Best Meditation for Sleep

Did I ever tell you the story about how I first started meditating? Yes? Well here it is again, and don’t answer back next time.

In around 2006 I watched a David DeAngelo DVD called, I believe, Deep Inner Game. It had a guest speaker called Dr Paul. While rather a kook, with a strange model of personality called “King, Warrior, Magician and Lover” (which somehow involved the Clintons), he did nevertheless say one thing which stuck with me forever. This was his description of something he called “observing ego”, the mechanism through which you can monitor your behaviour, thoughts, emotions, and actions in real time as they are being created. I now know this as mindfulness.

I began trying out “observing ego” immediately. I would watch everything I did, thought, felt, and all things coming through the sense doors, as much as I could, all the time. I had no sitting meditation practice at the time, so this was all “off the cushion”. This meant while talking to people I would have a separate “thought stream” going on, noticing things about the situation and narrating them back to myself. This was a lot of mental effort at first. However, I began to notice that the more I practised, the easier it got. I also found that I would notice more and more details, too. In fact, the amount of information present in any situation was quite overwhelming.

After two days of practising this non-stop everywhere I went, I found that I now could not turn it off. It had become habituated. This was a double-edged sword. On the one hand I was getting a lot more information about reality. On the other hand much of this information was distressing as it informed me how maladjusted I was and how quickly doing, saying, or even intoning the wrong thing could send a situation down a bad path. It also showed me how anxious I was, most of the time, especially around people I didn’t know. I had no sitting practice in which to sort this stuff out and generate good feelings in its place, so I was left trying to work through it just with my intellect (which isn’t really the right tool for the job). This was a rough one or two years. However, I also think it was this constant observation of the mindstream that led to my developing powerful concentration, as the skills seem to translate quite well. When later I came to formal sitting practice, I was able to stay with “objects” very easily.

So, a year or two later, in the Seduction Community there was a book doing the rounds by Michael Brown called The Presence Process, which was said to be good for inner healing. Brown had mixed Eastern and Western concepts to create his own solution for healing past trauma. The main practice was a sitting meditation with linked breathing (a controlled in and out of even ratio with no gap between them). Simultaneously one was to say a mantra, in English, of which there was a different one per chapter. These mantras could be easily described as psychobabble. I cannot remember a specific one, but it was things like, “I forgive myself as a child”. I don’t think the book was crap per se as it had some interesting insights. In hindsight though I do not think the practice is capable of producing the change it claims. One interesting thing that came from this, however, is that after the first session, I fell asleep immediately, and slept well. I had developed insomnia over the previous few years so this was a very noticeable and welcomed change.

After finishing that book, I became interested in following a more traditional meditation practice and found Shinzen Young’s The Science of Enlightenment. I continued doing 15 minutes of meditation in the morning and 15 minutes at night, the same as I had done for The Presence Process. Now, however, my meditation was a basic awareness of breath with some noting, virtually identical to the one I wrote up here: Basic Mindfulness Meditation. I found that 15 minutes of this before bed would also put me out like a light. So, my insomnia was cured. A month or so later, I noticed that a white light would begin developing in my field of vision during meditation, which would grow in intensity. I got my first taste of jhana, though it was quite “soft” at this point, since I did not know that staying with the breath and the light for longer periods would eventually turn it “hard”. It was some time later that I eventually discovered that by accident, which was a brilliant day.

Anyway, the purpose of this post, aside from being a trip down memory lane, is to review different kinds of meditation for their effects on sleep. The reason this post came about was that I recently continued reading The Direct Means to Eternal Bliss and tried the Abandon Release Method, which gave interesting results for sleep. I then decided to experiment with a different meditation each night and make notes of the results.

Mindfulness of Breath with Noting

This practice involves verbally noting in your mind thoughts and feelings as they arise, then gently returning awareness to the breath. It is one of the main types of meditation given to beginners. However, just because it is basic does not mean it is weak. It is a powerful meditation if practised regularly.

I have included it in this list since it was how I cured my insomnia many years ago. Mindfulness of breath with noting is like “clearing your computer’s cache”. It clears out your queue of thoughts accumulated over the day. By doing this in a dedicated session, it means you are then not tossing and turning in bed with those thoughts running through your mind. Maintaining a regular breathing pattern also seems to have a sedating quality in itself.

Breath Concentration Meditation

The only difference between breath concentration meditation and the above is that you drop the noting, and keep a tighter awareness on the sensations of the breath for the whole session. This is a more advanced practice because the meditator will need to be comfortable dropping the “vocalization” of internal thoughts in order to point that awareness at the breath sensations instead. A computer analogy is that this is like closing your “narrative thought” program so your CPU can be fully utilized for your “watching sensations of the breath” program. Most beginners can’t do this right away which is why I recommend two months of the more basic breath awareness practice before even trying it.

I found that the easiest way to utilize breath concentration for sleep is to first attain full jhana while sitting upright. Then lie down in your sleep position (for me, it’s on my right side) and begin tuning into the breath again. It is always easier to enter jhana if jhana has already been attained that day (and the more recently, the better). This is because the jhana pathway stays “hot” for some time after activation. So, in this case, jhana should arise quite quickly. Make a formal resolution that you will allow yourself to fall asleep when jhana arises. The effect of this is that, when jhana arises, you appear to fully absorb into the breath and “disappear”. This is quite something to experience if you haven’t already.

The result of this practice was as follows. Ordinarily I am a light sleeper, have several weird dreams, and need to get up to piss a couple of times per night (I drink a lot of water). Sleeping in jhana was far different. I was unsure of the amount of time I had slept until I checked my clock and found that six hours had passed. That time had passed in a solid, uninterrupted block, during which I have no memory of existing. It was like I had been erased from existence for six hours. This is very different from my normal experience, since I am usually acutely aware of time even while sleeping and can guess what time it is within an accuracy of five minutes when I wake up.

