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Brandon

Sleep Changes

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Hi, I am wondering if any changes occur with sleep as you advance in your Shamanic practices. For instance, did frequently practicing Shamanic journeying or other altered states of consciousness (including lucid dreaming) make you more/less wakeful throughout the day? Did it increase/decrease the amount of hours you slept each night? If so, were you practicing other techniques alongside it such as meditation? And finally, how long did it take to experience these effects and what is your Shamanism routine? 

Thanks in advance!

Brandon

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There are some practices that affected my sleep, especially the ones that work with dreaming energies. Aside from that learning how to bring my mind into an awake state while staying in a sleep state, this is not a practice from this tradition but something I explored before beginning on this tradition has been a very double edged sword for me. Before learning about the tradition it wasn't so bad, but after learning some of the practices my ability to be present with my mind while in a dreaming state has been really expanded. If I want to do some work where I can use my mind, but also have looser connections, similar to the brain processing information in the diffuse state, it's really benefited me being able to gain access to those looser connections and move my mind in ways that are more creative and novel.

At the same time it's been very draining when I have some pervasive negative thoughts and I carry them into my dreams because I am able to maintain presence of mind. Sometimes I have breakthroughs in thought patterns in the dreaming realm and other times it's like having nightmares where you are half awake and half asleep. The woes of the day are added to my nightmare and they become something much more frightening. There are practices within this tradition that I've learned that I know that I could use to overcome this problem, but I haven't gotten around to reshaping the situation quite yet because there are also the benefits that I am getting which is allowing breakthroughs in being able to perceive things about myself that I was not aware of.

 

On the note of being more of less wakeful during the day, what I've found is it depends on a lot of variables. Overall though, I've found my ability to choose whether I want to be in a wakeful state of being or a sleepy state of being is now more of a choice than it is a consequence. For example by stalking out the energetic state of being that caffeine has on your body you can choose to recreate that state or one that is similar with dulled consequences to be in a more wakeful state. I can remove/reshape/create beliefs freely that would influence my experience of how wakeful I am. Though it may not give me more sleep and my body may be just as tired, I am now capable of choosing how I react to the sensations of drowsiness and how much those sensations will play a role in my ability to be awake/present/etc.

 

The number of hours I sleep at night hasn't really been affected except when I'm doing a lot of specific practices in the tradition. As for practicing techniques from other modalities, I'm a bit of a syncretist so I have combined a number of traditions including Christianity, Islam, Mormonism, Buddhism, Yogic Traditions, Mindfulness, Etc into my day to day life, so it's hard to say which specific tradition is play which specific role in how I've arrived at what exactly I'm doing in a give moment.

 

As for how long it takes to take effect it's totally dependent on which practices you are doing and how much of them you are doing in a given day as well as how sleep deprived you are from day to day. For example I've gone on 12 day meditation retreats where I've been meditating for over 10 hours in a day and what I found is for the first few days I still slept a lot, but after that I would just lie awake at night and meditate because I wasn't tired. If I just meditate for ten minutes every day the effects may feel negligible but can be pretty profound. Similarly if I do some of the practices in this tradition more heavily they will definitely affect my experience of natural sleep patterns, but it depends on which practices and how much of those practices I am doing.

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Hey Brandon, 

Like Alex said there are practices within this tradition that deal specifically with the dreaming body/dreaming energy, and working with them can definitely change your sleeping patterns or the way you dream. How much energy you expend on any of these shamanic practices can also affect your overall energy, sometimes it can be energizing sometimes it can be draining. Recapitulation can oftentimes help resolve disruptive sleeping patterns like insomnia, nightmares, or recurring dreams. 

In general my sleeping patterns still fluctuate depending on what I’m working on from day to day, how much my physical body needs to recuperate, and whether I’m bringing specific intents to my sleeping or dreaming. Sleep is the natural doorway to dreaming energy which in itself has a lot of potential. 
 

Alex gave you good answers to the rest of your question. Everyone is different so there won’t be any rules to what you will or won’t experience. 

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Thank you so much Alex and Cammie for your responses! They are very helpful. Being able to harness immense creativity during dreams is amazing, and so is being able to control your wakefulness! I'm especially interested in techniques that reduce the need for sleep, but without sacrificing attention, cognition, and health of course. Apparently, meditation is supposed to decrease sleep need, especially when done for at least a couple hours a day for a few years. Two studies (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2919439/) (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4054695/) have discussed how meditation can promote wakefulness and decrease hours of sleep. On the other hand, I can't find any scholarly information on whether shamanic practices can do something similar, which is why I asked. Both Buddhism and Shamanism emphasize heightened awareness during sleep, so it seems like a promising question. Also, shamanic journeys have similarities with meditation and lucid dreaming, as this article (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23311908.2017.1313522) discusses. Shamanism already does grant superhuman abilities, but the ability to sleep less and stay healthy and sharp, all while being creative during shamanic journeying would be spectacular. Maybe sleep time could be decreased via Shamanism without having to meditate 10 hours a day. Are there any ideas on Shamanic activities that promote wakefulness like the ones Alex mentioned?

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4 hours ago, Brandon said:

I'm especially interested in techniques that reduce the need for sleep, but without sacrificing attention, cognition, and health of course. Apparently, meditation is supposed to decrease sleep need, especially when done for at least a couple hours a day for a few years.

I think when you look at the physiological aspect of sleep and what purpose it serves you will see that it basically helps repair the physical body. For instance REM sleep has been linked to cleaning out the “plaque” in the brain leading to better cognitive functioning. I’ve heard/read that deep mediation puts brain activity into the same state as REM so that is probably why if you’re mediating for a few hours a day you may need less sleep. Taking care of your physical body by eating well, not drinking alcohol, exercising,  etc..as well as taking care of your mental and emotional state all promote better sleep and then probably the need for less of it. So how much your physical body needs to sleep is really dependent on how healthy it is and your personal internal clock. 

