Rewiring the System


Breathing

Posted in Uncategorized by rewiringangel on June 19, 2011
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This is an unedited article from a talk I prepared in 2007. I just thought though raw it was good to make some of this information available.

 

Breathing and Other of Life’s Little Secrets

Page historylast edited by PBworks 3 years ago

Breathing and other of life’s little secrets

 

 

Rewiring Press, a division of GrassRoutes Publishing

“Due to her sincere dedication and commitment to meditation, and her interaction with renowned masters of Tibetan Buddhism she’s been able to create a manual for a balanced lifestyle, inclusive of human biology that can help people deal with everyday problems.”

– Ven. Losang Samten, Personal Assistant to His Holiness the Dalai Lama

 

“Ms. Bartlett’s respected judgement, broad outlook and authentic skills ensure a rich, value-laden approach to problem solving. Plus I am sleeping better!”

-Nha Vinh Tran, Institutional Equity Professional

 

 

How to Breath

and life’s other little lessons

 

By: Ilsa Bartlett

 

Published 2007

©Ilsa Bartlett

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means without written consent from the author, except for brief quotes for reviews.

 

GrassRoutes and its authors accept no responsibility for complications arising from advice offered in this manual.

 

For distribution and bulk purchases, contact:

Rewiring Press, GrassRoutes Publishing

632 60th Street

Oakland, CA 95406

Table of Contents

 

How to Rewire your System…… 6

How to Get to Know Yourself…. 9

How to Be On Time…………. 11

How to Let Go of Anger…….. 13

How to Get what you Want…… 15

How your Body Works……….. 16

How to Breathe……………. 18

How to Stretch……………. 21

How to be Nice to Yourself…. 26

How to Go to Sleep………… 29

About the Author………….. 37

How to Rewire your System

 

“Yesterday is dead. Forget it. Tomorrow does not yet exist. Today is here, use it. So that every yesterday is a memory of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope.”

—Shakespeare

 

Every morning we begin our day in a relaxed peaceful way, and strive anew toward our search for the meaning of life. The warmth of a smile or the successful conclusion of a complex business deal, or the chance to study a subject that excites us — there are experiences, strung throughout our lives, where we feel like an integral part the web of life. Connected to those in our immediate circle and out to their circles until we are six degrees of separation! We are filled with positive meaningful human purpose. No matter how, where or when we unearth these magic moments, we forget them, and remember them again, then forget and somehow then when we least expect to we remember. We are in a constant process of losing our meaning, our disguise which is the identity that others attach to you. Loose the social marketing for what we are involved with, then re defining, re-finding it again as in a craft of sewing the threads that bring a truth to the fabric of our lives. These facts are the basis of the many facets of our lives.

 

The world is becoming increasingly complicated. It takes longer to connect with our own answers when there is no time to bounce back from one project, one idea, and one task to another. Multi-tasking is considered normal activity, both mentally and physically. We find ourselves stretched like a rubber band trying to hold in all the busy pieces of our lives: our jobs, our families, our dreams, our necessary mundane tasks, our friends, our health, our relationships. When we stretch like this, never giving ourselves the chance to focus single-mindedly on one task without the thoughts of another yet ahead, we are stressing our human system. People are not built to live at this level of activity all the time.

 

What is needed is a re-wiring of our system from the inside: A rewiring as the nerve impulses flow which will allow each of us, as a complete human being, a chance to thrive.  We need a rhythmic rewiring to support both our breathing, and kinetic functioning to move inside and outside together as an intact cohesive person.  When we rewire as one person we thus affect others in our circle dispelling social injustice. Rewiring is protection from the barrage of both physical and emotional garbage as well as all the information we juggle and grapple with daily. Rewiring is a way to be productive without loosing ourselves in the busy-ness.

 

Each of us needs to take the time to care for our human apparatus so we can construct a future. We are instruments of our ideas, building history by co-operating as best we can with our families, friends, work and the general political environment in which we find ourselves.

 

We need make time to ask the inner questions, those we’ve been polishing in our hearts and minds for so long. It is time to bring out our Core Beliefs. The longing to understand the meaning of life in general, and in our own existence is a current that runs through us, even if we are completely caught up in minute details. We long for this ‘value’ understanding to plant itself as a seed in our hearts and continue to grow.

 

But where does the seeker turn? The more we fill our lives with busy-ness the harder it becomes to seek out the answers. Beyond looking for community, or for a story that tells of our individual evolution, where do we fit in? Why are we surrounded by certain people and not others? Do we make choices just to avoid oppression? How to move out from behind the veneer and show ourselves? How can we make a positive contribution? How can we get through difficulties? Always start by compassion to ourselves with loving attention about how we take care of the castle we are using to live and move and be in the three dimensions of our world.  By starting with ourselves we create a community of healing and hope and challenge to act from and reflect on our deepest held beliefs.