I felt very, very good after this sleep, but also somewhat “drugged”, with a morphine-like haze. Since I’m getting quite old now (34), I have little aches and pains in my body whenever I wake up, especially in my legs. Today was no different. So, I tuned back into my breath, and found that first jhana arose very, very quickly, like it was still “primed” from the night before. White light poured upwards into my head like a liquid. The moment it hit, all pain in my body and mind instantly disappeared. (Jhana releases endogenous opioids, the brain’s own painkillers, and this is what I would imagine shooting up heroin to feel like.) I only needed a few minutes of this before I got out of bed, feeling awesome.

I went to work and found that the No-Self characteristic was coming through strongly in my experience. My actions seemed extremely autonomous. I was very sociable and friendly to everyone at work, and had good humour seemingly coming out of nowhere. Due to the perceived autonomy in these actions, I remember thinking to myself, I can’t take credit for this, which is a strange thought to have when you’re getting everything you want out of life. There was a tinge of white light around objects, which I have experienced hundreds of times before, post-jhana, and people and things had an ethereal look about them – a “there but not there”, “conscious but not conscious” feel to them. No-Self and Impermanence were shining through strongly. I remember raising a line of inquiry in my mind: Does Buddhist jhana actually cause the appearance of the Three Characteristics, rather than their being an inherent feature of reality? If that is true, it has quite profound consequences: for one, it means that Buddhist practice itself causes Buddhist worldview; for two, it means other practices (e.g. Self-Inquiry) can deliver different experiential worldviews. Then we are back to the question of whether our worldview is just the result of what goes on in our brains. So there’s an uneasy link back to materialism, too.

On this day I also noted that, while autonomous and dream-like, the world looked beautiful, and suffering had reduced markedly. At the same time, I felt continually “drugged”, like I was on a slow-drip of morphine. By the end of the day the bliss was so heavy that it was exhausting.

Abandon Release Method

Abandon Release Method immediately follows Awareness Watching Awareness in the book The Direct Means to Eternal Bliss. It is the method the reader is to use if he struggles with Awareness Watching Awareness. It involves lying down and letting go of thoughts. You can read the Abandon Release Method here. While this meditation is not supposed to be used to fall asleep, I decided to do so anyway to continue this experiment.

Firstly, Abandon Release Method is a highly relaxing meditation. It causes rapid relaxation and noticeable myofascial unwinding on a deep level, especially in the legs. In fact, this was so profound for me that it caused an immediate dream in which my legs were drawn up towards my body, mimicking a computer sitting pose. This implied to me that the meditation was helping to let go of tension in the legs accumulated from computer use. That bizarre experience aside, the Abandon Release Method caused sleep that was characterized by the following progression:

    1. Rapid relaxation with a real sense of falling away from the world.
    2. Strange hypnagogic imagery which is clearly linked to the body’s own relaxation processes (including the above “leg dream”).
    3. Deeper dreams that appear “far away”.

Both the hypnagogic and deeper dream imagery appears to be “benign”. It is also decidedly “causal”, in that it has the feeling of simply being an “unwinding” of something that was previously “wound”. That’s difficult to explain, but in short it means it feels like your body is just resetting, and your mind does not attach properties like “sentience” or “ill-intent” to any dream imagery that arises. Sleep is more like a data dump. It’s very refreshing in this sense.

This was a good sleep and I would be happy to recommend it as a general purpose, no-special-effects sleep.

“Do Nothing” Meditation

This is a nondirective meditation. “Do nothing” means “do nothing to control the meditation”. This means you are allowed to think and let your mind go where it wants. The interesting thing about this (which beginners don’t expect) is that you find your mind actually wants to gravitate towards stillness after some time. So, things can happen such as your mind realizing it’s on a thought loop and spontaneously dropping that thought loop (which can in fact result in spontaneous jhana-like states arising). My only instruction in this meditation is: stay absolutely still.

For sleep, this meditation involves simply lying on your back and staying absolutely still. Your mind will run through many thoughts, and attempt to have your body “twitch” and shift around in response. The twitch is the physical counterpart to the mental thought. By resisting the urge to twitch, the thought itself dissipates. Those with high body awareness will notice myofascial unwinding on the micro level at each moment a thought dissipates. This is part of the strange relationship between the mental world and the physical body.

The result of this meditation on sleep is very similar to Abandon Release. The main difference is that it is harder to get into Do Nothing initially due to the strong inclination for body twitching and fidgeting (whereas in Abandon Release you would consciously let such impulses go, leading to a faster relaxation). I would suggest that Do Nothing however gives the deeper sleep once this phase passes (after which sleep onset is extremely rapid).

If you are capable of meditation that is this nondirective, Do Nothing is superior for general-purpose sleep, and provides something I would consider to be “biologically-correct sleep”. This is how I will be falling asleep each night from now on, unless I desire something special like a jhana-sleep.

Kasina Concentration Meditation

Concentrating upon the afterimage of an LED can create a euphoric “light show” followed by psychedelic visuals worthy of a DMT trip if one’s skills are advanced.

Kasina practice, in my experience, is elating, rapturous and mind-blowing, and tends more towards the dopamine side of the spectrum. It is therefore energizing rather than sedating. Sleep following kasina practice tends to be disturbed by bizarre dreams and visions, and is not very restorative.

Kundalini / Energy Work / Kriya Yoga

Energy practice is the worst meditation possible for sleep. Following energy practice you can expect your sleep to be characterized by intense visuals and bizarre trip-like dreams. During an experiment I once fell asleep meditating on the base of my spine. This resulted in a nimitta that became so bright, my mind dreamed I was staring at the sun and multicoloured fractals began pouring out of its centre. This then led into dreams where I was eating LSD and flying between different realms. The dream was not blissful and the sleep was not at all restorative. However, it is a fairly easy way to gain a psychedelic experience without actually taking any drugs (the presumption being that the brain dumps mountains of DMT to create such intense dreams).

Conclusion

For the best regular sleep, choose Do Nothing if you can manage it. Otherwise, choose Abandon Release Method.

For valium-like sedation and erasure from existence, with a glowing drugged-up start to the day, choose breath jhana.

