1.38 Gaining insight from dreams and cultivating deep sleep.
In the timeless dream space, you witness some aspect of your mind trying to make sense of previous impressions. It is often surprising to see the fantastic scenarios and the seemingly disparate associations of events from different parts of your life. Each person is in a constant process of writing, editing and rewriting the master narrative of her life to make sense, find meaning and create coherence in her actions. There are many stimuli that are sensed but may not be processed by the conscious mind. An example is when you play a trivia game and you surprise yourself by knowing information that you didn’t know you knew. In your daily activities, anything causing an emotional reaction is more likely to be noticed and stored in your memory. The dreaming process can be understood as one of the ways your mind tries to fit these impressions into your personal life story.
In verse 1.17 the progression from gross to subtler levels of concentration was introduced, followed by 1.18 where it says that once the ways of being settle, only impressions remain. This verse suggests a way of processing these impressions by focusing on the content of your dreams and the emotional impressions that they have left on you as a source of insight. As a result, you can gain a clearer understanding of your subconscious mind. As you venture on the exploration of your dreamscapes, it is important to acknowledge the value and importance of sleeping well and sleeping as much as you need. This exploration can show you how your thoughts, attitudes and behaviors during the day influence you at a deeper level. For instance, if you read something before going to sleep, or if you watch a movie before you go to sleep, do you notice some of those ideas in the book or movie blending into your dream? You can set your intention to remember your dreams and to be open to seeing your dreams as messengers traveling through channels other than deduction and inference. Like the previous exploration of your true nature, this verse reminds you that as you fall asleep, many of your internal activities subside, reducing distractions and giving way to a deeper calmness.
Following the thread of the previous sutras, this sutra can be understood also as the next stage in the involution process. After your mind is established in serenity, only subconscious impressions remain. This idea was introduced in sutra 1.18. As your inner environment settles, what are the remaining impressions that emerge? Are they the remnants of past desires, experiences, and interactions? When you notice these impressions, can you allow them to fizzle out by just feeling them without trying to make them into stories to entertain yourself?
As usual, one more way of exploring the meaning of this sutra is by chanting it.
You can choose to chant it in its traditional form with some of the words coming together:
1.38 svapnanidrā jñānālambanam vā
स्वप्ननिद्रा ज्ञानालम्बनम् वा ॥३८॥
Another option is to chant each word in the sutra individually: