Thursday, January 11, 2007

Waking in the Night

This isn’t about “waking up” in the hotsie totsie Enlightenment way. That would be nice, but for now, I’d like to explore a little this habit of mine of waking after a few hours sleep. Usually four hours or so, and then I’m in the nice warm bed, and I’m not particularly sleepy and I don’t feel like getting up.

This used to bother me. I wanted something to “do,” to entertain myself until I fell back to sleep and I happen to live with someone who is not fond of lights in the middle of the night, so that means “No” to the obvious way of enjoying some warm and cozy hours in bed: reading.

No reading. Ohmygod: What to do?

Well, to tell you the truth, that is one reason I became a Feldenkrais Practitioner. There are so many varieties of slow and gentle and enjoyable movement combinations that I was sure I’d find a bunch that would be useful to the warm and cozy hours of the night.

And they were. And they are.

I mentioned this to my trainer, Dennis Leri, how I enjoyed the movements when I woke at night, and he talked of some anthropologist who realized that no one had studied peoples’ sleep patterns much and decided to do so. This anthropologist discovered that in most cultures, especially those without the lure of the electric light to keep us up to all hours, waking in the middle of the night was the norm.

And people stoked the fire,
or checked on the children and the animals,
or composed songs and poems,
or had visions,
or went out to watch the stars,
or meditated,
or prayed,
or made love,
or had time for those quiet conversations you can’t get around to in a busy day full of work and children and interruptions.

Well, the same partner who doesn’t like lights, isn’t into this “norm” of waking mid way through the night, so I’m on my own.

I have found these hours extremely enjoyable. And then there is this one surefire way that I can ruin them for myself: to worry about getting back to sleep, and thus to get into “trying” to get back to sleep, a hellish state of being, and one guaranteed to prevent me or anyone from sleeping.

A second, and slightly lesser way to ruin the peaceful night time warm cozy hours, is this: to obsess with something I “should” or “need to” get done the next day. This can be a bit of a drag, but if I slow, and allow this quiet dark time to be one in which I can visualize and give thought experiments to different options, ah, that’s nice.

And finally, besides Feldenkrais and thought experiments, there’s the sweetest alternative of all: doing "nothing." (See earlire essay on the doing part of "doing nothing.")

So, in this "nothing," I'm involved in: Following my breathing. Sensing myself, seeing if I can sense down to the cell level. Enjoying being exactly where and how and who I am.

This is sweet and ironically, so peaceful, that it often brings a sleep that I no longer care about.

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At 9:33 AM , Blogger yogaglamgirl said...

What a beautiful idea. Sounds like sweet surrender to what is and just going with the flow. I am a relatively new student of feldenkrais and can really appreciate small gentle movement upon waking in the night.


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