Exploring the Fascinating World of Sleep
Jul 01, 2014 05:48AM
By Dale Bruder
Dr. Rubin Naiman
Dr. Rubin Naiman has a spiritually oriented view of sleep. He views preparation for bed as personal ritual, morning grogginess as a rich experience and sleep itself as a sacred state of consciousness. “Sleep is not simply a servant of waking life. It does provide exquisite support for our health, memory, mood and more,” says Naiman. “But sleep is also a sacred state of consciousness—a gracious gift serenity offered us at the end of each day.”
Naiman is a clinical psychologist affiliated with Dr. Andrew Weil’s University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. He is founder and director of Circadian Health Associates, which provides a broad range of sleep-related services, training and consultation internationally. He also maintains a private psychology practice in Tucson, providing consultations to CEOs, world-class athletes, statesmen, entertainers and working people.
Naiman invites us to have some humility about obtaining healthy sleep. In his new book, Hush, a Book of Bedtime Contemplations, he writes, “We’ve been encouraged to view sleep as a strictly scientific and mechanistic phenomenon, shrouded in medical complexities—a perspective that significantly limits our personal access to it. We are in dire need of a natural sleep movement to counter the appropriation of sleep by the healthcare industry.” He adds, “We must reaffirm our personal authority over and responsibility for our own sleep. Doing so calls for a transformative shift in both cultural and individual attitudes.” Naiman is the author of several groundbreaking works on sleep and dreams, including Healing Night: The Science and Spirit of Sleeping, Dreaming and Awakening, The Yoga of Sleep: Sacred and Scientific Practices to Heal Sleeplessness. In Hush, he takes his previous work to a new level, addressing a broad range of topics that include insomnia, medication, night, shared sleep, napping, dreaming and shadow work. Each contemplative passage is followed by explanatory text that informs and inspires. “I wrote Hush for two audiences; those who can and those who cannot sleep,” he notes.
Naiman offers a new view on both space and time as it relates to healthy sleep. He sees ordinary clock time as an impediment to slumber and advises us to be cautious of clocks and reconsider night’s timelessness. Naiman also encourages shifting our attitude toward our bedrooms—the space we sleep in. “We unthinkingly smuggle a waking world mindset into our bedroom at night,” he asserts, describing the modern bedroom as an entertainment center that keeps us tethered to the waking world. He suggests, “An optimal bedroom is like a temple, a sanctuary from waking life and a portal to the ethereal consciousness of sleep and dreams. It is a good place to meditate and pray.”
In Hush, Naiman emphasizes, “Something serene and ineffable sweeps through the deep currents of night, just beneath the din of the waking world. Sleep is so inherently and profoundly peaceful that most of us have absolutely no frame of reference for perceiving, let alone articulating, it.” According to the Dalai Lama, sleep is the best meditation, because we are granted a visit to the place where accomplished spiritual practitioners journey.
In Naiman’s approach, surrender to the mystery of sleep is an act of faith. “When we check out, relinquishing oversight and control, we extend trust or faith to something greater than ourselves. The extent of our willingness to surrender to sleep is a measure of this faith.”
Naiman advises us to guide ourselves upon awakening as we would lovingly guide a child. “We awaken each morning from dreams that have helped us digest and assimilate yesterday’s experiences,” he says. “We awaken renewed. Each morning awakening is an opportunity to mindfully establish a trajectory for our new day.” The attitudes that we establish upon awakening will powerfully imbue their qualities upon the rest of the day and establish a foundation for a good night’s sleep.
Contact Naiman at DrNaiman.com.
Dale Bruder is a frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings.