An important subject
“To begin with, we should remember that more than one third of our existence is spent in sleeping and that, consequently, the time devoted to physical sleep well deserves our attention. I say physical sleep, for it would be wrong to think that our whole being sleeps when our bodies are asleep.”
How to sleep properly
“There are many methods, but Iwill give you one. First, your body must be comfortable, on a bed, in an easy-chair—anywhere so long as it is comfortable. Then you learn how to relax your nerves one after the other, until you achieve complete relaxation. You should relax all your nerves—you can relax them all together, but perhaps it is easier to relax them one after the other, and this becomes very interesting. And when that is done, you must make your brain quiet and silent and at the same time keep your body like a rag on the bed. You must make the brain so still and absolutely quiet that it is not aware of itself. And then, don’t try to sleep, but pass very gently from this state into sleep without being aware of it. When you wake up the next morning you will be full of energy. But if you go to bed very tired and without even trying to relax, to calm down, you will fall into a heavy, dull and unconscious sleep and the vital will lose all its energy. Perhaps this won’t have any immediate effect, but it is better to try it than to plunge into sleep when you are very tired.”
“If you relax very gently before going to sleep, you will feel great pleasure in going to sleep. If you manage to relax the nerves, even of only one arm or leg, you will see how pleasant it is. If you go to sleep with your nerves tense, you will have a very restless sleep and change position very often during the night. That kind of rest is no good.”
“Sleep must not be a fall into unconsciousness which makes the body heavy instead of refreshing it. Eating with moderation and abstaining from all excess greatly reduces the need to spend many hours in sleep; however, the quality of sleep is much more important than its quantity. In order to have a truly effective rest and relaxation during sleep, it is good as a rule to drink something before going to bed, a cup of milk or soup or fruit-juice, for instance. Light food brings a quiet sleep. One should, however, abstain from all copious meals, for then the sleep becomes agitated and is disturbed by nightmares, or else is dense, heavy and dulling. But the most important thing of all is to make the mind clear, to quieten the emotions and calm the effervescence of desires and the preoccupations which accompany them. If before retiring to bed one has talked a lot or had a lively discussion, if one has read an exciting or intensely interesting book, one should rest a little without sleeping in order to quieten the mental activity, so that the brain does not engage in disorderly movements while the other parts of the body alone are asleep. Those who practise meditation will do well to concentrate for a few minutes on a lofty and restful idea, in an aspiration towards a higher and vaster consciousness. Their sleep will benefit greatly from this and they will largely be spared the risk of falling into unconsciousness while they sleep.”
“To sleep well one must learn how to sleep.
If one is physically very tired, it is better not to go to sleep immediately, otherwise one falls into the inconscient. If one is very tired, one must stretch out on the bed, relax, loosen all the nerves one after another until one becomes like a rumpled cloth in one’s bed, as though one had neither bones nor muscles. When one has done that, the same thing must be done in the mind. Relax, do not concentrate on any idea or try to solve a problem or ruminate on impressions, sensations or emotions you had during the day. All that must be allowed to drop off quietly: one gives oneself up, one is indeed like a rag. When you have succeeded in doing this, there is always a little flame, there—that flame never goes out and you become conscious of it when you have managed this relaxation. And all of a sudden this little flame rises slowly into an aspiration for the divine life, the truth, the consciousness of the Divine, the union with the inner being, it goes higher and higher, it rises, rises, like that, very gently. Then everything gathers there, and if at that moment you fall asleep, you have the best sleep you could possibly have. I guarantee that if you do this carefully, you are sure to sleep, and also sure that instead of falling into a dark hole you will sleep in light, and when you get up in the morning you will be fresh, fit, content, happy and full of energy for the day.”
“Before you go to sleep, concentrate a few seconds in the aspiration that the sleep may restore your fatigued nerves, bring calm and quietness to your brain so that on waking you may, with renewed vigour, begin again your journey on the path of the great discovery.
…the quality of sleep is much more important than its quantity. In order to have a truly effective rest and relaxation during sleep, it is good as a rule to drink something before going to bed, a cup of milk or soup or fruit-juice, for instance. Light food brings a quiet sleep. One should, however, abstain from all copious meals, for then the sleep becomes agitated and is disturbed by nightmares, or else is dense, heavy and dulling. But the most important thing of all is to make the mind clear, to quieten the emotions and calm the effervescence of desires and the preoccupations which accompany them. If before retiring to bed one has talked a lot or had a lively discussion, if one has read an exciting or intensely interesting book, one should rest a little without sleeping in order to quieten the mental activity, so that the brain does not engage in disorderly movements while the other parts of the body alone are asleep. Those who practise meditation will do well to concentrate for a few minutes on a lofty and restful idea, in an aspiration towards a higher and vaster consciousness. Their sleep will benefit greatly from this and they will largely be spared the risk of falling into unconsciousness while they sleep.