 

 

Whether we are Agnostics or Atheists or have a congregational religion or we get the willies when the “r” word is mentioned, we look and find meaning, then loose it again. Whichever community we find ourselves, many are becoming less involved with the individual’s sincere questioning and more a “money making machine” or worse: a dogma enforcer. We find this happens in educational systems, political systems, non-profit organizations, for-profit businesses and even if we choose to be in a religion. If you take a closer look, you’ll realize that the initial goals of many groups are becoming more and more clouded by the pursuit to win your time, win money, and get ahead without allowing for the moments in between to be meaningful.

 

Deep breathing allows you to let in the energy that is around you, available for your use, rather than conflicting with the emotions, people and your ever-present “to do” list. Start this process of change by quieting down. Just sit down and relax and stop doing or thinking about anything but just how still you can be. Sit still and do nothing but breath and say peace.  Peace in breath and peace out breath.

 

When you are sufficiently quiet, the weariness in your bones releases and your heart resets to your natural rhythm. This is a self-affirming process for executives and homemakers, construction workers and secretaries, for people in every walk of life who are looking forward to feeling deep satisfaction, and finding the meaning in their work, this rewiring can have widespread effects.

How to Get to Know Yourself

 

Ask yourself why you are stuck in your current groove. Why do you have all the habits you do? Why do you do all the same things even when you say you are going to make a change or take a step forward? Why are you sliding around, back and forth between one method and another?

 

By getting to know yourself, openly and fearlessly, you can be more in charge of the changes you make. Like getting into a hot bath, it takes time for you to adjust to the new “temperature”, so dip one toe in at a time. Take a mental inventory of where the dry sandy shore of your past habitual life ends and meets the incoming and constantly changing tides which carry the future of your dreams. First take a long look at who you are and what you really want.

 

If you don’t know what to do about this search or what you want, it is about time you found out. Start by writing out some of your dreams. So many other people, both friends and relatives, have opinions about who you are, what you should be doing and what is best for you in the grand scheme of things. If you can strike a balance between the incoming barrage of opinions, advice, hope and ideas, with what comes from inside of you, it is like paving a smooth path for your dreams to come true. It is the way to connect with your happiness. Now you can figure out what to leave behind; get the clutter out of your head. By journaling your thoughts and dreams in the early morning, before the activities of the day take over, you will get a clearer picture of the parts of yourself you want to develop and those you are ready to change. Keep only the ideas and future plans that fill you with self-love.  Get up earlier and give yourself the time to investigate what you want.

 

This is also a time to contemplate your various tender memories. Honour your long-held private thoughts by looking at them honestly, from an objective and a subjective perspective. Jot down some of the most potent parts of your history that come to mind. Some may be obvious; others could just be a look someone gave you that has stuck around in your brain. The list you come up with will represent a space tailored and ready for your personal transformation. This inventory will reduce your internal negotiations and generate a much more positive state of mind. Then you’ll be ready to notice your breathing so that you can breathe better, which we’ll talk about more later on as we progress. Honour your inner being by creating a space to fill with your self worth.

How to Be On Time

 

Before Descartes there where only three hours considered in a day: before lunch, lunch, and after lunch. Descartes and his cronies during the Enlightenment brought about widespread use of the newly invented clock! Though he was too afraid of the Papacy to publish much of his work before his death, he travelled and taught in the powerful royal courts.

 

His ideas brought “tick tock” into the mainstream. The rhythm of a clock, although it is an invisible concept of forward motion, is not a natural pattern like a heartbeat, which frames our lives. I will call this “the consensual habit of time.” It is the machine image of man, not the natural internal beat, but one that can be synched unnaturally with the heart. If you aren’t stretching your time like a rubber band and spreading yourself too thinly, you’re inner clock and your outer clock will be smoothly working together. Being on time to a meeting can get your inner rhythm out of whack if you find yourself rushing around on a regular basis. You can be on time, all the time, or as the saying goes, “in the right place at the right time.” Give yourself the proper preparation time before planned engagements. Learn how to say no and mean it so you don’t take on more than you can handle without getting frazzled. Relax and take time for yourself, make the most of your free time, make time to breathe deeply. Have interesting activities to look forward to doing. Learn how to think compassionately and you will no longer have to struggle to be with the pace of life.  You will be in time with the universe!