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36 Responses

  1. Illuminatus says:

    P.S. The reason I have only been posting once a month lately is because I have been dedicating most of my free time to writing a major project, Guide to Energized Sex, a tantric sex guide which can be mastered by any man, regardless of current skill level. It is very long and detailed. I won’t guess a release date, but it is definitely happening, hopefully soon.

  2. Kautilya says:

    Nice post.

    I usually now “Let Go”…or you can call it “Doing Nothing” or “Be Aware”

    Meditation before sleeping of any relaxing form is great.

    I’ve come quite way but in early stages of having everything come together, this forum and people here and Illuminatus were very helpful. So I was just gonna read but thought I’d comment on some things.

    I find it a bit ‘concerning’ tha you wake up with aches and pains because you’re getting older. Now I know you’ve got that element of a night out with a few pints and kebab- so it wouldn’t usually be a surprise.

    Even by your post just now – it is NOT as common at all the way you can enter hard Jhana. Even your timeline from basic mindfulness to 15 minute sits to hard Jhana is very uncommon. I’ve actuallly been to a Jhana retreat since then as well….and studied with a Yogi in India and lots of other shit. You are blessed or naturally gifted or whatever you wanna call it. That being said Jhana and meditation is generally healing including body.

    If tha wasn’t enough – you are a self-proclaimed master at myofasical unwinding. I mean that with respect – you write posts on it and said you had been working on it for a while and you are an intelligent guy. Got Massage recently as well by a guy who lives the myofasical system – 20+ Years focused on breath, nervous system, dear mourning, pain etc. and working the myofasica and PSOAS.

    Now if meditation wasn’t enough – you got the Bodywork element part covered as well. Jhana and total Fascia unwinding. Unless you have a really bad diet, don’t exercise or hidden trauma or something. I don’t think you should have pains. Certainly Yogis 30 years older than you would say the same.

    I think with all that knowledge of body, ability to enter Jhana and experience with energy you should explore the Taoist systems. Specifically Nei Gong and Chi Gung. Some of those Meditations such as Bone Marrow Breathing and stuff with Joints and Tendons sound incredible.

    I spoke to a guy who had similar degree of Jhana experience and ‘achievement’ as you who found he could rapidly move to that form of energy work due to his experience.

    You referred to yourself as a Yogi more than once and also said that raising human consciousness is a driving facto for you. Part of that is loving oneself, taking care and empowering ourselves. That! – ‘how to regain and sustain youthful vitality’ would be a great contribution.

    A 34 years old average guy could wake up with aches and pains. But surely high quality meditative, body and energy work – combined with exercise, diet and supplements (I have read your reviews of like 10 different drugs lol! So I know you know supplements as well) – can handle such things and even take it further. I say you stock up on CoQ10, Silicon, ALCAR, and a few others and explore this for a few months – regain some vitality and share. Here to help in anyway.

    This would be your greatest ……oh! Sorry – after the Tantra Book ….. Now that will be the greatest contribution to Mankind 😉

    Looking forward to that my friend!

    • Illuminatus says:

      >I find it a bit ‘concerning’ tha you wake up with aches and pains because you’re getting older. Now I know you’ve got that element of a night out with a few pints and kebab- so it wouldn’t usually be a surprise.

      I have a shitty lifestyle. I love junk food and alcohol. I had it handled around the time of my post “7 Rules for Life” and for around 6 weeks. After that I injured myself at gym (simply went too far, too fast with some dumbbells) and couldn’t lift my arms for about 3 days, followed by another 5 days or so of pain that meant I couldn’t train. I seem to have a high sensitivity to pain, which probably accounted for my prior painkiller addiction.

      I wake up with aching calves even if I haven’t done exercise. But if I’ve been to the gym it’s probably a 5 on the pain scale. Daily computer use is probably a major cause of leg tightness. But I drink alcohol regularly and that produces chemicals which attack muscle.

      One of my major issues is craving. Nothing is ever enough. Had a perfect jhana? Cool, let’s top it off with a pint. I push the envelope with everything I do. Addictions are a real problem for me, and meditation itself has actually made them worse in many ways. I find meditation itself highly addictive. At least I can say I don’t do drugs any more.

      >Even by your post just now – it is NOT as common at all the way you can enter hard Jhana. Even your timeline from basic mindfulness to 15 minute sits to hard Jhana is very uncommon. I’ve actuallly been to a Jhana retreat since then as well….and studied with a Yogi in India and lots of other shit. You are blessed or naturally gifted or whatever you wanna call it.

      I had a student a couple of months ago who had attained all eight jhanas on retreat. Then you have people like Vern L who got all eight jhanas almost “accidentally”: https://jhana8.com/

      But you’re right, it is rare. When I started trying to teach concentration meditation I was under the assumption that people would kind of fall into it after a couple of months like I did. But it did not pan out like that at all. I don’t know what the reason is for such a high variability in natural talent, but I can understand why the yogis began to believe that it was due to attainment in past lives etc.

      >If tha wasn’t enough – you are a self-proclaimed master at myofasical unwinding. I mean that with respect – you write posts on it and said you had been working on it for a while and you are an intelligent guy.

      The problem is that I have had knots and things I STILL haven’t been able to deal with, which have a knock-on effect to the way the rest of the body works. I know that what I have done has helped because certain serious problems are gone. However, some remain. I still cannot fully extend my left arm. My left leg also does not have full range of motion. These things lead easily to gym injuries, and probably contribute to my pain when I wake up. I have been to professionals about these things, including having an MRI scan, and they don’t know what’s wrong with me. I know I had a difficult birth so perhaps twists were caused during that. I think hatha yoga would help but the teachers around here are dreadful.

      Still, I am sure I will figure it out.

      >You referred to yourself as a Yogi more than once and also said that raising human consciousness is a driving facto for you. Part of that is loving oneself, taking care and empowering ourselves.

      I had a profound experience recently while practising the next exercise from The Direct Means to Eternal Bliss, which is called something like “Loving All”. It essentially was my first serious foray into metta meditation. I will save it for a next post. I think it’s worth putting it out there because taking love as an object was probably the most straightforward and fastest way to jhana I have experienced yet.

