The Ultimate Sleep Hack – so far…*

woman sleeping
Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

taking the pressure off of going to sleep by going for optimal rest.

 Introduction

You’ve probably noticed the incredibly stressful world we now are required to function within at our best. There’s no way to maintain a stress-free life all together unless you engage in a prolonged meditation retreat – maybe. One of the best ways to cope with stress, anxiety, sadness or any other negative emotion is a multifaceted approach:

  • Tolerance – building a tolerance to stress and anxiety
  • Cultivating a compassionate neutral witness within
  • Meditation for an anchor to peacefulness / mindfulness throughout the day
  • Paying attention to and heeding our bodies

We put pressure on ourselves constantly. Some of this pressure is good when we need it to accomplish tasks and goals. Pressure becomes counterproductive when we threaten ourselves and our bodies with too much of it. This could be true of when we get ready to go to sleep at night; the pressure we’ve put on ourselves during the day spills over into the night and sleep becomes difficult and sometimes impossible. If we have chronic difficulties falling and staying asleep we may reach for prescription pharmaceuticals / supplemental sleep aids to fall and stay asleep, or we may use street drugs.

Taking downs to get off to sleep
And ups to start you on your way
After a while they’ll change your style
I see it happening every day

Oh spare your heart
Everything put together
Sooner or later falls apart
There’s nothing to it, nothing to it

From Everything Put Together Falls Apart © 1972 by Paul Simon

The downs can easily translate into alcohol or a prescribed medication at night and coffee and/or energy drinks throughout the day.

After I became caffeine free the first time and my energy level balanced out I saw that coffee didn’t give me more energy, it just took the energy I had and bunched it up because there was always an inevitable crash. My sleep patterns were the worst for it too. Working swing shift and nights didn’t help either.

Then I began taking control of my sleep which meant taking control of other aspects of my life too:

The Ultimate Sleep Hack So Far 

Change the name of going to sleep to Optimal Rest instead of pressure for sleep. If you fall asleep during your optimal rest period it’s a good bonus.

caffeine can disrupt your sleep up to 11 hours after you drink it

I’ve worked for over 20 years in the mental health field facilitating groups on relaxation, meditation, and sleep hygiene (no, this does NOT mean washing yourself while you sleep).

Sleep is part of a daily cycle. Children and teenagers need more sleep sometimes up to 10 or 11 hours. Adults average about 8 hours up to the age of 55. Those over the age of 55 can get by with less sleep – about 6 hours, yet 8 hours is still optimal. These figures are not set in stone and there are always exceptions to every “norm”.

Your bedroom should always be slightly on the cool side

Since the time of the industrial revolution mainly the advent of electric light and more recently television, computers, smart phones and the internet the natural rhythms of our bodies have been disrupted due to light pollution.

 

Immediate Preparations for Optimal Rest

woman sleeping
Photo by Ivan Obolensky on Pexels.com

Before Sleep – The Experts Report Our bodies adjust to light dark cycles so if you’re having trouble sleeping at night you may want to consider making changes to your daily routine:

Exercise – in the morning or afternoon. Avoid exercise in the late evening especially when its dark (absence of sunlight). Exercising after sunset or in the dark can signal your body to become more awake or alert. Exercise is important for a good night’s sleep even if it is a short or long walk in the morning, afternoon or early evening.

Caffeine – The experts report that caffeine can affect your body and disrupt your sleep up to 11 hours after you drink it. This can affect your ability to fall asleep and your ability to stay asleep. If you’re on a daytime work schedule consider stopping all caffeinated beverages at 11 am. Some keen observations of the effects of caffeine backed by science basically report that stimulating the body takes the energy that one ordinarily has and pumps it up leading to an inevitable crash if too much is ingested.

Television, Smartphone or Computer/Tablet use – excites the brain. Sleep experts recommend to stop using these devices at least 2 hours before retiring.

Snacking – Sleep experts recommend that you wait 3 hours after eating to go to sleep for a better night’s sleep. Two factors are implicated in this suggestion. Because your metabolism slows at night our bodies have difficulty digesting food and sleeping. Also there is a nighttime body metabolism at work and eating right before bed can effect this metabolism and disrupt sleeping patterns.

A Technique – If you do sleep poorly and assuming your morning is sunny you can re-set your body clock by sitting in the sun from 40 to 60 minutes soon after you rise.

Sleeping Timing – experts suggest going to sleep at the same time each night. I have observed that this has to do with body memory. Disrupting body memory where we experience a burst of energy hurtling passed our ordinary bedtimes usually comes from caffeine or a late-night snack of sugary foods or refined carbohydrates.

No Alcohol Before Bedtime – I almost did not include this because many people already know that while alcohol can put you to sleep it can often wake you up several times during the night. A drink or a glass of wine or a beer with an early dinner is okay.

Minimize Electrical Gadgets in your Bedroom – a lamp is good with an incandescent bulb and is best for reading and a feeling of warmth. An alarm clock without excessive lights if you need one is okay but not an alarm on your electronic device. Watching television in-bed, surfing the net from your smartphone or tablet is bad for your sleep hygiene. Best to turn off your cell phone or tablet if you are keeping them in your bedroom.

