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Awareness while sleeping?

Discussion in 'Mind, Body & Spirit' started by Midnight, Sep 1, 2011.

  1. Midnight

    Midnight Member

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    Hey everyone, how are you all doing?

    So recently, curiosity has appeared again after a particular experience I've had on and off...

    It has to deal with the seeming "disappearance" of awareness while we sleep.

    A common spiritual teaching is that awareness (or substitute whatever word you like!) is the only constant in experience. Or more simply, you being there is the only stable factor...

    This came to me after I took a nap on the couch...but while I was napping, I more or less was aware of it happening. This has happened before...it's usually when I'm feeling pleasant, that I can start to fall asleep, and be somewhat aware of it happening. I could feel my mind starting to ignore hearing the background noises, I could feel that my eyes stopped paying attention to my eyelids...I basically noticed the body falling asleep. No analyzing or thinking was happening, it was just noticing it all happen...

    Anyway, I then started thinking about how when we go to sleep at night, we usually seem to "disappear" for lack of a better word. Or experience stops happening, or whatever. At first, it seems like this sort of conflicts with the idea that our being is the permanence among the impermanent.

    Then why does it seem like it all disappears?

    Now, I'm not saying that it really DOES disappear...I'm fully open to the idea that something beyond the scope of my understanding is happening in such an everyday activity...I've heard stories of people who claim to be able to remain aware while also deep in sleep.

    Consciousness seems to change in a spectrum-like fashion. It is very obvious sometimes, and less obvious at others. Sleep being at one end of that spectrum.

    Any answer wouldn't change a thing, but i'm curious as to what others have to say. :) This discussion is just for fun.

    Special hello to all the regulars that still post here :D
     
  2. Hazelkay

    Hazelkay Member

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    "At first, it seems like this sort of conflicts with the idea that our being is the permanence among the impermanent."

    :eek: This is the bit that jumped out at me:eek:

    Perhaps I've misunderstood - but 'our being' for me is a construct we make moment by moment - there is nothing permanent in it.

    peace and joy:)
    H
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2011
  3. olmate

    olmate Member

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    Hi Midnight,

    It is an interesting question. What comes to mind though is the variations in light associated with day and night. In the light of day "seeing" (or heightened awareness) is easy. But as the light fades at sunset, seeing becomes more difficult.

    But if you have experienced periods in total darkness - well in star light only, you find you can see.

    So if this anology plays out - the conclusion is that it is about increasing the levels of awareness in the different states of being physically awake or asleep.

    Just a thought. Good to see your posts as usual.

    Nothing but the best...

    Olmate
     
  4. Midnight

    Midnight Member

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    When I said being, I meant presence...consciousness...awareness. All that jazz. :eek:

    @olmate
    This is how i'm feeling about it. It wouldn't make sense that it all really just disappears. Sort of how before we all came to practice meditation, we really didn't pay attention to the fact that we are aware beings...and in my experience, I remember not feeling as awake and aware as I do now.

    Good to see you both, hope all is well. :)
     
  5. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    Good thanks! :)

    The fact you're aware when you wake up shows that it's not disappeared. There's no destruction and re-creation of the awareness each time you sleep. If it disappeared, then when it was recreated when you awaken, you would have some sort of new awareness ... :D ... a sort of "who am I? why am I here?" moment. (yes I know we can feel like this in the morning, but that's just the mind playing with us).

    Ok, there's no actual hard and fast explanation for it, so we can only use analogies or ideas to represent what's happening.

    At a high level, consider that when you fall asleep, your senses and other parts of your physical body go into "shutdown". i.e. your digestion system slows down, your ears stop hearing etc. and anything in the conscious mind essentially disconnects, just leaving the unconscious to keep things running. Our awareness interfaces through our conscious mind (let's face it we don't have to be aware of how the body works, we're just aware of what the mind is up to). So, by logical deduction, if the mind is settling into sleep, the awareness has nothing to be aware of through the physical mind (as far as the mind is physical). So, awareness sits there, being aware, but not an awareness of the physical realm that we're consciously used to contemplating.

