What I'm sharing today is one of my secrets - a meditation to shorten your sleep, and still get the benefits of a full night.
I've used this meditation for years, and because of the intent with which I used to use it - to deprive myself - I've been hesitant to share it because the last thing I ever want to promote is any form of deprivation.
BUT, in the last month I've started to use it again, with the intent to serve myself in the following ways: (1) fall asleep faster, (2) get back into a nightly meditation practice, (3) sleep deeper and more soundly, (4) create time in the morning to do a longer yoga and meditation practice, (5) create time to write a book proposal. In other words, I'm doing it to minimize sleep for the sake of staying healthy while faced with a more demanding schedule, not for the sake of just doing more shit at the cost of my health.
I need to be clear about the importance of sleep for recovery before I go into explaining this meditation. THE most important and simple thing we can do for our recovery (when it comes to lifestyle modifications) is to make sure we get enough sleep. It is the antidote to depression and weight gain, it allows the body to heal and detox and restore itself, it allows the hormonal system to rebalance itself, and a few hundred other things. In recovery, I've slept like I have never slept in my life. After quitting pot and cigarettes and my job, from May 2014 to August 2015, I was a bear for stretches of time. Not by choice, but simply because I had to listen to my body. It stopped letting me get away with dragging it around after me. So, if you are in early recovery, or if your body is screaming at you to stop, I urge you to heed its call. Let it rest. Don't rail against it. Come back to this meditation when your body is is more repaired, and use this meditation in a way that serves you in times where you can't get a full night's sleep.
Now, to the meditation. It comes from the book Sacred Therapies by David Shannahoff-Khalsa. I do it immediately before bed because it makes me pass out (like immediately into dead sleep). It is said to increase the time spent in stage 4 NREM Sleep (Stage 4 Non-Rapid Eye Movement) which is the deepest level and most restorative stage of sleep - this is where the blood supply to muscles increases, where energy is restored, where tissue growth and repair occurs, and where hormones are released. In my experience, during times of using this meditation, I fall asleep immediately, heavily, and don't wake until about 5 minutes before my alarm, and don't snooze. I awake more refreshed, energized, and clear-headed. I find how I feel using this meditation and getting about 6 hours of sleep to be superior to how I feel when I get my usual 7.5-8 and snooze three or four times in the morning. I also sleep heavier, meaning I don't wake up during the night.
The meditation is said to be able to decrease sleep to 3 hours a night, but I have never found that to be true. I have at most decreased my sleep to 4 hours, and currently, I'm decreasing it to 6 hours, and I'll continue it for forty days this time, until around the first week of December when I hit a deadline.
Lastly, I will note that this meditation came in SUPER HANDY for me when I quit pot. I had used pot or alcohol to fall asleep for almost 15 years, and when I quit alcohol, I became heavily dependent on pot to fall asleep. I used this meditation for about two weeks leading up to my pot quit and a few weeks after (January 2014 + February 2014), and it helped me in two distinct ways: (1) to fall asleep faster and (2) to not wake up in the middle of the night (as I was used to waking up at around 3 or 4 and smoking pot to get back to sleep). I never experienced extreme insomnia like many do when becoming completely sober, and I do credit this kundalini meditation with part of that (though I did many other things to help me sleep soundly).
KUNDALINI MEDITATION TECHNIQUE TO DEEPEN, SHORTEN, AND INDUCE EFFICIENT SLEEP.
TUNE IN. Tune in with the Adi Mantra (Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo x3 - see video here for demo).
SIT. Easy Position (legs folded).
MUDRA (hand position). The hands are in ghyan mudra (index fingertip touching the pad of the thumb tip). The palms face up (see picture below). The tips of the Mercury (little), Sun (ring), and Saturn (middle) fingers touch their respective counterparts on the opposite hand. The Mercury (little) fingers are closest to the face, and you can see the six fingers grouped in their respective backsides, and the Sun (ring) and Saturn (middle) fingers touch only near the sides of their nails at the ends of the fingers. The six fingers point up and out at a 60-degree angle away from the body and are held at the heart-center level, with the elbows touching the ribs at the sides. The hands are about 9-12 inches in front of the body.
EYES. Eyes are open and focused down the nose tip, looking directly at the meeting point where the six fingertips meet. (Lotus drishti - note this will most likely make you feel dizzy at first, this is normal. Go as you can).
BREATH. There is no breathing pattern; the breath will slowly adjust and should not be consciously regulated.
TIME. 11 to 15 minutes. I normally do 12 minutes.
NOTES from David Shannahoff-Khalsa. This meditation can make a person sleepy and should be done immediately before bed for best results. This meditation may lead to bizarre dreams and disrupt sleep patterns for the first 1-3 weeks. Also, visual hallucinations can occur while looking at the fingertips during the practice of this technique. These hallucinations should be ignored and the practitioner should continue with the practice, allowing the extraneous visual images to disappear. Optimal results are achieved by practicing this technique every night for 15 minutes maximum, 90-180 nights in succession.
NOTES from Holly. I've practiced this at most for 50 nights in a row, missing one or two nights. I have found I experienced slight visuals the first few times, but nothing worth noting. I generally fall right to sleep after practicing, and so I have to brush my teeth/get everything ready so I can pass out. I perform this meditation in my bed with a pillow under my seat to make sure my spine is straight. I feel the effects immediately, as in after a few days I am waking up without my alarm at around 3:30am or 4am (I go to bed by 9:30/10pm). My dreams are ALWAYS totally messed up so I have never noticed "increased weirdness" from this practice. I recommend becoming familiar with other Kundalini practices first - go to a class, try one of the other meditations I have listed on my blog (use the search box up top to look for "kundalini") rather than this being your first meditation practice ever. It is a more advanced practice. Start out with the minimum 11 minutes and increase from there. Kundalini is a powerful practice, and it must be respected. Sat nam.