Sutra I.38 – Chapter I, Sutra 38

स्वप्ननिद्राज्ञानालम्बनं वा॥३८॥

svapna-nidra-jnana-alambanam va

Or (va) we can support (alambanam) a peaceful state of mind through the knowledge (jnana) that we gain from dreams (svapna) and deep sleep (nidra).

PRACTICAL LIVING     Another tool Patanjali offers to practice reflection and experience more inner peace is to meditate on our dreams. According to Patanjali, all of our mental activities are in action while dreaming (see Sutra I.6). Dreams often provide us with experiences that can give us a lot of insight about ourselves. Many of us have had revealing or ‘enlightening’ dreams. Some of us have had dreams that we thought made no sense. If we commit (see Sutra I.1) to meditating on our dreams, a part of us that is ‘hidden’ while we are awake, reveals itself. If a dream impacts you, but you don’t seem to get its message, talk to people. Often we are not able to see something that is too close to us. Many years ago I had a very vivid dream: I was 5 years old and getting married to no one in a big Indian-like wedding. I woke up with a mixture of strong feelings, but could not make sense of the dream. That morning I went out for a walk with my mother and told her about my dream. She stopped walking, looked at me and said “it’s very clear what this is about” and proceeded to give me a perspective that involved instances of my childhood that I did not consciously remember. My mother helped me unravel a very important part of myself that appeared in a dream but alone I could not decipher.

The second part of this sutra mentions the importance of deep sleep (nidra). Mothers, insomniacs and night-shift workers have experienced several sleep-deprived nights and can express the importance of getting enough deep sleep. When we get enough sleep the body and mind awaken refreshed, with a wonderful sense of calmness yet also energized. That experience acts as a support (alambanam) for experiencing more awareness and inner joy.

IN THE YOGA WORLD     Dreams where we have a transformational experience can be life-changing in awake life. Some people dream about receiving messages from those who have passed away. Others dream that they were visited by divine beings. The actual image in the dream is more of a reflection of what we believe in (ex: a devout Catholic is more likely to have Jesus appear in a dream than a non-Catholic). Regardless of the image, the experience in the dream can transform us, just as if it had happened while awake. Since the mind is still active in a dream, the memory of that experience is often as “real” as any other. Patanjali suggests we place attention on those dreams and reflect and meditate on them since they can bring us a lot of serenity. It’s in that subconscious state that many of our samskaras (imprints) that are deeply stored somewhere in our subconscious come out.

INSPIRATIONAL PERSON     Sangeetha is, in my definition, a true teacher. A woman who has studied and SANGEETHA-SUTRA I.38continues to study Yoga and reflect on her own life, I get the feeling she is practicing what she studies and teaches. It is very easy to grasp something intellectually and then repeat it to others. Sangeetha is one of those rare cases who understands it mentally, but also has a huge capacity to reflect and continuously implement that into her own life. While studying about trust (see Sutra I.20) before a test she would give us the following day in class, I began to experience a lot of fear. The fear consumed me so much that I could not sleep and was transpiring profusely. Eventually, I fell asleep and had a dream that lead me to the most profound experience I have ever had: in my dream I overcame layers and layers of fears and and at the peak of my deepest fears, I let go and was flooded with a sense of calmness that I had never felt before. Sangeetha, thank you for being the catalyst to that dream, it changed me in inexplicable ways. Thank you for the loving way you look at people. Thank you for your practical and wise teachings. Thank you for making me want to go back to India every year!

Do you have any experiences you would like to share? Please interact as much as you like – everyone will learn from your personal experiences!

Thanks and next week we will look at how universal and applicable to anyone and everyone Patanjali’s teachings are!

12 thoughts on “Sutra I.38 – Chapter I, Sutra 38

  1. Ola beautiful!!…..your words resonate strongly as always…….they are a comfort…..and a reminder that we can never know enough……and every time we look over and delve into these amazing little nuggets of riches(sutras) we uncover a new jewel……..and yes thank you for acknowledging such a remarkable and genuine teacher….her words , like yours, come from such a knowing place…..and from the heart….