Light and TemperatureYour bedroom should be as dark as possible, no light at all. But if you startle waking-up in a dark room, a light in a different room or a very dim nightlight is okay. If you have equipment such as a CPAP machine prescribed for your sleep then of course that’s okay. Your bedroom should always be slightly on the cool side, in summer and winter. Our body temperatures drop at night and by cuddling with ourselves under the covers we warm to an optimal sleeping temperature.

muse on your day, begin the letting go process

Sleep Position – The best positions for optimal rest and/or sleep is sleeping on your back*, left and / or right side. Sleeping on your back is best for your spine, neck and head less likely to experience pain. It helps lessen acid reflux with your head elevated on a pillow. *People with sleep apnea – sleeping on the back could be dangerous and lead the tongue to block your esophagus. Sleeping on your side is the popular position  and reduces acid reflux. Snoring is reduced as well. Sleep on one’s side are the best positions for those with sleep apnea.

One to Three Hours Before Sleep  – These are nightly rituals, that when I use them, they assist me in getting a better night’s sleep. Admittedly I don’t use them as much as I could. Before you begin Your Wind-Down sit with a pad (not an iPad, Tablet or Smartphone) and make a list of what you want to do tomorrow (if that’s your thing). Writing pen to paper is a way to disconnect from electronics and their effects.

Your Wind-DownBegin with a hot beverage – an herbal tea, or warm milk, or A-Non-Alcoholic-Hot-Toddy-for-Sleep while sitting on your couch or in a favorite chair. As you begin to enjoy your beverage muse on your day, begin the letting go process. I spend at least five to ten minutes feeling the relief of putting the day into perspective and allowing the anticipation of surrender into sleep. Then I may engage in reading a book and / or listening to soft music, though this can also be done after bathroom prep – while in bed.

Bathroom Prep Before Bed and What Remains to do: Next take care of brushing your teeth and all those to-do things before lying down to engage in optimal rest. If you take medications or supplements that aid in you in resting / sleeping more effectively know that there is a 30 to 40-minute period of digestion before they take effect. If you take sleep aides and push yourself beyond the 30 to 40-minute digestive cycle the medications will either be less effective or won’t work at all.

By getting in bed at least during 30 to 40-minute period before closing your eyes, plan on reading, listening to music or doing some breath work, but ideally this should occur after taking medications and/or supplements.

LET GO AND BREATHE

 

Immediate Preparations for Optimal Rest

I may first intend that I will let go into sleep and sleep straight through the night without waking up, feeling refreshed in the morning upon awakening.

background beautiful blossom calm waters
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

These other techniques can be used in preparations just prior to closing your eyes or if sleep doesn’t come.

The Body Clenchthis is a systematic clench of muscle groups and their release in your body. Begin by scrunching up your feet and clenching your toes. Don’t let go. Next tighten your calf and thigh muscles, then tighten your butt muscles, your chest and abdomen. Next make fists and tighten the muscles in your forearms and biceps, stretch your neck by moving your head towards your chest and scrunch up the muscles in your face.

Then LET GO AND BREATHE.

The idea is to make your body tighter so you when you release the tight tense muscles also release and allows your body to move into a more relaxed state.

Don’t beat yourself up because you’re supposed to be sleeping.

Close your Eyes(30 to 40 minutes after taking your medications and/or supplements) When you close your eyes there may be an automatic response for you to think about everything your worried about, or to criticize yourself in some way. Worry may manifest as thinking about something repeatedly (obsessing) – trying to figure it out. Or maybe you’re trying to solve a problem or review something that happened that day.

Let yourself do this for a few minutes. Make it okay. Don’t beat yourself up because you’re supposed to be sleeping even it goes on for five to ten minutes or so. Also you might want to engage in some soothing self-talk such as: “I’m a gentle person”, “I’m applying compassion towards myself first and then others” “I like _____ about myself” or think of a peaceful scene in nature – a sunset over a lake or behind a mountain, floating or flying over fields, seeing waves at the beach.

It’s okay… it’s okay… I’m safe. I can let go.

Then tell yourself that it time to dive deeper into optimal rest.

This process uses your attention to scan your body for any areas where your holding tension and imagine breathing them out (with your out-breath). Let go. Try being soft and easy with yourself as if you were holding an infant in your arms.

Next, focus on your breath. Usually, what happens when we begin to focus on our breath is that we take control. That’s okay. Breathing in this way soon becomes work. When you start to realize that it’s work, then begin to watch your breath as it moves in and out of your body without trying to control it. You’re just matching your thoughts with what’s happening in your body automatically, that can be a lot easier.

I may just practice watching my breath achieving optimal rest

Your mind may wander back to your negative or problem-solving thoughts without you realizing it. If this happens let them go and move back to your witness mind watching your breath. Sometimes a peaceful symbol – like looking at a mountain or waves crashing on a beach can be useful in releasing a worrisome thought. The rhythm of your breath is similar to waves coming to shore. As you imagine your breath like the waves you may feel the peace of waves as you picture them in your mind.

Focus on your breath in this way for at least 20 to 40 minutes. Usually what happens for me is I fall asleep, but I only know this has happened when I awaken the next morning. I realize I have released and fallen asleep.

