All manifest life seems to require
a period of sleep, of calm, in which to gain added strength,
renewed vigor, for the next manifestation, or awakening to activity.
Thus is the march of all progress,
of all manifest life – in waves, successive waves, of activity and repose.
Waves succeed each other in an endless chain of progression.
The fourth vritti is sleep, defining yet another state of mind, for a completely different purpose. Patanjali says:
1.10: Abhava pratyaya alambana vritti nidra
Deep sleep is the subtle thought pattern
that embraces nothingness – the negation of other thought patterns.
It is defined by the absence of content.
Deep sleep is an unconscious state with no content. In deep sleep, our brainwave frequencies slow down almost to zero, and these are known as Delta waves between the frequencies of 0.5 to 3 Hertz. There is minimal activity. At all other times, except during Samadhi, we have thoughts; but not during deep sleep. Samadhi and deep sleep are not all that different, except that in Samadhi we can be aware.
Why do we need to sleep? Delta wave sleep is rejuvenating and refreshing, because when we rest the body and mind other healing processes are able to purify and restore our system. Freshness comes as a result of deep sleep – we are mentally inactive, so our brainwave frequencies are almost zero, reflecting the stillness in our mental process.
In deep sleep we are absorbed
in the soul in a state of oneness.
This is a deeply spiritual state, close to God,
but we are generally not aware of it.
Because we are close to God, resting in the soul,
we experience joy and bliss, also without knowing it.
There are very few waves in the mind – the lake of consciousness is almost still.
More importantly, when the body and mind are not creating waves, demanding attention, we withdraw into the soul. In Yoga, this deep sleep state is known as sushupti. The knowledge of the physical body comes in the waking or jagratha state. The knowledge of the mind comes in the dream or swapna state, and the knowledge of the soul comes in the deep sleep or sushupti state. In fact, it is the soul itself.
In deep sleep we are absorbed in the soul in a state of oneness. This is a deeply spiritual state, close to God, but we are generally not aware of it. Because we are close to God, resting in the soul, we experience joy and bliss, also without knowing it.
With the help of Transmission, it becomes quite
easy to experience the Turiya state.
While our body is fully relaxed, our mind perceives things.
We are not sleeping, but we are in such a relaxed state.
And then we learn how to take this condition out
into daily life with eyes open.
Some yogis speak about retaining consciousness in the deep sleep state of sushupti, but is it really conscious? Not as we generally think of it. We can say it is consciousness without familiar awareness. Consciousness is a function of the mind, whereas in sushupti we are at the very center of our existence, beyond the mind, in the realm of the soul. In Heartfulness it is beautifully described as the state of higher ignorance or perfect ignorance, beyond the conscious mind, beyond the thinking mind, and beyond the observing mind. The early Christian mystics called it “the cloud of unknowing.” It is a state so much subtler than consciousness, on the verge of absolute nothingness. As the measured brainwave frequencies show us, it is not completely zero, but these very low Delta wave frequencies reflect the minimal autonomic activity necessary for rejuvenation. It is baseline existence.
Adepts of meditation are able to attain a similar state to sushupti while meditating, in deep Samadhi. What is the difference between sushupti and Samadhi? Samadhi can be with full awareness and consciousness. But it is not always so – there are various stages of Samadhi, starting with the deep sleep like state of unconscious stone-like pashantulya, and ending with full conscious awareness. It depends on how we meditate, how we expand our consciousness, and how we connect with the soul.
The fully aware state of Samadhi is known as Sahaj Samadhi or the Turiya state – awareness in nothingness. In this Turiya state, very low frequency Delta brainwaves are measured just as they are in deep sleep, and in Heartfulness this can happen even in the very first meditation due to the effects of Yogic Transmission. We touch the soul, we nourish the soul, and we feel as rejuvenated by meditation as we do by deep sleep.