    Another way of looking at is with a completely dualistic viewpoint, in that the Awareness is all One and that oneness manifests as physical beings/things; not just one per awareness, but one awareness manifesting as ALL things. When the physical beings/things are resting, the awareness is still there manifesting through the others. You could also consider how awareness is in, what we would call, non-living things... perhaps sit down with a stone and meditate on it's awareness. ;)

    Hugs

    Giles
     
  6. Midnight

    Midnight Member

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    Awesome! :D
    This seems to be the most obvious way of looking at it. My intuition feels as if that's the best way of looking at it.

    And that's another interesting way of looking at it. Awesome. Thanks for your input, Giles.
     
  7. niche168

    niche168 New Member

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    I always wonder what people feel before they die. It might be the same feeling as what we feel before we fall alseep. I feel it is a gradual process to lose awareness. I cannot think like you before I go to bed or I cannot fall asleep at all.

     
  8. robrg1836

    robrg1836 Member

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    This is a great thread...
     
  9. olmate

    olmate Member

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    There are a number of communities of practice that follow a path of "dying each day". The feeling attached to that practice is one of very advanced humility (if that makes sense) and abject poverty in the sense of total abandonment.

    Perhaps another context of the feeling is just being in the now. Riding that wave of presence. So unlike the process of falling asleep where everything slows - I suspect it is one of liberation, release, expansion and utter freedom.

    I guess time will tell though....

    Olmate
     
  10. Midnight

    Midnight Member

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    I've wondered the same thing, and I've thought the exact same thing. Perhaps it feels just like falling asleep to the body. Or maybe it is something else entirely. I can only create images in my head for this, like olmate said...only time will tell.

    Life is so full of mystery...the beauty is that one doesn't need to know the answers to live life. Such an incredible thing though...

    @robrg1836: Thanks for thinking so!
     
  11. Mellatronspaceranger

    Mellatronspaceranger Member

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    Such beautiful minds, all of you. Fantastic topic.
     
  12. Midnight

    Midnight Member

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    I'm glad you think so too, it is an interesting topic. It is good to hear what others think about it.

    My conclusion of sorts is that life, despite there seeming to be many logical paradoxes and contradictions, there is a profound unity underneath that. A unity that can't be fully captured with words. Sleep is obviously a part of this life cycle. Despite the logical conclusion that consciousness must disappear, something inside tells me that's not quite correct.

    There's enough evidence that appears in waking life that leads me to see that life itself is divine in every way, every form. There's something beautiful about letting everything be exactly as it is.
     
  13. Karmoh

    Karmoh Member

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    great thread...

    Pure awareness is the present, clear, empty, space from which every appearance appears and into which it disappears. But awareness is always happening whether there is something appearing or not. Awareness is there during the day and even at night in formless sleep. It doesn’t come and go. Only conceptual appearances within awareness come and go.

    Recognising awareness means allowing awareness to recognise itself rather than be focused on experiences happening in awareness. But as there is no way to list all possible experiences, we have to concluded that every event that happens in life is an on-going experience from starting your day, to doing the stages of the day, going to bed, to sleeping, to going through the stages of sleep, to waking up and starting the day.

    As we awaken from a deep sleep, we open our eyes, we look around and asses our situation. Our array of memories will take hold and we are presented with thoughts and sensations that build a story of where we are and of our wellbeing.

    It may seem like your life just shows up in front of you exactly the way it is. Upon closer look, this is not what is happening. Notice the viewpoints that appear when your life appears. All sorts of memories are placed over your present (moment) life. So what do you really experience when you awaken from a deep sleep and see your life and at the end of the day what do you really experience when you close your eyes and drop–off………

    ?

    Peace:)
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2011
  14. 74LEO

    74LEO Member

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    Lucid dreams as a child

    I used to have Lucid dreams all the time as a child. I flew but most of the time it was weird. I was always along. Interesting because I still feel the same way. I was at peace just running and laughing for no reason. I like those dreams when you wake up and your laughing for no reason.

    I still have lucid dreams and know Im dreaming usually after about 5 hours I start to dream a lot and I lose control.

    I really dont dream much ever since i started meditation. my ex-girlfriend didn't meditate and needed 9 hours of sleep on the weekend so i would stay in bed with her and i would dream for like 4 hours all kids of weird shit.

