Archive for the 'sleep' Category


October 13, 2014

I’ve had people tell me that I am working on learning discernment, and I have kept that in mind, while having trouble seeing where it applies.  But this afternoon I had an example that may be about where I need to work on it.

I was reading NYTimes articles and opinion pieces, and I found myself feeling very tired and thinking about taking a nap.  And I was a little surprised to be feeling as though I needed a nap.  I reviewed when I got up (a little after six), how much walking I had done (into the center of town and back), how much tea I had had (enough that it wasn’t lack of caffeine).  I didn’t think any of that explained why I felt so tired.

And then my mother, who is staying with us for a few weeks, walked into the kitchen and told me she was going to take a nap.  I accompanied her up to the room she is using, she started her nap, and I found I didn’t feel tired anymore.

So for me, it is a lesson is learning what’s mine and what’s somebody else’s.  That, in turn, teaches me to perceive a mood or a feeling as just a mood or a feeling  —  when it’s clear it’s somebody else’s, it is also clearer it is just a mood or a feeling or whatever, something more like an item of clothing one can put on or take off, since it may not be the mood or feeling I actually have myself, left to my own devices.  Then I can, after that, think about how my moods and feelings are just as much ephemeral, contingent, and changeable as those I pick up from others; and that, then, helps me see that they are not such a big deal as they may feel from the inside of the person experiencing them.


Kidney failure

September 7, 2012

An extended-family member was hospitalized for kidney failure the other night.  The episode is turning out to contain resonances of so many past stories I know that I start thinking about what it represents for me metaphorically.

When the kidneys are not cleansing the blood, toxins build up, confusion is a symptom.  Makes me wonder what the equivalent of a kidney in our spiritual lives might be.

I think spiritually the cleansing mechanism is more like a charcoal filter in a water pitcher or the dilution of grape juice with water, as my mother used to serve it to us kids.

If we can’t process our emotions and discharge or dissipate or otherwise redress them, they build up, and we do become confused.  I think we dilute them and cleanse ourselves through mixing in cleaner, healthier energy.  I do that through working on being open through walking and praying;  sleeping is another way I think we interface more openly with the universe.

I only have one kidney (born that way) and it’s big.  The doctor who diagnosed it when I was about thirty joked with me that that means I can’t be a live donor.  Which is interesting, because some of my spiritual work has been helping others cleanse their spiritual systems through my own.  (Sometimes it seems to me that “on earth” is at least sometimes actually an inversion of “as it is in heaven,” — maybe this is an example of that, I don’t know.  In astronomy as I studied it in an elementary survey course, a mathematical inverted square relationship was a major theme.  Maybe that’s related to what I’m noticing here. )

I guess I like to think that in my spiritual work I can help someone have their own kidney without sacrificing mine.  Whether this is done through my helping them locate theirs, repair theirs, or develop a new one in much the same way Harold does in those Purple Crayon stories, I’m not sure.  I think it’s most hard for me when I’ve helped them start the process but won’t be able to enjoy the results myself in this lifetime — but that only underscores that I am only a conduit and that what I do contribute must be offered as a gift (regardless of how the recipient frames the interaction).  After all, I have my own lessons, too, to learn from the experience.


August 5, 2012

I was reading a book called The Insomnia Answer this afternoon, since the person who gave it to me to read will probably be expecting it back when I see him in a couple of weeks, and I fell asleep reading it.  He gave it to me to read in the hopes in might help me help my son with his sleeping issues.  I don’t know, is that an endorsement of the book?

The other half of sleep-talking

May 23, 2012

I’ve been trying to think of a familiar image to convey a sense of what could be going on behind our backs in our spiritual lives.

It’s pretty clear to me that when people talk in their sleep, in a state somewhere between being fully asleep and fully awake, they don’t remember the conversation when they do become fully awake.  Having a conversation with someone in that half-waking/half-sleeping state isn’t really a big deal, although it’s content can be a bit unusual.

It occurred to me, though, that that’s only really half the story.  If we (or some of us) are unwittingly conversing in our spiritual lives with other spirits (and who knows who else), who knows what we are agreeing to, facilitating, subventing.  I’m thinking it’s a little like the situation a vintage-clothing store owner in NJ shared with me recently; she was trying to get reimbursed for charges from a third-party vendor (a website) on her telephone bill.  She had had no idea she was being charged and she readily admitted she hadn’t read the bill carefully enough.  Somebody was using her account, so to speak, for their own profit, drawing money out of her coffers, through the phone company, and into their own.  I suspect we could be doing something similar through the parts of us that we are not sufficiently in touch with, whatever we choose to call these parts.  For the skeptical, I would suggest thinking about the part of the self that perceives the dream during sleep.  For artists and writers and poets and even theoretical physicists and mathematicians, I would suggest this involves something like where they go when they are inspired, when they get so caught up in their work or activity that they lose their sense of place and time.

