Yoga of Sleep & Dreams


“The Night-School of Sadhana”: passages on sleep and dreams from Sri Aurobindo and the Mother


The Mother said, “You can become conscious of your nights and your sleep just as you are conscious of your days. It is a matter of inner development and discipline of consciousness.” This book contains guidance for making sleep more conscious, thereby replacing subconscient dreams with conscious experiences. The ultimate goal is to transform sleep into a state of yogic repose, a state in which one can enter into the inner worlds and act there as in the physical world.

For the uninitiated, the title will surely be intriguing. One has heard of Yoga of the body, Yoga of the mind … but Yoga of sleep and dreams? How does one associate such an actively conscious term like Yoga with what seems to be such a passive and unconscious state like sleep?

To answer that precisely, has been put together this invaluable collection of words by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. One may imagine that organizing a compilation is the easiest thing to do – refer to a topic, select everything under it, and you’ve got a book ready. Not so in the case of A. S. Dalal, for he takes pains to first familiarize the reader with his theme in his own words which one invariably finds very naturally weaving in and out of those of others, linking different thoughts with ease and making one understand the essence of the subject in hand. Here too, his introduction is indispensable, where he has thoughtfully and successfully encapsulated all that lies in the realm of sleep and dreams as explained by the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. What follows thereafter are thematic sections, with only Their words on different aspects of the night world.

Speaking of which, this `night world’ has a different imagery for each and every one of us. It is something which is so unique to oneself that to dive into it headlong is truly a self-revelation, one which may or may not always be pleasant to discover, and yet, one which is crucial and cannot be ignored. Many of us may not even question the necessity behind the urge to sleep, assuming it is the natural way to be. But even though the body at this stage of our evolution does demand its rest, it is nonetheless an aspect of life which can also come very much under our control.

As Sri Aurobindo says, “sleep changes into an inner mode of consciousness in which the sadhana can continue as much as in the waking state, and at the same time one is able to enter into other planes of consciousness than the physical and command an immense range of informative and utilisable experience.”

But before we assume control, we first need to begin by raising questions about this seemingly inactive activity of ours and with the aid of those who have traveled far and deep into such worlds, make our own personal journeys and subsequent discoveries. If you think that sleep is all about shutting one’s eyes and opening them in time for a new day, think again.

“Sleep can be a very active means of concentration and inner knowledge. Sleep is the school one has to go through, if one knows how to learn his lesson there, so that the inner being may be independent of the physical form, conscious of itself and master of its own life. There are entire parts of the being which need this immobility and semi-consciousness of the outer being, of the body, in order to live their own life, independently.”
– The Mother

So if curiosity has begun to take over and you want to know why you sleep, or what happens when you sleep, where you go, whom you meet, why you behave in a manner so different, what the symbolism of all those fantastic voyages really is … this is the book for you. Sleep and dreams are not just an ordinary by-product of a hard day’s work, but an opportunity for growth and progress. Sri Aurobindo’s integral Yoga cannot be suspended when the hour strikes midnight … no, it must go on and so it does.

The question then is, how do we become aware of this `night school of sadhana’?

Read and find out.

– Shonar

Shonar has been writing for the last decade on all kinds of subjects like music, travel, environment, cultural and social issues, and is now occupied in Pondicherry as a researcher, writer and editor.

October 2004

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