Sometimes it doesn’t happen and I catch myself on the edge of letting go and pull myself back into a wakeful and circular thought process – a knee-jerk response. Here I may do some soothing self-talk (silently saying to myself):

“It’s okay… it’s okay… I’m safe. I can let go. I can be a deep diver. I can let go. I am letting go, letting go…”

If after 40 minutes to an hour and I’m awake I may just let myself be satisfied with continuing to watch my breath and drop into a deeper level of meditation. Or I may get up and go to the bathroom and return to bed and matching my thoughts with my breath.

Try being softer with yourself. Allow your mind’s awareness to meet the automatic rhythm of your breath. In, out, in, out…

* so far – meaning that as new information for a better sleep hack becomes available it will become an on-going ultimate sleep hack…

goodnight

 

Slowing Down – De-Stressing

cat lying on cloth

It takes practice to set your own slower pace in a world that is hurried, stressed and frantic. Part of our collective stress can be found in driving patterns and increased volumes of traffic. (Bravo to those who don’t own cars and use public transportation).

hurry slowly

If you own a car and drive / commute to work or drive in traffic at any time of day or night there is an increasing tendency to drive faster on interstates and secondary roads. There is a tendency to run lights that are yellow and red. It could be built-in to the predatory capitalism and a me-first attitude on the roads.

 

Rush hour is no longer just an hour. Weekends and holidays exacerbate traffic and impatience to get their first. “Half an inch, half an inch,” out of a Monte Python sketch or a Jerry Seinfeld bit of inching ahead in traffic at a stoplight. This is all a part of the out-of-breath frantic rev-up for more stress and anxiety fixed by a pill.

Smile and make eye contact

Breathe, slow down, hurry slowly, and practice patience.

Allow yourself 5 to 15 minutes extra time in traveling to your destination so you are ensured of being on time without a frantic dash to the finish line. Add extra time if you are traveling with someone else or with children. Begin by practicing slower breathing in tense situations, or in heavy traffic, especially bumper-to-bumper.

In lines of any kind such as the supermarket, the post office or in picking up your coffee shift your weight from one side to the other, bend your knees slightly and practice breathing slowly. Strike up a conversation with your line-mate if it seems right. Smile and make eye contact.

background beautiful blossom calm waters

 

For more on reducing anxiety follow these links:

Frantic for the Future

A Relaxation Meditation

Home Remedy for Stiff or Sore Muscles

Home Remedy – Nighttime Relaxing Hot Toddy (without alcohol)

Home Remedy – Optimal Rest

 

Good night to all and to All a Good Night…

I grew up inside a Terrorist Regime – my family

 

CypressGrove5x

The Road Out via Compassion

 

I grew up inside a Terrorist Regime: in my family of origin where my father was the dictator and his word was law.

When I was a pre-teen he would shout me down into submission when he disagreed with something I said and end with telling me I was being illogical.

This was worse than death, torture of my dog.

He would continue to castigate my mother by telling her she was “irrational”. More often than not she was intuitive and non-rational

Around that time we adopted a stray dog: Peewee. He went everywhere with me – on my walks in the woods and to the reservoir. We never tied him up when we weren’t home. He ran with a pack of dogs that ate sheep. The sheep owner told us we would have to tie him up. We did for a while and then not having the heart to keep him tied up we let him go and he ate sheep again. My father was to take him to the vet to be put down. At dinner that night my father said:

I took Peewee to Yale to be experimented on. 

My head sank. This was worse than death, torture of my dog. I was so sad and down.

I thought you liked science – my father said.

 Not anymore – I said starting to get angry.

But I couldn’t show my anger otherwise I’d get in-trouble so I stuffed it.

After dinner beginning in my early teens we played Ping-Pong every night after dinner. He’d use psychological tactics on me to goad me to become angry, throw me off balance so he could win. One night, I thought – this is supposed to be fun. I decided not to get angry and started winning games. Once that happened he stopped playing and admitted that I had been a better player than he was and that by using psychological tactics he knew he could win.

he would bait others into Republican ideological arguments and then shout them down when they didn’t agree with them

When I was a teenager my father would bait me into arguments that I was emotionally invested in and then use his premise to make me feel wrong and confused. I’d fall for his debate tactics every time. When I was in my twenties I began to disagree with his premises and all “debate” ended.

My mom came to me and asked: “What am should I do about your father?”

 “What do you mean?”

“Well you know how he is.”

My mother’s friends never came over anymore because he would bait others into Republican ideological arguments and then shout them down when they didn’t agree with them.

            “You could see a therapist or minster,” I said.

            “I couldn’t do that,” she replied.

            “You could get a divorce,” I said.

           “Oh no, I couldn’t do that,” she replied.

            “Well, I don’t know what else to tell you,” I said.

My sister and I would spend all daylight hours outside of the house away from my mother and father and that I supposed was normal. We lived surrounded by bucolic regions of farms, fields and woods. My father would use his booming voice to call us for dinner while we were at least a mile away. He had had a lot of practice bellowing.

He told me once that he promised never to hit us like his father had done to his mother, him and his two sisters. But he broke his promise a few times. However he made up for actually physical violence by terrorizing us with verbal and non-verbal threats.

He often accused and never apologized even when he made a mistake.