I remember reading a bunch of stuff about how some people within the Catholic Church were (maybe still are) concerned about meditation because of the possibility of opening ourselves up to random and not well-intentioned spiritual entities and their influence.  I think what I’m saying is that maybe we do that anyway, even without meditating.

But I’m not worried that this sort of thing can’t be dealt with — I think it can be.  I think it’s rooted in not listening to the self, with a need for greater self-awareness.  I think that just as many people don’t hear their guidance clearly, they don’t hear other things going on on planes other than the physical and they, most importantly, don’t hear themselves.  And just because they don’t hear themselves, it doesn’t mean nobody else hears them.  My suggestion is that we all learn to hear ourselves (and whatever else we need to hear), through greater self-awareness.  I think we need to pay more attention to our spiritual lives and to clean them up.  I think this is done by starting with getting to know ourselves better and developing our “inner witness” to ourselves.

Talking in his sleep

May 7, 2012

Some people don’t make the transition from sleep to being fully awake when someone wakes them up, and they can talk in their sleep at length and with self-consistence even if the subjects are fantastic.  They don’t recall what they’ve said later, when they are fully awake.  I’ve never had someone in that state make a promise to me, but I think there’s a story somewhere about such a situation, in which one partner promises the other marriage during such a dream state, and the fully awake partner does not realize that her partner as she knows him is unaware of what he has said.

Feeling better as feeling odd

November 22, 2011

A family member has been telling me for the past few days that he feels odd, but he can’t put his finger on what’s off.  About the fourth time he mentioned it, I asked him if he thought it could be a new medicine he started a few weeks ago, and of course the answer was no.  But I wondered still, got out the page listing all the possible side effects and started to read them to him out loud.  No glint of recognition.

My brain kept combing through the evidence, partly because my past experiences have often included the pattern of “everything is fine” followed by a rapid trip to the ER, the diagnosis of a rapidly fatal disease, or something similarly up-ending.  Last night he went to bed at about 10:30, which for him is unusually early, and I worried some more.  This reminded me that he had gone to bed “early” like this over the weekend, too, which was even more out of the ordinary (especially while at a friend’s house or with a friend sleeping over here, both of which occurred).  (But) he had also been getting up earlier and more easily than usual.

So then it struck me: maybe he’s actually doing better and it just feels odd to him because his sleep cycle and such have been so far off for so long (for example, he was doing things like staying up for 24 hours and then sleeping for 24, not being able to get up at all, not being able to fall asleep for hours, falling asleep late and then waking up in a few hours unable to get back to sleep, falling asleep in the late afternoon and then sleeping through not only the night but far into the day despite being woken up, etc.).

My way of thinking then wants to expand on that possibility; maybe in other ways, we get so used to dysfunction that a return to something healthy feels odd, off, and uncomfortable.  What is the difference between dysfunction and just different?  I am aware that some people see what others esteem as enlightenment as pathological behavior and/or attitude (isn’t there a John Lennon song about that?  “Surely you’re not happy now, you no longer play the game,” I think it goes, in part).  Of course, some people do engage in pathological behavior and call it something else, but that’s a separate issue, I think.

Anyway, my point is about the way we can get used to our own “new normal”, and also about how something that may seem at first to imply something negative might actually turn out to be a symptom of something positive.

Beyond reciprocity, concluded

November 7, 2011

I got the ending to this particular story sooner than I thought, last night, in fact.

When last we left off, one partner was on a slightly higher step, reaching back down to help the other partner up.  Since this was a spiritual rescue, it could involve things like ghosts passing through walls.  Here it involved the higher partner’s allowing the lower partner to go through the higher partner, to use that partner’s abilities themselves to gain that higher reach.

What happens next is this.  The higher partner becomes aware that this is the script, and that leads to that partner’s having the thought, “Well, then, this is what I will be doing.  I wonder how it will work.”  But then it occurs to her, that in her real spiritual work, she never knows in advance what it will have been, her best event is unwitting willingness.  And she never wonders “how it will work” in advance.  So there is something wrong with this picture.

She also knows there’s apt to be mirroring involved, including between the spiritual and material worlds, and then she gets it, what she’s perceiving is just the mirror image of a rescue drama scripted by her partner as a harmless creative fantasy of fiction.  Only it ended up being pressed over one of those energy vortices in the universe that then projects the image as “real” onto our collective unconscious.  And there you have it, a spiritual rescue theology, with its origins in a daydream.

So, the ending to this story is that they all wake up and realize it was a dream and eat a lovely breakfast of pancakes with maple syrup, or something like that, listening to Mary Chapin Carpenter’s song “We’re All Right” in the background.

The End

Talking in our sleep

September 23, 2011

One of the things I do almost every day is to wake up (or to try to wake up) someone who often gets stuck in a halfway state in which he talks to me in his sleep (how do I know he’s talking in his sleep?  this morning I got some kind of discussion about “squads” in response to my question about what he was going to do to indicate to me that he was actually awake).  It’s, on the one hand, an enervating process for me to engage in on a daily basis, but on the other, it’s a great metaphor to remind me of how we, myself included, maybe sound to the universe.