Why we sleep is a question that has captivated philosophers and scientists for millennia. If you really think about it, letting go of all activity and going to sleep for several hours every day – becoming totally unconscious and completely vulnerable?- is actually quite bizarre.?Yet sleep is not just a human need: every species of animal on the planet is known to sleep in some fashion.
Recent findings have shown that when we sleep, our brain undergoes a sort of mop-up process that removes waste products linked to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Unfortunately for many of us, sleep has become a precious commodity that we never feel we’re getting enough of. And as so many wisdom traditions teach, sleeping deeply – with its power to cleanse our brains – is indeed a form of rebirth!
Offer the day up with gratitude for being alive.
So here’s a meditative practice before going to sleep that may help with bringing about some calm to your senses, and support your brain with its mopping-up duties:
As you prepare to go to sleep, think back to the very first moment you can remember in the day, right after waking up in the morning. Do you remember how you felt upon waking? Now, gently replay the events and conversations of the day. Go through your entire day, reviewing whatever comes to mind, right up to the present moment.
Note the different feelings that arise. What do you need to let go of from the day that was more important at that moment than it is now? What’s one thing you can harvest, one thing that you learned from the day?? Is there anyone you need to forgive? Who might you need to ask forgiveness from?
Ask for the wisdom and strength to deal with whatever is coming tomorrow. As you take a few deep breaths, offer the day up with gratitude for being alive. Know that your brain will be miraculously de-cluttering and cleaning itself up, as you sleep.
Rabbi Irwin Kula is a 7th generation rabbi and a disruptive spiritual innovator. A rogue thinker, author of the award-winning book, Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life, and President-Emeritus of Clal – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, he works at the intersection of religion, innovation, and human flourishing. A popular commentator in both new and traditional media, he is co-founder with Craig Hatkoff and the late Professor Clay Christensen of The Disruptor Foundation whose mission is to advance disruptive innovation theory and its application in societal critical domains. He serves as a consultant to a wide range of foundations, organizations, think tanks, and businesses and is on the leadership team of Coburn Ventures, where he offers uncommon inputs on cultural and societal change to institutional investors across sectors and companies worldwide.