He oscillated between sometimes being a looming or threatening boss to be a playful child albeit isolating. He was jealous of my mother having any recognition and acted passive-aggressively to quell her recognition: My mother would play the piano and we would sing folk songs and Christmas Carols after dinner. My mom also painted some. My father decided he could paint too. He painted some squares and a triangle on a canvas and put a mahogany frame around it. He hung it over the piano. When this happened I felt a profound shame and the childish jealousy of my father. My mother’s only visible protest was never to play the piano again. We all knew and my father had won his petty little game.

One time my sister and I – always the rivals often competing for my father’s attention were having a blast; bickering. It was a bit like the Monte Python sketch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLlv_aZjHXc

Our father yelled from the other room to “Stop it,” in his booming voice. We furtively glanced at each other snickering under our breaths and then began bickering again:

“Yes it is,” I fired out.

“No it isn’t,” my sister came back.

And on we went…

Our father appeared in the door of the kitchen his face red with rage, fists clenched he spewed in a vitriolic manner:

You kids cease and desist this instant!

 I thought blood would spurt from a vein in his forehead. He glared at us full of fury and rage. I had to bite my tongue so as not to speak or laugh. Many years later my sister told me she was so terrified that she had wet herself.

In my arguments to my father about the Vietnam war – I returned from college and told him I was against the war: he punched me across the face with a 1-2 punch and then in the stomach. He opened the front door of the house and threw me into the bushes and said:

Don’t you ever set foot in this house, again.

I was shaking and crying. A moment later he came out and invited me back inside saying:

I guess I didn’t brainwash you good enough.

 I knew my mother had stood up for me in that moment.

I learned to bring emotion into our debate and was able to stop many debates cold such as: The Vietnam war is wrong because killing for any reason is wrong and that’s how I feel.

my father was extremely obnoxious … after drinking in the afternoon

Later when I was going through a very rough time and we were in family therapy without my sister who was in college out west my father agreed to be nice to me. For about a year and a half he was nice. And then he changed back.

When I asked him about the change he said: “I can see that you were okay so I decided to be myself again.”

I offered to do some hands-on healing.

My father would have an occasional beer and an after dinner liquor when his friends came over for dinner. Once I had lunch with him in New Haven in the 1974 when we both worked in the city (it was the summer that Nixon resigned). He had a pitcher of beer with lunch. He seemed the same before as he did afterwards. At that time I wasn’t as aware of the various shades of alcoholism as I became later.

In the 1980s my sister visited with my mother and father. I met them for lunch. I was to meet them later at their Bed and Breakfast and then we were to meet up my woman lover at a restaurant in Glen Ellen. When I met them at the B&B my father was extremely obnoxious: grabbing a magazine article from my hands while I was reading it, ignoring my protest, telling me I had to listen to him etc… Later I learned that he and my sister had gone to a bar after lunch and had been drinking. My mother probably just watched – she didn’t drink due to health issues.

I felt satisfied that I was able to help him and that he had accepted my help.

They moved from Connecticut to North Carolina and I visited them in 2000.

My father said out of the blue:

            They’ve discovered planets in other solar systems.”

            “Good for them,” I replied.

            “How does astrology explain that?”

‘Oh brother here we go again.’ I thought

“Sounds like your trying to make fun of my profession as an astrologer,” I said going to the end point.

“Ah, no, no I wasn’t,” he said and dropped the whole thing. I was relieved and he seemed relieved as well.

He often accused and never apologized, ever.

By August of 2005 my father was on oxygen from pulmonary fibrosis – a lung disease. Even on O2 he had difficulty breathing, gasping for air. Towards the last hour of my stay I offered to do some hands-on healing. I thought he would refuse since he rarely praised me and denigrated my actions, choices and accomplishments at every turn of my life. I was surprised that he agreed.

For the next 45 minutes while I was there he breathed normally and appeared thankful though he said nothing. I felt satisfied that I was able to help him and that he had accepted my help.

He died in 2006 on my birthday from from pulmonary fibrosis.


END NOTES:  I learned much about the frightened Conservative stance towards the world through my father and his strong patriarchal ideals. Underneath all that bluster, anger and rage was a frightened boy who had never recovered from the abuse at the hands of his father. My father acknowledged the beatings that my grandfather had meted out on him his sisters and his mother. I’m sure there was sexual abuse that was repressed and / or supressed by alcohol abuse and acting-out rage, just as my garndfather had sexually abused me in horrific ways.

Beyond the unhealed abuse and fear that caused him to shift from an expansive man who had voted for JFK to one who embraced Nixon, Reagan, and both Bushs. Nixon was elected in 1969 when my father was almost 50. This is sometimes the period that people wither or break free from their parents belief systems. Or they become dissillusioned with the ideals of youth and fall back into what they know. My father embraced conservativism because it was about the past – government unresponsive to the needs of the many and only able to see the needs of the privelged and the elite in which he identified.

Fear is a breeding ground for greed, having enough, believing government stood in the way of making as much money as possible for himself. He was angry at those in civil service work because they made almost as much as he did as an executive for Ma Bell. Manual labor was beneath him. The intellect was all powerful and deserved the best of the elite. The common man – the middle class became superfluous, invisible and therefore inconsequential to him.

