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Each one of us would like to know how to sleep well so that we get up well-rested. A number of factors are involved in how to sleep well. One of the factors is our sleep posture. We all have a typical sleep posture and we feel comfortable when we sleep in that sleep posture. We are aware that there are implications of our sleep posture from a physical health point of view. Also there are many psychological explanations of the sleep postures. In this article, we will explain how to sleep well from a spiritual perspective. We will focus on which is the best sleep posture to sleep well and why. We will explain what actually happens in the subtle dimension with each sleep posture, so that we can make an educated decision on how to sleep well and which is the sleep posture to achieve that.
At the outset we have to understand that
From a spiritual perspective, sleep is basically a state most related to the subtle basic Tama component. That means, during sleep the subtle basic Tama component in our body gets heightened.
Coupled with this, as our spiritual practice is also at its lowest during sleep, we are spiritually most vulnerable when we sleep. As a result, when we sleep, we are more susceptible to attacks by ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies, etc.)
We also need a basic understanding of the Kunḍalinī energy system of the body.
The Kundalini is the inherent spiritual energy system in the body. It consists of 7 main centres or chakras, 3 main channels – the Sun Channel (Right channel or Pingalānāḍī), the Moon channel (Left channel or Iḍānāḍī) and Central channel (Sushumnanāḍī) and innumerable ducts and ductules.
The below diagram is a representation of the dormant Kundalini energy system in a human being.
Also refer to the diagram of the chakras in relation to the physical body
The energy for the bodily and mental functions flows through the Sun and Moon Channels. The energy flowing through the Central Channel is related to spiritual growth.
The Sun Channel is Raja predominant, whereas the Moon Channel is Sattva predominant. The energy flows alternately through the Ida and Pingala. This shift happens every 3-4 minutes. Even though the energy flow changes so often, as the Ida and Pingala cross sides across the body, both parts of the body receive adequate energy of each type. This maintains a balance between the 2 types of energy flows.
During the changeover from the Sun to the Moon channel, the Central Channel gets activated very briefly for 1-2 seconds in people with lower spiritual level. This is negligible from the perspective of any benefit derived from the activated Central Channel. With increasing spiritual level, the duration of activation of the Central Channel increases. Above 55% spiritual level, the duration of activation lasts for more than 1-2 minutes. When it lasts this long, some benefit results in terms of spiritual growth.
The activation of the channels also depends on the sleep posture. The channel opposite to the side we are sleeping on gets activated predominantly. When one sleeps on the back, the Central channel gets activated in people above the 55% spiritual level. In people below this level, no channel is activated.
The activation of the Sun or Moon Channel can also be as per the requirement of the body. For example, after our meals the Sun channel is predominantly activated to facilitate digestion of food.
Also when there is a surge of emotions, the Sun channel is activated. When the emotions subside, the Moon channel gets activated. However, when there are rapid and frequent vacillations in the emotional state, there is a rapid and irregular shift in activation of the two channels as the Sun channel remains predominantly activated. As a result, there is an imbalance in the two types of energy flows (Raja and Sattva). In an emotional person, this roller coaster of emotions continues even in sleep in the sub-conscious mind. This is because the impressions in the sub-conscious mind are active even in sleep.
Refer to the tutorial – The spiritual nature of the mind.
2. Sleep posture 1 – sleeping on the back
- When we sleep on our back the chētanā (the aspect of Divine consciousness that governs the functioning of the mind and body) in the cells of our body becomes unmanifest and dormant.
Our body is most exposed to the Region of Hell (Pātāl), as a major portion of the body is directed towards the floor.
Due to the combined effect of the above two factors, the body cells are unable to repel the attacks by distressing vibrations from the Hell region.
However, the effect of this sleep posture differs as per the spiritual level of the person.
Scenario 1: Spiritual level below 55%
In a person below the 55% spiritual level, the extent of emotions is quite high compared to his spiritual emotion (bhāv). Due to this, there are frequent and rapid vacillations between the channels. Hence, there is a constant imbalance in the energy flows from the Sun and Moon channels of the Kundalini energy system in the body.
As explained above, when a person below the 55% spiritual level takes a sleep posture of lying on his back, his Central Channel is not activated. However, because of his emotional nature there is an imbalanced flow of energy to the body. The imbalance between the two energy flows of the Sun and Moon Channels can effect a rapid transfer of subtle basic Raja-Tama components in the body from the surrounding atmosphere. When there is an increase in the subtle basic Raja-Tama components, a person runs a higher risk of being attacked by distressing vibrations from the Regions of Hell. However, once one has progressed spiritually to the level of unmanifest spiritual emotion, one can control the energy flows. Till such time, it is best to avoid sleeping on one’s back where there is maximum exposure of the body to the ground, and thereby to the Regions of Hell.
Below is a drawing based on subtle-knowledge, of the effects of sleeping on one's back when one is above the 55% spiritual level.
Remedy: However, for some reason if one does need to sleep on the back, the risk of distress can be reduced by using spiritual remedies like lighting a sāttvik incense stick, like the SSRF incense stick, near the bed before going to sleep, keeping a picture of God under the pillow, spiritual purification of the bedroom, especially near the bed, playing the chant of Name of God in a very low volume throughout the night, etc.
Scenario 2: Spiritual level above 55%
When a person above 55% spiritual level sleeps on his back, his Central Channel of Kundalini system is activated. The spiritual emotion of this person is quite high; whereas the influence of emotions is quite reduced. When one is above the 55% spiritual level, one attains control on the flow of the subtle basic Raja-Tama in the body as per the requirement. This happens at the level of one’s unmanifest spiritual emotion. This is because one starts functioning more and more at the level of the Energy of Soul (ātma-shakti). This is opposed to the level of Energy of Mind (manaha-shakti) in the case of people below the 55% spiritual level. This Energy of Soul maintains the balance between the Sun and the Moon channels of the Kundalini system.
3. Sleep posture 2 – sleeping on the stomach
When a person sleeps on his stomach, there is pressure on the spaces in his abdomen. This pressure instigates the downward flow of the subtle excretory gases in the abdominal spaces. Sometimes when the proportion of these subtle excretory gases is high in the chest, they move in the upward direction too and exit out of the body through the nose and mouth. During the course of this dispelling of the subtle excretory gases, the body is highly sensitive to absorbing the frequencies of subtle basic Raja-Tama components from the external environment. When one is sleeping in this posture, the movements of the actual body organs are slowed and the spaces around the organs are activated because of the pressure of the subtle excretory gases. Due to this, the process of excretion of subtle excretory gases excreted from the organs and filled in the spaces is hastened. During this period the person's body is hypersensitive to the process of transmission of the subtle basic Raja-Tama components at the subtle level. As a result, the person is vulnerable to attacks by ghosts from the environment as well as from the Regions of Hell.
Below is a drawing based on subtle-knowledge, of the effects of sleeping on one's stomach.
4. Sleep posture 3 – sleeping on the sides
When a person sleeps on his side, the Sun or Moon channels of the Kundalini system are predominantly activated.
Below is a drawing based on subtle-knowledge, of the effects of sleeping on one's right side.
The Moon channel is activated when a person sleeps on his right side.
Below is a drawing based on subtle-knowledge, of the effects of sleeping on one's left side.
- The Sun channel is activated when a person sleeps on his left side.
When the Sun or Moon channels are activated, the chetana in the body cells remains activated. As a result, there is a lower level of the subtle basic Tama component generated and the chetana also helps fight the attacks from ghosts.
5. In summary
From a spiritual perspective, unless one is above the 55% spiritual level, it is best to sleep on one's side.