For the serious Yoga practitioner, even deep sleep isn't a no-man's land. On the contrary, dreamless sleep is a great opportunity for breaking into higher levels of consciousness. After you're able to retain mindful awareness during the dream state, you can extend your awareness to those periods where the mind is devoid of contents. The great Yoga masters are continuously aware throughout the day and the night. They're never unconscious, because they have realized the spirit or Self, which is pure consciousness.
If constant awareness sounds exhausting, consider the deep peacefulness that the Yoga masters are able to achieve. Pure consciousness is the simplest thing in the world. Hence, it's called the natural state, or sahaja-avastha (sah-hah-jah ah-vahst-hah). By comparison, the mind is vastly complicated. Just remember how thinking (especially when you're obsessing over something) can be incredibly exhausting.
In 1969, Swami Rama volunteered to have his yogic abilities tested at the Menninger Foundation in Topeka, Kansas. Among other things, he demonstrated his ability to produce all types of brain waves at will. He remained fully aware even when producing the slow delta waves characteristic of deep sleep. In fact, he was able to remember what happened during his supposed deep sleep much better than did the researchers themselves. Two years later, Swami Rama founded the Himalayan Institute in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, which continues to spread his teachings. Check out the appendix for the Institute's address.
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