Yoga Sūtra Verse 1.10
July 6, 2012 § Leave a comment
abhāva – absence, non-existence, nullity
pratyaya – cause, resulting impressions
ālambanā – support, basis, foundation, cause
vṛttiḥ – habits or activities of the mind
nidrā – deep sleep
“Sleep is the mental habit characterized by the absence of form”
Patañjali is The purpose of sleep (nidrä) [note this is different from the dream state] is to maintain the mind by giving it a focus (pratyaya; as in an object or idea) upon which to sustain itself (ālambanā; as in something to lean on, or a temporary foundation) and that something is nothingness or abhāva which means emptiness and more specifically it means nothing to love or adore, nothing to feel and consequently no meaningful existence.
This state is considered to be almost total tamas, or darkness. It is as if the construction of the mind is such that it can’t function without being turned off at regular intervals. So this modification or habit (vṛtti) is built into the mind’s five ways of experiencing so called reality. In this state you experience general amnesia, analgesia, relaxation of skeletal muscles, and loss of control of the reflexes of the nervous system. Only the autonomic functions are present (circulation, respiration, etc…). Like a plant, this is basically a state of unconscious or like being in a temporary coma. You do not consciously feel or hear anything around you.
The goal of the yogi is to make all the applications of the mind sattvic, including deep sleep.
For the modern yogi to make deep sleep sattvic (the mode of clarity) she must make as many aspects of her life that can be consciously controlled sattvic or even better shuddha sattvic which means transcendental.
To accomplish this requires both engagement and restriction. Engaging the senses in transcendental sounds, smell, sights, tastes, movements, communications, etc… And restriction: avoiding those activities which cultivate tama (the mode of darkness) such as, over sleep, eating animal flesh, surrendering to angry/unhappy emotions, wasting time, cheating, etc…
The successful yogi is able through practice to enter the state beyond waking, dreaming and sleeping know as Turiya. The accomplished bhakti yogi however surpasses even this state by existing in the realm of pure consciousness simultaneously while be present here in our shared, relative, reality.