No Time Like The Present

images
The Last Mass Extinction Event, Or?

I had wanted to find out what it would be like to live in a good future because living in America with Climate Deniers in power is terrifying and that’s just a start of a long list of what’s wrong. I’m done with the wrong list. I want to feel okay again. But it’s not so simple as that or is it?

Why does it always have to be the last mass extinction event?

I had read about people that had traveled to a future where things were very different and seemed better. I wanted something like that – a place I could wrap around myself to know that we, as humans, had survived the last mass extinction event.

Why does it always have to be the last mass extinction event? I think there is something violently suicidal and apocalyptic built into our evolutionary genetic structure associated with the ending of the corporeal life of our entire human species:

We don’t know how to change so

“to hell with it. Yeah there’s the cliff. Me and my horse are galloping towards it. I know I will die, let’s ride faster.”

The horse will stop at the last moment hurtling the rider to the death over the cliff.

a car running on the refined remains of dinosaurs

There was a recent poll from The Washington Post about Climate Change. Only 37% said they thought we would have to make major sacrifices to prevent climate change from destroying the human species. And yet major sacrifices may not be enough given the rapidity of the changes so far.

Back to the future

In a previous piece, “Is the future in the past and the past in the future?” this process of what could be next, began.  I received a blessing of “stepping” into a future only to experience the future and the past in the present without content or context. After all we made up the concept of past and future so to travel to one of many possible futures is an illusion. In fact we use past memories to extrapolate a future we wish to create. True?

person performing fire dance at night

Living in a harmonious future where we are honoring our home on earth rather than defiling her as we do now is a desire. Desire is the tool of attachment. When I began my desire to escape this current reality of power-possessors who are also climate change deniers through consciousness time travel I protected my attachment to what I imagined as a better possible future. The experience of creating an arc / circle to experience future and past merging with me in the present created in me a great blessing. I was not aware of the blessing at first.

The Blessing

Due to a recent heat wave, joint and muscular pains in the night I had been having difficulty getting a good nights sleep. Waking up for a bathroom break for five contiguous nights helped set the stage for difficulty falling back to sleep. Over the weekend my mind was jumping about preventing “drift-off” into sleep. Then came frustrations… My mind was producing too much activity that when coupled with flashes of joint and muscular pain as well as skin itch from psoriasis so that sleep seemed impossible. Left side, right side switching further complicated matters even though I was following my own advice of watching my breath without trying to change it. I went to sleep at 11 pm approximately and woke at 4 am for the bathroom break. Speedy mind and jumping thoughts crashed into my consciousness after I slipped back into bed. Just about to drop off – PAIN, dealt with it. Then muscular pain. This went on for an hour. I was drifting again, about to drop off when itchy skin surfaced. My inner voice let me know not to scratch the itch. I saw myself surfing the waves of thoughts.

In the morning I figured I had 4 hours of straight sleep with 2 hours of restless wakefulness followed by 3 hours of solid sleep.

Letting go attachment was the trick; choosing to let go is an opportunity in every moment.

left hand

Same As It Ever Was?

The momentum of post-modern life proceeds without thought, yes I am asleep at the wheel most of the time, as are most folks. We fit in well with having to make money- to eek out a living to drive a car, make payments, buy stuff – make payments, pay bills try to live day to day.

I petition my representatives, sometimes repeatedly, to promote the right thing to do – in my opinion. Fortunately, as a California resident all my representatives are Democrats, nevertheless I petition them to do the right thing. I plan on voting for a progressive Presidential nominee and I hope there will be one elected as president.

Besides working to let go of my attachments in the moment to experience freedom and an expanded present moment I have not yet made fundamental changes to my lifestyle in the face of Climate Change. Oh sure, I don’t drive my car as much – now only 2 to 3 days a week, I recycle, I eat a mostly vegan diet, but I don’t consider these fundamental changes in my lifestyle. I still have a car with an exclusive internal combustion engine running on the refined remains of dinosaurs.

 

 

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…