"And if tonight my soul may find her peace in sleep, and sink in good oblivion, and in the morning wake like a new-opened flower then I have been dipped again in God, and new-created." -D.H. Lawrence
I also think Lawrence had a very deep insight that sinking into the good oblivion of sleep is necessary to the whole God-dipped experience. Perhaps it requires a complete surrender of our conscious, ego-driven, stubborn human will -- a letting go that can happen in the peaceful state of sleep, and perhaps in deep meditation. We are vulnerable in the sleeping state in a way we can rarely achieve with waking consciousness.
So, in light of recent research about how sleep-deprived we are as a nation, (according to the Centers for Disease Control, 9 million Americans use sleep aids) and how important it is to our psyche to get the deep stages 3 and 4 of sleep to clean out our brains, I wonder about the ramifications for our spiritual selves. Can we be dipped in God after a sleepless night, a night of interrupted sleep, or of chemically induced sleep?
There was a fascinating article in Psychology Today's Sleep Newzzz blog on the subject of deep sleep and how it is vital to clean out our brains. It allows the garbage removal needed to wake "new-created". Hmm. This explains a lot! Given that poor sleep is now being blamed for obesity, heart problems, hypertension, memory problems, increased risk of death and just plain old irritability it doesn't seem like such a stretch to think it might also be harming us spiritually.
I'm going to try an experiment for the next month. I'll call it the Sleep and Spirit experiment. I will seek to create an intentional path toward deeper, more restful sleep by the following: I will make a routine bedtime and time to rise, not drink any alcohol, no caffeine after 12 noon, do a relaxing gentle stretching, breathing and meditation (I have a great sleep inducing meditation called Sleep Well Tonight - Cottage by the Sea by Max Highstein) and keep a sleep journal to track my progress. I will report the results back here next month. Of course, I will have to work this out with my four-footed furry alarm clock, Misty the wise kitty. She will hopefully be amenable to the new sleeping plan. I'd love to hear from any of you who might like to try this sleep and spirit journey with me.