am breathing in, I know that I am breathing out.” As you inhale, feel the calmness spreading throughout your physical body. As you exhale, feel that your worries are flowing out of your physical body.
The second step is rhythmical breathing. In rhythmical breathing, the time-unit is the same in both inhalation and exhalation. This can be done in the following manner:
Inhale till you mentally count 4 AUMs (AUM represents a time unit). Retain the breath till you count 8 AUMs. Now, exhale till you count 4 AUMs. Then, retain the breath outside till you count 8 AUMs. These four processes make up one round of breathing.
Once you are able to concentrate on your breathing for some time by doing a few rounds of rhythmical breathing, you can move on to the third step, which is to listen to the soothing sound of your in breath and out breath. This will prevent your mind from driftingyou listen to your natural breathing sound, your brain waves will gradually slow down to Delta, leading you to a very relaxing, restful, deep sleep state. The important point to learn is that the breathing sound has a definite effect on your brain wave pattern.
When you wake up, you should feel refreshed. It is a good idea to have a drink of water upon getting up. Then, have a stroll before attending the call of nature.
By following the above 3-step technique, you will discover that there lies within you a tremendous reserve of peaceful energy. This technique will also help you overcome three types of tension: muscular tension, mental tension, and emotionalhas already been pointed out that for getting into deep sleep, what is really relevant is the peaceful state of your mind. This state can also be induced by reading an insightful book that contains worthwhile teachings of great seers. Building a Noble World by the author of this article is such a book.
“Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” said Benjamin Franklin. A regular sleeping habit is the first step to health and happiness.
(Disclaimer: If you have serious sleep disturbances or constant insomnia, you may have a diagnosable medical or mental condition that needs a medical doctor’s attention.)