 

Rene Descartes wanted to bring the rigor of science into the human approach to daily life. He postulated that man worked just like a machine, and that the certainty of mathematics could be applied to nature! Since Humans are within the boundaries of nature, that makes math a language to describe the workings of human wiring. His reflexes, rather than the warm fire of his individual heart define this mechanized man. We are trapped along a known method in responding to one another as measurable as the ticking of the clock.

 

Descartes’ writing on the true knowledge gleaned from his meditation on numbers made a powerful distinction between body and mind, which has deeply influenced Western thinking. The tangles and chaos of a machine moving by multi-purposing its movable parts has veiled our thinking as we look in the mirror. The seat of our individuality was firmly planted, removing our easy-going three-hour day, and increasing ambition, self-assurance, empowering self-effort, strength and freedom. This is why getting away from “the grid” of time and stepping into another way of relating is so healing. Life will inevitably have its ups and downs, so floating on the grid of time, or the rhythm of living, rather than getting fully immersed, will make it easier to strike a balance.


How to Let Go of Anger

 

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone. The only person you end up burning is yourself. It prevents you from having happiness and feeling good. Anger is a challenge for being ready for your future and the progress of the human family. Worry, anger and transient emotions are blocks to this end.

 

Anger manifests itself in subtle ways all the time. It is in a sudden movement, a tone of voice, it is all around us. Road rage is another place anger shows up, where you feel the need to control others, thus they are responsible for how we feel.

 

Working on self control, and realising that no one can “make” you feel anything are both helpful in shedding the habit of anger retention.

 

There are craggy problems looking you right in the eye and digging into your heart. Family, career, money, home, friends—these are a blessing, but they can all be stresses that send you off kilter. These can feel like chasms breaking up the forward movement and diverging us from our path. In order to move past this barrier, get out your journal again and write a paragraph or two about a few things that are furrowing your brow. Put them on paper with the intention that they will no longer be your burden. Do what you can, and don’t worry about what you cannot do. Let go.

 

Next time you are stuck in Friday evening rush hour, think of this:

 

It’s Friday again. I have been through a series of busy days. I have been spinning in reality. The days happen to be filled with the stuff that constrains society, individuals and groups. I feel constrained and tight. Activity and obligations have filled my mind, seeped into my muscles and my very being. I need to find a way to get through the day’s razzmatazz without rancour.

 

So I sit still. I do not wiggle around. I do not jump up to do that thing I just remembered about. I do not push through traffic or honk my horn. My mind calms its thought pump and I just relax. As I do nothing I watch the settling of thoughts and emotions. I quietly focus on the air going in and out, feeling where it goes as I inhale and exhale. I fill my belly button up with air and deflate it like a balloon. I think about which breath came first, the inhale or the exhale. The traffic stops and starts and I know I’ll get there, but my mind and emotions are at rest, so I do not react.

 

A lane opens up and the traffic subsides as I glide to my destination. Thoughts are powerful.

How to Get what you Want

 

What is the reason for not going after what you really want? Is it because there is a flaw in the process? Our answers might go like this:

 

Scenario: My dog ate the instructions.

Scenario 2: Aliens must have stolen it.

Scenario 3: The carrier pigeons are on strike and UPS will not come to my neighborhood.

Scenario 4: The pen exploded while I was writing the list.

Scenario 5: My secret decoder ring still couldn’t read the bar code.

 

We’ve all made these excuses, come up with justifications or explanations for things not going as planned. There’s always a good, sensible reason not to take a risk and go for your real desire.

 

In fact, there’s a scientific angle on this—right in our bodies. Appendages of the nervous system, called axons, join the nerves to the muscle cells. Each nerve has a myoline sheath so that the nervous impulse is insulated and does not disperse inappropriately and keeps moving in the same direction. At the midpoint of most axons, a neuromuscular junction exists with a synapse between the two portions of the axon. One is the sensible side, one is the risk-taker. We need both, but we often side with our inhibitions instead. This synapse, a jump from one of your nervous system’s “highways” to another, is a nano-meter-sized example of this tendency for our fearfulness to overtake our intuition.

 

How your Body Works

 

Breathing and relaxing starts at the cellular level. Here’s a detailed explanation of how your cells and muscles work together to communicate stress and rest.

 

Increased carbon dioxide in the blood supply in the respiratory center results in deeper, faster breathing. Carbohydrate oxidation in the muscles during exercise produces carbon dioxide in the blood. This then increases respiration depth and rate, which results in more oxygen being made available for the blood to transport to the muscles.

 

Excessive levels of CO2 can make the blood more acidic so respiration increases to get rid of the CO2. Also, if there is an oxygen deficit, the respiratory rate will increase. Getting enough rest, and structuring your life with balance actually increases oxygen in your blood, making it easier to relax when things inevitably start getting heavy.