    So I think dreaming is just when the conscious self loses control of the cognitive mind and the mind becomes the driver. In our lethargic state we lose control of mind.

    I remember being excited to go to sleep because I could be in control. Then over the years it has become harder, maybe because my imagination isn't as sharp as it was as a child.
     
  15. brozen

    brozen Member

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    Hi,
    Was just popping in through the forum topics and this one caught my eye.
    You are definitely referring to a lucid dream. I just came back from a long meditation retreat where I found it difficult to get a good nights rest (due to cold weather) so had to resort to taking naps during the day.
    In each of these naps I experienced exactly what you described. Slowly you watch the dream world and the outside world overlap each other being aware of both at the same time. Then there seems to be a flash of a dream sequence which can sometimes be mistaken for reality, sometimes our mind realizes this change and jolts us back into reality. The times you don't realize it is when you fall into unconscious sleep. But in between jolting back to reality and falling into unconscious sleeps is a blend, where your awareness of true reality remains while the dream sequence unfolds.
    In this way, with focus, we can maintain an awareness as our dream manifests itself.

    With practice, your self in reality is aware that it is currently dreaming and that your body is actually in bed. At the same time a (hallucinated) consciousness is created within your dream self, so that your dream self is aware of itself within the dream. The latter is called being lucid. But a combination is of being Aware of being lucid.
    I haven't experienced being Aware of being lucid but I have experienced being lucid and also being aware of dreaming(non lucid).

    I'm not sure if this made sense, or if just sounded like crazy talk. It's not really important until you try it for yourself.

    If you want to recreate the dreaming experience you had, try this;
    1. Meditate at some stage of the day (not necessary)
    2. When tired, take a nap at a time far from your sleeping/waking times.
    3. Lie down on your back and keep your body in one position
    4. Make sure you don't move any body part no matter how badly you feeling like rolling over or crossing your legs or folding your arms etc.

    By doing this it forces the body to fall into sleep paralysis before the mind can catch up. This allows for awareness of body and dream state.

    If you manage to notice a dream forming, allow it to happen, just observe it as it comes while remaining aware. If you see the dream slipping away, try to imagine yourself spinning.

    I know you've posted about this before and you seem to be a bit skeptical of the lucid dream idea but if you practice this everytime you take a nap you might start to experience the idea. Would love to hear your insights on trying it.
     
  16. physicalillusion

    physicalillusion Member

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    Hello Everyone :)

    Great thread indeed
    From what i studied through reading on books about NDE's (Near Death Exp) and COOBE's (Conscious Out Of Body Exp)
    I would say that your subconscious is to blame why you don't have awareness when you sleep.It is said when you sleep because you have the habit of running your life on default your subconscious takes over the rest of the night while the conscious part of you lies dormant within or unconscious.
    If you ever observed children when they play with toys or play outside there mind/awareness and world is in THE MOMENT/The Present and i believe it would explain why children have a much easier time dreaming or exp COOBE'S then adults do because unlike children adults run there lives on random/default via habitual patterns and daily routines: Get up in the morning use the bathroom brush your teeth wash your face shave get dressed eat breakfast look at the time oh shit im gonna be late for work out the door into the car/truck and on your way to work yay my boss loves me i got a 1$ raise etc etc etc...what im trying to say is we forget what the true essence of life is and replace it with TIME,MONEY,BILLS,MONEY...MONEY.........more money...:eek: theres a DOLLAR... the demands of living the so called illusion crafted perfect lifestyle with the yacht and white fence.
    KIDS DON'T HAVE THESE PERSPECTIVES!! and it is strange how it is children show adults what we miss the most...HAPPINESS.
    I believe it all goes hand in hand awareness is happiness aware of the present moment,it's funny how kids don't even need to practice awareness because i think kids could care less about what happens in the future or what happened in the past to them it's all about the NOW.
    I believe the more i meditate,the more i remind myself what it's like living in the moment.
    I'm 24 years old,it's bin 17 years last time i had a Lucid Dream.I have ALLOT of catching up to do...

    This is what i believe ^_^

    Peace love and Light. :)
     

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