Last night I decided to try something different. Just before going to bed I dragged out an old, dust-covered binder that’s full of my old, old poems. I opened it at random, turned the pages slowly and carefully to keep sheets from falling out onto the floor, reading some, a stanza here and there, and remembered writing them. I was surprised how dark and hopeless I seemed in most of them, but also how beautiful, perfect even, the poems were to me back then, I guess because they were descriptions of my reality, externalizations of it, me pulling myself out of my cavern into the light. I was showing myself to myself, and, as negative as the views were, the beauty of them was that they were ME, not just the normal otherness of life. That process was exhilarating back then. But reading them now, I’m astounded how much I’ve changed.
Anyway, I found several pencilled attempts at one poem, all unsatisfactory and finally abandoned, which I thought my now somewhat-more-developed poetic abilities might be able to do something with. I puttered with it for a while till my mind began losing its elasticity and I went to bed. And in the morning, I woke from a very good sleep. I was surprised by that, and excited and happy. During that whole night, I had only awoken once, instead of every two hours as usual.
So what happened? Maybe the work on the poem was just a good distraction from my world of regrets. It might have stopped the circular thinking. Just as meditation might do. Friends have told me I should meditate before going to bed, and I’ve been working myself in that direction. And I do meditate when I’m actually in bed, to get myself to drop off to sleep. Maybe that’s all that this work on the poem amounted to. Or maybe the energy of creation itself moved my mind into a different realm. Having experienced many bouts of this in my life, I think there may be something to it. So, maybe this, or that, or both.
In any case, working on an old poem from back when I was virtually a different person was very interesting. In those days, I always assumed that when I got older I would be shrunken, somehow less in every way. The possibility was so dreadful I couldn’t think about it, especially because, when I was young and had my chance, I wasn’t developing at all. Yet now I seem so much lighter, both inside and out, than I was then. I remember Bob Dylan saying it to us, but I was never able to understand what he meant then, “Ah, but I was so much older then. I’m younger than that now.”
Facebook Likes:...7...Barbara Green, Cambridge N Calvin Keenan and 5 others
Cambridge N Calvin Keenan Well stated , I feel like the darkness steaming out of the heat of the shell ... seeking relief for that soothing cool mist of morning ❤
Unlike · Reply · 1 · 11 December at 23:29
إبراهيم أشعياء عوض Nah, you're fine. I probably ought to have wandered up there and given you salaam, i appreciate that you can be reached in the public (semi-public) domain, when something really important comes up. We don't control outcomes, only the input. You just concentrate on being the best you can be. Give it your best, and the rest surely works out.
Unlike · Reply · 1 · 12 December at 10:57 · Edited
Stan Burfield replied · 1 Reply
Barbara Green Hey, fellow insomniac! Two thibngs I've heard recently, one of which I've tried and one which I intend to -- we can try it together and compare results, if you like. The first is breathing in a 4-7-8 patterns, only four or five times in a row to start, apparently never more than 8 times. The count doesn't have to be full seconds -- depends on your lung power and calmness. The second thing for insomniacs is to journal before bed so those circular thoughts may form a line and find an exit from your brain via your arms, fingers and keyboard -- or pen, if you're into that. I'm going to try that -- my tendency when stressed is to read or binge-watch something on Netflix, which of course means that when you go to bed and nothing is streaming into your brain, all those ignored anxieties come clamouring up for attention.
Unlike · Reply · 1 · 12 December at 14:20
Stan Burfield Let's see if I understand you correctly (and please tell me some reasoning behind this as well): You breathe really deeply, holding the first breath in for a count of 4, then holding the next two to counts of 7 and 8, then 4, then 7 and 8, etc, for 4 or 5 repetitions, and do this when trying to fall asleep? Is this to get to sleep? Or to help you stay asleep? And why would it work? Is there any evidence it does work? Interesting.... The other idea, to journal, about the day's events, and I guess your idea would be to write about what's made me anxious and to try to solve those things while writing? That's definitely something I'll try. I don't have trouble getting to sleep so much as staying asleep, The journaling may help with that, as it may reduce repressed anxieties, the kind of things that might keep large parts of my mind stirred up all night (since the repressed mind, the subconscious mind, and the dream mind are pretty much all the same thing).
Like · Reply · 12 December at 14:48
Barbara Green No, the breathing pattern goes like this: first, breathe out all the air you can. Then breathe in through your nose for a count of 4, hold for 7, breath out (in a swooshing sound) through your mouth for a count of 8, then repeat. It seems to put you in an altered, lightened state of mind, and interrupts the resonance cycle of the anxious thoughts.
Like · Reply · 12 December at 14:52
Stan Burfield oh, worth a try. By resonance cycle, you mean what I mean when I say vicious cycle? Are you saying there is an actual cycle like a wheel turning that turns at a certain speed per revolution?
Like · Reply · 12 December at 14:56
Stan Burfield I'm asking because of my obsession to understand everything.
Like · Reply · 12 December at 14:59 · Edited
Stan Burfield Also, which technique have you tried so far?
Like · Reply · 12 December at 15:07
Barbara Green Stan Burfield No worries. I'm borrowing the term from memory science ... the process of consolidating short-term into long-term memory sometimes involves repeating them in a resonance cycle -- like repeating a poem aloud over and over to memorize it. When we allow thoughts to run in circles over and over in our brain, we're basically doing the same thing -- laying down an establish neural path for them to keep running in.
Like · Reply · 12 December at 15:08
Barbara Green Stan Burfield The breathing one. I don't always do it to fall asleep -- it's good in tense situations, too, much as any deep breathing is. It gets you to inhabit your body for a couple of minutes and gives you a break from those thoughts, plus re-oxygenates you if you're the type, like me, who stops breathing and freezes when tense so as to become invisible, I guess.
Like · Reply · 12 December at 15:10
Stan Burfield I see, so where does the 4-7-8 idea come from?
Like · Reply · 12 December at 15:10
Barbara Green Stan Burfield I *think* it's yogic ... here's a video about it: https://youtu.be/gz4G31LGyog
Asleep in 60 seconds: 4-7-8 breathing technique…
Like · Reply · Remove Preview · 12 December at 15:13
Stan Burfield Great. I'll watch the video. I have the same problem you do of stopping breathing. Linda's always looking at me typing and saying, "Breathe!" It seems like something I should try, not just for sleeping. (And speaking of sleeping, I have a mild case of sleep apnea, which means that when I sleep on my back I will quite often stop breathing. So I don't let myself sleep on my back. Which is one of my theories for why I keep waking up all night, so I can consciously roll over onto my other side.)
Like · Reply · 12 December at 15:17
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إبراهيم أشعياء عوض Lol in a word meditation?!
Unlike · Reply · 1 · 12 December at 14:22 · Edited
Barbara Green And I like the poem. I really like the "leathered over" image although it is bumping up a bit against the smooth and ridged shell of the conch . I like the "rousounding" description a lot, too, the the reaching for the flux, especially "that throws the colour". Could you contrast the flux -- which is aliveness and change, unpredictability, the contrast to the safe-but-dead world encased in a calcium shell, a bit more pointedly?
Like · Reply · 12 December at 14:23
Stan Burfield Good point. I'll have to think about it. I'm going to take it to our next workshop, and I'll bring your ideas. Thanks, Barb.