“Mindfulness doesn’t have to end when you go to sleep. You eventually reach a moment when you don’t seem to be sleeping at all. Your body will still rest and rejuvenate, but your mind will remain aware.”
You probably know how helpful, and even crucial, mindfulness is to a balanced, calm, and fulfilling life.
Far beyond just something you do while sitting in lotus position with your eyes closed, mindfulness can also be done standing, walking, and lying down. You may not even get the inner calm and visionary insight you would expect from sitting in a traditional meditation posture.
It’s not practical to sit in meditation for more than a few hours a day. What do we do then, in order to stay in conscious awareness of our thoughts? You bring that mindfulness into everything you do during your waking state: mindful eating, mindful drinking, mindful driving, and any other action we experience in our daily lives.
Great! Now you have figured out that you can have continuous conscious awareness of your thoughts in the present moment during your waking life. What will happen when you go to sleep though? You will lose conscious awareness and your subconscious will take over. It seems like all hope is lost, right?
Mindfulness doesn’t have to end when you go to sleep. Once you train yourself to maintain conscious awareness during sleep, you will only have a short period when you are in deep sleep (around 15% of the sleep cycle). Once you have developed conscious awareness, the more you train yourself, the more awake your mind feels. You eventually reach a moment when you don’t seem to be sleeping at all. Your body will still rest and rejuvenate, but your mind will remain aware.
How to Stay Mindful During Sleep
To start practicing staying mindful while asleep, start by lying down in your bed.
Close your eyes and focus on the in and out breaths right up until the moment you fall asleep.
Perform a sweep with your awareness over your entire body until you’re asleep.
As soon as you wake up, continue your simple mindfulness practices of sweeping and breathing.
Once you master this, upon waking up you will be in a state of mindfulness. You will be attentive and watchful of your thoughts as they come and go and as you go in and out of the state of total calmness, samadhi. With your conscious breathing, you will ebb and flow with the Universe itself.
What’s more, you will stop having night terrors and talking in your sleep. You will sleep and wake up peacefully without anything bothering you.
Even though you lie down in bed and go to sleep, it will be as if your mind didn’t. You will maintain alertness and attention. This is why, once you start maintaining mindfulness during sleep, you will barely ever even dream. If you do have dreams, they are exceptionally lucid, surreal, and vivid ones that don’t feel like dreams at all. Instead, they feel like significant messages or true experiences.
While you watch over your mind with conscious awareness, there doesn’t seem to be any mental processing which needs to be done that is the usual fuel for dreams. You sustain a deep presence and mindfulness within your mind.
When you wake up while being in a state of mindfulness, your mind is bright, lucid, and well-rested. You will find that you are even less irritable and bothered by whatever life may throw at you.
Since your mind stays sharp and responsive, the continuous mindfulness will allow you to examine and explore with ease. You will find it pretty easy to deal with anything that would potentially arise moment to moment.
Cultivating the Mind for Conscious Awareness
You may have previously thought that it would be impossible to have a mind at total peace and serenity while asleep. After all, dreams sometimes seem like such a mishmash of abstract symbols that create intense scenes that makes us forget we are even in those dreams (unless we are lucid while dreaming, which is a fascinating way to play with the dream world).
Once you learn to cultivate mindfulness in both waking life and during sleep, people and situations won’t disturb your peace. You will maintain your clarity of insight into all situations, no matter what they are.
If you do still find that certain situations and circumstances disturb your inner calm, that’s alright. As long as you can become aware of how you are reacting, you can take conscious control over your reactions. You can bring your awareness back to the present moment and remind yourself that whatever is happening, is impermanent and will pass.
There is a sense of empowerment when you truly realize that you have conscious control over your awareness, even in sleep. Start practicing this method every day and night and begin to notice an increase in lucidity and inner peace.