Dream On, But Sleep Is Very Important, Too

Dream On, But Sleep Is Very Important, Too

Everybody dreams. Some remember their dreams; others don’t. The brain never sleeps; neural pathways are always active, whether mediated by ego during waking state or without it, as happens during sleep. Activation of neural pathways produces dreams.

During sleep, we go through four to five cycles of deep sleep and dreaming episodes, each of roughly 90 minutes duration. Electro-encephalography (EEG) studies done on the human brain during sleep, show that deep sleep is characterised by production of low frequency (1-4 Hz) Delta waves, known to help produce life and mood-enhancing chemicals. At this stage, we are totally unaware of our surroundings. But, dreaming episodes characterised by rapid eye movement (REM), are of light sleep kind, from which one can be woken up quite easily .

Dreams are both internal and external. Since ego, the director, is absent during sleep, neural pathways have free run. Thus, day-long experiences or existing memories are the driving force for internal dreams. When there is sanyam or tremendous thinking activity on a particular thought during waking time, it leads sometimes to solution-dreams.Several great inventions and discoveries have come through such dreaming process.

Externality of dreams comes because brain is both receiver and transmitter of human thought. Hence during sleep, memories or signals from knowledge-space impinge on the brain and may modify neural pathways. This can give rise to strange dreams of events and places never visited or interacted with. This is also the mechanism of getting prophetic dreams of which there are many instances. Why don’t we remember dreams? Brain scientists say part of it is to do with creating long-term memory . But it is dreams we remember that make life interesting. We still don’t know why we dream. A possible answer may lie in how synapses behave during sleep.

Synapses are connections between two neurons; they allow the transfer of information through passage of neuro-chemicals across the synaptic cleft, the distance (about 0.02 micron) between neuron and synapse that exchanges neurochemicals.

Scientists have found that during deep sleep, the synaptic cleft widens by about 20%. Perhaps it helps in allowing the cerebro spinal fluid to flow through it and to remove toxins from the brain.

The more we dream during the night, the less restful is the sleep. A really restful sleep is deep sleep without dreams. This helps in flushing out toxic material from major part of the brain. Besides this, the increase of synaptic cleft may also help in explaining the dreaming process.

During sleep, neural pathways are active without ego, so circuit production is quite random. But only those pathways produce circuits in which neural connections are still strong. Thus “loosened“ synapses or those with increased synaptic cleft might not take part in the information transfer and hence, in the dreaming process. So dreams could be random in nature. Besides, this loosening of neural pathways may also explain the removal of some memories of day-long experiences. Sleep is therefore necessary to remove clutter or irrelevant information from the brain.

Too often, we have dreams connected with our suppressed desires; most are based on unfulfilled emotional needs and psychological knots based on strong memories that do not get loosened during sleep and cause recurring dreams. Resolution of these knots through wisdom allows the loosening of strong memories and helps in brain detoxification, producing dreamless sleep.

Om Namah Shivay

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How to Overcome the Mind

What is the mind? The mind means the many desires that you carry within you. Nature knows very well the number of desires you drag and carry as a burden within you. Nature sees how tightly and feverishly you hold on to your desires, so sometimes it grants those desires and sometimes it does not. But when we remain happy and centered whether our desires get fulfilled or not, then you can say that you have killed or overcome the mind.

Suppose you are going to a cinema theatre to watch a movie and you stand in line to buy the tickets, and you get to know that the theatre is house-full. Do you feel angry or frustrated about it, or do you feel “Oh, it’s alright. Never mind”. and simply move on ahead.

You may also think that since you did not get a ticket for the cinema hall, so you might as well go to a temple for some time ; or sit in a satsang for some time. When you are able to do this (skilfully), then know that you have killed and overcome your mind.

Have this unshakable faith that whatever is the best for you, that alone will happen in life. Nature will only give you that which will uplift you higher in life. Keep this deep faith.

