Bridge of Light, The Hindustan Times, 2002

Yoga describes the sleep state as not only an opportunity for stilling the body, but a necessary part of our soul’s journey back home. During sleep, we return to our original state that was interrupted by us acquiring a physical body, and we can potentially access the domain of greater insight. Samadhi is similar to sleep but with a difference. In sleep, the content-less consciousness is present but not alert. It is hidden, like the tree in a seed. In Samadhi, the seed is broken, and consciousness becomes alert. Sleep can become Samadhi if we become conscious and aware of our sleep. By joining sleep with awareness, we can utilize our night for higher workings.

The question is how to stay awake in sleep, when it is difficult to be alert even during the day! Sleep consciousness can be effectively dealt with only after the waking mind has made some progress. Try breathing with awareness, and walking with awareness during waking moments, such that this awareness can be extended to the sleep state. Practice falling asleep with alertness. One way to do this is to assume a mudra (hand gesture) such as chinmudra, and practice maintaining the mudra throughout sleep. The dream waves will throw you in different directions, but attention on the mudra will help you return to awareness. With continued practice, you will soon experience a state of alert sleep, and your sleep would have turned into your most powerful practice. As your practice solidifies, you will be enough awake in your sleep to know that you are dreaming. When you translate this knowledge back to your waking state, you will know that life is but a dream posing real!