He belived in the platitudes and the American Dream and thought that all had access to it through hard work. He was sexist and racist and homeophobic. He was a sad broken man who took out his wounds on others.

I am happy to have survived my childhood with my heart intact though it took me many years to get in-touch with my emotions. I have forgiven my father for all the wounds he had perpertated on me. And I trust that his consciousness is growing in a life beyond his mortal coil.

 

Media, The End of Civility and the Polarization of Democracy

No2TryannyWhen I was a teenage my father would yell at the television, mock President Johnson and say “Those goddamn Democrats” etc. It’s something he never said to my mother’s  liberal friends in face-to-face encounters. One of the meta-rules (unspoken) is a sense of civility between people. That seems to be eroding.

That polarization on behalf of Corporate-Congressional Complex

When Republicans and Conservatives became more vocal they began to make anyone that didn’t share their point of view anti-American. The GOP in order to win has made liberals, the left, moderates, Democrats, Progressives the enemy to be defeated and destroyed. Some of this came from Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove. In some ways I believe that the top tenth of 1 percent of the richest Americans on the planet such as the Koch’s may have germinated this idea of Liberals as enemies so that Congress / or elected representatives would be forced to endless debates without accomplishing any new laws. President Clinton’s abandonment of the people to pursue money interests from Liberal 1 percent donors contributed to the Corporatization of American government and the further eroding of our democracy. That polarization on behalf of Corporate-Congressional Complex has stalled democracy and taken it off the table.

Trump – a poor role model of a President

These examples from the Liberals, Moderates and Conservatives are more evident in light of Trump’s support of misogyny, hate groups, big money, isolationism – it brings out previous examples of oppositional behaviors of Congress as an example to others of acceptable behaviors both by Republicans, Democrats and by Trump – a poor role model of a President. GOP and Democrats are now examples of an entrenched conflict that assists in fanning a flame throughout the internet and this has been supported by Russian hacking of late.

But would we be doing this in a public format?

On the Internet, especially platforms such as Facebook its easy to swear, to call someone you don’t like an “asshole” and have others join us in profanity and negative remarks about the other. But would we be doing this in a public format?

My code for the most part on Facebook

Some would and it’s a spill over of private, semi-private and public comments on Facebook. When civility existed much more before the advent of the Internet and social media there seemed to be more cooperation between people who disagreed.

 

My code for the most part on Facebook:

  1. Do not engage in swearing and profanity in criticism of Trump or others in their beliefs if possible.
  2. Ask questions
  3. Offer even constructive criticisms of comments if possible
  4. Ignore posts when I feel too angry to respond with civility.
  5. Avoid arguing with Trump supporters about Trump or his policies if possible.
  6. Keep rants to a minimum.
  7. Make a call to my representative about an issue or make a donation even if it’s a small one.

 

It may take many years to restore our government to a democracy and I commit to this.

Home Remedies for Optimal Rest

taking the pressure off of going to sleep by telling yourself your going for optimal rest.

woman sleeping
Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

 

If you’re having trouble sleeping at night try taking the pressure off of going to sleep by telling yourself your going for optimal rest. Then if you fall asleep during your optimal rest period it’s a good bonus.

I’ve worked for over 20 years in the mental health field facilitating groups on relaxation, meditation, and sleep hygiene.

caffeine can disrupt your sleep up to 11 hours after you drink it

Sleep is part of a daily cycle. Children and teenagers need more sleep sometimes up to 10 or 11 hours. Adults average about 8 hours up to the age of 55. Those over the age of 55 need less sleep – about 8 to 6 hours. These figures are not set in stone and there are always exceptions to every “rule”.

Since the time of the industrial revolution mainly the advent of electric light and more recently television, computers, smart phones and the internet the natural rhythms of our bodies have been disrupted due to light pollution.

Your bedroom should always be slightly on the cool side

woman sleeping
Photo by Ivan Obolensky on Pexels.com

Before Sleep – The Experts Report Our bodies adjust to light dark cycles so if you’re having trouble sleeping at night you may want to consider making changes to your daily routine:

Exercise – in the morning or afternoon. Avoid exercise in the evening or at night this can signal your body to become more awake or alert. Exercise is important for a good night’s sleep even if it is a short or long walk in the morning or afternoon.

Caffeine – The experts report that caffeine can affect your body and disrupt your sleep up to 11 hours after you drink it. This can affect your ability to fall asleep and your ability to stay asleep.

Television, Smartphone or computer use – excites the brain. Sleep experts recommend to stop using these devices at least 2 hours before retiring

Snacking – Sleep experts recommend that you wait 3 hours after eating to go to sleep for a better night’s sleep.

Technique – If you do sleep poorly and assuming your morning is sunny you can re-set your body clock by sitting in the sun from 40 to 60 minutes in the morning.

Sleeping Timing – experts suggest going to sleep at the same time each night. I have observed that this has to do with body memory. Disrupting body memory where we experience a burst of energy hurtling passed our ordinary bedtimes usually comes from caffeine or a late night snack of sugary foods or refined carbohydrates.

 No Alcohol Before Bedtime – I almost did not include this because many people already know that while alcohol can put you to sleep it can often wake you up several times during the night. A drink or a glass of wine with an early dinner is okay.

