Yogi and mystic, Sadhguru, looks at the role of sleep and the importance of sleeping in absolute relaxation. He speaks about the significance of improving sleep quality rather than raising the quantum of sleep, and explains that this is an important step towards meditativeness.

Question: I tend to have a lot of visions in my sleep. I was wondering if you could talk about that.

Sadhguru: Once, a burglar was caught stealing, and he was taken to the court. On the surface, this man was well-to-do, so the judge asked him, “You have enough in life. Why are you stealing from other people?” The burglar said, “Well, you know, the wise have always said, ‘Whatever a man may have, he always wants more.’” The judge looked at him and said, “Okay. I give you 10 years. If you want more, tell me.”

At least in sleep, do not ask for more – simply sleep.

At least in sleep, don’t look for more. It would be fantastic if you did not look for more in wakefulness either – simply be. If that is not possible for you right now, at least in sleep, do not ask for more – simply sleep. You can make sleep into a phenomenally productive process so that you will need less sleep. If you sleep in absolute relaxation, the gene expression and other processes in the body will happen more quickly and more efficiently. That means you will wake up sooner.

If you are inefficient in wakefulness, it is not good, but we will bear with you. But if you are inefficient even in sleep, death will be the only answer, because that is the only area where you cannot be inefficient. When you die, you die. If you learn to simply sleep, to “simply be” in wakefulness will be the next step.

Sleep is a state where you are on the edge between the world of sounds and the world of silence, but you can only move into the world of silence when you are aware. You can move through the world of sounds and forms unaware, but you cannot move into the world of silence, which is devoid of any vibration, devoid of any forms, in unawareness.

We want to use sleep as a platform for awakening, to become one with all that is real – not as a way to become inert, dead, and away from all that is real. When you sleep, you sleep as a part of the earth. Suppose you sleep outside on the grass, you are like a little mound on the earth. If you sleep long enough, you will become a mound.

Improving sleep quality

Improving sleep quality does not mean sleeping like a stone. But actually, a stone is the wrong example, because in my experience, stones are very alive – a lot more alive than many human beings. “Sleeping like a log” would be a better expression, because a log is dead – it is not a tree anymore. This is not about sleeping like a log, but about sleeping in a live manner – being awake and asleep at the same time. If you bring even a small percentage of this element into your sleep, you will naturally become meditative over a period of time. Meditation not as an act but as a quality will become a part of your existence.

We have tried to bring this aspect into your life in so many ways, starting with the Shambhavi Mahamudra. Shambhavi means twilight – you are between day and night, night and day. Twilight means you are asleep, but you are awake; you are awake, but you are asleep. Changing the quality of our sleep – not the quantum – is the necessary foundation for someone to become a yogi. In wakefulness, you must be fully awake but if you check the parameters of the body, it must be asleep. In sleep, your body should sleep, your mind should sleep, but you must be awake.

Sleep your way to true aliveness

Aliveness is not an acquired state – it is your nature. “Just being” means being absolute life – not a mind, not a thought, not an emotion, not an ideology, not a philosophy, not a belief system, not a gender, not a race, not a caste, not a creed – just life. If you touch life on this level, you will know by experience that life and the source of life are packed inside each other.

If you sit here just as a piece of life, there will be no separation between yourself and the Divine. If you cannot simply be yet, at least when you are asleep, simply sleep. It will do many miraculous things. If only you could be awake and asleep at once, you would be in the lap of the Divine for always.

Editor’s Note: Check out our series on sleep for tips on improving sleep quality and a lot more. For more insights from Sadhguru, follow him on twitter and facebook.

This article is based on an excerpt from the December 2013 issue of Forest Flower. Pay what you want and download. (set ‘0’ for free). Print subscriptions are also available.

Image courtesy: Commute by JanneM