The exercise (to go to sleep) has the imaginary goal of you moving your attention from up in the conscious, down to a sacrificial ‘alter’ that is a halfway house between awareness and the unconscious. And then nudging and stroking that attention downwards and beyond. (The intention is that the unconscious, or the unconscious sleep system, will rise from the depth and take your attention from that ‘alter’ (a half way house) into persistent unconsciousness).

Engaging maximum attention to do the nudging is central.

To make it central, it is critical to prevent strong mental reactions. Mental reactions are best described as you having a trigger thought that you permit go to your unconscious that then reacts with emotion, including mental babble. Having a trigger thought is harmless, and having your unconscious come up with images and thoughts is also fine and neutral to the process. What undoes sleep is to have emotive stuff come up. Therefore pay special attention to stopping thoughts that evoke emotional responses in you. Which ironically is the very cause of you being in a wake state in the first place, so will be extra difficult! (The larger the cauldron you have below of pending emotion, then the more the outcome shifts away from sleep and more towards (the lesser) outcome of restfulness and peacefulness.)

What is important is to not permit response to something of value in mental stuff, because the response creates frisson which swamps out this sleep process.


The nudging is achieved through breathing. The action that monopolises attention is breathing: attending to the sound is most effective with earplugs (in ear phones suffice, 6 layers of wet tolerant paper towels is best). These amplify your own breathing and reduce external sounds.

The desired state is exhaled, with inhalation only when required (i.e. when resisting inhalation takes attention, and awakens you).

Also imagine exhalation as a physical board pushing attention down to the alter and beyond.

Use up as much attention as you can between breaths actively waiting for the inhalation – silence is less the absence of sound, and more the anticipation of the next inhalation.


To guide that attention, and reduce distraction, there are a few other tricks and props.

We’ve covered earplugs. It is not critical to exclude external noises – it is not attending to themthat is critical. Although loud, sudden and irregular ones are likely to be physical distractions.

Eyes need parking to prevent them being a distraction and prevent them participating in reactionary mental stuff. Moving my eyes – to look backwards – channels my attention the most. My action and sensation is to move my eyes as to look behind me, by rolling them as if following the path of my hands as they undertake a a two handed throw backwards over my head and ending arms outstretched to my sides. The sensation is eyes looking away from each other like Marty Feldman and like a chameleon. This direction of eye direction literally breaks the way you normally pay attention, where normally your eyes follow your attention.

Use the exhalation to push every extremity of your body into the mattress or floor, and let your attention also settle on on parts that relaxed in that process, and attend to keeping them relaxed.


There are a couple of indicators of approaching sleep. One is that you notice the return of your attention, after a lapse in time when the unconscious must have taken your attention to sleep, then returned it back to you. Another is noticing the last mental experience did not originate from you as a conscious thought, but as an unsolicited thought from the unconscious.

To permit sleep, don’t let your conscious attention follow themes of identity.