Generally, sleep is one of the most underrated experiences and it is becoming increasingly clear that it is evolutionarily critical. In a recent study they note:
“… metabolic waste products of neural activity were cleared out of the sleeping brain at a faster rate than during the awake state. This finding suggests a mechanistic explanation for how sleep serves as a restorative function, in addition to its well-described effects on memory consolidation. ”
More or less the later parts of the study deal with this idea of memory cleanup. In computer terms, we might call this defragging. So why would I post on sleep as a magician? First, I want to, and that’s that. Second, it is a great place where magic, the occult and the psychological overlap. You can even be a hard core atheist and this will help you.
Of course, most people do not get great sleep. The number one reason for that is that people are stuck thinking about things too much (yep they do). In general, our society creates lots of reasons for worry, and not a lot of reasons toward health. If you can get 7-8 hours of sleep, that will help mood and cognitive function. If you can not get that amount, let’s cheat a little. Let’s cheat even if you can get that amount of sleep. We can help the brain’s memory cleanup by doing a meditation right before sleeping.
The truth is that even if you have a really well developed banishing, progressive relaxation might work more efficiently. By “efficiently”, I do not mean faster, I mean that you may get a much greater bank for the buck. Generally, this will take 20-30 minutes but I guarantee it’s worth it.
First things first, lie down. Try to lay flat on your back and place your pillow behind your head and the corners of the pillow on each shoulder. This cradles your pillow around your head and neck and is far more ergonomically correct. One of the differences between progressive relaxation and fast mental reactions is that the former actually engages your physical body, not just your mind.
Start to breathe deeply. At least 5-8 seconds in and out, with no pause between breaths. On inhale, focus on one muscle of your body relaxing. On exhale, focus on one muscle of your body relaxing and breathing out the stress. Imagine what that stress looks like, feels like, sounds like, and expel it with your breath using all of your psychic imagination. It does not matter exactly what it looks, feels, sounds, tastes, etc. just that you know it for the tension, negativity or stress in that muscle.
Try this with a finger muscle to practice. You might have all sorts of body, sensory, and other reactions. Stay with one muscle. You will get to the point where that muscle and area feels pretty good. There may be a visual and auditory component, just keep going.
Most of the time you are releasing negative energy as well as physical stress. Try this again to practice on a more troublesome area (lots of people have problems with the neck and shoulder, so try some of those muscles). The one key I learned is just to keep focusing on the muscle until it relaxes. Inhale relax, exhale imagine breathing the tension out. Each breath should make it feel like the muscle actually melts. If you add that visual idea of melting with the exhale, this will usually go great. It could take 20-30 breaths and focus for one muscle. Again, 20-30 breaths for one muscle.
I like to start with the parts of the body with the most contact with the mattress, such as the lower shoulders, and gluteus maximus. I will do the exact meditation until it feels like those muscles are liquefying. I will continue to focus on additional muscles around those muscles. The key is one muscle at a time. Really work one muscle at a time with your mind. Once you get the practice to down, you can do deep relaxation starting from your toes on up or from your head on down. This makes it easier to keep track of where your muscles are.
Usually by the time I have the neck and shoulders done, I am asleep. I tend to carry my stress there. What you will notice is that as you are doing more and more muscles other muscles will melt and relax too. Just try to get through as many as you can. Of course, if you start thinking about things beside the muscle, just breathe them out with the tension and stress. Yes imagine them getting expelled. Often, I find it great to put on an oil diffuser in the room I sleep too, so that negative energy getting expelled just gets transformed by the essential oil. Lavender, Frankincense, Bergamot are fine choices.
Blessing the essential oil makes the oil far more effective for removing negativity from the environment. Simply hold the bottle of the oil. Breathe deeply, focus, and just imagine with all your five senses that the oil become enlivened. Keep going for 15-20 minutes. You might feel that the oil sparkles, has a certain vibe, or feels a certain way after focusing on it. I will use blessed crystals, do banishing work in the room where I sleep, put down camphor in some water, so any negative energy I release does not stick around. Both blessed crystals and camphor in water are other ways to deal with this.
You could couple this with things like a happiness meditation once you get this down.
Imagine on inhale that you breathe in what you understand as condensed happiness, and use all of your 5 senses. Pull that right into the muscle. On exhale, push out any negativity and tension. Keep going with one muscle until it melts. Use your five senses to see and feel it melt. This is a simplified exercise from the Shapeshifting Course (I go into more detail in the course), and some of it is suggested by Hands On Chaos Magic. Of course, this is a fast blog post, but it’s enough to really make some changes. If you want something a little more challenging, try this (start off with the relaxation first).
For most people, you may notice you sleep much better, and notice improved energy and possibly some health benefits (definitely emotional improvement). It’s well work the pre-sleep investment.