I was posting the newsletter for the monthly Yoga Nidra practice I help to facilitate. It reminded me of an acronym used in treatment, to describe various triggers which catalyze substance abuse: HALT–hungry, angry, lonely, tired.
The ancient yogis recognized these primal urges, which are identical to those of our animal brethren: self-preservation, sex, food, and sleep. The four primitive fountains.
Self-preservation isn’t merely the urge to protect one’s body from death; it is the urge to protect our numerous personae. Sex isn’t merely the urge to copulate; it’s also driven by loneliness and insecurity. Food is a necessity; but, it’s also a sensual pleasure which can overrun other urges when unchecked. But, today, I want to talk about sleep. A blessing many of us are not partaking of.
In the Himalayan Tradition, there are three primary levels of consciousness (there are more, but brevity is helpful): waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. They are correlated with three states of energy: gross, subtle, and causal (hence, the name of the blog).
Yogis assert that the level of deep sleep in the causal plane is the most cathartic. It is the realm of pure potentiality, the place before the subtle manifestation of dreams. This is intuitive, think about the deepest sleep you’ve had… Right where you feel you’ve vanished for a while. This level is so close to the realm of pure being (or, turiya, the fourth state).
Yet, so many of us are sleep deprived–myself included. We go to bed too late, we have too much caffeine, and there are those darn LED lights. One article I read recently explained, soon lack of sleep will be viewed like smoking. It asserted in the near future, we will realize the detriments: depression, obesity, and cancer. Another NPR story suggest we get out of the city and spend some time in the dark–isn’t it bananas that we need to be reminded of needing dark!
Yoga Nidra is another name for deep sleep in the causal plane. It is also the name of a progressive series of exercises to bring one to that place, while, paradoxically, remaining awake. It is the psychic sleep of the Yogi . This is a tool for developing more than better quality sleep, it is a method for dealing with negative karma. I suggest clicking on the link that I attached above for detailed instructions on this ancient practice.
The causal plane is a womb. It is the realm of rebirth. A cleanse which we have the opportunity to partake in and give ourselves a spiritual reset. Challenge yourself to try the practice for 7 nights in a row (in a dark room without caffeine) and see how you feel.