By meditating on the experience of dream and sleep, one gains steadiness and peace of mind.
Do you pay attention to your dreams? There are some dreams which are profound messengers of deep truths and calls to action. Vedanta teaches us dreams are of 5 types, and it is through cultivating a clear, uncluttered mind through meditation that dreams become a portal to a higher wisdom. I had such a dream recently which I’d love to share as many women of my age might relate. I was walking down a laneway through village greens with my daughter when we were overtaken by a beautiful, powerful white horse galloping effortlessly bearing a gorgeous, graceful young woman, her hair flowing behind her, on its back. It wasn’t long before we saw the young woman lying dead on the path, the horse having bolted ahead without a rider. The horse stood on the horizon, looking back briefly, seemingly waiting and watching what unfolded in its wake. I immediately sprang to action organising everyone to administer first aid, seek help, divert traffic - even though I knew and it was obvious to us all that the girl was dead. We kept going about our business despite this knowledge and the futility of it, and didn’t think even once about the horse. I was woken from the dream by a clear inner knowing that the rider, the horse and the rescuer were all aspects of myself. She was a past version of myself, and the horse an inner creativity and freedom I’d associated with youth. Then came a powerful inner voice which simply said “Get Back On That Horse.”
To provide a little context on the yogic view of dreaming, here’s a few comments on Yoga Sutra 1.38 by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait PhD, yoga scholar and founder of the Himalayan Institute .
“During the waking state the conscious mind, only the part of the mind that works in collaboration with the brain, nervous system, and senses, is active. In modern psychology, this conscious mind is equivalent to the concept of manas (lower mind) in yoga. In the waking state, manas is able to perceive the objects of the world with the help of the five cognitive senses—hearing, tasting, touching, smelling, and seeing—but the range of its function is limited.
The mind can perceive, judge, and decide, although quite often its perceptions, judgments, and decisions are accompanied by doubt. Only the intuitive knowledge flowing from deep within the centre of consciousness helps the mind to transcend its doubt.
Because many of us do not have complete access to the field of intuition, meditation on an object belonging to the realm of our senses is always accompanied by some degree of doubt. This damages the strength of our meditation and causes the mind to continually search for more reliable objects on which to focus and rest.
During dreaming and deep sleep, however, the mind is turned inward. The activities of our senses are shut down, and the function of the brain and nervous system is at its lowest. Manas, the conscious mind, is almost completely at rest during dreaming and deep sleep, and the unconscious mind (which works without the aid of the brain, nervous system, and sense organs) becomes active. This is when we begin to experience a vast universe comprised of bottomless memories.
Because the part of the mind that is active during the waking state does not have access to this vast universe, it remains outside the pale of our waking state of consciousness. So we call this world “unconscious.” We also call the mind that has access to this universe “unconscious,” for while we are awake we do not know how that part of the mind works.
Experiences gained while we are dreaming and sleeping are closer to the inner reality than those gained from the external world, for they are coming from within without the interference of the senses and are not contaminated by doubt. They require no validation and no logical support. They are self-evident. For this reason, the contents of our dreams can be potent and effective objects of meditation, provided we remember them after waking, and provided we have the wisdom to discriminate between the dreams that are useful for meditation and those that are useless.
Learn the art of keeping your mind as uncluttered as possible while you are awake. The simpler the life you live, the lighter the meals you eat, the more regular the routine you maintain, the clearer the mind. A balanced lifestyle helps you balance your doshas (basic principles, or humors). The more balanced the doshas, the easier it is for the mind to send its impulses to the nervous system through the nadis. This creates an internal environment conducive to linear, less choppy dreams that make a strong impression on the entire mindfield. This includes the conscious mind. Thus we remember our dreams more clearly when we wake up.
Deep within, you know that it was real and you do not feel the slightest need to verify it. In fact, the power of this kind of dream can purify the conduit—the entire mindfield—as it flows through it, and you wake up with a greater degree of clarity of mind and purity of heart. The simple memory of that dream makes your mind one-pointed and turns it inward. Even if you do not make an active effort to meditate on such a dream object, still a state of spontaneous meditation emerges.”
The above excerpt is from an article published by Yoga International: https://yogainternational.com/article/view/yoga-sutra-1-38-translation-and-commentary