      >So I know you know supplements as well) – can handle such things and even take it further. I say you stock up on CoQ10, Silicon, ALCAR, and a few others and explore this for a few months – regain some vitality and share.

      Here’s the thing. I don’t believe supplements do anything beyond the placebo effect. And I have tried dozens.

      There are hundreds of supplements available. Even if some have genuinely helpful properties, it would be extremely difficult to figure out which ones those were. As soon as most humans eat something pill-shaped, or stir a powder into their coffee, they get the placebo effect — usually hard. Then they run off and write reports about how X supplement is fixing their life. I’ve done this myself many times. There is no one’s word I can take for any of this. If people aren’t high on placebo, then they’re just trying to sell stuff. It’s not something I can take seriously (and I gave it a big enough go).

      • Kautilya says:

        quite an open reply!

        You didn’t however address the Chi Gung Work, ….I reckon Massage and possibly working with Plant Medicine – with respect without pints!

        Of course the basic thing would be diet and good Bodywork so Massage

        Chi Gong, Myofascia, Superfood……your like me always pushing it but you seem able to conduct ‘experiments’. So don’t stop f, just bring it’s:

        I’ll have a pint but I’ll do an hour of Jhana Powered Bone Marow Breathing

        I’ll have my night time curry but I will have green smoothie on empty stomach

        And YES! Love is really good for Jhana …just be in the moment, gratitude, devotion, love

        So remember self-love as well

        • Illuminatus says:

          My posture/fascia problem was caused by left-brain dominance leading to the left body side nerves not “depolarizing” properly and therefore continuing to grip fascia. When left brain is hyper-mobilized the left body side will basically be suppressed and not function correctly.

          I fixed this with “soft attention”, a right brain mode. It has been in my toolbag for some time but I never pushed it all the way before. Last night I did 6 hours soft attention and it resolved the issue. Woke up at 7am feeling good and with no aches and pains.

          I will update in another week to confirm the technique has continued to work (there has been a history of reversion with other techniques). If it sticks this time I will write up the technique and the theory. I have been wanting to write about soft attention for some time anyway as it is a path to jhana.

          —————–

          Someone sent me an anonymous email offering me the “advice” that my body problem was basically all in my head. Firstly I do not like anonymous emails; be a man. Secondly, I know who it is anyway (you think I can’t trace an IP and cross-reference it against comments??) Thirdly, my problem was real, it has always been real, and that means others will likely have variants of the problem. So, if I’ve solved it (which I believe I have), that is worthwhile investigating.

          I have found the taking of an offhand comment which was basically a JOKE (“I’m old with aches and pains!”) as a “cry for help”, and the unsolicited advice this prompted, to be rather irritating. If I want help I’ll ask for it.

          Now, does anyone have anything to say about the post that is NOT about bloody aches and pains?

          • Saturnus says:

            Hi Illuminatus,

            Do you find the right side of your body to be more compressed as if you are slightly tilted to the right as a result of left hemisphere dominance? Sorry I’m continuing the same thread.

            • BabaFella says:

              I have something similar not sure if has sth to do with left hemisphere dominance. During meditation my head wants to turn right and it feels like my right side of my face feels more “dead” and it is coming more alive thanks energetic activation during meditation. My left side also feels like it has more tension in it.
              Not sure of other body parts but also my left leg has more random twitching and nervous activation

            • Illuminatus says:

              @Saturnus, BabaFella:

              My “configuration” is a weird one because I was born with a severely long-sighted right eye and a near-perfect left eye, but I am right handed. This means that my “seat of perception” is on the left side (right hemisphere) but all my actions and modalities are enacted through the right side of the body (left hemisphere, like everyone else).

              My general tension pattern is: SEVERELY tight left side of body, all the way from toes to crown. I would lie awake at night feeling like ligatures had been tied around my left sciatic nerve and one of the left arm nerves. My right side is comparatively loose with a far wider range of motion.

              Interestingly, if I walk around with my left eye closed (looking through only my blurry eye) then various tension problems begin to resolve. So, the left side will begin to “fall away”, as if its side of the body is somehow “sorting itself out” now that that eye is closed. Obviously walking around with only a poorly-functioning eye open is no way to live so, while aware of the benefit, I only tended to use it to unwind stuff when urgent.

              Due to this side tension disparity, and my visual disparity, I oscillated between two models: the first linked the left tension to the vision issue. The second model did away with that and considered only cognitive modes (whether left or right hemisphere was dominant at any moment). I have now settled on the latter.

              So, now let’s get into hemisphere stuff a bit. It’s a massive area so here is a summary of what I believe based on my own self-study. I think the human brain cycles between phases of left or right hemisphere dominance throughout the day. I have a theory that says “night owls” have this cycle phase-shifted +6 hours (which explains the entire phenomenon) but it’s not fleshed out yet.

              But one thing that is extremely clear to me is that I get a tangible hemisphere shift brought on by various triggers. For example, if I EXHAUST myself at the gym so I become euphoric, on the walk home I will spontaneously become left-side dominant, meaning my left leg will lead the walk and my left arm will lead the “swing”. This will correlate with a loosening off of the left side. Other triggers for that are: 1) Time of day (it will tend to occur anyway late at night); 2) Certain meditation types, though I haven’t pinned down what, yet; 3) Working very, very hard all day (maxing out the left brain so right brain takes over). Sometimes just by staying up late my left side would loosen off. I would go to sleep and wake up with it EXTREMELY tight again, meaning something went crazily wrong in the night (my sleep has been very strange for the last couple of decades, really).

              The summary of the above is that my body appears to cycle between left and right dominance throughout the day and, if left side is dominant but I attempt to lead with the right, it will run into trouble, in terms of increased tension and non-flowing movement. Yet if I then just start leading with my left leg it will sort itself out. So, my hemispheres appear to be EXTREMELY independent in many ways and are “vying” for control over my body. It is NOT GOOD.