Minimize Electrical Gadgets in your Bedroom – a lamp is good with an incandescent bulb and is best for reading and a feeling of warmth. An alarm clock without excessive lights if you need one is okay but not an alarm on your electronic device. Watching television in-bed, surfing the net from your smartphone or tablet is bad for your sleep hygiene. Best to turn off your cell phone or tablet if you are keeping them in your bedroom.

Light and TemperatureYour bedroom should be as dark as possible, no light at all. But if you startle waking-up in a dark room, a light in a different room or a very dim nightlight is okay. If you have equipment such as a CPAP machine prescribed for your sleep then of course that’s okay. Your bedroom should always be slightly on the cool side, in summer and winter. Our body temperatures drop at night and by cuddling with ourselves under the covers we warm to an optimal sleeping temperature.

 

muse on your day, begin the letting go process

 

One to Three Hours Before Sleep  – These are nightly rituals, that when I use them, they assist me in getting a better night’s sleep. Admittedly I don’t use them as much as I could.

The Wind-DownBegin with a hot beverage – an herbal tea, or warm milk, or a non-alcohol hot-toddy-for sleep:  A-Non-Alcoholic-Hot-Toddy-for-Sleep

As you begin to enjoy your beverage muse on your day, begin the letting go process.

Next take care of brushing your teeth and all those to-do things before laying down to engage in optimal rest.

If you get in bed before the 40-minute period before closing your eyes, plan on reading, listening to music or doing some breath work, but ideally this should occur after taking medications and/or supplements.

LET GO AND BREATHE

Thirty (30) to forty (40) minutes before lying down take any nighttime medications or supplements.

 

Here are the supplements I take at night for their sedating effects:

GABA  – It’s an neurotransmitter that blocks impulses between nerve cells in the brain. Its uses include but are not limited to: improved sleep, lowering anxiety, help with chronic pain and lowering blood pressure;

Calcium – most calcium is derived from a dairy product which may have a sedating effect

Sometimes I take:

Aconitum Napellus 30c – four to five pellets under the tongue – It’s for anxiety but it can aide in falling to sleep.

 

Immediate Preparations for Optimal Rest

background beautiful blossom calm waters
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

These techniques can be used in preparations  just prior to closing your eyes or if sleep doesn’t come.

The Body Clench – this is a systematic clench of muscle groups and their release in your body. Begin by scrunching up your feet and clenching your toes. Don’t let go. Next tighten your calf and thigh muscles, then tighten your butt muscles, your chest and abdomen. Next make fists and tighten the muscles in your forearms and biceps, stretch your neck by moving your head towards your chest and scrunch up the muscles in your face.

Then LET GO AND BREATHE.

Don’t beat yourself up because your suppose to be sleeping

The idea is to make your body tighter so you when you release the tightness tense muscles also release and allows your body to move into a more relaxed state.

 

Sleep experts suggest you sleep on your side. Sleeping on your abdomen (belly) inhibits your breath so not good for optimal rest.

 

Close your Eyes – (30 to 40 minutes after taking your medications and/or supplements) When you close your eyes there may be an automatic response for you to think about everything your worried about, or to criticize yourself in someway. Worry may manifest as thinking about something repeatedly (obsessing) – trying to figure it out. Or maybe you’re trying to solve a problem or review something that happened that day.

Let yourself do this for a few minutes. Make it okay. Don’t beat yourself up because your suppose to be sleeping even it goes on you five to ten minutes or so. Also you might want to engage in some soothing self-talk such as: “I’m a gentle person”, I’m applying compassion towards others and myself” “I like _____ about myself” or think of a peaceful scene in nature – a sunset over a lake or behind a mountain, floating or flying over fields, seeing waves at the beach.

It’s okay… it’s okay… I’m safe. I can let go.

Then tell yourself that it time to dive deeper into optimum rest.

Begin this next process by scanning your body with your mind for any areas of your body where your holding tension and imagine breathing them out (with your out-breath). Let go.

Next, focus on your breath. Usually, what happens when we begin to focus on our breath is that we take control. That’s okay. Breathing in this way soon becomes like work. When you start to realize that its work then begin to watch your breath as it moves in and out of your body without trying to control it. You’re just matching your thoughts with what’s happening in your body automatically, that can be a lot easier.

I may just practice watching my breath achieving optimal rest

Your mind may wander back to your negative or problem solving thoughts without you realizing it. If this happens let them go and move back to your witness mind watching your breath. The rhythm of your breath is similar to waves coming to shore. As you imagine your breath like the waves you may feel the peace of waves as you picture them in your mind.

Focus on your breath in this way for at least 20 to 40 minutes. Usually what happens for me is I fall asleep, but I only know this has happened when I awaken the next morning. I realize I have released and fallen asleep.

Sometimes it doesn’t happen and I catch myself on the edge of letting go and pull myself back into a wakeful and circular thought process – a knee-jerk response. Here I may do some soothing self-talk (silently saying to myself):

“It’s okay… it’s okay… I’m safe. I can let go. I can be a deep diver. I can let go. I am letting go, letting go…”

If after 20 minutes to an hour and I’m awake I may just let myself be satisfied with continuing to watch my breath and drop into a deeper level of meditation. Or I may get up and go to the bathroom and return to bed and matching my thoughts with my breath.