 

Part of the somatic nervous system in both the brain and spinal chord have motor neurons covered with myoline including a neuromuscular junction to communicate movement. Contraction causes the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

 

Acetylcholine travels across the gap between the muscle and the nerve – called the synaptic cleft – that binds to receptors on the muscle, resulting in the release of calcium ions. The calcium in turn initiates the next contraction, and the pattern repeats. Skeletal muscle fibres contain many filaments made of proteins called actin and myosin.

 

The myosin filaments attach on to the actin filaments by means of extensions called cross bridges. As the filaments overlap and slide together, the muscle fibre contracts becoming shorter and thicker. Muscles relax when nerve stimulation stops.

 

Acetylcholine is then removed and partially broken down by the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. Muscles do not relax when the chemicals are not broken down. Decreased nerve stimulation slows this process, increasing relaxation from the inside out. Next time you feel a nervous thought coming on, think about the muscle fibres and the myoline lining, breathe slowly for a moment and visualize the filaments contracting at a slower rate. Normal relaxed breathing will then be effortless, regular and quiet.

How to Breathe

The Hawaiians have a word for visitor/vacationers, individuals who were not born on the Hawaiian archipelago, they are called “Howlies.” A direct translation of this name means out of breath or without breath. In the rest of the civilized world there are persons who are without breath, without the ability to fill their lungs and also push all the air out of their lungs. Hawaiians do this naturally, both while awake and while sleeping. Since it has been passed down as an important part of cultural practice, correct breathing is second nature to some societies scattered around the world.

Start by sitting up straight. Plant your neck over your ribs and hold you head up. As the Indian Swami Vivekananda explained, “the necessary posture is to hold the spinal column free, by sitting erect, holding the three parts – the chest, neck and head – in a straight line. Let the whole weight of these three be supported by the ribs. Then you will have an easy natural posture with a spine straight.”

Somehow a widespread understanding of “good posture” has been tarnished with brutal 19th century school teachers or an uncomfortable pose you only need strike in formal occasions. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Resist the urge to tighten your shoulders or strain your lower back. Your comfort is so important to both your breathing and your thinking. Being comfortable is the goal.

Once you are properly seated, think about your breathing. Ask yourself: what does it feel like to breath? Begin where you are. Don’t straighten up and change your posture to some “politically correct” poise. The first step is to stretch in a self-affirming and easy-going way. Being tender to your self is very important. Love yourself, love your limits.

Think of your body as your vehicle. It needs the same loving attention you give your valuables. You have a velvet-lined jewelery box for your gold necklace, you polish your car with protective wax, you dry clean your wool suit.  Now start to care for yourself with the same loving attention.

Try breathing as though your heart had a mouth into which air could flow in and out. Every deep breath calms your body and brings a peaceful energy to the whole environment. As you breathe you bring your calmness to every thought, action and word. This method of breathing brings the possibility of seeing clearly into your every day life with the broad view of a good listener. When you start the day thinking about your breath, you are better equipped to see clearly the pushing and pulling of external forces throughout the day ahead.

After staying seated, remaining comfortable, stand up and gently shake out your arms, your legs and your torso. Let your neck relax and sink forward into your shoulders, then turn slowly toward the right and clockwise stopping at each hour for a moment.

Sit down again in such a simple solid way so the flow of surging breath flows evenly with no bends in its path. Think of your spine as a copper plug. It needs to be uncoiled, in a line from the lamp to the socket. Twists, creases or folds in the wire tense the system and will break the flow. Our spine needs to sit one bony section aligned with the next, with all the skeleton sections stacked in a column. The energy is flowing up and down your spine throughout your nervous system to all parts of the body as you sit and breathe.

The point of sitting still is to go to the brain gym. It is a challenge to let go of your teaming thoughts. It is difficult to maintain balance in an increasingly complicated world. But it is an important survival skill to flourish in the ebbs and flows of society. Try thinking only of your breath. Then try focusing single-pointedly on something simple, like a color.

When you are fully relaxed, the number of inhalations and exhalations within a one-minute period should varies between 14-18 in an adult male and 16-20 in adult. The chest and diaphragm should exhibit a slow and subtle movement, without jerking or inconsistent movements. Normal relaxed breathing is effortless, regular and quiet. The pattern shows the regularity of breaths.

How to Stretch

 

The human body cannot reach its goal of happiness unless it’s in a certain shape and doing certain things. There are exercises and positions for every single part of your body. Some of the steps, like breathing thru your nose and mouth at the same time, may take a month to master. Every part of this sequence of stretches, I learned directly from people who have carried this ancient wisdom.

