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Flower Woman Asleep (TrisMarie, Morguefile)


Soft Pink Rose (jdurham, Morguefile)

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Death & Sleep

‘I die daily’, wrote St Paul (1 Corinthians 15:31).
Contrary to popular belief, I do not believe Paul is talking about dying to matters of the flesh, nor is he talking about facing persecution and physical death daily.
Rather he is talking about dying to the dominance of the waking consciousness, so that we may embrace our spiritual consciousness during sleep.
So, sleep can teach us how to die and connect us to our deeper self.

Woman asleep by flowers

The 4,000 word essay
Falling for Sleep by Rubin Naiman also makes this clear and more. The following is basically remixed from this essay (into <500 words):-
  • The mechanisation and medicalisation of sleep has happened since the Industrial Revolution, when productivity – and thus wakefulness - became so important. Sleep was neglected and encroached upon, demoted to merely a complex biomedical process. Attempts were even made to eliminate sleep, and artificial lights and computer gadgets are still threatening this.
  • We are caught in wakism, a subtle but pernicious addiction to ordinary waking consciousness that limits our understanding and experience of sleep. Hyperarousal is an inevitable consequence of our wakism; it refers to a turbocharged pace of life that is not modulated by adequate rest. Hyperarousal is rooted in an arrogant disregard for natural rhythms, and this has serious side effects. 
  • Hyperarousal and insomnia both encourage drug and substance dependence. Caffeine, energy drinks and stimulant drugs help stoke perpetual motion, while alcohol, marijuana and sedating medications provide temporary, artificial respites.
  • Sleep is now only a physiological process that is tweaked with tips and sleeping pills. However, sleeping pills produce a kind of counterfeit slumber. They do not heal insomnia; they suppress its symptoms. Ongoing reliance on sleeping pills undermines our sleep self-efficacy, or trust in our innate ability to sleep. They also result in dependence or addiction, and significantly increase the risk of serious illness and death.
  • Sleep has become impersonal and something outside our awareness, only assessed in metrics (e.g. sleep stages, sleep length). Contemporary medical views presume that there’s nothing in the world of sleep worth personally investigating. However, medicalisation obscures sleep’s true nature, concealing the personal, transcendent and romantic dimensions of sleep.
  • We are in dire need of restoring our sense of sleep’s mythic dimensions – of reimagining our personal experience of sleep. Mythic perspectives suggest that there is something in the deep waters of sleep worth accessing, and invite us to personally investigate it. From a mythic perspective, deep sleep is a state of profound serenity. But we commonly fail to notice it due to our pervasive wakism. Deep, natural sleep threatens our wake-centric self. The Dalai Lama teaches that the psychospiritual experience of falling asleep is identical to that of dying. Our familiar, waking self dies in sleep. Sleep is a return to our default consciousness, our deepest Self. 
  • Sleep loss, then, is not simply a medical problem; it is also a critical spiritual challenge. Our epic struggles with accessing deep sleep are struggles with accessing deeper aspects of ourselves. As wakists, we presume that who we are is limited to our waking-world identity. Essential parts of who we are, however, are obscured by the glare of waking life. And these become more visible at night – in the deep waters of sleep and dreams. 
  • Sleep is more an art than a science. It is about humility and vulnerability. We do not work to get it; rather we stop working to receive it - as a gift, an act of love.
  • We need to fall in love with sleep (again).
Soft pink rose

The spiritual teacher Omraam Mikhaёl Aïvanhov tells us:
  • "At night, while you are asleep, the conditions are right for you to learn in the invisible world. And even if you are left with no clear memory of what you learned, you can sometimes feel the next morning that new elements have been added to the way you understand things. Each day is a new life. Each morning you are born into the world, and each evening you leave the world. It is important that you live this last moment of your day well, for it sets the conditions for the following day. Whatever your day has been like, as you go to sleep try to dispel everything that might obscure your consciousness. Call on the highest thoughts and feelings to accompany you on the sacred journey you are about to make into the other world. You will then enter the new day with feelings of light, peace and joy."
  • "At night while they are asleep, true disciples leave their body and join their Master, with whom they continue to learn. They read the most secret books in the libraries of the universe; they participate in magnificent ceremonies. And even though the human brain is not yet capable of remembering such events, sufficient traces may remain to leave a feeling of such calm and sweetness in their heart that on waking they say, ‘Where was I last night? What I saw was so beautiful!’ We must understand how sacred our sleep can be when we fall asleep with the desire to leave our bodies and attend these spiritual schools, for it is there that we receive true Initiation."
Sleeping woman in a sky of light and clouds is moving through a stone-arched portal

"Every human being streams at night into the loving nowhere." (Rumi)

Resources
Also see:-

Death & Immortality


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Page last updated: 30 June 2021.