Ah, gotta love those moments when you suddenly realize that you have a second to write something you’ve been meaning to write, and moreover, you remember what the something was!
Magic, I tell you.
Anyway, here’s today’s, while I have it: Sometimes, whether during adaptation or just due to Situational Crap, you may find that you have time to lay down, but are not able to fall asleep. Maybe your brain’s going eight hundred miles an hour, or you have a headache or some other distracting physical condition, or for whatever reason sleep just won’t come. In this situation, it’s miles better to lay and relax for your 20 minutes than to get up — staying horizontal keeps you on-schedule, and you’ll get a little rest, if not as much as you would have if you’d slept. By doing this meditation, though, I’ve found that I can get nearly all the benefit of a full nap, even if I can’t fall asleep.
I’m not making any claims about this technique being able to "replace sleep" in the grand sense, okay? Just that it seems to work very well for countering the effects of nap-insomnia. Plus, I have it on authority that there are good mental and physical (especially immune-system-related) benefits to doing this regularly anyway (which is, in fact, why I first tried it when I couldn’t sleep one day). So, if you’re going to lay around for twenty minutes anyway, might as well use the time well, right? Right.
Here it is. The instructions look long because I’m trying to be clear about exactly how this works, but the whole exercise need only take a couple minutes. It may put you to sleep (it does me, about half the time), and it may not, in which case you should get up relaxed and refreshed when your timer goes off.
1. Lay on your back, if possible, and relax your body completely. Close your eyes.
2. Focus on your hands or feet (pick one). Try to feel them as alive, not just as objects. They have energy running through them — the electricity that constantly flies around every part of your body, via your nervous system* — see if you can sense it. (Chances are very good that you will be able to, because, well, it’s there — if you can’t sense it though, move on through the exercise and just keep trying; you’ll get it.)
3. Pay as much attention to that feeling of internal energy as much as you can. You’ll notice that it gets stronger the more you focus on it; get it going as strongly as you can.
4. Now, move your attention up your arms (or ankles). Feel the sensation of inner energy — like the thrum of a running computer (which, ironically I guess, is also powered by circulating energy around inside it) — moving with your focus. It may be less clear as it moves; don’t worry about that.
5. Slowly move your attention all the way up to the top of your head, feeling that "running on power" sensation all the way. Then, as soon as you get the head going good, push your attention down your neck, into your chest, stomach, abdomen, hips, thighs, legs, and all the way down to your feet. Pause at your feet a minute and get the feeling back good and strong.
6. Now, several times, run your attention up to your head and down to your feet — take it slow, and try to keep your focus sharp and keep feeling that sensation. (You will probably notice that the sensation of internal energy "sloshes" a bit, lagging somewhat behind the focus of your attention — this is normal. It is also, in fact, the source of the Chinese maxim, "Chi follows Yi", which literally means "internal energy follows your attention/imagination".) If you start to lose the feeling, you’re probably tensing up (which is a natural thing to do when dealing with an unfamiliar mental challenge, so don’t worry; just relax when you remember to and keep going).
7. When you’ve done that a few times, stop and let things "settle". Now try to feel the energy in your whole body, all at once. See if you can sense it as an unbroken field, rather than just in sections or threads. Relax and focus and see how thrummy and glow-y you can make yourself feel…and just hold it. Laying there in that state (brain-wave state or physical state or whatever it is) feels rather like laying in a tanning booth, or in the sun; it’s warm and both energizing and relaxing. If your mind starts to wander, don’t worry, just pull it back when you realize what it’s doing and go back to feeling that internal energy. Keep it up until your alarm says to stop!
And of course, a neat side-effect, besides making the most out of your insomninaps and being as rested as you reasonably can…you’ll be learning how to feel Chi! Practice that for a decade or two and you’ll be all kinds of badass. ;)
Enjoy your Monday, everyone…
*and possibly more subtle things, but that’s not my "field". (GET IT?! ;)