 

There’s a specific process for learning how to sit still. Your body is a thing, a thing with its’ own agenda. It tells you when it’s not warm enough or when you’re horny. Think of these signals in terms of diversions, refocusing your attention on bodily matters rather than understanding your true self, or focusing on the simple rhythm of your breath.

This series of stretches is designed to work to lubricate your entire nervous system by activating the myoline I talked about earlier. You might not have known that most nerves in your body have this insulating layer of fat around them, but without it your nerves would to the cellular equivalent of short-circuiting.

Stand up so that your outstretched arms are far away from any person or thing around you. Place your feet in a straight line directly under your shoulders, your toes facing forward. It is important that your toes are all squarely forward and parallel. This stance places the shins in just the right alignment and placement for correct support, shifting the load from your muscles to your bones.

Bend your knees ever so slightly so that you are sitting on your heels and standing at the same time. Your head is held up by your ribs; your back straight but not rigid. Tighten your stomach in such a way that you move your coccyx and hips in a slow and gentle forward thrust. This stance is called pelvis neutral.

An important aspect of the stretches is maintaining a pelvis neutral pose throughout. If your pelvis isn’t neutral, angled slightly from the base of your spine, you’ll have a hard time with the correct breathing. This position is also an important stance that serves as a reminder for when you are waiting in line or walking along a street or going forward in any adventure. This eliminates lower back pain as it strengthens the tummy and the front weight bearing muscles, thus supporting the trunk using the intended structure. You’ll be relieved from your knawing lower back pain pretty quickly after modifying your stance. A devotion to these simple stretches will help develop an inner strength that holds your organs in the most beneficial position.

Rock your pelvis up and down, forward and backward, and in and out to loosen the pelvis. In this way you allow your mind to understand the pelvic support you need for healthy posture. Remove your arrogance, disrobe intolerance, stand on your own two feet. (This is not your childhood teacher finger-wagging the admonition to stand up straight.)

Rock and roll your hips, coccyx and pelvis without moving your shoulders. This movement is not very dissimilar from good salsa dancing. Imagine the nice feeling of swaying to an Afro-Cuban beat. Now return to the stance with your tummy tightened and your heels under your shoulders. Do you feel relaxed after these musical movements?

Repeat the movement of your lower body by rocking from the waist. Move your tailbone back and forth as you tighten your sphincter. Tightening your tummy and including the sphincter is what moves the skeleton structure. Using the out breath to tighten your sphincter is a major part of the building of your inner “six pack.” Now we have a new sensation and feel renewed with the understanding of what we need to have a strong sitting position.

Each exercise is a step toward being the leader of your own life, to be on your own thrown as a king or queen. Breathe out by forcefully by pursing your lips and forcing the air out of your lungs.

After a few warm up motions rocking forward, and as your tighten your tummy, hold the tension as you fully breath out. Blow, forcing and pushing all the air out through your slightly pursed mouth and nose. Empty your body of all air. Keep blowing out and hold it for as long as you comfortably can, from 5 up to 10 seconds.

When you release the air you will feel it rushing into your lungs and tummy and satisfying. Your human body is a system made to bring air into all its parts.

Now just stand up, generally relaxed. Gently lift your arms away from your body without raising or engaging your shoulders. You’ll look like you are about to make a snow angel gesture, except that you are standing up, with your hands 10 to 12 inches away from your body. Stretch out your arms away from your body and slowly spread apart your fingers. Continue stretching them apart until you can feel a deep stretch. Focus on each finger a moment until you have focused on stretching all 10 fingers as far as they can go. Move each finger individually as though your hands were a blossoming chrysanthemum, each finger a lovely petal opening naturally. Maintain the pressure through your hands out to your fingers. Our nervous system feeds its information from our fingertips on up, and relays the message of relaxation to the ligaments and muscles as you stretch.

Now push the stretch a little further. Feel how easily you can push the stretch now that the tension has been lifted? It only took 20 seconds to release tension from your hands. Breathe in and out easily as the stretch melts. Focus on stretching the phalanges, and the various parts of the lungs.

Now shift your focus to your toes. As your fingers and the phalanges under your skin stretch out your toes will follow suit. Even in your shoes the toes will separate and stretch. Take a moment to feel your fingers and toes at the same time reaching out into new territory.

Hold the stretch simultaneously in your hands and feet for a minute or two, or count to 25 while you slowly breathe in and out. Feel the warmth and release as you continue the tightening both in your palm and the metatarsals as well as fingers and toes.

Now make a tight fist with your fingers and your toes. Bring them tighter and tighter until our body is tense. Push all the air out of your body. Take a big breath and move your belly button out, rising as far out as possible. You are now filled with a deep breath of air. Slightly open your mouth and breathe out as you pull your elbows into your waist just above your pelvic bone.