How is it better to go to bed early and to get up early?
“When the sun sets, a kind of peace descends upon the earth and this peace is helpful for sleep.
When the sun rises, a vigorous energy descends upon the earth and this energy is helpful for work.
When you go to bed late and get up late, you contradict the forces of Nature and that is not very wise.”
” According to a recent medical theory one passes in sleep through many phases until one arrives at a state in which there is absolute rest and silence—it lasts only for ten minutes, the rest of the time is taken up by travelling to that and travelling back again to the waking state. I suppose the ten minutes sleep can be called su\,supti in the Brahman or Brahmaloka, the rest is svapna or passage through other worlds (planes or states of conscious existence). It is these ten minutes that restore
What are dreams? What is their nature and importance? Why do we forget our dreams?
Can we have control over our dreams? How to interpret dreams? We all have dreams during sleep. We would like to know their meaning and significance. There are a large number of books on this subject but they do not always give satisfying answers. Here are answers taken from the writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother about what happens during sleep:
What are dreams? What is their importance?
” In principle, to judge the activities of sleep one needs the same capacity of discrimination as to judge the waking activities.
But since we usually give the name “dream” to a considerable number of activities that differ completely from one another, the first point is to learn to distinguish between these various activities—that is, to recognise what part of the being it is that “dreams”, what domain it is that one “dreams” in, and what the nature of that activity is.”
Types of dreams
“The great majority of dreams have no other value than that of a purely mechanical and uncontrolled activity of the physical brain, in which certain cells continue to function during sleep as generators of sensory images and impressions conforming to the pictures received from outside.
These dreams are nearly always caused by purely physical circumstances—state of health, digestion, position in bed, etc.
With a little self-observation and a few precautions, it is easy to avoid this type of dream, which is as useless as it is tiring, by eliminating its physical causes.”
“There are also other dreams which are nothing but futile manifestations of the erratic activities of certain mental faculties, which associate ideas, conversations and memories that come together at random.
Such dreams are already more significant, for these erratic activities reveal to us the confusion that prevails in our mental being as soon as it is no longer subject to the control of our will, and show us that this being is still not organised or ordered within us, that it is not mature enough to have an autonomous life.”
“Almost the same in form to these, but more important in their consequences, are the dreams which I mentioned just now, those which arise from the inner being seeking revenge when it is freed for a moment from the constraint that we impose upon it. These dreams often enable us to perceive tendencies, inclinations, impulses, desires of which we were not conscious so long as our will to realise our ideal kept them concealed in some obscure recess of our being.”
Why do we forget our dreams?
” Because you do not dream always at the same place. It is not always the same part of your being that dreams and it is not at the same place that you dream. If you were in conscious, direct, continuous communication with all the parts of your being, you would remember all your dreams. But very few parts of the being are in communication.
For example, you have a dream in the subtle physical, that is to say, quite close to the physical. Generally, these dreams occur in the early hours of the morning, that is between four and five o’clock, at the end of the sleep. If you do not make a sudden movement when you wake up, if you remain very quiet, very still and a little attentive—quietly attentive—and concentrated, you will remember them, for the communication between the subtle physical and the physical is established— very rarely is there no communication.”
“Now, dreams aremostly forgotten because you have a dream while in a certain state and then pass into another. For instance, when you sleep, your body is asleep, your vital is asleep, but your mind is still active. So your mind begins to have dreams, that is, its activity is more or less coordinated, the imagination is very active and you see all kinds of things, take part in extraordinary happenings…. After some time, all that calms down and the mind also begins to doze. The vital that was resting wakes up; it comes out of the body, walks about, goes here and there, does all kinds of things, reacts, sometimes fights, and finally eats. It does all kinds of things. The vital is very adventurous. It watches. When it is heroic it rushes to save people who are in prison or to destroy enemies or it makes wonderful discoveries. But this pushes back the whole mental dream very far behind. It is rubbed off, forgotten: naturally you cannot remember it because the vital dream takes its place. But if you wake up suddenly at that moment, you remember it. There are people who have made the experiment, who have got up at certain fixed hours of the night and when they wake up suddenly, they do remember. You must not move brusquely, but awake in the natural course, then you remember.”