November 14, 2013.
If we investigate sleep through the subtle bodies, or Maya Koshas, we understand that there is much more to sleep then putting the head down on a soft pillow.
Accessing and acknowledging these five subtle aspects takes us into the deep and restful sleep we need to achieve optimum physical, emotional, and mental health.
Doing a few minutes of deep relaxation, physical poses, breathing, imagery, and meditation before bedtime assures us of a deep and peaceful rest. We can retreat back into our center and sleep like a baby.
The physical body, or Anna Maya Kosha, holds tension stored in the muscles, organs, and nerves. At night, the body tries to correct each movement or strain made during the day.
As the physical body is able to relax, it liberates the energy, or prana, from its cells, muscles, and organs. The physical body’s relaxation is observed by its heaviness, a feeling of letting go.
Do you remember a time when you might have done a long hike, much longer than you would usually take? Or, perhaps, you’ve visited a friend’s country home and helped him chop the winter’s supply of wood? That night when you reclined into a supportive bed, the tiredness outweighed the call from the muscles for attention. The body’s healing power spent the night trying to repair the overworked muscles. As you slept, a buildup of lactic acid manifested as cramping in the foot or leg or stiffness and irritability in the morning.
When we are able to release the tension and stiffness before bed, the blood is better able to flow freely through the body. The heart and respiration are not heavily burdened by the cleansing process, and they can slow to their restful pace. On awakening, we reaffirm life by deep breathing into our lungs. Exhaling, we let go of inflexibility and rigidity, which prevent us from learning and growing.
After some relaxation stretches and pranayma (yogic deep breathing) prepare further for sleep by drawing inward, by allowing the mind to release thoughts, feelings, and regrets about what you’ve done or not done that day. Retrace your day from early morning and release the scenes from your mind. If your mind fixes on a particular event, examine how you could’ve done it differently; then, let that go. You might like to repeat an affirmation such as:
“I release this day and enter into a deep sleep
to repair and rejuvenate my body, mind, and spirit.”
As the mind becomes simple and uncluttered there is a lightness, an upward movement away from the mundane.
Lying in bed, peacefully allow the mind to go over the body, using your healing breath to soothe thoughts and tension away.
When the body, energy, and mind are peaceful, your sleep moves into a higher consciousness (the wisdom mind or Vijnana Maya Kosha). As we rest here, we are able to tap into knowledge that allows us to be creative and effective in our waking lives. Whether it is knowing how to heal ourselves, create a work of art, or master our own minds, it all comes from here.
Now, the time has come to relax into that soft pillow and drift into a sweet, dreamless state. Give yourself permission for a much needed rest and imagine that you put all the remaining thoughts of yesterday, today, and tomorrow in a pillow case and set it aside, drifting away from even the breath to a deep childlike sleep.
If all goes well, you may be blessed to enter the body of bliss, peace, and joy (Ananda Maya Kosha). This takes you into the center of your being to the stillness, to true rest. A feeling of oneness prevails as you drift into a peaceful sleep, to sleep until you awaken with renewed vigor, vitality, and joy for a new day. Then, you can radiate joy to all you meet.
❤ This blog includes excerpts from The Healing Path of Yoga by Nischala Joy Devi
❤ Be sure to check the schedule for upcoming workshops and other programs with Nischala Joy Devi.