Sleep Practice



Whatever your belief or spiritual practice, always aspire to recognize that your dreams are just dreams. Know as you dream that you are dreaming. The big mistake we all make in every one of our many lives is to imagine that everything we experience is real. Stop making that mistake! As you fall asleep, simulate the moment of death by forcing yourself to believe that you are about to die. If you wish, try the following method, which is based on the practice of aspiration.

For Non-Buddhists

As you lie down to go to sleep, think to yourself:
Tonight I may die. This may be it. I may never wake up again. Forgive those you need to forgive. Forget everything that should be forgotten. Bring to mind anything that calms and relaxes you – it could be a falling leaf or a quacking duck.
More importantly, make the wish that you and every other sentient being will have and experience all that is good. In fact, if you can focus on caring for others more than yourself, not only will it bring you great joy, it will simultaneously ensure that you yourself are well looked after.
As you fall asleep, your awareness of your body – what your eyes see, what your nose smells, what your tongue tastes, and so on – will be detached by sleep.
When you next wake up, imagine you have been reborn and that a new life has just begun. Observe how you reconnect with your senses and sense objects. Notice the song of the blackbird, smell your stale morning breath, taste your night-time mouth taste.
Think to yourself: The world I have awoken into will not last forever. Look at your new table and that packet of exquisite, unopened Japanese stationery. Use them both and appreciate them now – it may be your last chance.

For Buddhists

If you wish, follow an old Buddhist tradition and imagine that all the buddhas and bodhisattvas have gathered on your pillow. Then, just before you lie down, offer them a prostration. If you would like to emulate the Buddha’s famous reclining position, lie on your right side as you go to sleep.
Think: I want to make good use of this night’s sleep. I surrender to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. I want this night’s sleep to be beneficial and meaningful for both myself and others.
As you fall asleep, think: I am dying; My consciousness of my senses is dissolving.
As you wake up, think: I have been reborn. I long to make good use of this fleeting life for the benefit of myself and others.

For Tantrikas

Aspire to perceive and experience the luminosity of simple cognisance. As the process of falling asleep offers an excellent opportunity for recognizing this luminosity, make strong aspirations to simply ‘cognize’. At death, all your sensory mechanisms will dissolve, which means this ‘simple cognisance’ will be entirely unbothered by your senses or your reaction to sense objects. All that will be left is your mind. So, bearing in mind the sleep practice that has already been described, visualize a lotus at the centre of your heart on which sits your guru, who is the embodiment of all the Buddhas. Then, as you fall asleep, just think about your guru.

From the book : “Living is dying “

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