When does this knowledge dawn in you? It happens when you give your 100% effort in whatever you do. If you simply sit idle and think that God will anyway take care of everything, then that will not do.

Usually, you do not think twice when you are about to do something wrong. But when you have to do something good or beneficial, you think “If God wants, then it will happen”. Many people tell me, “Gurudev, only when you wish or call us will we be able to come to the Ashram”.

Why do you need an invitation? Does God ever send you an invitation asking you to come meet Him? When we have to do something good, we leave it to destiny (instead of making an effort to do it). But if you want to fulfil some desire or aspiration of your own, you put in every bit of your strength to achieve that. You put your heart and soul into it. This thought process needs to be reversed.

You should know that whatever situations you are currently undergoing in life is because of your Prarabdha Karma (Karma that bears fruit in the present). And whatever you deserve, you will surely get that in life.

You must think, “What do I have to do in life?” And then you should just go ahead and do that with all sincerity, without thinking about what results you will get out of it. You should not worry about that at all. Just do whatever you have to do. Then a deep sense of contentment

Om Namah Shivay

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The Zen Mind-1

Right now as this post goes live on my blog, I’m sitting in zazen with 100 eager seekers of truth, in a meditation retreat, discoursing on Zen, the path of no path, the way of no way. By a quiet lake, as twilight emerges on the horizon and a blanket of serenity and silence covers our outer and inner world, I felt it would be most apt to share my thoughts on Zen.

Let me begin with a beautiful aphorism, Hana wa hiraku bankoku no haru, from Moon by the Window by Shodo Harada Roshi:

“A single flower blooms and throughout the world it’s spring. In Zen, the word flower often refers to the Buddha, who is said to have been born under flowers, to have become enlightened under flowers, to have transmitted the Dharma with a flower, and to have passed away under flowers.

“When the Buddha was enlightened under the bodhi tree, he saw the morning star and exclaimed, “How wondrous! How wondrous! All beings from the origin are endowed with this same bright clear Mind to which I have just awakened!” For forty-nine years the Buddha taught that each and every person has the possibility of awakening and that this opportunity to awaken is the deepest value of being alive…

“We too can be born and can die under flowers, can finish this life as the Buddha did.”

Hana wa hiraku bankoku no haru

When a single flower blooms, it is spring throughout the world.

This is Zen in a nutshell. Our whole world lights up when our mind is at peace, when we are happy within. And, it’s all doom-and-gloom if our mind is indisposed. When the flower of mind blooms, it is spring all around. The question is how to ensure that this flower blossoms and remains in bloom? How to care for this flower?

Om Namah Shivay

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Smile for No Good Reason

Simple Things You Can Do to Get Happy NOW

In years past, I would accomplish a goal, have a moment of satisfaction, go on to the next goal, and achieve that one, only to repeat the pattern. I became a busy achiever but I wasn’t very happy. I had the trappings of success, but the grass was often greener on the other side. Consistent peace of mind eluded me.

Despite being unhappy, I used to think I was successful because I could reach many of the goals that I set. Now it seems crazy to consider myself successful if I am not happy. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the key ingredient to success is happiness.

Some goals can be very important, like making enough money for your kid’s education, or eating a healthier diet and exercising more. There are many books and seminars on clarifying, setting, and achieving these types of goals. Yet many of these approaches miss an important point:

There is only one goal that ultimately matters, one that is an essential part of all others, one that is available to you at all times–peace of mind.

Having peace of mind in the present moment as your single goal allows you to pursue any future-oriented objectives with a sense of calm.

When you have peace of mind as your single goal you are saying to yourself: “No matter what is happening in my life–no matter what my physical condition, rich or poor, no matter if people don’t behave and react to me how I want them to–peace of mind is most important, and is always possible.”

Imagine that your thoughts are like a swinging pendulum. Peace of mind is where the pendulum will naturally come to rest when given a chance. Calmness enters your life when you turn your mind toward peace, because there is nothing more powerful than responding to your call home.

