I have been trying to observe what comes into my mind at the mid-point between going to sleep and being awake. In that vague and abstract place, thoughts unfamiliar and illuminating have come to me. Many creative people keep a pen and paper by their beds every night for when this mental event brings itself into their awareness. However, what is this state and why is it so significant for so many creative people?
I began to investigate into this phenomenon. It became apparent that as you lose consciousness, your mind becomes closer and closer to your subconscious mind. For example, the author Robert Louis Stevenson used to ask his subconscious mind to evolve stories for him while he slept. Whenever his bank account was low, he would ask his subconscious mind to gift him with a good, marketable book. He said that this inner mind gave him complete books in small snippets, which he then put together and published.
Likewise, the recently successfully Japanese comic book creator, Hajime Isayama, who created the vastly popular manga series Attack on Titan, attributed all of his ideas as coming to him at a period every night he called ‘Super Enlightenment Time’: “When I’m half awake, just before I drift off to sleep, my mind gets flooded with information… subconsciously…”.
Is this true? Does the veil between the unconscious and the conscious becomes less dense in this state? Can writers and artists channel their art from this strange mind?
In his book The Power of the Subconscious Mind, Dr Joseph Murphy writes: “Within the subconscious depths lie infinite wisdom, infinite power, and infinite supply of all that is necessary, which is waiting for development and expression… Though invisible, its forces are mighty… you will find the solution for every problem, and the cause for every effect.”
This inner power has also been hinted at in psychology and mysticism. Carl Jung introduced the idea that all beings have both a personal and a shared mind in their ‘collective unconsciousness’. In the traditions of mysticism, this collective unconscious is called ‘the astral plane’ – a place where every single thought that any human has ever had exists.
This plane of existence can be touched upon and manipulated through the imagination. As certain mystic traditions state, humans can tap into the astral world and bring back remnants into their waking consciousness. This permeates the whole of the universe and is named as being ‘the foundation’ because it is from this that all matter is built upon. Every human being is connected to it and shares this one mind. In the Kabbalah, the sephirah of Yesod is attributed to the astral world and is also referred to as ‘the Soul of the World.’ Through astral projection, a mystic may be able to dive into this infinite world of ideas, concepts and experiences and gain great insights and inspirations. To the normal human being, we may touch upon this world through sleep and through the in-between, which is the Idea Consciousness.
The astral world can be understood as the unconscious mind, a mind that can be summed up as the collective mind of all life. When we are nearing sleep, be aware that you are closer to your unconscious mind – that you are disconnecting yourself from your conscious, individual mind and diving into the realm of an infinite world of ideas.