I’ve been curious for a while now — ever since I first ran and meditated — what the differences and similarities are between the two. Sleeping is something I had experience with from an early age. But sleeping too seemed to have similarities and differences with running and meditation.
For example, when you run, you often feel a certain kind of mental clarity afterwards, which is similar to the mental clarity that meditation can bring — a sort of peeling away of layers of the unimportant. Sleep can do the same thing. If you’re well rested, you are much more likely to brush aside the inconsequential. At least for me, when I haven’t slept enough, I often find myself getting caught up in little things that don’t matter so much, or spending extra time spinning my wheels.
I recently found something I’d scribbled on a slip of paper: “Sleep is a form of meditation. Meditation is not a form of sleep.”
That made me think. Could that possibly be true — that sleep is a form of meditation? One thing that people associate with meditation is an expanded sense of awareness. In this sense, meditation could not be said to be a form of sleep. But back to the original question: is sleep a form of meditation?
Yes, I think so. It’s a time for the layers of life to be tossed and turned, like the making of a samurai blade or baklava, but instead of a sword or a pastry, the end result being dreams. Each dream takes layers of life, folded over and pressed down upon themselves, to form a new story.
But what’s really happening in that formulation: “an x is a y, but a y is not an x”?
Let’s take a closer look at that expression which often confused the heck out of me, and still does sometimes, to be honest:
“A square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not necessarily a square.”
Okay… so we have an addition, “necessarily.” Maybe that’s what I meant:
“Sleep is a form of meditation, but meditation is not necessarily a form of sleep.”
The square/rectangle expression has to do with categories. “Rectangle” is the category for things that have four sides at right angles to each other. “Square” is the category for things that have four sides at right angles to each other — so yep, a square is a rectangle — with the added condition that each side length is equal.
Okay, there we go. So, comparing the two expressions, if the one I formulated about sleep and meditation is correct, then it would mean that meditation includes sleep, because it is a broader category. Sleep would be a special kind of thing. Not only would it have the qualities of meditation, but it would have some extra qualities that are particular to itself.
Okay, now I’m lost. Maybe what I wrote is useless. Maybe it should be flipped the other way around, so that meditation is a form of sleep, except that seems even more incorrect… so until I figure out better what sleep is, and what meditation is, then all of this is moot.
Thanks for listening. Time to take a nap. (Research.)