A key ingredient to happiness is to realize that now is the only time there is and each instant is for giving.

Om Namah Shivay

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Patanjali Yoga Sutras – 8

The moment is free, fresh and full. Being here this moment totally is abhyasa.

The mind might try to go to the past, to smruti, or may try to go off to sleep and it can try to bring some logic and justification or some knowledge or some fantasies. Just knowing that again it is getting into the five vruttis, without aversion or craving, come back to the center, to the seer. This is abhyasa.

Sa tu dirgha kala nairantarya satkara sevito drudha bhumihi

“This becomes firmly grounded or firmly established in you when you attend to it for a long time, without interruption and with devotion.”
– Patanjali Yoga Sutra #14

This effort to be still, to be steady is practice. Practice is the stability factor, which retains you in that moment and that is the purpose of the practice. And how can this be achieved? Sa tu dīrgha kāla – it takes a long time. Nairantarya – without a care. Satkāra sevita – with honor and respect. Receiving it and practicing it with honor and respect. Dhrudabhūmi – then it becomes firmly established.

Anything in life that is of firm value takes some time to get cultured. You go to a gym, you need a coach there. Body building does not happen overnight. Muscles will not grow. It takes quite some time. The body has its requirement of time for its growth. Similarly, the mind needs even more time for its growth. If you want to memorize something, it takes some time to memorize it. In the same way, any practice takes time. It need not be too long a time, but sufficiently long. And how? Without a gap. What we usually do is that we learn something and leave it after sometime and we start again. If we are little lazy and we do not do it, then the connection is broken and it does not happen. Without a gap, constant practice is essential. If you go to a gym for a couple of days and then leave the practice and then you go again the next month for a couple of days, nothing will happen. Due to lack of consistency, you do not learn any art.

Abhyāsa is something done with gratitude, gratefulness, honor and respect

Some say, “Oh! I have to do it” and do the same thing unenthusiastically. That is not abhyāsa. Abhyāsa is something done with gratitude, gratefulness, honor and respect. This is something which we lack in our life. Even if you do something with honor and respect, it lasts only for a very short period. First day you sit for meditation, you feel wonderful because you are there and you do it with honor. Later you will say, “I have to meditate” and you sit and close your eyes and it does not have the same effect.

What is honor?
Have you ever thought about it? Honor is total attentiveness to the present moment, with a hint of gratefulness. If you honor the mountain it means that you are looking at the mountain with all your heart, all your mind. Without questioning or without debating in yourself, just honoring, being happy and grateful for what the mountain is.

Similarly, respect and honor every moment in your life. That is practice. You respect your own body and that is practice,;that is āsanas. Āsana is respecting your body every moment consciously. Respecting your breath and honoring your breath. That is prānāyāma and keeping it up over a period of time is important.

Any practice is a practice when it is done over a period of time without any gap, respectfully and honoring it every day. Then it becomes firmly established. Are you getting this point? It is a very vital thing.

Just notice if any day your meditation has become dull or is not to your satisfaction. See if you have kept up the continuity of practice. “Yes, I have been doing it every day. But it is still not good.” What is the problem? “I have not honored this mantra. I have not honored this time of sitting with myself. I am not honoring the life in me. So my meditation is going haywire.”

Honor this word (mantra) that the Master has given. This is so precious. Honoring the Master is honoring Master’s word. It has been told just in one sentence. If you do not have honor or respect for the master, the mediation will not work. Why? This is because the honor and respect brings up the consciousness and awareness in you that helps you focus in the moment. If you do not honor the Master, the Master will not lose anything. It is your own mind that is at a loss because it is unable to be in the moment totally, unable to dive deep into the source totally. Honoring the source of knowledge, honoring the Master, honoring the knowledge and honoring the receiver. This is practice.