For more about my work visit:  Ontario’s The Kai

 

the mountain spoke to me

the majestic Mount Diablo

When I moved to California in 1982 I began listening to the real world – trees, fields, streams, mountains and all the creatures that inhabited them. I listened with my heart and a bond was formed.

I felt the solidity peace and wisdom of this mountain

I was looking out the back window of the house that the Venerable Dharmawara Mathahera aka Bhante had rented in Lathrop, California in the Central Valley. Beyond the irrigated fields was the majestic Mount Diablo.

I felt the solidity peace and wisdom of this mountain. It looked closer than it had been in the recent past. I felt welcomed by the mountain to the space and heart of California.

 

It was the entrée point to becoming a healer.

 

The photos I had taken in the early 80s were destroyed when my garage roof leaked water into boxes where many photos were stored.

I tried to look for comparable photos and have a link to a Wikipedia page:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Diablo#Cultural_history

Here is a earlier piece on Bhante:

https://psychesweather.wordpress.com/2017/04/13/remembering-bhante/

 

For more about my work visit:  Ontario’s The Kai

Cycles of Time, Chiron and The Body

 

time lapse photo of stars on night
Photo by Jakub Novacek on Pexels.com

The Chiron Return in astrology is a part of the cycle of time when we turn 50 years old give or take a year. Chiron is a larger asteroid in the belt and is known as the wounded healer from mythos. Its return signifies an impulse to remember and/or resolve childhood wounds. In addition it brings a sense of belonging to Earth and entry into mastery.

astrology is an analogous companion that correlates with changes in how we age and grow

I look at astrology as a guide to small and larger life cycles – a guide to the mythos of life’s mysteries and not as a ruler. An astrology teacher of mine told me not to go backpacking to Desolation Wilderness (a National Wilderness area west of Lake Tahoe on the High Sierras) one weekend. She said I was under a Saturn Transit and that I could break my ankle or some bones. I thanked her and said I would be careful. I didn’t break any bones.

A mature emotional center is able to balance contradictory emotions and/or live with them

It could also be true that astrology is an analogous companion that correlates with changes in how we age and grow. Whether you view astrology as a loose analogous pal or a mythos guide the way of healing for me has been more arduous than the emotional roller coaster I rode over most of my life. It has been more difficult because the unresolved aspects of childhood wounding have been caught in a emotional – somatic combine where I have and continue to feel chewed up.

body memory becomes noticeable

After fifty, especially for those that have worked on themselves the emotional center matures and the intellect is then available to work more closely with parsing emotions and helping to make sense of them. A mature emotional center is able to balance contradictory emotions and/or live with them – as in tolerate the inconsistencies and contradictions without “acting-out” reactions. For those that have done deeper inner work a core or essential (being) self develops and is able to remain compassionately neutral in the comings and goings of emotional states.

The seeds of auto-immune diseases may begin when we are young

After fifty the emotional body bonds with the somatic (physical) body where body memory becomes noticeable to the intellect and enters awareness. For instance the body’s habits of the sleep cycle begin if we go to bed at approximately the same time every night. So if I go to sleep at 11 pm or midnight my body will prompt me to want to sleep at that time. I certainly can use my will or caffeine imbibed at 3 pm or after to push beyond the ordinary limit for sleep. All our habits, good and bad are held in our bodies.

Below the age of fifty it is easier to use our will and the plastic flexibility of the body to override body memory much more easily. The seeds of auto-immune diseases may begin when we are young and we don’t pay attention to the signs because of the plasticity of the functions of our bodies and our wills that push past physical limitations.

Awareness is the first step is solving a problem

As an incest survivor complex emotions of closeness due to love and abhorrence due to the infliction of physical pain by my caretaker and relative have come to rest in an autoimmune disorder of psoriatic arthritis. When I was a child I confused the bogeyman with the bugger man. I imagined that no one would want to touch me because my body was covered with abhorrent scabs and buggers from the nose. A relative tied me up at night in such a way as to affect my fingers where the pain of arthritis is rooted. The arthritis is analogous to the conflict of unresolved love and hate etc. stuck in the body.

Awareness is the first step is solving a problem. Most people intellectually know that they have a body but they are often not present there in the body unless pain draws our attention to an imbalance. Disease itself is not just emotionally based. The etiology of diseases are in part environmentally oriented due to an increasing toxic world, genetic and by hazard.

To be continued…

 

 

 

Talking to Plants about the Weather

orangeflorCanna Flower to the left and plant belowAfter

I’m not talking about talking to plants about tomorrow’s weather or a week or a month from now. I mainly have talked with plants about the winter.

In the 1980s my lover had given me a pot of Chinese Chives (chives that have a hint of garlic taste in them). In 1990 I moved to a place on Trinity Road where I lived for ten years. The seeds from the potted Chinese Chives spread to the ground outside my dining room window and created a lawn there.

I began receiving impressions from them about the upcoming winter. They “told” me whether it would be a warm wet winter or a cold dry (drought based) winter. I believe that part of the reason we don’t hear plants or trees besides the obvious spoken and written language differences is we are in our heads moving too fast to notice what they are saying.