              Normal people do not notice brain hemisphere switches because there is a meta-program which mediates the shift and hides it from consciousness. But, the more mellow and “unwinding” you feel, the more right hemisphere is going on; the more “get up and go” you feel, the more left hemisphere. In yoga the right brain (left side of body) is yin, the moon side. The left brain (right side of body) is yang, the sun side. Sun side seems to prefer upward energy flow; mood side downward. By practising kundalini up-energy for several years I probably over-conditioned my sun side (right side of body). Breath jhana on the other hand is very much a DOWN sensation which will balance things out.

              All this is very complicated and ultimately your individual configuration is a result of your dominant cognitive modes and responses to circadian rhythm and other environmental triggers.

              Fascia “stores” such conditioning. So, my extremely tight left side was conditioned that way by left-brain dominance for years. The kundalini practice most likely sent this into overdrive. Unwinding the left side fascia therefore required a right-brain mode done for many hours in a row. That was my problem: simply not going into the correct solution long enough to realize it IS the correct solution. So over the years I have tried hundreds of things, most of them worthless, but some which worked but which I did not then put the hours into to determine that for sure.

              I hope the end result of all this is a model which can be used by ANYONE to fix themselves. I’d love to get that hemisphere switching pattern, and the night owl pattern, figured out too.

              • BabaFella says:

                Very interesting. Have you ever considered alternate nostril activation in this regard? I have read in texts about swara yoga that say that yogis regulate hemisphere activation by controlling the amount of air that flows in each nostril. They also say that the amount of air that flows through each nostril alternates during the day. So during x amount of hours more air will flow through the right nostril and afterwards the air will flow more through the left which indicates either stronger left hemisphere activation or right hemisphere activation respectively.
                There is a whole branch of yoga called swara yoga that deals with these types of practices, it is mainly about aligning the flow of air with other biological cycles and elements.

                There isn’t much info about this (it also kind of impossible to do all the practices outlined in this branch of yoga, especially because it is so arduous, time consuming and kinda incompatible in our society in this day and age) but Swami Muktibodhananda Saraswati (swara yoga) and Harish Johari (Breath, Mind, and Consciousness) have written books about these practices and the theory behind it.

                When following this line of thought alternate nostril breathing could be beneficial , because it basically aims to balance airflow in the nasal passages

                • Illuminatus says:

                  Yeah, I figured that the specific “left-in, right-out” pattern of pranayama was exactly for this purpose — making the hemispheres behave how they “want” to by nature. However my left body side was so compromised that half an hour’s practice would not loosen it off. I am tempted now to try a couple of hours straight to see if it finishes off my left side.

          • Kautilya says:

            Lol

            Yes, the one true meditation for sleep [which is not actually ‘for sleep it IS MEDITATION IN SLEEP) is Yoga Nidra. All other Meditations have a meditative or relaxing affect that help sleep.

            However, even the mordern version including body scanning etc. is done in Shavasana – Corpse Posture. People often fall asleep during this which is the ‘goal’ but the actual ‘GOAL’ is to retain a trace on consciousness during sleep.

            Yoga Nidra means Yogic Sleep

            Just as Nei Gong is specifically designed to circulate Chi deep inside the body and could have the affect of mitigating any say….bodily soreness and strains 😬

            • Illuminatus says:

              I have never studied yoga nidra formally (and would in fact like a reliable link, if you have one?). However I have various mastery of “sleep meditation” just from practising it my own way for many years without ever knowing it was a “thing”.

              For example, what I called “jhana” in this post was actually yoga nidra, from what I understand of that practice: http://www.personalpowermeditation.com/tongue-pressure-for-concentration-meditation/

              So, I lay back on my bed and pressed my tongue in my palate as a kind of “consciousness anchor”; an energy current to keep the mind turned on. Then my “object” was the centre of the visual field with eyes closed. I let my body go while hanging onto the visual field and tongue energy current. This allowed me to pass right through the “dream barrier”. I called it “third jhana” in that post based on the order the jhana factors rescinded (bright rapture falling away to deep mellow bliss). From the “murk” of third jhana, images stood forward such as my childhood home. But I never lost consciousness for even a moment during any of that. I have been able to do things like that for many years now.

              Interesting PubMed article on yoga nidra: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11958969
              Yoga nidra increases dopamine by 65%.

              I have access to the following types of altered state / jhana / samadhi:

              1) Breath samatha jhana
              2) Energy/kriya/kundalini samadhi (via mudra, chakras and energy upflow)
              3) Yoga nidra
              4) Kasina samatha jhana
              5) CMR, third eye gazing and other “visual field”-based meditations
              6) Metta/heart meditation (new post coming soon)
              7) Mantra / TM
              8) Awareness Watching Awareness
              9) Restful states from Do Nothing and other methods based on non-interference
              10) Probably others I’ve missed.

              Then there is lucid dreaming, astral projection, and all that other bullshit. What links most of these is strong CONCENTRATION. If you have that, you can co-opt almost any method and bend it to your will or at least have strong results from it.

              I have considered going back over my older posts and labelling up what kind of altered state it was, what method used etc. I was just calling them all “jhana” due to their being states of absorption. It’s a bad habit I acquired from reading Daniel Ingram and his forum, where jhana has come to mean whatever each poster wants it to (in keeping with the strong postmodernist vibe present on that forum). I have stopped that now. I am now typically only using jhana to mean breath jhana, and perhaps sometimes kasina jhana too.

              BTW, in my experience yoga nidra can also create flowing cycles of insight – so, running through the Theravadin stages of insight sequentially, but flowing so they are blissful (even the dukkha nanas!) culminating in cessation. This is one of the nicer ways to cycle through all the territories so is worth watching out for if you are continuing to cultivate yoga nidra.

    • Gary says:

      I feel 34 is really early to have these aches. I am 32 and don’t feel any different than when I was younger. The only aches I have are on the days after a hard workout in the gym but it has been that way since I started working out as a teenager. I don’t drink and my diet is relatively healthy.

  3. James says:

    I was going to say… at 34 you’re just getting started…

    First… What’s your favorite junk food? I’m partial to kit-kats and oreos.

