Fall into Sleep
At the end of the day we lay our bodies down, close our eyes to the world, and fall into the night. We give up control and surrender to darkness. We need to sleep; it’s a biological necessity. This serves to remind us, every day, that we are dependent on the healing rhythms of nature.
There are rhythms during sleep. Your body follows an ultradian rhythm of about ninety minutes, in which you sleep deeply for about eighty minutes, and then you dream for ten minutes. This goes on all night or for however long you sleep.
Sleep is a mini-death and a journey. Consciousness leaves the body and travels wherever it wants. Boundaries dissolve and we become part of the universal body, the cosmos, the Great Unknown. The connection between sleep and death is a timeless mystery, and the subject of much musing in all spiritual practices.
When we sleep, we enter the realm of the soul, the unconscious, the world of dreams. Anything can happen in the dreamworld. The soul is a wild adventurer, a trickster, a magician; we can see or be anybody, see or do surprising, even horrifying things. The improvisations of the unconscious are inspiring and utterly humbling, exposing our deepest desires, urges, and fears.
Falling asleep can be a profound meditation on letting go. We can learn to appreciate not only the exquisite relaxation of falling asleep but also the profound relief of releasing our daytime selves. We let go of activity, we let go of our persona, our body identity, the particulars of our lives, and all the ways we are localized in time and place. Freed from the container of the skin, consciousness melts into eternity, and spreads into infinity for a few hours. We die to the world, drift and dream. Then in the morning we somehow make our way back, condensing into this body, this time, this family, this spot on Earth, this life.
When we fall asleep, we can give ourselves something wonderful to fall into; we can fall into love. The depth of meditation comes from letting yourself be with something you love, and then fall in to the experience. When we fall asleep, we fall in anyway, so we may as well succumb to what we love.
Many spiritual teachings describe the state beyond death as love itself, the divine force that connects everything in the universe. When we let go of identity, let go of thought, let go of life as we know it, we are left with the essence of love. Discovering what that feels like for you can be tremendously transformative.
Preparing for sleep can be a prayer, a blessing, a peace offering to the unknown. We forgive everything and everyone. We forgive ourselves. We surrender to love.
Fall into Sleep Practice
When: Preparing to sleep at night.
Where: Lying in bed.
Time: 6 minutes.
There are three parts to this meditation: Review and Release; Get Cozy; Fall into Love.
As you fall asleep, develop the sense that you are falling into a rich and wonderful inner world, the world of your dreams. Since you are going to be dreaming anyway, you may as well set the stage!
1) Review and Release. Before sleeping, it is helpful to release the day. Take several minutes to review the movement of your day, play by play. Take stock of your actions and interactions, and assess the consequences. Savor the texture of your life. Remember the moments of pleasure and satisfaction. Feel any moments of discomfort or difficulty. Acknowledge the lessons life is throwing your way, and how you want to be more aware in those situations. Breathe with whatever insights you have.
Then, let go of the day. Release everything. Forgive everything and everyone. Bless everybody you know and let them go for now. Forgive yourself completely. Let everything fall away.
2) Get Cozy. Prepare to fall into sleep. You can fall with all your senses. Start with the literal sensations, or how you feel right now in bed.
Make your bed a comforting nest. Plump up your pillows, adjust the blanket, and make yourself cozy and safe. Nestle into your favorite position, and give over to the sense of your body relaxing and settling down.
Experience with all your senses the feelings and sensations of being cozy: the sweetness of fatigue calling you to rest; the comfort of snuggling into your covers; the softness of gravity pulling you down into the mattress. Be aware of the flow of your breath, the quiet sound of your own breathing. Sigh or yawn, if you like, exhaling deeply.
3) Fall into Love. Now begin to tune yourself to what you love about the universe. Choose an image you love, something that gives you a sense of connectedness, sanctuary, inspiration, or deep pleasure. It might be an aspect of nature – a mountain, desert, forest, lake, or beach, for example. You do not have to visualize the entire region. Just notice a smell, a color, a texture, a sound, or a motion that you particularly enjoy.
Let your imagination take flight. You might visualize the Earth as if seeing our beautiful blue planet from space. Or enjoy the sense of merging with the night sky, the shimmering of stars and rich black space. Expand into the universe. Let your body dissolve into the substance of space.
Your love may be the feeling in your heart for someone you know, or a beloved pet. It may be the sense of being held by a loving presence, by God, by the Divine Mother, or by the universe. Imagine loving arms wrapped around you, embracing you fully, unconditionally.
Be with your image and feeling, however you experience it. Immerse yourself in the image completely; be right there. Become one with the image and sensations. Give over to the warmth, tenderness, and expansiveness of love. Let the knowledge of love suffuse your whole being.
Give your body over completely to the healing power of the night. When we fall asleep, we release ordinary reality and surrender to the mystery of sleep and dream. We float and drift beyond this world.
Float in the warm ocean of love. Be held by love, supported by love, surrounded by love, and permeated by love. Let your body go, melting into love, breathing love, and becoming love. Falling, falling now, into the depths of love, falling into healing sleep, fall into dream.
Intention: I will awaken gently and naturally just before the alarm. I will wake up naturally, happy about the day ahead.