Two A.M. Meditation Time
(Posted on: June 7, 2013 by David McMillin)
(Q) What is my best time for meditation?
(A) As would be for all, two to three o'clock in the morning is the best time. (Edgar Cayce Reading 462-8)
Several Cayce readings state that 2 A.M. (very early morning) is the best time for most people to meditate. The readings actually gave a physiological explanation for this that is consistent with modern neuroscience and may have something to do with the rhythmic periods of dreaming called Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep that occur about every 90 minutes all night long and out-of-body experiences associated “kundalini” arousal. Let’s survey some of the factors that may help to explain why 2 A.M. could be an optimal time for meditation.
One might hypothesize that the 2 A.M. recommendation is just a matter of the relative quietness of the environment. After all, 2 A.M. is a quiet time for most people, even in our 24/7 culture. Moreover, for those with a metaphysical mindset, one might further hypothesize that the quietness may extend beyond physical noise to thoughts and mental activity in the environment. After all, the readings do insist that thoughts are real things. Maybe there is some subtle effect whereby the collective “mental atmosphere” is quieter at 2 A.M. and that makes it preferable for meditation.
While all this is probably true and part of the explanation, there must be more to it because the readings insist that the person go to sleep and then wake up to meditate. This would suggest that the important factors are internal and physiological. If it were entirely a matter of environmental influence, it shouldn’t matter whether one wakes from sleep to meditate or simply stays awake until 2 A.M.
Types of Sleep
(Q) Why is 2 A.M. the best time to meditate?
(A) For the body-mind, as we find, (if it has slept), the activities – of the physical body are as it were, in that vibration where it is between the physical, the mental, and spiritual activities of the body. If it is kept awake, it isn't a good time to meditate, but sleep, and then arise … (1861-19)
So what is it that puts the “body-mind” in “that vibration where it is between the physical, the mental, and spiritual activities of the body”? Apparently the in-between state of consciousness that we are normally in during sleep at about 2 A.M. is conducive to meditation when we are also seeking an in-between state of awareness.
First, let’s consider the normal variations in sleep that occur each night. There are two main types of sleep:
- Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) Sleep (also known as quiet sleep)
- Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep (also known as active sleep or paradoxical sleep)
During non-rapid eye movement sleep brain activity passes through four stages (Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta). In a sense the brain activity is slowing down. Then the activity increases and passes back through these stages until the first rapid eye movement (REM) period occurs at about ninety minutes after going to sleep.
Not surprisingly, rapid eye movement sleep (REM) is characterized by rapid and random movement of the eyes. Since most vivid dreams occur during REM, it’s almost as if the dreamer is watching the activity. Body muscle tone relaxes (atonia – sleep paralysis), otherwise the dreamer would try to act out the dreams and become dangerous.
Normally during REM sleep, brain activity increases to a level equal to (or even exceeding) normal waking consciousness. With the nervous system highly activated, glands pore our hormones. By most physiological indicators, the body should be more awake than normal waking consciousness. But it isn’t. Thus REM is sometimes called “paradoxical sleep.”
Periods of REM sleep alternate with non-REM sleep with REM cycles repeating about every ninety minutes. During a normal night of sleep, humans typically experience about four or five periods of REM sleep; they are quite short at the beginning of the night and longer toward morning when the most vivid dreams usually occur.
REM sleep is so important that when it is chronically deprived, the research subject will become seriously ill with a manic psychosis. Sleep researchers have documented this remarkable phenomenon by awakening sleepers just as they enter the REM sleep cycle. The research subjects, when chronically deprived of REM sleep, upon going to sleep will immediately go into REM sleep and continue with REM sleep until they have made up for all the lost REM time. This is call REM rebound. Apparently there is something really important – really essential about REM sleep. Maybe it has something to do with the soul making its connection with the realm of spirit (see the discussion of baby REM sleep bellow).
Oh yes, one other interesting fact about REM sleep is that the sexual organs (for both males and females) become engorged and erect. During a normal night of sleep the penis and clitoris may be erect for a total time of from one hour to as long as three and a half hours during REM sleep. This may be an indication of kundalini arousal as will be discussed later.
