How about sleeping on it?
Very likely some well meaning and wise friend has said to you “Sleep on it and you find it clearer in the morning.” It is practical wisdom that has become part and parcel of our collective unconsciousness. And yet, have you wondered where this common wisdom emerged from? Recently I spoke at a seminar organised by The Platinum Mind University ― part of their Uncommon Talks series (y). The origins of that common guidance is indeed ‘uncommon talk’, although in planning my talk, I found the phrase to be natural as an opener to my presentation (www.youtube.com).
“Sleep on it and you’ll feel better in the morning.”
Sleep is a cure. It goes without saying that we need sleep and some need more sleep than others. Consider then that sleep is a cure, not necessarily a cure-all, but at least a contributing factor for a cure.
Let me introduce you to the Iatromantis
Iatromantis is a Greek word whose literal meaning is most simply rendered ‘physician-seer’. In ancient times when you were sick, you may go to be ‘cured’ by a physician who administered the prescription of sleep within temple confines. You would usually go to spend one or more nights away in his sanctuary, during which time, you would be obliged to observe certain rules prescribed by the priests. The god would then reveal the remedy for your illness or disease or unease, in a dream. It was in allusion to this incubation that, within the many temples of Aesculapius, there were statues representing Sleep and Dream.
Your best source for more information about the Iatromantis
According to the scholar Peter Kingsley, iatromantic healers belonged to a wider Greek and Asian shamanic tradition with origins in Central Asia. The primary meditative practice of these healer-prophets was incubation. Incubation was regarded as what we would nowdays call a medical technique … and more. Incubation allowed a human being to experience a fourth state of consciousness different from sleeping, dreaming, or ordinary waking: a state that Peter Kingsley describes as “consciousness itself”. He likens the state to the turiya or samādhi of the Indian yogic traditions (https://www.peterkingsley.org).
Sleep as a medical technique and a Religious practice
Imagine you would go to the iatromantis and you would be invited to sleep in a sacred area with the intention of experiencing a divinely inspired dream or cure? Now doesn’t that sound familiar to you? Way back then people really did ‘sleep on it’, just as your well-meaning friend suggested to you.
‘Sleeping on it…’ in Greece and the Holy Land
Incubation was practised by many ancient cultures. In perhaps the most well known instance among the Hebrews, found in the Book of Kings, Solomon went to Gideon ‘because that was the most renowned high place to offer sacrifices.’ There ‘the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night,’ and Solomon asked God for the gift of an understanding heart. Among the members of the cult of Aesclepius, votive offerings found at ritual centres at Epidaurus, Pergamum, and Rome, detail the perceived effectiveness of ‘sleeping on it’. Incubation was also adopted by certain Christian sects and is today still used in a few Greek monasteries.
‘Sleeping on it…’ in Megalithic Malta
Imagine that the notion of ‘sleeping on it…’ emerged in times pre-dating the Iatromantis of Greece and south-east asia? Perhaps the practice of ‘sleeping on it…’ emerged in Malta? When I consider the mind set of the Megalithic people I imagine highly tuned beings and beings with a profound and nurturing spirituality. Their influences ― the moon and the stars ― the rising and the setting sun. Their perhaps telepathic abilities were probably more employed than their spoken communications. They would have likely been finely tuned to thought forms and to thought exchanges. There was a deep and profound inner connection. I have often said that today people can communicate in seconds across the world by electronic means but we may not be in communication with ourselves.
Lightness of being
One imagines that their material and mental baggage would have been very light. Their pace were slow and considered. Their influences were of course nature and the changing complexion and shading of their landscape as the hours of their days passed by. Surely in common with the older traditions of the Maltese people they rose early and retired early too. Whether they took a siesta in the heat of the summer we do not know. But we do know that they had a passion for stones and were driven and motivated to create beauty with the stone with the most rudimentary instruments.
How were their ‘temple states’ induced?
Their temple states were induced perhaps by chanting, entheogens, repetitious song, and prayers, incantations performed in darkness, and by splendid backdrops beside the sea… clothed in only hair, or swaddling bands of animal skins or coarsely hewn cloth – their arms held high – their influences… the changing seasons, the priests, their peers, and the care-takers of the sleeping chambers.
Sleeping chambers in the Malta Hypogeum
I believed there to be sleeping chambers in the hypogeum on my first visit there. The guide shared that mainly women came to sleep in these chambers to encourage fertility. When I enquired again my next guide disputed this opinion. So much is conjecture, ideas, possibilities, and perspectives to view. However the first guide presented a picture, and one that fitted my ‘map’ in the context of sleep states and hypnosis. Could it be that the origins of the state of hypnosis could be found in the Hypogeum? Could it be that the priest guided the megalithic individuals into extended ‘sleep’ using the sound of his voice ―
for sound is an integral and alluring aspect of the Maltese Hypogeum? Could it be that the iatromantis of Greek times, and the notion of a ‘physician-seer’ first emerged in Megalithic Malta? As a hypnotherapist, and therefore one who guides you into a state that has the appearance of sleep, I have always been very intrigued. (See wikipedia.org amd www.youtube.com.)
The sleeping ladies found in the Hypogeum
Indeed just like in the temples of Aesculapius, there were found in the Hypogeum, statues representing Sleep and Dream. A miniature ‘sleeping lady’ was discovered, in repose, amply rounded or very pregnant, giving some credence to the ‘fertility’ theory.
Sleeping on it, in hypnosis today
Professor John Gruzelierʹs research, under the auspices of Imperial College, London, found that the mere experience of being in hypnosis, in a state of deep relaxation, with no direct suggestion or interactive participation whatsoever could in itself be beneficial and healing to patients. In particular, the research confirmed that regular periods of deep relaxation could reduce pain and anxiety. Pain and anxiety tend to suppress the immune system, and Gruzelier’s research showed improvements not just in subjective measures of well-being but also in objective measurements of the immune system such as white blood cell counts
Go and visit the Hypogeum in Malta
With only ten visitors an hour allowed in to the Hypogeum, it is important to book well in advance (www.maltatickets.com).
Gruzelier, J., Champion, A., Fox, P., Rollin, M., McCormack, S., Catalan, P., Barton, S., & Henderson, D. (2002). Individual differences in personality, immunology and mood in patients undergoing self-hypnosis training for successful treatment of a chronic viral illness, HSV-2. Contemporary Hypnosis, 19(4), 149-166