As you breathe out, very gently, make a tummy crunch by pressing your belly button back to your spine. Bend your knees just a little as you curl yourself up into fist like position. Push all the air out and keep blowing out until you feel that there is absolutely no air anywhere in your lungs or belly.

All the movements are done with gentleness, grace and self love. Wash away any historical self loathing with your movements. When compressing the muscles in your abdomen you want to do so lovingly. Fill every movement with loving attention to yourself with no intent to struggle and no strident idea of perfection.

Stand upright again take another deep breath and start the series over again. It is best to repeat three times in a row, but I often continue the pattern for half an hour. Use the illustrations to get the correct position and enjoy!

How to be Nice to Yourself

 

First of all, it is important to understand that you need no middleman to connect with the spiritual world, or with whatever your idea of the bigger picture. You can teach yourself how to construct a strong mind and body so you can get through whatever stress or storm arises on your path. In order to succeed at this, you need to be nice to yourself.

Changing the way you think about yourself, and directing those thoughts into actions, actually effects the joy center in your brain. You can make yourself happier by caring for yourself, even in seemingly small ways. The effect is enormous.

 

Start by living life more fully, with the knowledge that time won’t go on forever. You’ll understand your life better when you realize that the good things you do in life are never lost. You can’t take your body with you, but your practice, your kindness to yourself, your kindness to others—that is never lost. It’s like a bank account where you keep depositing.

The heart is first thing that develops in a human, beginning formation at just 32 cells. It is also the first thing that dies. That is your unique heartbeat, not a generic heartbeat. The heart really is your “driver.”

 

Really, the meaning of life is to relax and have a good time. And you act in a way that is appealing to others because you’re relaxed and having a good time. The meaning of life is to be grounded and functioning in the real world, whatever encapsulates your world—if you’re a biker, or a family man, you still need to be just as grounded and just as aware of the transcendence of time and objects. You also must trust in good fortune and have a mindset of abundance. Don’t allow yourself to focus only on what you don’t have, or what you need, but rather the people, experiences and richness around you. To feel fortunate in some way is crucial when taking care of yourself.

 

It is truly amazing how possible it is for you to think peace into your life. If you focus on peace and use your powerful thoughts to visualize peace in the world, the different it makes in your life and those around you is widespread.

 

Start by sitting comfortably and quieting your mind.

 

Think to yourself:

 

Peace out to the east, west, north and south and all those suffering in hospitals and many more in prisons. The actual prisons and the ones created in our minds hunger for loving peaceful thoughts.

 

As you are sending out to the reaches of space all the peace you can imagine you will clear out personal and global smog. We share this blessing by directing our hopeful energy toward positive change. Spend a moment every day sending out the thoughts of loving peace and attentive harmony. Harmony and peace are the building blocks of the way to see our world.

Goethe tells us in The Mysteries:

All force strives forward to work far and wide

To live and grow and ever to expand;

Yet we are checked and thwarted on each side

By the world’s flux and swept along like sand:

In this internal storm and outward tide

We hear a promise, hard to understand:

From the compulsion that all creatures binds,

Who overcomes himself, his freedom finds.

How to Go to Sleep

 

Making a plan for resting, which means resting in the most beneficial manner for the appropriate amount of time, will bring longevity and vivaciousness to your life. Part of your plan is to take care of your body, but also having a care plan for your resting cycle makes all the difference. Think about going to sleep as beginning your resting cycle rather than just bedtime. Bedtime for adults could mean intimacy, reading or watching the late night news. Resting comes after intimate time or relaxing in bed to unwind.

 

Start by cleaning your room and removing the excess junk piled up around your bed. Dust to remove possible allergens. Don’t sleep in a rut!

 

Turn your mattress every two weeks or more regularly whenever you change your sheets. (This will keep you from sleeping in the same impression on the mattress.) Get the best mattress you can afford. Go out and try all the kinds in as many stores you have time to test. Make it a date! Testing a bed with your honey is a great help in making the right decision.

 

Make sure you lie on each of the mattress for more than ten minutes to let your body get a good feel. Try the “space foam” variety like Tempur-Pedic or Memory Foam. Look into the newly popular wide selection of organic beds or get a McCrosky bed made by the same San Francisco family for generations. They’ve made beds for heads of state in many countries including the Sultan of Brunei!

 

For whatever sort of bed you choose take care of the sleeping surface. Be sure to cover your bed with a close-weave mattress cover that you take off and wash regularly. Having two mattress covers is a good idea so your mattress is always covered.

 

Purchase the best quality sheets you can afford in a fabric that makes you comfortable. Natural fibres wick away moisture and dissipates the heat so you rest well. Save the satin and synthetics for couples play times. Choose loose fitting natural fabric sleepwear that won’t bunch or feel tight.