4 hours ago, Brandon said:

Maybe sleep time could be decreased via Shamanism without having to meditate 10 hours a day. Are there any ideas on Shamanic activities that promote wakefulness like the ones Alex mentioned?


I’m not exactly sure why you are looking at shamanism to decrease your hours of sleep but yes there are practices that promote wakefulness and personally I’ve had experiences of being very energized during waking hours after I’ve had dreaming body experiences. The catch is I’ve had to sleep to have the experiences in the first place :) On another more practical note if there is something you particularly love doing you will find that it energizes you, whether that is writing, art, gardening, theoretical math equations, whatev....

Not sure if you’ve had any classes at the cave but the first place most people generally start is recapitulation. The technique is described here: https://www.shamanscave.com/self-healing/the-recapitulation You can quite easily recap pretty much anything, even feelings of fatigue or sleepiness. You can use the technique to recap when you’ve felt tired and when you’ve felt energized/wakeful and see what you come up for you. Personally I think that’s the best place to start to know your own energy. Recap also brings back your energy from places and people that you’ve left it so in that sense you will have more energy for the things you want to spend it on. 
 

Good luck!

-c

 

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Decreasing sleep time is a bad idea. You need sleep for a lot of reasons. Lack of sleep, or reducing sleep, will decrease your physical and mental ability to deal with illnesses. Intentionally staying awake at the expense of sleep is a good way to drive yourself insane, and not in a good way.

If I may be so bold, it seems you see sleep as a negative thing, or lost time, or something. I'm not sure. Sleep and dreaming time is very meaningful, especially to shamanic path seekers. It can be deeply shamanic. In fact, some of our most shamanic experiences can be deeply in sleep - trying to force wakefulness into dreaming in a western consciousness sense goes against the shamanic approach. The goal of shamanic dreaming is not waking up into consciousness or "awakeness", but into waking up into awareness. An expansive movement, rather than "thinking". Very different things.

Sorry if that sounds blunt. :)

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On 4/16/2020 at 3:09 PM, Brandon said:

Thank you so much Alex and Cammie for your responses! They are very helpful. Being able to harness immense creativity during dreams is amazing, and so is being able to control your wakefulness! I'm especially interested in techniques that reduce the need for sleep, but without sacrificing attention, cognition, and health of course. Apparently, meditation is supposed to decrease sleep need, especially when done for at least a couple hours a day for a few years. Two studies (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2919439/) (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4054695/) have discussed how meditation can promote wakefulness and decrease hours of sleep. On the other hand, I can't find any scholarly information on whether shamanic practices can do something similar, which is why I asked. Both Buddhism and Shamanism emphasize heightened awareness during sleep, so it seems like a promising question. Also, shamanic journeys have similarities with meditation and lucid dreaming, as this article (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23311908.2017.1313522) discusses. Shamanism already does grant superhuman abilities, but the ability to sleep less and stay healthy and sharp, all while being creative during shamanic journeying would be spectacular. Maybe sleep time could be decreased via Shamanism without having to meditate 10 hours a day. Are there any ideas on Shamanic activities that promote wakefulness like the ones Alex mentioned?

Yeah, meditation can affect sleep greatly and there are Yogis who are capable of not sleeping, allegedly, but everything comes at cost in the sense that they have to live a lifestyle dedicated to it. My experience of manipulating myself into unnatural positions in a hacky kind of way where I'm trying to min/max my own self has been that it always creates unforeseen costs around my own motivations for doing so. It kind of expands the motivations in a way that can be pretty unhealthy. While I've done some really cool things TO myself, if I could go back I would pursue things more holistically, because I'm finding that the amount of work I'm having to do to take care of those unforeseen costs really piled up when I wasn't looking. Short answer, yeah it's possible, but why do you want to do it? What underlying intents are you carrying out by doing so? I've definitely extensively explored a lot of stuff around what people are capable of as human beings and have yet to find an end to it all. Nonetheless nothing I've done has been more meaningful than reclaiming my own energy that I've put into things across a number of domains, emotional, physical, mental, spiritual, psychological, etc. What allowed me to be wakeful so freely was not any specific exercise I've done, but the work I've done to reclaim my energy for myself.

21 hours ago, Karl said:

Decreasing sleep time is a bad idea. You need sleep for a lot of reasons. Lack of sleep, or reducing sleep, will decrease your physical and mental ability to deal with illnesses. Intentionally staying awake at the expense of sleep is a good way to drive yourself insane, and not in a good way.

If I may be so bold, it seems you see sleep as a negative thing, or lost time, or something. I'm not sure. Sleep and dreaming time is very meaningful, especially to shamanic path seekers. It can be deeply shamanic. In fact, some of our most shamanic experiences can be deeply in sleep - trying to force wakefulness into dreaming in a western consciousness sense goes against the shamanic approach. The goal of shamanic dreaming is not waking up into consciousness or "awakeness", but into waking up into awareness. An expansive movement, rather than "thinking". Very different things.

Sorry if that sounds blunt. :)

This, so much this! I don't really seek to affect my sleeping patterns in the sense of trying to sleep less or manipulate how awake I am during the day except just for short term experimentation. I find sleep to be vitally important in a number of ways physically (as Cammie mentioned), spiritually (as Karl mentioned), emotionally, and mentally. I was tempted by this idea of maximizing wakefulness way back when as well, but I've realized as time pass, as Karl eluded to, that there are other interesting things to play with using your time and energy.

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