    Second… and I know you don’t wanna be running around and vomiting in the jungle and shit… but plant medicines have helped me cure physical aliments.

    Third… don’t you have kind of, a healing thing you do?

    Also while lots of supplements are trash, fish or krill oil will for sure help.

    • Illuminatus says:

      >I was going to say… at 34 you’re just getting started…

      I believe the body asymmetry/ fascia problem is related to my strongly asymmetrical vision (left eye focuses strongly while using the computer while right eye goes “limp”/passive; this causes body parts to “bind” to left eye causing this asymmetry). I have a solution for it which has been part of my “final round of solutions” I have been whittling down over the years. I will use ONLY the method I have devised and check back in a week on this thread to report if it worked. If yes, then I’ll write up the method.

      I woke up today without any pain so it’s not every day.

      >First… What’s your favorite junk food? I’m partial to kit-kats and oreos.

      I love to get a hot curry, keema-garlic naan, and egg-fried rice a couple of times a month. That’ll tend to fuck my digestion up and cause general body agony for a couple of days afterwards, but I tend to decide it’s worth it.

      Most days I go down to the bakery for lunch and get a large baguette with tuna and onions and lots of mayo, with something like a donut or gingerbread man for dessert.

      I like eating fine chocolates like Thornton’s. Also, butter fudge. We have very good sweets and chocolate in England.

      I also eat deli chicken and lots of English grub like pork pies, which is basically post-war stodge.

      I can get into “no-taste” meals like rice but the first few days are very difficult. After that I can stay on that meal indefinitely UNTIL I eat something strong-tasting which brings back the cravings.

      I just love food.

      For alcohol I will tend to have something like a high-quality beer like Duvel (8.5% ABV). I’ll only tend to have one a night as a “reward” after work. I work in a very focused way and feel I’ve earned something like a beer afterwards; it just tastes so good.

      I drink at least two massive coffees in the morning and am fairly addicted to caffeine.

      One thing the meditation has done is to ramp up sensitivity to pleasurable things. I also have this feedback loop whereby any dopamine circuit activation caused by e.g. coffee, food, or any rewarding substance gives me “energy” to play with. So, I can take the dopamine spike from a coffee, perceive it as a tangible “energy object”, then manipulate that object in various ways to create altered states. So, I can “grab” the dopamine spike at my nose and rest my awareness on it to create a samatha jhana; OR I can take a mudra such as gyan mudra and have the energy object cycle to my crown and create a kundalini samadhi.

      This ability to turn simple pleasures into crack cocaine means all addictions are highly dangerous for me. I am frankly surprised I’ve been able to give up drugs and smoking.

      • James says:

        I’ve always had a weak stomach, and found that if I eat in 1-3 hour eating window everyday, I can eat whatever what I want without any consequence. when you constantly eating throughout the day your body always having to deal with it, when your gut its some space it will re-strenghten and become more effective.

  4. Amber says:

    I find it interesting that you mentioned doing The Presence Process. I just started it last week after reading so many good things about it. But you don’t think it produces the change it claims? I’m curious what your experience was with it. I wanted to do something potentially life changing that would help me develop present moment awareness. Is there something else that’s more effective?

    • Illuminatus says:

      Hi Amber,

      I would recommend that you finish the book if you have started it.

      It was a long time ago and I don’t remember that much about it. But it is based on integration of negative emotions, if I remember. The main problem with this approach is that there is no introduction of positive affect. Compare this to Buddhism, which purposely uses the jhanas (pleasure states) as vehicles towards enlightenment. If I could start over I would definitely have focused on cultivating positive affect early on.

      I remember The Presence Process as being a time of great reflection and melancholy because of how much of it is based on analysis of the past. It basically turned on the right brain’s introspective “brake pedal” systems. The book helps you dig out insights you have already learned from your past. I remember it being based very much in Western psychology (which tends to deal with “this individual’s lifetime”, compared to Eastern paths which deal with “all of this individual’s lifetimes over eternity”). When I remember The Presence Process I remember it all being very “far away”. Like a sad dream. When I remember cultivating jhanas however, it is all warm and right up close in the foreground.

      The main issue I have with books like this is simply this. Yoga has existed for thousands of years and, as Arpan tells us over and over, they have left no stone unturned in their quest for health and liberation. When Michael Brown writes a new book on how to heal, he is, on some level, saying he knows something the ancients don’t. What I am getting at is that we already have ancient paths, time-tested, laid out for us, and all we need to do is pick one, whether that be a school of Buddhism or a yogic path. And there are millions of fellow practitioners you can ask for advice.

      I guess I’m saying, why reinvent the wheel?

      The Presence Process, at a very minimum, got me into meditation and established a regular habit. I do not particularly believe however that the book achieved anything it set out to achieve beyond the meditation practice itself. You see, if you JUST meditate, without trying to do any psychobabble method, you will tend to get all the insight and other stuff arising anyway. The mind WANTS to defragment itself; sitting just gives it the time to do this, and to expand into new spaces.

      Maybe Brown’s mantras and text did add something to the practice. However it is just as likely that sitting for 15 minutes each morning and night alone would produce such changes.

      Again, it was a long time ago I read the book. (I completed the full course by the way.) Maybe it did achieve things and I don’t remember. I would say complete the course anyway since you have somehow been “led” to this book.

  5. T says:

    Nice one, and actually a great reminder because I have been slacking when it comes down to that.

  6. Grant says:

    Curiuos, you mention that you go to work. Isn’t the idea of a 9-5 very inhibiting to someone who meditates at a high level such as yourself? OR do you do a job that is very fulfilling and doesn’t seem like “work”?

    • Illuminatus says:

      I will give the traditional response to this first:

      Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.
      After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.

      Enlightenment was never about sitting around doing nothing, or only doing nice things. It is about release from fundamental suffering. If you do not suffer, work is not unpleasant. And of course, work is necessary to live.

      Now here’s my take on it from my own experience.