    • Bellissima! Thank YOU for your wonderful words. I am so inspired by this text, it really has become my most precious teacher, helping me understand myself and others a little more every day 🙂 And yes, Sangeetha is an amazing woman! Huge hug! Miss your laughter!

  2. I love this sutra Lucia! Thank you for telling me to read the sutra’s out of order. I’ve definitely been having some extremely vivid dreams recently and I think those dreams are helping me to come to terms with the way my life is now flowing. I actually will wake up each morning and research the different aspects of the dream to see what the subjective view is for that visual present in my dream. I then use my morning mediation (after the reading) to see what this means for me and how I feel like it relates to me and ohhh boy…has it been an eye opener. I’ve always believed dreams are extremely important to each of us. They like you said help us figure things out that in our waking life we can’t seem to grasp. Big Hug 🙂

  3. I really enjoyed this sutra. I am a very active dreamer and I love talking with others about dreams (both mine and theirs) to figure out meanings and interpret what my mind is trying to tell me while I sleep. I am constantly surprised the places my mind goes in my sleep and how so often what seemingly makes no sense in the dream can actually make sense relative to my thoughts and what is going on in my life. This is a good reminder to take the time to contemplate my dreams each day.

  4. This was a great Sutra for me!
    I dream every night. My dreams are very vivid and in most cases frightening. I usually wake up with my heart pounding and very upset. I have started to tell my mom about these dreams and she can’t believe the things I say sometimes. I wonder if I were to start Meditating on these dreams, If they would get better? I also saw a therapist for some time and she would ask very often about my dreams. I get pretty good sleep, around 8 solid hours a night. I do find though, sometimes I will wake up and am not able to get back to sleep. I will try and do some breathing exercises before bed to try and calm my mind. Maybe that will help.
    I also find that I have re-occurring nightmares. The same setting, or fear arises in these dreams. Once I dreamt that my teeth were falling out, and I researched what that meant. They said that it had to do with financial stress. Which made perfect sense. I feel like dreams really do relay a lot of information about your inner self. Just in very strange and mysterious ways. I will start to study my dreams more. Hopefully they will bring me to some sort of conclusion or life answer.

  5. I have always felt dreams had a significant meaning as a child. Recalling some of my past dreams, most of the time I’m stumped on why my mind chose to imagine such an image/story. But I can defiantly say the content of my dreams overtime as changed dramatically. To my understanding this is because my mind, and self has changed. When a mind changes, unfamiliar goals, wishes, thoughts to arise and flush the old ones out. I have never thought of meditating on my dreams. Excited to see what I will uncover, I’ll probably end up doing this for awhile. A couple questions arise as I close this comment: what if I cant remember my dream? Will meditating on my dreams help me to dream more often and remember them better?

  6. It’s weird that sometimes during my sleep i kept thinking of certain problems at work and somehow came up with solutions for them. The negative effect is that i obviously was obsessed with those problems that bothered me even in my sleep. The positive side is that somehow they got sorted out and resolved on their own. Also, once in a while i feel like i see a real life situations that i have encountered before in my dreams, like a deja vu. It’s amazing how deep sleep and dreams could project or forecast things that could be happening in real life. It somehow relates to our intuition helping us prepare to react to a particular situation.

  7. Pingback: Sutra II.11 – Chapter II, Sutra 11 | weeklysutra

  8. i recently read that scientists have discovered that during deep sleep the body flushes out toxins that accumulate in the brain during the course of daily life. the less good sleep we get, the more these toxins build up and negatively affect us in all sorts of ways. i like to think of dreaming and the activity the brain does as we sleep as a sort of filing cabinet – taking new experiences, placing them with old ones, looking for patterns and significance among the sensations and events that make up our lives. i look forward to days where i remember my dreams, the more strange the better, as i feel that although my mind isn’t necessarily trying to “tell me something”, there are these deeper and more significant waves of meaning that i am somehow organizing to some sort of comprehensible form.

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