Sleep is the vritti that takes us deepest and
closest to our Center, our soul,
and we do this every night of our lives,
from the time we are in the womb
until the time of our death.
If we can discipline our sleep cycles,
it will enhance our lives and
contribute to our spiritual evolution.
With the help of Transmission, it becomes quite easy to experience the Turiya state. While our body is fully relaxed, our mind perceives things. We are not sleeping, but we are in such a relaxed state. And then we learn how to take this condition out into daily life with eyes open. We transcend the Turiya state to the Turiyatit state, which happens when we carry that deep meditative state within us all the time. This will only happen when the mind is so pure and elastic that there are no complexities or heaviness blocking our ability to traverse all these states of being. It is the result of two things: our ability to let go of all the colorings (the state known as Vairagya) and our practice (known as abhyas).
1.12: Abhyasa vairagyabhyam tat nirodhah
The vrittis are stilled through spiritual practice
and the letting go of all the mental colorings.
Through practice and arriving at the state of Vairagya, we start to resonate with the Absolute state, the original state of stillness. We not only touch the soul during deep sleep but also during Samadhi, with more and more awareness. That connection then continues on through all our daily activities. Restlessness disappears. Our waking and deep sleep states are no longer so different.
To simplify, we can say that:
Consciousness + thinking = waking state, jagratha
Unconsciousness + thinking = dreaming state, swapna
Unconsciousness – thinking = deep sleep, sushupti, death
Consciousness – thinking = Sahaj Samadhi, Turiya
Witnessing can exist in any of these four states. Whether it does or not depends on how evolved our consciousness is, and the potentiality behind that consciousness. The most difficult state for witnessing is sushupti. How many of us can be a witness to what happens in deep sleep or death? Practice is the key. It allows us to make use of these deep states of sushupti and Samadhi for spiritual growth.
There is an interesting question we can ask here: Why is it that we believe we are ignorant in sushupti?
One perspective is that our conscious mind is not active in this deeper state of sleep and hence no information is possible from that state.
Another perspective is that there is nothing to be known there! What can we know about the soul, about nothingness? Why would we want to know about something that is beyond knowledge? On entering that state, the elements of the waking and dream states withdraw and merge into seed form. From that point of view there is usually no awareness. So we call it ignorance, without understanding the real thing.
So sleep is the vritti that takes us deepest and closest to our Center, our soul, and we do this every night of our lives, from the time we are in the womb until the time of our death. If we can discipline our sleep cycles, it will enhance our lives and contribute to our spiritual evolution. How well we sleep, and how deeply we sleep, also determine our state of mind throughout the day.
Generally, it is better to sleep early to be in tune with natural cycles. On the night you miss a good night’s sleep, observe how you carry out your activities the next day.
Then compare that with a night when you go to bed early, before you are exhausted, and see how you carry out your activities the following day. Sleeping well allows you to be creative. You can observe the difference for yourself.
There is a very interesting TED talk by Jeff Illif called “One More Reason to Have a Good Night’s Sleep,” in which he describes how our neurological system detoxifies itself during sleep. Our central nervous system does not have any lymphatic drainage, so the cerebrospinal fluid flows through the space between the cells removing toxins from the brain during sleep. In sleep-deprived people, the toxin removal is reduced greatly. These toxins then affect us, so we become vulnerable to bad moods. What happens the next day? We are more irritable and less resilient, and we are less creative. At best we will create more enemies! It is not surprising that sleep-deprived individuals are responsible for a large number of road accidents. They also cannot engage in creative discussions and fruitful conversations, because they are annoyed with every little difference of opinion.
When we sleep well, our morning meditation also improves drastically. When we meditate with a rested mind we will have a better grip over consciousness. And when we meditate well, we will be able to dive into deep states with awareness, into Sahaj Samadhi, so that we nourish the soul and let its joy radiate into every aspect of our lives.
Article by KAMLESH PATEL
December 03, 2019
December 03, 2019
December 03, 2019