Do This Before Waking

There is a country with exceedingly fuzzy borders we all traverse and meander about each night between definitely awake and definitely not awake. Dream state consciousness researchers call this fluctuating interim the hypnogogic condition. But there is also hypogogia: the transition phase between not yet awake and awake every morning. An equally evasive experience, but easier to empirically study on one’s own, I find. Whoever explores this persistently can more easily catch pictures of how altered consciousness looks, because the mental energy is increasing and refreshed in the mornings as opposed to night times. It is a matter of building technique…

1 Avoid alarm clocks of any kind. Create conditions where you wake up ‘naturally’.

2 Try this when sleeping alone, preferably.

3 Set some intention the night before upon going to sleep. Remind yourself that you wish to become more observant, more experiential, more engaged around the transition to wakefulness the following morning.

4 If you have a spiritual bent, and are not simply proceeding ‘scientifically’, then imagine conscious beings are receiving your intention/request and carry comeradely feelings towards them. Invite help. But remain rigorous about the task, not spacey or dreamy or whimsical.

5 Be persistent. Expect little or no detectable results at first but do not let this dampen your inquisitive enthusiasm. Picture the story as you learning to grasp fleeting sensations which you lack the skill to normally observe, rather than waiting upon a fabulous revelation. Think: I will do this one month!

6 It is okay to have a morning window uncurtained if you like. But pay attention to what happens before you open your eyes. You should notice gradually that hearing definitely awakens first, before seeing. Living through this realization is already a tiny victory.

7 Gradually — savor and deepen this interlude where consciousness is returning towards the sensory world, the ‘tyranny’ of the sense impressions. Real world sounds invade first; not real world visuals.

8 Live into, if you can, the opposite of the feeling of imposed sensory tyranny I mentioned above. There is an elusive impression of freedom within the purely inner experiencing not yet sculpted or oriented by sense impressions.

9 Again, gradually — strive to notice what was going on — what was your consciousness experiencing — the moment before external hearing started to arouse you from sleep or dreaming or something else. Carry the question: wait a minute, what was just happening a few instants ago?

10 The feeling or perception you are after is: Hmmm. Normally my memory access kicks in quite strongly as soon as sense inputs flood inwards to my soul. (Observe this! Important you don’t merely take it as fact.) But there is a subtler kind of memory which is operating pre-sensorily. It can let you travel backwards to some previous state.

11 Play around with observing other senses. When, in what sequence, do they usually kick in? Touch, temperature or warmness detection. Smell and taste, the feeling of bodily condition or health. (This is a very interesting one… there is a universal well-beingness before this sense awakens, regardless of age. It is like existing aphysically.) Also orientation. The detection of how and where you are positioned on the bed or in the room.

12 If you eventually persist enough, you can get clearer memory experiences or even direct present moment experiences of completely pre-sensory pre-waking conscious occurrences: ‘sleeping’ life. Observe these as many mornings as you can. Try to notice or ask: what is dreaming and what is something else, pre-dreaming?

13 Explore how you apprehend such experiences. Are they mimicing sense perceptions? Entirely? Are colors present, vivid, imagined or perceived? Do you know things immediately concerning situations you might be in with other people you happen to be experiencing? How do you know their thoughts and intentions? Can you steer events? Can you objectify any experienced emotions? Experiment and play. Are your moral impulses the same as in real life or different? Is your conscience operating?

14 This is but a beginning. You are free to go further. If you have a spiritual bent, radiate wonder and gratitude for these new perspectives. I am quite curious what others might find along these lines.


[ Image : detail from a painting of a hypnogogic perception by Ryan Hurd ] (link)

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  1. woah, your thoughts at all levels of your subconscious are deeper than I would ever try attempt to estimate. — p.s. I am not sure our dream/sleep states are based on spiritual awareness (conscious or sub).


    1. Hi Steph. Just so we’re clear here, I am not speaking about trying to estimate or theorize anything. These exercises are experiential. 100% empirical. Or else they would be worthless. Most of life we simply do not pay attention to the transition towards waking up… and interesting things reveal themselves if we do.

      And I am not sure how your PS comments fits in here. I did not speak in terms of ‘spiritual awareness’ about anything; the only mention of ‘spiritual’ was in connection with those who feel comforable conceiving of the underlying reality of the world being manifested due to the deeds of spiritual beings. But this comfort level is not necessary to do any of the experiment steps. You can, and I think should, approach it pretty matter-of-factly if you wish to try them.

      As always, your comments delight me!


      1. How do you figure? I mean it like this (from web dictionary): EMPIRICAL: “based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.” If you experience something, you have empirical evidence of it. Maybe you mean that you don’t trust your experience?

  2. least not in my case. more like my past and my fears continuously haunt me when i am sleeping or semi-asleep…because they refuse to budge out of my neurons…


    1. Is that where they are? Your fears In your neurons? I doubt this. Fears and emotions are not physical thigs; they cannot inhabit neurons, which are physical. Of course — you may be speaking figuratively 🙂

      I am sorry your experience is that negative feelings ‘refuse’ to leave your consciousness alone while resting. That is extremely interesting. I would love to help improve that situation.

      But I think regardless of what the actual content of one’s consciousness is during sleep-wake transition periods, one can still experiment with observing the subtle transitioning processes happening during these times. And this is what the post is about. And it leads somewhere — else.

      The sunrise happens. And it can be observed to beneficial effect regardless of what part of the earth you are in, or what is going on in that region. So: not about content. About process.


      1. Tis my subconscious they wont leave alone. I think you might b of help; what do you propose? Maybe an exorcism or some type of mystic cleansing? there’s a big load of demons to kill. just warning.

      2. That would be a private discussion, of necessity. But no — no exorcisms. No mysticism. You would become in charge of your subconscious. I could have no worthwhile proposals without talking in detail about the problem. 🙂

  3. This is quite intriguing, but you must be really calm and in a good state of mind to get started and go through it. Ideally, during a vacation.

    Thanks for sharing! ☺


    1. That’s an interesting point you notice. Someone else mentioned difficulties around inner turmoil. You must be right, but I guess I am just in a relatively calm phase of late. 🙂 You remind me of something else I can say, about travelling. I used to notice that very often when I was on vacation or somewhere unusual, the character of my dreams would change. They would lose their routine quality and refer further into my past. They would suddenly feature personalities from deep in youth or childhood, and in general would feel much more ‘instructive’ as if I should somehow pay more attention or feel it more. Often even minor characters I’d forgotten.

      Anyway thanks much for reading and commenting. 🌺✨


  4. That’s a great place to be in! I guess calm comes gradually. Now that you mention it, I believe you are right.

    I didn’t consider it because, after all, you’re on vacation and trying to relax, forget about stressful issues, and simply be. I don’t normally have many dreams over the holidays, but that changes when I’m at home and juggling various tasks during the week.

    When I have a good night’s sleep, I know I’ll dream about something, and this may be transformed if I’m wearing a stone that enhances this power, the dreams are more vivid and I remember everything clearly.

    Of course, thanks for sharing! ✨


  5. Thanks. Fascinating. I tend to ask a question that has been bothering me just before falling asleep – it mostly works for me.
    Re: dreams, which vanish so quickly, I sometimes place my head back to the position I woke up in, which help me catch the last dream – something to do with the memory of place.


    1. What you say is interesting about memory of place, or position. I have attributed it to partially regaining the non-awake state (when your head goes back to the pillow) but maybe you are right. 🙂


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