adventures of a fearless (mostly) globe trotting seeker...
wondering, wandering, barefoot, nomadess

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sleepless nights and Spiritual Insomnia

"ïn this state there is no Siva (sun),
nor any holy union..
only a somewhat something moving
dreamlike on a fading road."
-lalla, female kashmiri mystic

and so it is...i woke up this morning early. my two travelling companions still asleep on the matresses that were laid out on the marble floor. it was nice to sleep last night. i hadn't slept for 3 days before that. not because of insomnia...but because when i come to india, it's like sticking my finger in a light socket of electricity...shakti. the land is very strong with this energy, and i feel it running through the soles of my bare feet , up my legs and electrifying my whole system. also, this happens when i am near my teacher. the last 3 nights i have laid down exaughsted from long days and found myself lying in the dark completely alert. i could feel the different energy centers whirring with energy, especially my heart. there was no self-doubt or anxiety that makes sleeplessness painful for the mind. a deep sense of peace, expansion and weightlessness as if i were floating in an ocean. i was aware of thoughts drifting by in the stream of consciousness. there was not much emotional weight connected with the thoughts, and so they floated past me easily. i would use the time to chant my guru mantra, over and over, folding time into circles of syllables like rolling haybales in a great field. even though i was not sleeping, i felt timeless.
No sleep for the saints?
there are many stories of saints and gurus who never sleep, or need very little sleep. a contemporary guru, Amma, performs the super-human feat of staying up for days, without eating or using the bathroom, hugging all the people who come to see her for blessings. my own guruji goes to bed around 10:30pm, gets up at 2am and works on returning emails or writing until around 5am, then lays down again to get up for morning chai between 6-7am. I have heard him snoring, so I do know he sleeps sometimes!
Kundalini affects your sleep
Since I began practicing tantra, which awakens kundalini, I have gone through periods of not sleeping, and being very creative and active. I have also gone through periods of sleeping many hours, the sleep descending on me like a heavy syrup that doesn't allow me to keep my eyes open. I always consider this a "re-booting"of my computer, after installing a new software program.

My body, my slave?
Though my spirits are good my eyes are still burning from no sleep. My poor body! It reminds me of one of my teachers I met on my first trip to India. He was a tiny, very intense swamy who came from the Sivananda and Bihar lineages of yoga. I loved to watch his excitement as he demonstated asanas and bandhas, his small, lithe body like a live wire. He would wrap his orange swamy sheath around and around, tucking it here and there, until he could flip upside down on his shaved head without exposing anything immodest. One day, after demonstrating a particularly difficult asana, he said, "I use my body like a slave", and he grinned from ear to ear. I don't use my body like a slave. I am very grateful for her and I listen attentively to her inner tunings and the ocean of intelligence moving constantly just under my skin.

Kundalini and insomnia:
"It is also likely that the practioner will experience insominia. However, yogis do not call it insomnia. They say, "Why should I sleep?" If you love a person very much and he stays with you and does not allow you to sleep, will you call that insomnia? There are yogis who do not sleep and are happy about it because yogis have an entirely different attitude. They say 1/3 of the life is wasted in sleeping. So when kundalini awakens in a yogi and consciousness is constant and consistent, and there is no waking, sleeping and dreaming, they are happy about it. Therefore, insomnia does not usually bother a person who has awakened kundalini. Just accept your sleeplessness and enjoy it. You can do japa meditation or just do some spiritual reflection. If this is not possible, just lie down and let it happen as it will."
-Kundalini Tantra, Swami satyananda Saraswati


  1. Found this by accident and while I sit here again unable sleep with intense energy this was an extremely accurate and good read.
    Thank you