      I’m a creative person and it is fairly easy to keep a creative person happy: give him something to create. I’m a graphic designer so I make things all day, every day. I LOVE my job. I work with awesome people too which is a massive part of that. Being in a team and contributing to something bigger than myself using my unique talents is what keeps me happy. Also, Jordan Peterson is right in that taking on more responsibility is what actually gives meaning to one’s life.

      I like my job enough that, should my new product I’m writing for this site be a runaway success, I will most likely still keep that job and just write more products in my spare time. I do not dream of “retirement”. That would be hell.

      This brings me to my next view on things. This idea that “working for the man is bad” (or however it might be phrased) seems to have developed over the last 20 years mainly via internet marketers such as Tim Ferriss. I know people who have followed his books religiously in order that they only have to work 4 hours a week. But why? So they can sit around playing video games with all that spare time? Some people might have better ideas on how to fill up their day but it seems like most of them are just following the biological imperative of doing as little as possible. It’s cancer.

      I worked freelance for many years which allowed me to do my week’s work in two long days. I pursued this mainly due to following the ethos taught to me by internet marketers that working a day job is the worst thing in the world. Do you know what I did with all my spare time? Sat around taking drugs and wanking. They say idle hands are the Devil’s play thing; well that kind of mindset dawns on me very easily. It’s very bad for me to have too much spare time. It is no coincidence that I stopped taking all drugs almost the moment I got a day job: you simply cannot maintain that lifestyle when having to get up, shave, do the ironing etc.

      Finally, most of us will be working a 9-5 day job because “getting out of the system” is extremely difficult for most people. It’s a lie concocted by internet marketers that says you can escape this by buying their book etc. Many of those internet guys are the same people who said you would be happy if you banged a bunch of nightclub sluts all year round. Why are we believing these people? Because they are appealing to our most base urges of idleness and mindless pleasure. They are the proverbial Devil whispering to you in the wilderness. Ignore them.

      • Arpan says:

        This comment is gold.
        In traditional eastern view, getting away from usual life was justified only when one has a “greater-than-average” mission to pursue. It is on this ground that Buddha is pardoned for furtively leaving his young wife, an year old son and princely responsibilities and disappearing for 6 years.

        In the Gita, Krishna(while speaking in Brahmic Consciousness) tells Arjun, who was about to quit the battlefield out of “nervous pity” for his kinsmen arrayed on the opposite side to become a monk:
        I am the master of the 3 worlds and hence I am compelled to do nothing. Yet I work ceaselessly day and night in every micro-operation of the Universe. You too must work, because the society follows the great and the enlightened. (And as you state) On this plane, one cannot even maintain one’s body without work. You also must not disturb the faith of others else you will create much confusion in their minds with your superior knowledge. You must enhance and guide whatever faith they have.

        Paramhans Yoganand(mentioned in autobiography of a yogi) was disinclined to perform any worldly duties in his Guru’s ashram. His Guru stated:
        Those who are too good for this world are already adorning some other. As long as you breathe the free air of Earth, you owe duties/work. Until you reach the breathless state.

      • Aldous says:

        THIS!!!
        I’m self employed, working only a couple of days a week (stand up comedian) and unless I make effort all the spare time puts my brain to sleep. I’m never happier then when I have to travel abroad as that means I have tasks to focus on.
        Be careful what you wish for…

      • Anon Regular says:

        I actually managed to “get out of the system” – instead of working as a 9 to 5 programmer, I’m now running team of programmers and working from a nice office of my own choosing, structuring my day more or less how I want.

        Of course, being a small business owner is not exactly trivially easy, and there is still lots of work that needs to be done, not all of it enjoyable.

        For me it was an inner thing – I felt I was wasting so much of my potential and mental energy in a normal job, that I just had to get out. Of course, there is no real advice to be found in those “Internet marketers” and their get-rich-quick schemes – it comes down to finding a real market niche and executing on that.

        • Arpan says:

          In a similar situation. Though with a startup I have to work much harder than I have ever worked till date. Good points being:
          1. I don’t have to put up with people I don’t wanna put up with.
          2. Master of my own time and self.
          3. Working on stuff I like.
          I don’t like dealing with clients but found a partner who is good at it. Keeping talented people is the only real difficulty. Though I guess what has helped me strut out on my own was the mental assurance that good financial backing provides. Using that money as little as possible and scaling the business largely on profits is the challenge I have set for myself.

          I don’t think “getting out of the system” can be a ticket to an indolent lifestyle, unless one really cuts down on one’s expenditure and plans on being single. It requires far more discipline as there’s no one to blame when things go wrong, no one to rebuke you if you waste your time and no corners to cut to “get through the day”. Part of the reason why a lot of people cannot do it.

          • Anon Regular says:

            Happy to hear it, Arpan. I’ve always envisioned this as some kind of modern “aristocratic lifestyle”, if that makes sense. Spending the day doing a healthy mix of admin tasks, meeting new contacts, coaching your people, researching new stuff, executing on exciting schemes… and private life and business tend to blend together (in a very positive way).

            • Arpan says:

              I totally get it and that is one reason why I am doing this with intensity. Here in India, top notch public jobs are still a shortcut to an aristocratic lifestyle. I cleared the Union public service examinations but could not qualify for the topmost service and thus didn’t wanna settle with it. Most of the previous generation of my family is into bureaucracy, law or politics and hence were a bit unsettled when I took this sudden decision for a startup. I have made a big claim to settle their nerves: I would be living far more kingsize than any government service or their own capital-intensive business could have allowed me.
              To keep up my reputation is one thing that pushes me now lol. Other thing being a spiritual goal: To fight my laziness that hides behind my general detachment and “spiritual apathy” towards money, women and wine.

              • Anon Regular says:

                Developing “business siddhis” is definitely an interesting side-effect. Getting some interesting results via magic recently.

                Business problems can definitely be solved with mindfulness meditation. providing an interesting link between spiritual practice and everyday problems (usually they are connected to some kind of formation, as well).

                Using mundane things as a vessel like this feels very tantric, I must say.

