UNWORLDING...the art form formerly known as "out-of-body-experience," "astral travel," "lucid dreaming," "phasing," "the quick switch," etc.


(a blog post which will eventually be added to my book Unworlding)

Sweet gentle sleep
Soothe and refresh me
Weary am I
of this life
And my fortune
Black velvet night
Do envelope me
Falling am I
like a star
In a dark swoon

      --Donovan Leitch, "Sleep"

Think back to your earliest memory of falling asleep uncontrollably when you or someone else wanted you to be awake. For example, the time when I was four or five and I wheedled my dad into taking me to a movie, and then fought sleep the whole time. I had badly wanted to see this movie, but some force even greater than my desire to watch the movie kept pushing me under. I kept shaking myself awake, but it was no use. My dad told me to stop torturing myself and let go; he had to tell me later how the movie ended.

Relatedly, think about those times when falling asleep was such a beautiful, warm experience that you wanted to stretch it out and make it last forever. For me, that would be coming home from a family outing at night, tired and happy, wedged into the front seat between my parents. The warm, happy, tired sleepiness was so... so... warm and happy, I wanted to bathe in that feeling forever. As a child insomniac who normally fidgeted in a lonely bed for hours every single night, being wedged between my parents in the car seat at night and feeling myself going to sleep uncontrollably was the most ecstasy I could ever hope for. Ironically, I wanted to stay awake to experience it.

This machine of sleep, or suction of sleep, or sleep engine, is easily recognized by its characteristic of having more influence over you than you have over yourself. The sort of sleep engine mentioned above was a function of childish helplessness. It's equivalent to an addiction, because at the core of any addiction is pleasure easily gained. A child who can't stop tossing and turning and just float off to sleep is as unhappy as any junkie without his fix, while a child who drifts off to sleep effortlessly is as happy as a pig in a mudhole. The core of his happiness is the feeling of life's constrictions falling away. Some part of him knows he is fixin' to fly free of "Don't do this, don't do that, brush your teeth, comb your hair, read your book, wipe your nose, clean your room, get a degree," etc.

As former children, we are hopelessly addicted to unconsciousness. Nothing feels better than to forget. Have you ever noticed that a five-minute nap can make your day? Like a reboot, you wake up with a new brain. It's not how long you're gone; it's just the act of getting completely gone, making a clean break and starting over fresh. It cleans the sludge out of the filter.

As unworlders we want to build a sleep engine that allows us to dwell at the edge of sleep indefinitely. It is here, with one foot in dreamland and one foot in the real world, that we learn the ropes. Everybody has a sleep engine. Everybody's sleep engine is different and everybody's sleep engine is different for him each time he lets it put him out. Not out of his body; out of his misery! Sleep is a little death, and a big relief. Without it we would lose sanity quickly and death would not be far behind. It is absolutely essential to our well-being. The integrity of solid-world reality dissolves readily when mixed with a generous portion of sleeplessness.

When I was sixteen I still had habitual insomnia, on top of the other pressures of being in an adult body crammed full of teenage hormones and topped off with the mind of a near child. I was in love with a girl who had found Jesus and this certainly didn't help me sleep. I'd given up Christianity years earlier. I was one depressed puppy. And year after year, I had lacked sleep. It built up finally to the point where a new sleep engine literally built itself. The old one had wrecked when I was an infant and I had just lived without a sleep engine through my entire childhood.

I recall lying in bed in the wee hours, miserable and desperate for sleep, when in a final rebellion of all-out desperation, my mind just shut down. The catalog of mental and emotional crap that was bothering me just spontaneously combusted itself. I saw an impossible light outside the window; impossible unless there was an intruder in our back yard with a flashlight. I'll never know if it was an intruder in real life or one of those sleep paralysis intruders. Due to the various pressures I was under, I decided it was an angel, experienced a religious conversion, and prayed myself to sleep in minutes. I had not prayed voluntarily... ever. And I still don't. Fortunately, I was cured of Christianity less than two years later.

This experience relates how my new sleep engine created itself out of thin air and out of whatever other lean resources were available to me. I could not have done this with my conscious mind, but after sixteen years of misery, I was permanently cured of insomnia by an automatically sent emergency signal to my remote mind. Cured instantly forever, knock on wood, by the part of me that knows me better than I know myself.

Now. How would one go about building a custom sleep engine on purpose? As budding unworlders, we want to turn some things up and turn some things down, we want to replace some burned up parts and we want to jazz some things up. A few chrome-plated gizmos might be in order. A lot of weightsome junk might be better off in the trash. A general cleaning and maybe some spray paint wouldn't hurt. Basically, like a dude with an engine fetish, we want to become deeply interested in every nut and bolt in that engine. We want to carefully evaluate the effect of anything we try as we tweak and customize and fine-tune every facet of the engine. I had a friend once, who weighed 80 pounds as an adult and owned a muscle car. It wasn't good enough for him; he kept talking about wanting to "blueprint" his engine. No expense was too great, nothing was too much trouble; his engine needed him, and he needed his engine.

That dude was supposed to die of muscular dystrophy at the age of 21, and now that he's 60 he's been a highly successful Hollywood art director for quite some time. He put an ordinary architecture degree to good use. We want his persistence, his vision, his love and passion for the pursuit of his chosen dreams. If you want unworlding, care enough for your interest to want it with every fiber of your being.

Next time the suction of sleep calls you and you cannot help but listen, lie down in a relatively uncomfortable posture and carefully watch yourself fall asleep against your will, as slowly as possible. Listen to that sound in your head. Watch that ball of light off to the side. Really, really experience that unexpected sensation of motion; grab it and ride it somewhere. You never know, anything can happen. But don't get emotional about it, don't be miserable, wishing for some unworlding experience. The experience you seek will find you when you and it are vibrating at the same frequency. Enjoy the practice, and while you're at it, enjoy it a lot.

And next time you have an hour or two to kill before bedtime, do it in bed. An extra hour or two of sleep [earthquake while typing this... means I just fell asleep in a parallel reality... means I'll have awesome lucid dreams tonight]... an hour or two of extra sleep, while you notice everything that passes across the screen of your inner vision, because that's how much you care, tells your dream engine... how much you care. It means you can go to sleep before you get sleepy, and watch carefully, observing all the stages of sleep, inventing new ones if you have to, just to make the process more interesting and personable. You don't have to wish and pine for a great unworlding experience and it wouldn't do any good if you did. Build one.

Better yet, build the engine that can create unworldings reliably and regularly. One nut and one bolt at a time, with no worries about whether or not you get it right the first time, or the second time, or the umpteenth time. You do it because you want to, oh so much. And remember to change the oil often.