Can You Meditate While Sleeping?
Q: Sadhguru, how can we become meditative while sleeping?Sadhguru: Oh, you are talking about multi-tasking your meditation. Do you want to make use of meditation to sleep or make use of sleep to meditate? Which way are you talking-- how to meditate when you are sleeping, or how to sleep when you are meditating?
Asking the Wrong Question
There is a beautiful story which happened with Ibrahim, a Sufi master. He gathered a large number of disciples, and one day in his retreat, two young men met. A glorious sunset was happening, but both of them were sitting there miserably.
They were struggling with their smoking habit. They discussed, “Why don’t we just go and ask the master whether we can smoke? Who knows? He is quite wacky. He may say okay, or he may supply us with something more than tobacco.”
So they decided to go and ask him separately. The next day evening, a glorious sunset came again. One of them was sitting there miserably, and the other came smoking. This miserable guy looked at him and said, “How come you are smoking? You are breaking the master’s word.”
He said, “No.”
The miserable guy said, “I went and asked him yesterday, and he told me ‘No, you cannot smoke.’”
“What did you ask him?”
The first man said, “I asked, ‘Can I smoke when I am meditating?’ He said no.”
So the other guy said, “That is the mistake you made. I asked him, ‘Can I meditate when I am smoking?’ and he said yes.”
Right now, you are asking, “Can I meditate when I am asleep?” A whole lot of people on the planet are having problems meditating even when they are awake. For most people, unless they have done enough work upon themselves, if they sit for an hour, they may be meditative for three minutes in that time. Off and on, and off and on, one moment they’re there, then gone somewhere.
Whatever your meditation time, it is better to improve the quality of that time rather than thinking how to extend it into your sleep. Sleep, at least, you should leave uncontaminated by all your ideas. Just sleep in abandon. They say “sleep like a log.” If you cannot sleep like a log, at least sleep like a cat or a dog. Do not try to bring spirituality into your sleeping. Just simply sleep like you are dead.
Sleeping in Abandon
Dead people are stiff in body, but they are in a deep state of abandon. They are not concerned with how they look. So similarly, when you are sleeping, you should not be concerned what the hell is happening. One thing that I find in America is, in the morning when you meet people, a whole lot of people ask, “Did you sleep well?” I never understood this question, because where is the issue? But I see a whole lot of people have an issue. If you try to meditate in your sleep, you will for sure have an issue. So let sleep happen in total abandon. If you do not want to sleep like you are dead, at least sleep like a baby. The US Republican presidential candidate John McCain said something very beautiful about this. After he lost the election against Obama, they asked him, “How are you?” He said, “I am sleeping like a baby. Every two hours I wake up, cry and sleep again.” That was wonderful of the man. In defeat, if you can be humorous, that is good for you.
The Meditative Quality
Meditation is not an act; it is a quality. It is a fragrance that you arrive at and exude in the very way you live. This will not happen because you are doing something about it - if you cultivate your body, mind, energies and emotion to a certain level of maturity, then you become meditative. You can become meditative or you can become meditation, but you cannot do meditation. If you bring this quality into you, it will not leave you when you are asleep. Once the quality has become a living process for you, whether body is awake or asleep, meditative process will be on. But if you try to meditate during your sleep, the only thing that will happen is, you will not sleep well.
Editor’s Note: Read more about what Sadhguru has to say about sleep.
A version of this article was originally published in Forest Flower, October 2018.