Jagrat is waking consciousness (previous email). Svapna is dreaming consciousness (previous email). Sushupti is unconsciousness or dreamless sleep. When you understand sushupti, alongside jagrat and svapna, you will understand the yogi's immortality.

When we think of dreamless sleep we think there is no consciousness, something like turning off the lights. The room is still there, the furniture, the walls, the floor, what has dissolved is the light that illuminates the space. That's how you rationalize a room going dark, correct? The yogi inverts this, believing when we sleep deeply we are still there, awake within ourselves, it is reality that has dissolved. It's as if instead of turning off the lights we dissolved all the furniture and walls of this imagined room. When there is nothing for the light of our consciousness to bounce off of all we can perceive is emptiness. This easily flows into our philosophies of death and mortality which are cornerstones of yoga. When some think of death they think that life is turned off. Death, to the yogi, is the turning off of the body and the brain, the ego and the heart, but not of consciousness. Meditation in this sense can be perceived as a death. Everything is turned off except consciousness. Sushupti is not unconsciousness because consciousness can never turn off. The light never turns off. The self never dies. Dreamless sleep is simply this; you are conscious of nothing rather than being unconscious, rather than becoming nothing. You are still "awake" in deep, dreamless sleep but you are awake to the void! It is such a romantic notion that you are forever awake. Eternal wakefulness is the practical goal of meditation. You are working to always remain awake in all phases of consciousness and by understanding the three branches of consciousness this wakefulness becomes more achievable.

This nothingness is actually a familiar space to all of us. Think about when you are half awake, before you have to get out of bed, before your ego has fully arisen to remind you of who you are and what you need to do. That zone is sushupti, partially. If you're familiar with meditating think about the times you couldn't tell if you were awake or asleep. That zone is also sushupti, partially.

While these spaces are not pure sushupti, pitch black sleep is. In that pitch black sleep, you are aware of that comforting blackness only in hindsight, after you wake up. It takes a practiced mind to sense sushupti and it can only be sensed when it is partially manifested. This abyss of formlessness is a mental space where no ego can exist, where no intentions, desires or fears can reach.

To understand sushupti, which is the third layer of consciousness, reframe your idea of deep sleep. "I am conscious of nothing but I am always conscious." That means you are actually awake 24 hours a day. Once you agree with this it will help you associate yourself as not only consciousness but eternal consciousness. Not even death touches this sort of consciousness. When someone is untouched by death they are embraced by life! This is the miracle of yogic belief and the victory of meditation. Is it literal? I wouldn't say that. It is more an attitude. Could it be true? Of course, it could be true. It is best, however, to approach this as an extravagant idea. Think about it playfully. Once sushupti settles into you, that playfulness turns into amazement."I am eternally awake as empty consciousness!" We are all imagining the dreams of our lives anyway. The emptiness of sushupti consciousness turns into egolessness. With less concern for our identity, we are more able to perceive the world for what it is rather than what we want it to be. Sushupti is a tutoring in embrace, at the end.

The progression of consciousness from jagrat (waking consciousness), svapna (dream state), and sushupti all allow the meditator to better understand ego-death by progressively associating to formlessness rather than form. From an "I am" mentality the yogi shifts to an "I am not." Meditation is dissociative. It is reductive. It is a great simplifying. Sushupti is the final reduction. Once you associate as empty consciousness the process runs full circle. Like a flower blooming, no petal resisting the sun, you can embrace the world through the five senses completely. Isn' that what you imagined meditation to be? Sushupti is the open period at the end of this process.

To meditate on sushupti try to listen to the silence underneath sound or focus on the neutrality of scent in the air or the neutrality of the taste of saliva. You are trying to sense nothingness. Pick one of those and meditate for a few minutes. Other experiences of sushupti are the crown techniques of meditation; stillness and silence. Stillness and silence are all you ever really needed, by the way. These, of course, are symbolic experiences of sushupti but they are helpful because sushupti is literally dreamless sleep which can only be studied in hindsight. When you meditate you are literally in jagat. But a day will come if you practice, where you will sense all three layers of consciousness at once. Waking life will feel like a dream and underneath it all, you will sense a great peace, a great emptiness. That will be a good day!