Newborn babies spends more than 80% of total sleep time in REM sleep. The Cayce readings indicate that babies are more attuned to nonphysical realms of spirit and only gradually learn to focus more in the material world. If the REM period of sleep represents an opportunity for an “out of body experience” (OBE), perhaps the predominance of REM sleep in babies can be interpreted as extensive OBE and a closeness to spirit.
Out of Body Experience (OBE) During Sleep
Each and every soul leaves the body as it rests in sleep. ( 853-8)
If, as the Cayce readings indicate, each person has an OBE at night during sleep, exactly when might this happen and is it somehow related to 2 A.M. as being an optimal time to meditate?
One might hypothesize that having an OBE is almost by definition an altered state of consciousness more closely attuned to the unseen realm of Spirit. During sleep this would be a natural means for the soul to commune with its Source. According to the Cayce readings, dream experiences are the basis for reality creation that has it origin in the realm of Spirit. (For more on this you may want to check out the lesson on Dreams in SFG 3.)
Thus there appears to be a natural correlation between OBE and dreaming. Could the exaggerated physiology of REM sleep (“paradoxical sleep”) somehow be related to OBE and dreaming? Some recent research does seem to support this hypothesis.
Dr. Kevin Nelson and a research team at the University of Kentucky investigated the association of out-of-body experiences, phases of sleep transition, and near death experiences (NDE). Their findings, reported in the journal Neurology, indicate that out- of-body experiences are statistically as likely to occur during a NDE as during the transition between wakefulness and sleep. Notably, the muscle paralysis commonly reported during NDE resembles (or may be synonymous with) the atonia associated with normal REM sleep. The researchers concluded that persons with near death experiences appear to have a physiological predisposition to both REM intrusion and out-of-body experiences.
Thus, based on this research, if Cayce is correct about each soul having OBE each night during sleep, it would appear that this most likely would occur during the REM cycle associated with vivid dreaming.
Kundalini Experience During REM?
Interestingly, Edgar Cayce exhibited fluttering eyelids when going into trance to give his psychic readings. One can wonder if this was something akin to the rapid-eye-movement (REM) that we have been discussing during dream sleep, as has been noted by author John Van Auken:
As Gertrude Cayce watched for Edgar's breathing to become deep and his eyes to begin the "rapid eye movement" (REM) associated with entering the dream state … When Cayce's breathing had shifted, his eyes were in REM and his personality had been removed, [out-of-body (OBE)] Gertrude would give the suggestion to Edgar's subconscious to begin the reading … (Van Auken, 1992, p. 31)
The readings that explained his trance process stated that he went out of body while giving each reading. His readings indicated that he also had a kundalini experience at the beginning of each reading session that allowed him to attain a higher state of consciousness. So all this might indicate a connection between kundalini arousal, rapid eye movement (REM), and out-of-body experience during the Cayce’s trance sessions. My personal experience with early morning altered states also supports this association.
I have had multiple spontaneous awakenings during OBE while lying in bed at night. Typically I would gradually become “conscious” (or lucid) and feel an energy vibration along the spine accompanied by muscle paralysis (like normal atonia during REM sleep). In one particularly dramatic episode, I sensed flashing lights of color, like a rainbow, only the colors were more intense and beautiful. Sometimes during this type of experience I have become aware of very pleasurable sexual arousal that seemed to be inherent to the process. I was not aware of having a dream at the time (erotic or otherwise). The sexual arousal appears to have been part of the normal REM sleep cycle. In researching this phenomenon, I have come to the conclusion that at times I have become “lucid” during the projection out of body during sleep, probably during a normal REM sleep cycle.
Furthermore, while doing the 2 A.M., one hour period of meditation recommended in the readings (following the instructions for mediation in ASFG Book I), I have had multiple, dramatic “kundalini” experiences that included OBE. I have documented these kundalini phenomenon in numerous public lectures and included some discussion of these experiences in the media (video and audio) that I have created over the years. (See the Resources below.)
Assuming that Cayce is correct about the benefits of 2 A.M. mediation, how can it be practically and what might one expect to gain from it. Here are some thoughts:
1. Go To Sleep And Wake Up – You need to go to sleep and wake up from sleep to benefit from this strategy. If you are a “night person” you can’t just stay awake until 2 A.M. and meditate and expect this to work for you. The cyclical physiology of the body’s sleep pattern needs to be established so that it can carry over into meditation. When you awaken, you probably don’t want to get too awake by watching TV or doing exercise before you meditate. You will need to develop this pattern of awakening. A presleep suggestion to wake up at 2 A.M. has worked for me quite effectively. Some people rely on the “bladder method” whereby they simply drink water before going to bed so that they will awaken to relieve themselves.