Om Namah Shivay

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The Power of Intuitive Thinking-3

Love Lab

In an experiment to determine whether a couple will get divorced or not, John Gottman asked his staff to come to a conclusion about marriages by watching a random fifteen minute videotape of couples, while focusing only on the Four Horsemen: Defensiveness, Stonewalling, Contempt and Criticism. On the basis of those calculations, Gottman has proven something remarkable. If he analyzes an hour of a husband and wife talking, he can predict with 95 percent accuracy whether that couple will still be married fifteen years later.

The Perils of Intuition

It’s not the case that our internal computer always shines through, instantly “decoding” the truth of a situation. It can be thrown off, distracted or disabled. Our instinctive reactions often have to compete with all kinds of other interest and emotions and sentiments. So, when should we trust our instincts, and when should we be wary of them?

Let First Impressions bloom in a Healthy Environment

Our first impressions are generated by our experiences and our environment, which means that we can change our first impressions- we can alter the way we thin-slice- by changing the experiences that comprise those impressions. If you are a white person who would like to treat black people as equals in every way- who would like to have a set of associations with black that are as positive as those of you have with whites- it requires more than simple commitment to equality. It requires that you change your life so that you are exposed to minorities on a regular basis and become comfortable with them, so that when you want to meet, hire, date or talk with a member of minority, you aren’t betrayed by your hesitation and discomfort. Taking rapid cognition seriously- acknowledging the incredible power, for good and ill, that first impressions play in our lives- requires that we take active steps to manage and control those impressions.

Expert Speaks

Charnita Arora, founder of Perfect Life Spot (Institute of Language and Holistic Learning) says, “Intuition can be cultivated by developing mindfulness. One of the simplest yet profound ways of developing mindfulness is by being aware of one’s breath. The modern world is an over stimulated mind-world. In such a context, it is highly important to develop a tranquil refuge within by being aware of one’s existence in the here and now.

Om Namah Shivay

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The Power of Intuitive Thinking-2

Blink

We live in a world that assumes the quality of a decision is directly related to the time and effort that went into making it. What do we teach our children? Haste makes Waste. Look before you leap. Don’t judge a book by its cover. We believe that we are always better of gathering as much information as possible and spending as much time as possible in deliberation. We really only trust conscious decision making. But there are moments, particularly in times of stress, when haste does not make waste, when our snap judgments and first impressions can offer a much better means of making sense of the world. Decisions made very quickly can be every bit as good as decisions made cautiously and deliberately. There can be as much value in the blink of an eye as in months of rational analysis.

The Adaptive Unconscious

Whenever we meet someone for the first time, whenever we interview someone for a job, whenever we react to a new idea, whenever we’re faced with making a decision quickly and under stress, we use that second part of our brain. When you walk down a street and suddenly realize that a truck is bearing down on you, do you have time to think through all your options? Of course not. The only way that the human beings could have ever survived as a species for as long as we have is that we’ve developed another kind of decision-making apparatus that’s capable of making very quick judgments based on very little information. That part of our brain that leaps to conclusions like this is called the adaptive unconscious.

Educating your blink

The power of knowing, in those first two seconds, is not a gift given magically to a fortunate few like Sandeep. It is an ability that we can all cultivate for ourselves. Your snap judgments can be controlled and educated.

The Art of Thin-Slicing

‘Thin-Slicing’ refers to the ability of our unconscious to find patterns in behavior based on very narrow slices of experience. It too, is part of what makes the unconscious so dazzling. But it is also what is most problematic about rapid cognition. How is it possible to gather the necessary information for a sophisticated judgment in such a short period of time? The answer is that when the unconscious engages in Thin-Slicing, what we are doing is an automated accelerated unconscious function of the brain. While Thin-Slicing, one doesn’t need to focus on everything that happens. You will be overwhelmed by the task of counting events. Be far more selective, particularly in a negative environment.

 

Om Namah Shivay

***Write ” Om Namah Shivay ” if you ask for God’s blessing on your life today. Please Like, Tag and Share to bless others!

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