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Dear Jenni: YSP 1:38

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Mental stability also flows from the consciousness in dream and deep sleep.

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 1:38 – Bouanchaud translation

Sleep, sweet sleep. It’s the bane of the shift work. We orient our entire culture around it. Whenever you hear two people greeting each other with “How didja sleep?”, chances are they’re shift workers.

So after 25 years of shift work, I know declare myself to be an unwilling expert on the subject of ‘not enough’ and all manner of sleep disruptions and nocturnal chaos. The idea that yoga should help me sleep is certainly good news; however, in my experiences, there are no number of asanas that will overcome chronic caffeine abuse.

As always, Bouanchaud asks a series of questions around this sutra:

“Do I sleep too much, or too little or well or badly?”

Put me squarely in the “too little, badly” category. I swear a week of good solid rest would probably kill me from the mere shock of the experience. And this ain’t braggin’, folks. I know in this culture there seems to be a whole status thing surrounding how little you sleep. I’m still waiting for the glamorous part of feeling like you’ve been hit by a light truck all the time to kick in. I would love to get more sleep.

Bouanchaud tells us that the deep and dreamless sleep is when we’re in contact with God. The batteries of us are recharged, not only by the physical rest and repair of the body tissues, but we are revitalized by this spiritual encounter. Now that gives one pause to think. Considering how much face time I’ve missed with God over the last quarter century, my cynicism becomes a whole lot more comprehensible.

I know there’s a lot of stock put in dream interpretations in some quarters. Personally, I’m just jealous that some people have dreams worth interpreting. Personally, I think dreams are our mind’s equivalent of taking out the garbage. I don’t believe that they’re meant to have meaning or be particularly insightful. Maybe some people have more profound dreams that what I can muster. Jenni has more useful dreams than I’ve experienced.

Then again, according to Bouanchaud’s take on tall this, once the mind is pacified, dreams will well up from the deep levels of the inner being. This makes for an excellent explanation as to why none of this rings true in my realm of experience. Having a pacified mind is not something I’m accused of possessing on any kind of regular basis.

I did laugh aloud at Bouanchaud’s closing remarks to the commentary: “Don’t we say: “The night brings counsel?”” Its proof positive that Bernard Bouanchaud and I travel in different social circles. In my universe, the night brings many things. Counsel perhaps, right along with drunken bar brawls and all manner of despair.

Something for us all to sleep on. Thanks for reading and Namaste,



About Kate MacKay

I'm a certified Viniyoga teacher, in Fredericton, NB. I was a 9-1-1 operator and emergency services dispatcher for 22 years. Surprisingly, the two worked well together, or as I liked to put it, from the sublime to the ridiculous -- all in a day's work. I'm currently off work as a result of a stress-induced cardiac condition that's thrown a few crimps in my lifestyle. I'm not actively teaching yoga in the classroom right now and probably won't for several more months. That said, this blog is one of the forms of practice I can do and I thank you for joining me in this exploration of all things yoga.

2 responses »

  1. Thanks for making me smile!! I love it, I was soo serious when I sat down with the computer, now I’m smiling πŸ™‚ The first two years of my kids life, I had very interrupted sleep, every night – I turn into monsterwoman – I take my hat of to you night workers, I simply cannot. The kids father has a night shift work as well, and we just couldn’t understand each other. I could be the worst mom ever, during night, always reacting as if I was expected to carry somebody out of a burning building…alarmawake. I’m soo gratefull for my sleep. Before getting kids, 6 hours were a lot, now I need at least 8!! Maybe it’s hormonal changes? How are classes going? love jenni

  2. oh, and one more thing – I thought, like you, hmphd? on the saying β€œThe night brings counsel?”, since I live and love another – problem solving is lighter and brighter during daylight. But reading your text I’m reminded that Bouanchaud is from Mediterranean country, and, my experience of these countries are that the days are intense, full of activity and temperament, everybody hunks the horn all the time πŸ™‚ and during night, when the warmth eases its dominance on the mind, well a peace comes, and I often had some beautiful conversations and meditations and contemplations during Mediterranean nights soothing coolness… Maybe it’s a southern thing? love jenni


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