There’s a moment when we wake up as well as when we fall asleep, before we are unconscious or fully alert that is a gateway into the state of pure conscious ‘Being’. The trick is to be awake enough to notice it but asleep enough so that the personality hasn’t come in and named it. This is a tantric practice that connects us into that point where our ego disappears, and we become one with all, and enter into vast emptiness and stillness…. Without actually falling asleep…zzzzz
Recently a student in one of my Restorative classes came out of a pose and announced that she’d had a yoga orgasm! We all laughed but it was actually a great description of bliss that can arrive when we just stay in pure presence. Her experience showed that she’d finally found enough rest and had actually made some progress in her restorative yoga practice because up until then she’d mostly found herself napping as she inhabited the Restorative postures.
When we first begin with Restorative Yoga we may be addressing a very long and old sleep debt and so to begin with it may very well be a practice of napping. This is still a sensible thing to do in our sleep deprived culture and the deep sense of relaxation is a healing practice in itself. But once we have become more rested in our lives and we keep showing up for the restorative yoga practice we can eventually go beyond the deep sleep of the power nap and instead find other mind states. Like the state of Pratyahara when the sense organs are withdrawn from the stimulus of outer world and environment so that mind turns inward on itself reveals the light of awareness that is beyond any mind activity including sleep and dreaming.
This poem is one that I wrote some time ago when I was fascinated with the state we inhabit between waking and sleeping. It’s an invitation for you to start getting curious about the transition times of sleep.
In that finally surrendered moment
just before I fall asleep
Ease spreads in every direction
and infuses every cell
The natural state of Being
That I was searching for all day
arrived, just as I gave up
But now I’m too tired to recognise
That it was here
Even during my rushing
And laughing with my friend
If only I could stay awake
While I’m falling asleep
Imagine then how
darkness could light me up
And stillness would be enough
To be with all the movements of this fluctuating life.
By Sam Loe