 

Refrain from eating for at least three hours before the time you go to brush your teeth. Give yourself 15 to 20 minutes for your shower, teeth brushing, any facial mask and other bathroom necessities. Don’t rush through your night ritual. Try your very best to get at least 7 hours of sleep, better yet, 8 hours. Pick the time you choose to “rise and shine” in the morning and count back 7 hours plus the 20 minutes washing time to find the ideal hour for you to slip between the sheets.

 

When you get 7 hours of sleep every night as a rhythmic part of your life, your brain chemistry will be juicing the nervous system and your functioning will be more efficient. More rest, less stress. You will feel like a new human being. Plan to get more rest, and prioritize it among your top-most important, eating, enjoying free time, making a deadline, booty calls.

 

Darkness switches your system from waking into resting mode. As the day comes to a close and light diminishes, the dusk descends and sends a signal to your brain that it is time to rest. Birds get the very same signal and listen to it! We can reset our circadian rhythms and reconnect with our natural pattern by listening and living with the day and night cycles. Use the night! Using this understanding of the connection of our bodies to the night is life changing. Any little incremental change will bring a reward of better health.

 

As it gets darker, the pineal gland sends a massive upload of melatonin into the circulation system. Myoline works to knock out your wakefulness. This is your nervous system being told to go into on auto pilot. Turning on lights, or watching TV late into the night sends mixed messages to the pineal gland.

 

To boost this process, you can buy melatonin at your local health food store. If you choose to take the tablets you have to take them one hour before you get into bed and actually turn off the lights to get the desired effect. Melatonin is not a knock out drug but works in concert with the blood flow through your body. If you take a tablet and continue doing all the same activities under the light, the tablets will have a minimal effect.

 

Turn off the TV and the computer screens an hour or more before you want to go to sleep. Then the natural amount of melatonin circulating in your body will do its job. The light from these electrical appliances has a shelf life just like radiation from nuclear materials. The residual half-life of light streamed through your eyelids into your system is what causes you to toss and turn. You are not switched off for some time after you turn off appliances and other ambient lights.

 

Expect to have trouble falling asleep if you get into bed right after the late news or other shows, or watch these shows from between your toes lying in bed. Turn down the electric lights, for at the very least, for 15 minutes while you brush your teeth, floss and wash up. Be sure to finish the “to do list” right before bed, don’t add projects or intense conversation to this time of your cycle.

 

Make your own ritual. So many of the things we do and the habits we have actually work against us getting restful sleep. It is a wonderful opportunity to make small changes one at a time to prepare for sleep. It is an opportunity to practice making new habits in an effort to grow in new ways and be happy.

 

Try using a dimmer for your bedroom lights or switch the lights off and use just a night light for about a half an hour before you intend to get into bed and sleep. Turn off everything that might tend to stimulate. Remember hearing the tales about warm milk and good book? Perhaps you start making yourself warm milk before your tooth brushing? A warm bath or shower might relax your muscles. Try different things and come up with a combination of your own deeds.

 

Breath deeply as you lie down and you will have an easier time loosening your mind from the day’s activities. Surrendering to sleep is like practicing letting go. It is easier than giving up mortality yet incorporates the similar letting go of the attraction to this material form. Gladly go across the threshold of awareness into the great theater of dreams. Call it your personal theater of dreams come true. Make your magic extend into the cloudless starry night.

 

Cover your windows with dark curtains during the night so no star light streaks stream through. Unplug Wifi devices, lights and other unnecessary chords. Get a well fitting eye covering, the sort you might use on an airplane, with enough space for your eye lashes to flutter under the covering. Constricting your eyelashes limits R.E.M. sleep patterns. The sleeping mask also helps you fall asleep. You expend no energy to keep your eye lids closed so the nerves in your face will relax. These same nerve connections in your face send messages to your brain that you are resting.

 

During the late 1950’s and early 1960’s the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) did scientific research into just what temperatures supported the best brain function in both learning and resting. Some parts of that research were used by a group of educators interested in teaching babies to read when they were still in the cradle. Research showed that a cooler room was better for both purposes. The astronauts in training sat in very cold classrooms in fur lined parkas as they were taught flight procedures.

 

All the nature lovers are right about the benefits of sleeping outside. Even those who prefer to sleep with a window cracked opened sleep sounder! Your body remains warm under the covers while your head is resting on a pillow in a cooler room. I recommend opening a window, turning on an overhead fan, or opening the door to let cool air in a half an hour before rest time.