                I’ll send you some metta, Arpan! Let me know if catches 🙂

                • Arpan says:

                  I have never really practiced magick. However my “field of disbelief” is pretty limited because by grace, nothing which I have sincerely wanted has ever been denied to me. Observing any failure always brings me to a realization that I was not listening to what I truly wanted. My aim for a public job was driven by a very petty need for “job security”, it held little charm for me otherwise, its power notwithstanding. I never liked studying for it beyond a point. A major flaw that I have been observing in myself is that as a result of a rather lucky life, my faith in accomplishing something by sweaty, dusty toil like “men out there” seems to have weakened. Someone in this condition can very easily turn spirituality into hypocrisy. I wish to accomplish something by that “bullock cart” method.

                  Another thing is, Buddhism, Jainism, certain strands of Hinduism, and magick, especially as understood in West today, give primacy to processes. Once you give “processes” that central place in your worldview, you may become more organized or directional, you are bound to become pretty limited. Karma, action-consequence loop, “accuracy of technique” take a disproportionate space in your mind. As a result, you tap into “portals to infinity”, grace, or “chaos” (I think that is the word for randomness in
                  Western Magick) far less than you can. To help de-emphasise processes is one thing the view of God and Universe as “an Eternal. Child playing in an Eternal Garden” bhakti sects(eg Krishna is often prated to as an infant). In such view, all this scholarship and grimness and squabble about “techniques” is pretty amusing.
                  A yogini once said something to this effect: ” If you still view life as a hardship and toil. If you cannot feel relaxation , surety, bliss and freedom in whatever you may takeup, you are not yet ‘born in spirit’ “. This view is diametrically opposite to what pragmatism suggests. It is the Sunlit Way of yoga. One of the conditions to access it, in my experience, is to not judge things by outer sign, but inner spirit(can you continue with a particular yoga for 20 years without having “spectacular experiences”?). This is what makes yoga difficult for the Western mind, as it needs outer signs. Their God is high majestic king who never laughs or plays, ad it would hurt his majesty( I your God is a jealous God). While our Shiva is a begger who demigods worship. In his solitude and simplicity he contains the knowledge of and possession over the 3 worlds. Our Krishna is a flute player, flirt and butter thief and yet one who destroys and rebuilds fron the ashes of war an entire civilization.
                  As Sri Aurobindo said, as long as aspiration is there, anything can be a a path, even the “extravagances of the American youth”.

                  Anyway, enough of talking to myself.

                  “Using mundane things as a vessel like this feels very tantric, I must say.”

                  This actually sums up tantra.

                  “I’ll send you some metta, Arpan! Let me know if catches 🙂”

                  Oh man, I feel deeply obliged by this gesture. I will do a session for you today.
                  Metta always catches. If one can see it catching, well and good. If not, then it’s catching in a way beyond my circuititious intelligence.

                  • Anon Regular says:

                    I don’t do magick in the ritual sense, but I have become very accustomed to tuning into my intuition at all times, and actually allowing it to run things. Every sentence, for instance, can be spoken in a way that flows or dis-flows, and if one makes a habit of speaking only True Words (as one’s intuition dictates) then over time this becomes a magical capability, and can be utilized for practical purposes (if one has pure motives for doing so). Think of “The Voice” in Dune lore.

                    Just an example of a magical ability I’ve cultivated.

                    Much appreciated! By the Holy Ghost of God, may you prosper and find bliss.

                  • Anon Regular says:

                    Btw, my way of doing metta:

                    First of all, I’m very good at accessing what you call piti, I think. (I have developed this mainly through the Lord’s Prayer). Basically an energy flowing through the body and mind, like goose bumps or electricity.

                    I also “see” this energy, synesthetically, as the color white.

                    As I’m chanting the word “metta”, I feel a different kind of energy, similar to piti but more reddish-pink in tone. I try to make it emanate from the midsection, almost like a wave of sound, rather than “normal piti” which is felt all over the body. I also try to focus on someone who should receive it, of course, in this case the name “Arpan” and a mental image of your avatar.

                    I don’t know, I have a very DIY approach to these things, it’s all experimentation…

                    • Arpan says:

                      Re Piti: me too. I agree with Ed’s view on concentration practices here as it being essentially about how long you can “remain at it” which builds that blissful energy up. Less one complicates it, the better.

                      Re Lord’s Prayer: can you please elaborate ?
                      I know about this process called Centering Prayer which is essentially Christian version of TM. I taught this one to a christian and 2 muslims who wanted a meditation “in line with their religious belief” and access some good states.

                      What you say about True Words is called Vaak Siddhi. It is mentioned in benefits of Truthfulness(one of 5 pre-yoga disciplines). It takes a lot of time ablnd discipline to develop though. Eg a yogi in recent times was approached by a woman who wanted him to convince her child to give up sweets. He kept postponing until one day he agreed, took the child on his lap and simoly told him not to do it and it worked. He said that he was working on his own attachment to sweets for all these weeks abd didn’t wanna be hypocritical.

                    • Arpan says:

                      Oh I looked that prayer up, I didn’t know it’s name but I know it by heart lol.
                      So, my question reduces to: how exactly did you do it ? Was it a particular process or just a heartfelt engagement.

                  • Illuminatus says:

                    >Metta always catches. If one can see it catching, well and good. If not, then it’s catching in a way beyond my circuititious intelligence.

                    I’m still buzzing from my metta meditation reported in this post: http://www.personalpowermeditation.com/rose-tinted-metta/

                    I’ve even started to feel genuine affection for the downtrodden bow-legged spastics in the street I ordinarily spit on.

                    Powerful Jedi am I.

                    • Arpan says:

                      Inculcation of love ensures a kind of Oneness that is eorld affirming abd dynamic as opposed to what one feels at initial to intermediate stages of dry Jnana yoga induced Oneness.
                      One great sign of the Lover is: He is not aggravated by anyone and no one is aggravated by him. Second being his true magickal quality.

                      Good to hear man. If you get established in this, a great spiritual destiny is a given for you.

  7. James says:

    I don’t find myself slipping into some self destructive behavior just because I have to much free time.

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