Buddha once slapped a fly to death on his face. When he came into awareness, he repeated the same action, but slowly and with awareness. A disciple asked, “What are you doing? The fly has already died.” Buddha replied, “Yes, but I killed it unconsciously, so I am now doing prayashchitta or repentance. I am doing the same act consciously.” This story speaks volumes about the importance of awareness in every action.
Infuse awareness into every action – walking, talking, sitting, and even breathing. By slowing down, one becomes more conscious of one’s actions and will act with awareness. This is called Zen living or meditative living. When every act is done consciously and with awareness during the whole day, the person also becomes aware and conscious the whole night. Being aware the whole night is called sleeping one’s way to health and enlightenment!
What is sleep?
By its very nature consciousness is nameless, formless and timeless. Mental patterns, which are nothing but our automated response mechanisms to situations, keep pulling at the nervous system, creating the world of name, form and time. This is the world as it is experienced by all. The intelligent innate consciousness in everyone always wants to get back to this original state where there is neither name, nor form, nor the experience of time. When one falls asleep, the consciousness floods the body and the nervous system, it packs up all the patterns, almost like packing up a tent. This is what is the experience of deep and dreamless sleep. In the sleep state, however, the patterns do not die. They just remain in their seed state.
When the effect of patterns and consciousness on the body is evenly balanced, one has the right experience of the world, dreams and sleep. If the consciousness becomes less, and the effect of patterns is more then natural, sleep disorders are the result. Too much of attachment to what is seen or heard, which is nothing but the effect of patterns, is responsible for insomnia and other sleep disorders. If the effect of consciousness is more on the nervous system as compared to the patterns, that is what leads to the meditative state and super-consciousness. Increased consciousness during the day will naturally lead to awareness in the dream state, and then to awareness during the deep sleep state. When one becomes aware in all the three states – waking, dream and sleep, it is called turiya, the fourth state. Finally, when the effect of consciousness is too much on the nervous system, all the patterns get destroyed permanently. This gives the direct experience of enlightenment.
So it is very important to flood consciousness into every action during the day, and sleep in the night. This technique is a direct method to bring awareness into the deep sleep state. It needs to be practiced at night in a darkened room, for one full night. The unique thing about this meditation is that it is sufficient to do it just once to heal all sleep related problems.
Sit in a comfortable posture. You can sit cross-legged on the floor or in a chair. Sit in an upright posture with the head, neck and spine in a straight line. You can support the lower back, but do not allow the head or upper back to rest against any surface, otherwise there will be a likelihood of falling asleep. For this reason it is better not to sit on the bed while doing this meditation.
Close your eyes. You can also tie a cloth around the eyes. This will give a deeper experience of darkness, and avoid the temptation to open the eyes.
Now meditate deeply on darkness. Darkness is the nature of deep sleep. So meditate on darkness. Visualize that you are inhaling and exhaling darkness. Visualize darkness flooding you and everything around you. Visualize it entering into each and every cell of your body, until all that exists is darkness.
Repeat the word darkness mentally like chanting a mantra. If your mind starts wandering, bring it back to the experience of darkness.
When this meditation is done successfully for one full night, one will have the experience of conscious sleep and it will completely heal disorders like insomnia or chronic fatigue. There will be no tiredness from meditating all night, in fact one will feel fresh, alive and full of energy. However, the benefits do not stop with just better sleep and health. The process given here can be a direct way to experience enlightenment itself.
Adapted from the teachings from Paramahamsa Nithyananda