 

In the winter months I turn off the heat an hour before bedtime so that the temperature lowers in the bedroom. I do not mean you should sleep in a freezing room—after all you aren’t on a space station spinning around the earth every 45 minutes! It is just that fresh air flowing from a window really makes it easier to fall and stay asleep.

 

Now that you are in bed, and you’ve completed your ritual, it is time to sleep. Sleep starts with a kind of show on the inside of your eyelids. This is where you see the colors if you look through your eyelids when they are shut. Close your eyes without pressing the lids to hard. You might see yellow and red, sometimes one and sometimes both. This is the light filtering thru your skin. Often there are blue and green shapes like a kaleidoscope. After you shut your eyes, take a few moments to see what you can see from the inside out.

 

Fill your tummy with air and let your strong diaphragm muscle push all the air out. Very gently press your belly button back toward the spinal column. Your next inhalation flows as though the air was drawn into your body by lips within your belly. All the while, stay focused on the silver screen you pulled down as you closed your eyes. Look on the insides of your eyelids. You are watching a film clip of your body’s healthy functioning. When you are well hydrated, the density of colors is clear and strong in a flowing pattern. If you have low levels of water in your body you see a flickering under your eye lids.

 

Start the hydration cycle before you get out of bed in the morning. Before your feet touch the carpet, drink  10 ounce glass of water you put on your shelf the night before. Before your body heat dissipates you drink at least 10 large mouthfuls of water in succession. Sipping water, one small mouthful at a time does not make the water flow to all the right places to hydrate your blood. Sipping does not send a wash of water to all the places that move and circulate the liquid throughout your system. This first drink keeps the flow of fluids moving through your kidneys throughout the day. At the end of the day you have given yourself the simple gift fluids and you’ll see it in the wonderful density of images on under your eyelids.

 

As you start to focus on the geometric display you can feel the tension in your mind drift out. It is just one easy step to help you move from the day’s activity to the dream world. Falling asleep easily grows out of loving yourself as you are today. A great thing to say to yourself as you lay between the sheets is “I love you,” and be speaking to yourself.

 

Before you lay down, sit quietly on the edge of your bed and think about how sleeping is an act of kindness to yourself is. Then turn your feet under the covers and tell your toes they are relaxing. Feel your toes relax. Then tell your ankles to relax and think them into relaxing. Take all the time you need to feel the tension flow away from your feet. Lay comfortably in bed now, and continue up your leg, thinking each 5-inch segment of you leg into total relaxation. Your groin to fall into the mattress giving full weight to its moving away from tension. Let the weight of your body slip out of tension. Then let your pelvic floor and the tummy relax. Let go of any tension in the core of your body. Move up to your chest and let your lungs relax. Let your shoulders and neck feel the rising relaxation and your face muscles let go holding on to the day’s tensions. Relax your scalp. As you tell yourself to relax with loving attention you are sure to feel yourself getting tired. You can choose things like saying a verbal meditation as you lie down to jumpstart the process. Healthy self esteem supports letting go of the day and slipping the night. It is an easy practice for letting go in many intersections both with your feelings and with relationships.

Good Night, Sweet Dreams!

About the Author

 

“My life would be different if my third grade teacher hadn’t put me in the book closet for talking in class.”

-Ilsa Bartlett

 

I grew up in a home without a TV. My family believed that people get “soft” if they sit and watch figures on a screen rather doing something themselves. I started reading at an early age to feed my imagination and fill my hunger for stories. I remember the smells I dreamed up after reading Treasure Island at home as I lay on the floor. In order to understand some of the words in books I was shown how to use a dictionary. I made regular trips to the local library and read several books a week.

 

That is how I landed in the unlighted Book Closet in third grade. My less-than-loving 3rd grade teacher had a hairdresser appointment regularly on Wednesdays at 4:00pm to refresh her bright red orange hair. She had to teach dictionary use and would not tolerate any questions. I guess I was trying to show her that I all ready knew how to use this wonderful book. She honored my first comment, but when I raised my hand for a second interruption she summarily sent me to the dudgeon! Cowering in the pitch black book closet cauterized the connections that fed my learning.

 

Since I was punished for my being delighted in information I felt that learning was not going to get me loving attention from this teacher and perhaps any future teachers. This electrical turn off persisted mostly through all public education and did not change until, by some miracle, I got into college.

In college I was on my own to grow intellectually as I wanted. Through literature I learned about the true nature of love. I realised that I had to voluntarily give up part of myself to make space for another to fill. I could now search for knowledge and enjoy it. There were no other dark dungeons where I would be thrown for my interest in Symbolic Logic or String Theory, Descartes or Flaubert, Diebenkorn or Ingres or Julia Child. I could embrace the intersection of philosophy and science and the very unknown.

 

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