2. Day Job – This pattern could be a challenge if you work a day job. I have found that there have been periods when it was more practical and others when it simply did not work for me. For example, working construction in the Midwest for many years, there were periods in the winter where the extreme weather combined with some really poor economic trends allowed me the “opportunity” to do the 2 A.M. meditation patterns for several days at a time. Once while recovering from a major physical injury I had the opportunity to practice this pattern. For several years while doing medical research (self-employed) I had the flexibility to do the 2 A.M. schedule. Currently I am at a stage of life where it is practical (I am now retired – mostly!). So this is something that you will have to consider based on your own life patterns, especially if you are working a day job.
3. Afternoon Nap – I have found it extremely helpful to schedule an afternoon nap when doing the 2 A.M. mediation pattern. Again, flexibility of schedule is essential for this as was discussed previously.
4. Dream Work – People who use the 2 A.M. pattern seem to report more frequent dream recall with more vivid dreams. This would certainly make sense if the explanation presented about is correct. So you will probably want to take advantage of this by keeping a dream journal and allowing some time during your daily schedule to process your dreams. There may also be a blurring of the distinction between dreams and waking experiences. For me this has actually been a wonderful side effect of the process. I also notice that I have more really vivid, sometimes lucid dreams during the afternoon nap.
5. Creativity – 2 A.M. is not only a great time to meditate and be close to spirit, but I have also found it too be a particularly useful pattern for creativity. The creative juices seem to flow easier (those glandular spiritual centers?). Could it be a closeness to the Creative Energy we call God? The mind is both more expansive and clearer. Could it be a closeness to the Universal Mind? Attunement through meditation and creativity go hand in hand in my experience. If I am deeply involved in a creative project, I will often do some work after the 2 A.M. mediation session. I have found this to be a very productive use of my time and energy.
I also find that when I wake up in the morning and lie in bed before arising, there seems to be a carry-over effect with regard to mental functioning. Ideas flow and solutions to problems emerge effortlessly. Often I seem to be in a more lucid, aware state between full waking consciousness and the dream state, which is useful for doing creative work.
6. Interpersonal Factors – Depending upon your physical environment and interpersonal relationships, the 2 A.M. pattern could possibly cause some disturbance of others who are sleeping when you get up and then later go back to bed. Likewise chanting, as an aid to meditation, can be a little problematic, depending upon the physical location, sound proofing, and proximity to others who are asleep. (You can chant internally, too.) This is highly case-by-case type of factor that may or may not apply in your situation. Just be careful to be considerate. It couldn’t hurt to ask others if you have any doubt about how they may be affected by your activity.
Summary and Conclusion
If the Cayce readings are correct, we each leave our bodies at night during sleep. Research that I have done and my own personal experiences seem to indicate that these Out Of Body (OBE) experiences occur mainly during REM dreaming, which may be like natural kundalini experiences that project us out of body. When we go to bed at a reasonable time and awaken at 2 A.M., we will likely have already experienced at least one of these REM cycles. Thus by awakening and meditating at 2 A.M. our physiology is primed for this type of experience – we are "closer to spirit" and more naturally attuned, if you want to think about it in those terms.
Nelson, K. R., Mattingly, M., and Schmitt, F. A. (2007). Out-of-body experience and arousal. Neurology, 68:794-795
Van Auken, J. (1992). Spiritual Breakthrough. Virginia Beach, VA: Inner Vision.
- Mystical Kundalini Experiences – Click here a to listen to an audio segment from one of my CDs (Mental Health Lecture 3) that describes some “mystical kundalini experiences” associated with 2 A.M. meditation and spontaneous nighttime out-of-body experiences (OBE). I believe the OBE projection was triggered by normal kundalini arousal associated with REM sleep.
- Opening The Seals – This video segment describes the opening of the spiritual centers during a dramatic kundalini experience associated with 2 A.M. meditation.
Out of Body – This video segment discusses the concept of out of body experiences during the REM sleep period.