Here in the Northeast, far, far away from the Pacific Ocean, we are having an El Nino winter. Literally, a little winter. Or in other words, very little of winter since it is 40 degrees every day, and maybe 60 on Christmas day.
Sleep is sometimes called the little death. I try to practice mindfulness of falling asleep, but, usually, falling asleep gets the upper hand, and, before i know it, z-z-z-z-z.
I'll tell you what i experience when i do pay attention, and i hope you'll tell me what your experience is so we can compare notes and learn from each other.
I turn out the light, and the discursive mind keeps chatting for a little while.
Then it shuts up. (Maybe the discursive mind goes to sleep?)
I experience a few (sometimes, very few) seconds of quiet mind.
I often have an image, right here in the quiet mind, of a night sky with some thin, white clouds. This is the place where i try to effortlessly pay attention. Too much effort kills this open space-spaciousness.
When that image dissipates, i might notice what Shinzen Young calls "word salad," as if i just picked up three stray pieces of magnetic poetry words. Three utterly unrelated words.
Then i begin to see images--sometimes like a slide show of black-and-white photos from a previous century, sometimes the sense of hordes of people on the move. Just images with no feeling attached.
When the images become vivid, like a movie screen inside my head, i know i am just seconds away from sleep.
Mindfulness of falling asleep seems like a good practice for mindfulness of dying. Mindfulness of when the elements are entirely out of balance as they seem to be in this El Nino winter.