Lying on your back, take a few deep breaths and relax. See a yellow cube within your lowest chakra, it is the Earth within your body. Slowly the cube crumbles apart; as it breaks Earth leaves the body. Your joints grow stiff and your body feels heavy, and you feel as if you could not move if you tried. The cube crumbles apart completely leaving nothing behind. In the centre above the root see a white sphere, the Water within your body. Slowly the sphere evaporates, as it does so Water leaves the body. Your heart slows as the Water leaves, the blood slows, and the mouth relaxes and dries. The sphere evaporates until nothing is left. In the centre above see a red tetrahedron, the Fire within your body. The pyramid cracks, drifting apart like sparks from a fire, as it does the Fire leaves your body. The heart slows even more, and the internal heat of the body dissipates leaving a chill in the bones. The tetrahedron sparks until there is no trace of it. In the centre above see a green bowl, the Air within your body. Slowly the bowl wisps away like dry sand caught in the wind, as this happens Air leaves your body. As Air leaves your body your breathing slows down and grows shallow. The last vestige of the bowl is blown away.
The above is a really simple meditation I’ve been doing before bed for the last month and a bit. My Lama was discussing dream phenomena in passing a while back, which led to a conversation about dreams, dream yoga, magickal use of dreams, and lucid dreams. I mentioned that dreams have always been a challenge for me, little recall, and little control, not much of use for me. I had to make a construct a few years ago to help me finally remember my dreams, and she works wonders -as long as I remember to call her before I sleep.
My Lama suggested that I may be too attached to my body, not in the traditional Buddhist sense, but a physical grounding/attachment, and that my mind is trapped in the physical arena when I sleep. I agree, I’ve had personal experiences to confirm this, and my Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor told me the same thing years ago. Based on this advice my Lama gave me the above meditation to do before bed, I’ve been doing it for different reasons for probably two years now, but never before bed.
The basic theory behind the meditation is twofold. First off, the body is composed of, and contains the four elements, and these elements are rooted in the four lowest chakras. From the bottom up they contain Earth, Water, Fire, and Air; the order starts with the most solid to the least. Interestingly enough, this order is the same across most yoga traditions, even if the chakras are not, so in a tradition that has five centres for example Fire moves from the Solar Plexus to the Heart, same order just a different placement. Secondly, as the body goes to sleep it goes through the same process it goes through at death, but not to the same degree. That process is described most famously in the Bardo Thodol, and involves the elements dissolving in the body, like the meditation above.
Since I’ve been performing this meditation my dreams have been easier to recall, more vivid (even when they are boring dreams about analyzing poetry for meter, rhyme, feet, and rhythm), more numerous, and I even fall asleep quicker. It is too early to say what benefit I’m getting, but I am noticing results. Since the meditation is very simple and not based on an esoteric teaching I thought I’d share it here for other people to try out. It is a safe practice, the body goes through the dissolution and reintegration of the elements on a daily basis, just some of us need a bit more help. When you wake up in the morning the elements reconstitute within the body, you’re not in danger of loosening yourself too much through this. I just run through this meditation when I lay down for bed, and often drift off right afterwards, sometimes I repeat it, and if I still don’t fall asleep I just stay there, relaxed. It’s a simple practice but helpful.