Chinese Chives are bulbs and can survive very cold – freezing temperatures and rebound in the spring (unfortunately they didn’t survive the move from the mountains to the valley). The same is true of the Canna Flower – also a bulb. When I saw them in early spring (2018) the leaves were low and one shoot went up high and a flower bloomed.

I asked about the coming winter and received impressions:

Winter of 2018 – 2019, in Sonoma, California (Northern California)

Rains can come as early as October or November, get heavy in December, January, February and March

This year the impression from my fiend the Canna: a dry cold winter through December, Rains beginning in January.; mid to late January through February moderate to heavy rains punctuated by very cold days between fronts. In March coastal fog and showers with possible heavy rains for a few days at the end of the month. In April – cool and clear.

Alchemical Magic – Part One

Bridges to Kauai

na-pali-95

Its in the journey…

Many years ago – inspired by a graduate student in social geography I came up with the Quest-ions Project. The project was for travelers who had both imagination and an ability to write descriptively. I based the questions on their destinations asking them to answer a question on the top of an 8 1/2 by 11 inch sheet of paper after opening the business sized envelope at the proper time (there were instructions on when to open it).  Some of the questions were generic such as describe how a sunset makes you feel. However most of the questions were designed to the person’s relationship to place – mainly the destinations of their travels. The first person hitchhiked across the USA through the badlands. Another person was a waitress who reported that the questions supported her through her loneliness in relocating from Sonoma, CA to Spokane, WA and back again. A friend who went to Morocco and the Azores wrote fantastically descriptive prose that transported to a mystical forest there. The most interesting Questions project began with a friend and her Mother who took a cruise to Hawaii.

When she returned she dropped two of the three unopened Kauai questions on my kitchen table and said: “These questions are for you.” She explained that the cruise ship did not have docking privileges, so they anchored off shore. The plan had been to take skiffs ashore but the seas were too rough from a recent storm. The ship sat offshore for three days and they just looked at the island.

I had always wanted to go to Hawaii but put it off for years. So within three weeks I had plane reservations and a plan: backpacking – camping for four days, and staying at a motel and a Youth Hostel a day each and a Bed & Breakfast for a day. I was bumped into seat number three in first class on the way there.

I had to wait several hours for my backpack to catch-up with me at the airport before hitching into a motel for the first night. It was June of 1995. The air outside of baggage claim was hot, humid and immersed in the perfume of tropical flowers. The breezes off the ocean created a profound peace of being held by the goddess mother. So easy to smile, so sweet…

A woman who worked for one of the big hotels in Poipu with her husband picked me up. They had lived in a neighboring county – Marin before relocating to Kauai. I smiled and laughed. She asked me about my plan. I told her that I had planned to go to Polihale State Park. She advised against it, very hot there humid over 100 degrees. She advised going north to Hanalei. I thanked her as she dropped me off at Motor Court outside Lihue, which probably no longer exists.

The woman at the front desk checked me in. She looked at me as if I was insane when I answered her question about my rental car – “I don’t have one.”

That night I opened the first question:

Make contact with the Menehune and ask them for permission to contact the Lemurian world on Kauai.  I meditated for a while and decided to go to sleep. The day’s travel had been arduous.

I awoke to a raucous running and giggling in the room. I was about to turn on the light, when a strong impression of a voice came to me commanding me to stop and be still. The voice said:

You have it!

He meant permission to contact the Lemurians. In the morning the rocking chair was on its side where the Menehune had knocked it over the night before. I checked out the next morning and walked to the county seat where I bought a permit for camping at the Hanea Beach Park.

I hitched up the coast to the Youth Hostel in Kapaa for companionship and to gather supplies for my camping trip. We shared the cost for a veggie chili meal. I ate with the group played some fierce Ping-Pong and met a sweet young French woman.

hawaii hut nature paradise

I hitched north and had two good long rides. One was a guy with an open jeep. I was rained on – the downpour soaked me but it was refreshing. He was a pot smoker who had wanted to sell me some weed, but I didn’t smoke. The next ride was an Asian woman and her young teenage daughter who was in Catholic School and was busy playing and winning golf tournaments.  I later saw her on the TV show 60 minutes as a 17 year old golf pro. They took me as far as Princeville. I got another ride to Hanalei and walked to the campground.

The first day was great. Then local Hawaiians came in – enforce for a luau. It was nonstop noise 24 hours a day – I stuck it out for three days. I went snorkeling at Ke’e Beach. I mediated by waterfalls.

In a trance I was taken back in time to the early Lemurian times and saw a prince and princess blend their spirits in love. It was a blessing.

 The luau was loud and sleep at the campground was impossible. I left one day early hitched back and spent another night at the Kapaa Youth Hostel before getting a ride to the Bed & Breakfast in the jungles west of Kapaa.  It was a geodesic dome on top, a small building housing the rooms for the B&B with a lanai and two canvas yurts on wooden platforms 30 feet in diameter.

After a beautiful night under a canopy of stars and a sweet romantic kiss there was a sweet breakfast of strawberry papaya.

I received two homemade leis at the airport one from Angel manager of the B&B and now friend , one from the young French woman Lavigne.  Both leis were homemade by Lavigne. Taking the leis home was taking the slower life of Kauai back to California.

For more see part two:

Alchemical-Magic-Part-Two