I’m a bit shy to admit it, but in the past, I’ve experienced night terrors. Several times in the middle of the night, I would wake up in the middle of the night screaming. Eventually, I would settle down, but when I woke up, I never had any memory of the experience. I felt a bit of shame, as if I wasn’t a “good yogi” (whatever that is), and that I wasn’t doing enough to clear my subconscious. But, you know what? Balderdash.
I’m a “good me” (how’s that for a new phrase), and my body is showing me that I need to adjust something in my life. Kundalini Yoga doesn’t make us “perfect.” It simply provides us with an opportunity to rise to and face whatever challenges come onto our path.
Night terrors and nightmares are different things. They are experienced at different stages of the sleep cycle. You cannot wake a person who is having a night terror, even if their eyes are wide open and they seem awake. Nightmares are often recalled, but night terrors fade into amnesia. I’ve never before experienced something like amnesia, a true forgetting of a part of my life. It’s been very odd to go to sleep and wake up having no idea that you’ve been the subject of night-time drama.
Both night terrors and nightmares can relate to stress or improper diet and are more common in children than adults. Whatever the cause, ultimately, it’s an imbalance in brain chemistry, as if the two hemispheres of the brain are out of sync while sleeping (in the case of night terrors) or the subconscious is processing traumatic information (nightmares).
So, to reduce pre-sleeping stress, and to help my body shake off its night terror symptoms, I’m going to practice “The Bedtime Series” and Shabad Kriya. Anne Novak, one of my favorite teachers and the leader of the Spirit Voyage e-course Understand and Heal Pain, teaches the Bedtime Series in the video below. This can help us throw off the stress of the day and get our body chemistry set for proper sleeping. If you are experiencing night terrors or nightmares, try these two powerful techniques!
The Bedtime Series
Shabad Kriya is the quintessential bedtime Kundalini meditation. It is specifically for programming your brain to disconnect from the stresses of the day and go into a deep sleep pattern perfectly.
Yogi Bhajan has given us the following meditation to practice before going to bed. If practiced on a regular basis, once a week or even every night, your sleep will be deep and relaxed. The control of the rhythm of the breath strengthens the nervous system and regenerates the nerves. After a few months, the rhythm of your breath will be subconsciously regulated and eventually you will internally chant the mantra while you are sleeping.
You may wake up to the internal chant of the mantra and hear it in your daily activities. You will think better, work better, share better, and love better. “There cannot be enough praise of the meditation’s effect on the personality. It gives the mind the power to stretch to infinity, promotes radiance, patience, and practical universality.” (Relax and Renew p. 118)
Hand Position: Sit in Easy Pose with a straight spine. Hands are in the lap in Buddha Mudra: palms up, right hand resting on top of left. The thumbs touch and face forward.
Eyes: Focus at the tip of the nose with the eyes about 9/10th closed. There are several ways to facilitate looking at the tip of the nose. Bring your forefinger in front of your face and look at it. Keep looking at the forefinger and slowly bring the forefinger to the tip of the nose.
To facilitate the concentration at the tip of the nose, do the following exercise. Bring the arms out to your sides parallel to the ground, palms up. Do breath of fire for 1-3 minutes. This exercise balances the right and left hemispheres of the brain, which makes it easier to maintain the focus of the two eyes.
The eyes focused at the tip of the nose causes the optic nerves to cross at the third eye. Thus it is easier to bring your mental focus to the third eye while the eyes are directed at the tip of the nose. Both the pineal and the pituitary glands and the area between them are stimulated by this eye posture, which has the effect of breaking old habits and creating new ones.
Breathe and Mantra: Inhale 4 equal parts through the nose, i.e. the inhale is divided into 4 sniffs. Mentally vibrate SA TA NA MA with the four parts of the inhale breath.
Hold the breath and mentally repeat 4 repetitions of SA TA NA MA. This will be 16 counts
SA TA NA MA SA TA NA MA SA TA NA MA SA TA NA MA
Then exhale in 2 equal strokes, mentally projecting WAHE GURU
WAHE GURU means ecstasy. WAHE GURU is the result of integrating SAT NAM into the psyche. When we experience the Truth, we feel ecstasy.
Time: Continue for 11, 15, 22, 31 or even 62 minutes. This meditation will often put you to sleep before you complete the allotted time.
This meditation was originally taught by Yogi Bhajan April 1, 1974.