"Sleep is not the opposite of awakening. Illusion is the opposite of awakening. Sleep has no opposite."
Sleep. In the world of inner growth, it is the elephant in the room. The great, enlightened wake-up call is suggesting that humanity is asleep - as if sleep were darkly unenlightened, redundant, purposeless and uninspired.
Awaken to Sleep
Some insights into the mysteries of sleep can be found in an exploration of perception. What is consciousness? What is the unconscious? What is awareness? What is the imperceivable? What are dreams? What is beyond experience, dreaming, thinking, feeling? What is surrender? What is emptiness? What is happening in the field of perception when we fall asleep? Where do we go when we sleep, and why is deep sleep so liberating and rejuvenating?
In the twin processes of falling asleep, and waking up, we have an opportunity to realize the perceptive windows of consciousness, awareness and emptiness.
This is a process of form - of releasing form and taking form - which gives an excellent means to witness and observe the deeper forms of perception, as they relate to the imperceivable. In this, surrender and allowance move into the foreground as key movements in the art of living.
So let's explore.
The body is tired. Perhaps there is even an emotional tiredness. The mind is tired of thinking about stuff. The dimension of sleep is calling. We lie down in a safe space and close our eyes. The visual input is gone.
Consciousness: Sleep and the Dissolution of Time
In the first stages of falling asleep, the mind continues to chatter, in a manner which is increasingly less rational, less bound by cause and effect or routine patterns. We can witness its wanderings. Perhaps checking off the stuff to do later, or the stuff that happened. Perhaps reflecting on a feeling or an engagement with another in order to close it in a package of peace.
The thinking begins to wind down, temporarily organizing the room so that some kind of peace can allow the rest of sleep. Knowing that we have a portion of time for sleep, we begin to release time.
As we begin to fall, often images start to emerge. The imagination is taking over. Also here, these images are intended to resolve and bring to the peace the areas of consciousness where we are not at peace, where our entanglement prevents the process of sleep.
A picture is worth a thousand thoughts, and imagination will come with an image which through taking form, can either release or provoke action, preventing sleep for now. In all this, we are moving from time to the timeless, a doorway to eternity.
We are stepping back from doing time in our minds into a space behind regular time - a space well known to us since before we were born.
Awareness: Sleep and the The Dissolution of Space
We are sinking now, in the next dimension of sleep. Perception through consciousness - or witnessing - is diminishing to a pin-point - a watchman on physical danger, a silent witness of the most prominent dreams. Consciousness is disengaging, and we are sinking down to dimension of awareness.
Sounds nearby or in the mid distance or far away vibrate through us. Feelings resonate through us. A soft love experiences the surrender of the body inside-out to the manifold vibrations of being here, now. Moving out of the dimension of conscious time, we fall into the dimension of space, gradually releasing into boundlessness - a doorway to infinity.
In this expansion and suddenly allowed intimacy in the dimension of awareness, unresolved feelings and intuitions from the felt sense begin to take form. Our expansion through the subtle love of pure awareness meets areas where this love has been frozen in form.
These patches emerge in the area of dreaming - dreaming our way into unity through imaginative and atmospheric processing of energy excluded as "other". Some of these energetic transformations sound the alarm bells and consciousness momentarily awakens, witnesses, and inscribes the dream content for later processing. Much of it happens of itself, resolving without need for remembering.
In this dimension, the psychic aspect of dreaming comes forward. As we fall from perception through consciousness into the perceptive field of awareness, we are already moving in the timeless, in the eternal dimension of the now.
Classically recognized by psychologists and hypnotherapists, this subconscious land communicated in the present tense, without past of future. Even grief of the past or apprehension of the future is strongly alive and transforming in the now.
Emptiness: Sleep and The Dissolution of Form
As we release time through the diminishing of consciousenss, and bounded space through the diminishing of awareness, we start to sink deeply into the dimension of emptiness - the deep release and undisturbed home dimension of deep sleep. Here, we do not dream, we do not perceive, we do not do anything at all.
In pure non-doing, non-holding and non entanglement, the physical body moves to the depths of relaxation and rest. So distant from all we know or feel, in this area of deep sleep we are more present than ever. Present in a sense as in unity through the dissolution of all division.
The body rests as the planet and as all physical and chemical elements rest. Its processes of breathing, circulation and digestion carry on as back burners to physical survival. And we are gone, arriving home to that space which is never "other" than who we are: she who is not ultimately contained in time. He who is not endlessly limited in space. That which is not absolutely found in form.
The effect of this deep sleep is rejuvenation, on every level. We don't feel where we have been, but we feel it is good. We don't know where we have been but we know that we know it. As we re-emerge into form, for a while we can observe the awakening of awareness without conscious intervention.
We are nameless, timeless, a pure awareness being there, alive. And gradually we can witness our process of conscious identification with form. We find our name. We find our age, our location. We recall the arguments we are in, and the tasks of the day ahead.
We put it all on as clothes we must wear, yet we also have a choice -a choice made possible by the disentanglement of sleep. What is in this other land? Many, like Edgar Cayce (The Sleeping Prophet) directly harnessed sleep to bring forward jewels from its all pervasive freedom and omniscience. Others, regular find answers, solutions and direction after a good sleep.
All of us are universally dependent on its formlessness in order to take form. In an inquiry into perception, sleep is an advanced frontier of inquiry, not to be discarded. In the world of healing, the impact of sleep disorder cannot be overlooked - mentally, emotionally or physically.
In the world of the enlightened - the endarkenment of sleep is an open experiential question moving us beyond ideas of individual transcendence and into a far deeper realization of unity.