After expounding on imagination in the last article, let us move to the 4th modification of the mind – SLEEP. Patanjali gives a deeper insight into sleep in the next Yoga Sutra. The first thing we need to do is to expand our understanding about sleep, not in the narrowed way as we experience as a layman, but from the level of consciousness. If you are able to grasp this knowledge and apply in your daily life, the whole quality of your life will be transformed.
Here’s the 10th verse of Yoga Sutra “The subtle state where thoughts are not visualised is sleep or nidra”. Patanjali is not referring only to the normal sleep we experience at night, he is also talking about two other sleeps that we are not aware. The word ‘Nidra’ means disconnect.
As human beings, we all go through 3 kinds of sleep: 1) sleep which we experience during waking state, 2) the sleep which we experience during dream state, 3) sleep which we experience during deep sleep state. We go through 3 types of sleep – waking-sleep, dream-sleep and deep-sleep.
First of all, you need to know that you experience sleep during waking state. Many times you would have experienced this in your life – you are there but you are not there! Your body may be moving and doing things but you are asleep. For example, you would have started the car and driven to office for 30 mins, but only when you park your car at office and get out, you will suddenly remember that you have driven for half an hour. But you don’t remember the details how you get there, it means you were sleeping even when you were awake. I have experienced it a few times during Guru puja, a Vedic ritual to offer gratitude to my Guru, I actually forgot if I had done certain steps due to absent-mindedness.
The truth is the entire humanity is sleepwalking because we go through part of our waking state sleeping till we are enlightened. Paramahamsa Nithyananda, a living enlightened master (fondly known as Swamiji) cautions that not being available in the state in which we are, is what he calls as sleep. He says that if we can just be available in the waking state, there is no problem which can’t be solved. The key is – we need to be available there because all problems are created when we are not available and we end up messing up the whole thing. This happens when the reflection of consciousness is not there. Due to absentmindedness, people miss many things in life such as relationships, decisions and life itself. When we are absentminded in the outer activities, we may lose the things like success, fame and wealth. But if we are absentminded during inner planning, inner visualization, we will miss the links in our life, the flow which is happening inside us will be missing. That’s the worst thing that can happen to any Being! It means a kind of sleep is happening in the thought flow which does not allow us to keep the passion alive. The sleep which we experience during the thought- flow or action-flow is what leads us to anguish, we suffer due to missing too many things of the inner world. Absentmindedness in the outer world is responsible for the planning not becoming a reality. You need to know that absentmindedness in the inner world is responsible for all indecisions, addiction and the inability to keep the intensity alive in your life. The addiction here means any action performed repeatedly without awareness, it does not just confine to visible dangerous addictions such as alcohol, smoking or drugs.
How to come out of this nidra – the disconnection with life?
Whenever the nidra or waking-sleep happens, remember and bring awareness. You can try this technique. For the next 10 days, whenever you eat, be aware of how you feel in the stomach, how you feel with the whole process of digestion and cleaning. You can clearly understand what makes you feel uncomfortable and what makes you feel relaxed. Suddenly your body will tell you the right quantity, right quality and you will be able to create a diet base on that awareness. Next, be aware of your breathing, the natural breathing cycle and your breathing pattern. How your thoughts which are triggered by anger or desire affect your breathing? How your breathing elongates when you are relaxed? Start to become aware of your body, feel that you are alive inside this body, your hands and legs and your face – the different parts of your body. This technique will bring you back to awareness in waking state.
In essence, sleep in waking state is due to a discontinuity of reflection of consciousness. The waking-sleep state not only stops you from manifesting your reality but also makes you forget about the very purpose in your life which is seeking. A state of low existence which everyone needs to get out. Namaste. 😀
Note : From 108 Truths of Yoga of Enlightenment by Paramahamsa Nithyananda