Born Again

If you look at it from the right angle, being told you were dead is a big plus in life because it gets you to really appreciate that being alive is actually quite a privilege. So first my dad almost lost me due to my massive brain injury when I was five, and then I almost lost him in 1983 when he ended his roofing career by doing a 3 meter head-first dive into concrete. He’s had cancer, he experiences strokes, and the other day my parent’s neighbour found him 669 Relax and Succeed - Every experience no matter how bad it seemsunconscious and bleeding on her front sidewalk.

I have been keenly aware since I was five that just as I almost did, people can vanish and often without warning. One minute we can talk to them and the next minute we can’t. When Mom and I got to to the hospital physical Dad was there but mental Dad wasn’t. He didn’t know who we were or what had happened. It’s the first time I remember seeing my mother look scared, and Dad looked lost. It must be a terrible sensation to not be able to reel in your own identity. And at the same time it shows that our identity is little more than a collection of our memories and habits.

As I sat in the Emergency Room waiting area I couldn’t help but notice the worried expressions on nearly every face. Everyone was living in the future or the past. They were wishing someone hadn’t tried that trick on their bike, or they wish their diet had been better the last 20 years. Or if they were living in the future they were speculating about what might happen. That’s when I was reminded of how most people see things.

Because I knew very profoundly that I really could lose my father at any second, I did not waste a moment of our time together by wondering about times other than the moment we were in. In that moment I could see that he was scared and that he didn’t even know what would bring him comfort, and so I just held his hand and told him I loved him and that worked pretty well. With no offence to the others intended, if you were watching them closely you 669 Relax and Succeed - You have to embrace getting oldercould see they were so busy worrying about what they might lose that they weren’t very present at all with the people they were there with—including the patient.

Despite my awareness during the emergency I was aware that night that I had undergone a fundamental shift in my self-identity. I was born again as I realized that my time as a part of the next generation was approaching and it allowed me to come to realize that I’m unnerved by the idea of living without my father. I didn’t know it until this last accident happened, but I know of no safer place than in the presence of my entirely non-judgmental, fully supportive father. He’s always displayed courage, decency, kindness, generosity, compassion and intense interest.

My dad has been genuinely excited by everything that’s excited me. He loves it when I love my life and I do not like the idea of living without my hero and that knowledge has changed me. But rather than lament where I am in life I accept that these transitions are a natural part of my love for him and our movement though life. If I don’t resist them with wanting thoughts I will be able to fully immerse myself in the moment, and that’s better because that’s where I’ll find my Dad.

My parents are both way past the national average for lifespan. Mom teaches exercise three times a week and Dad volunteers all over the place plus he walks every neighbour’s dog. That’s what he was doing when he fell. But at their age things can change in an instant and so I’m fully 669 Relax and Succeed - Learn to appreciate what you haveaware that I could have another two decades of goodbyes or that the next one might be the last one. That can feel terrifying if I think about it from a what do I lose? perspective. But if I think about it as a simple reality, it suddenly makes my already beloved parents even more precious.

My Dad is my hero and I love my Mom thoroughly. If my life has been this great clearly they got a whole bunch of stuff right. If it works out that I get another 20 years I will be grateful for every single day. But if it ends sooner I will still be living in a state of mind where I am routinely, unbelievably grateful that these two amazing people are my parents. And loving that fact is about the best thing I can think to do with however much time we have left with each other.

Thanks Mom and Dad. If you were wondering if you succeeded—I can’t imagine a greater success than helping a kid to live a life that he’s absolutely loved. I love you both more than you can imagine.

hugs and kisses, s

PS Oh yeah, and as for Dad’s fall—his brain bleed is healing and he’s thankfully back on his anti-stroke medication. We’re going to watch some playoff hockey games together this week. 🙂

Sleep Procrastination

Are you familiar with the condition Sleep Procrastination? Before going to bed I get restless or anxious and I pace and I have trouble actually laying down to even try to fall asleep. I’ve tried quite a few programs and drugs including hypnosis but with no success. Do you have any suggestions about what I can do?

signed,
Sleepless

Dear Sleepless,

So you think you should be asleep but you’re not. This is a good example of how subtly we are brainwashed by the world around us. You believe because your work has starting hours, and that because you’ve always heard you need eight hours sleep, you can calculate backwards to when you should be going to bed and to sleep. But all of that has to do with work, and hours and obligation. Those are all thought-forms. Those are not things that existed for cave men. Those don’t have anything to do with your nature, those are ideas that we have been 423 Relax and Succeed - Tension is who you think you areconditioned to treat like rules-to-exist-by and they are decidedly not like sleep which is entirely natural. Sleep is not a thought-form, sleep is a change in consciousness. Far from being a set of rules, it is a very special kind of freedom. Are you getting where I’m going with this?

First off, you’re not failing to fall asleep if you’re not actually tired. When work starts, and how much sleep Harvard says you need don’t have anything to do with you the individual and your experience of life in those moments. If you’re not tired you’re not tired. This is what Krishnamurti meant when he said, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” You are a natural creature existing within an inhuman mental framework. Because someone invented a clock does not mean you are being wrong by being tired at 2pm instead of 10pm. So that’s the first thing.

The second thing is that you may be tired but avoiding the bed for reasons that are inexplicable to you. So let me make them explicable. (I totally expected my red spell-check line to turn on under explicable. Who knew that was a word?) There’s a part of your brain that knows that all is well as long as birds are singing. If the birds around you suddenly stop singing, then your brain knows something is happening that’s worth paying attention to. Well you’re kind of the same way with sleep. There’s a form of sleep that’s very natural and that’s group sleeping. In most cultures you’ll have large numbers of people all sharing a very small space and everyone will be using each other as pillows. 80% of the world does this. It’s what we’ve historically done throughout our evolution. So because some guy invented houses and coved us off in small 423 Relax and Succeed - Sleep is the best meditationgroups, and then they further coved us off into individual bedrooms, that doesn’t mean that’s how we’ll get the best sleep. That was just what worked financially. The Economy liked it that way. More furniture. 😉

A while back a guy was writing a book and it was based on him taking a one year period where he did absolutely everything that was recommended in something like the New York Times Style section, or maybe doing everything it recommended for women in a year of Cosmo—or something like that. The point being, for an entire year he tried a bunch of media-prescribed solutions, and then he wrote a book about it. When an interviewer asked him at the end of the year if he still did any of the things that were recommended, he said only one. He still slept with 14 pillows on his bed. Get it? The pillows mimic the feeling of sleeping with your relatives. The sense of leaning, and being spooned into place is very similar. So after one year of experimenting, the only thing of value was to create the illusion of a group sleep situation.

This is not likely to be the answer you were looking for. Hey, you can certainly focus on ensuring you’re not thinking limiting thoughts when approaching bed, and you have to check in to see what sort of narratives you may have built around the process of going to bed, but bottom line some of what you’re concerned about is less a problem with you and more the result of us living lives that are actually quite unnatural in many key ways. You might even want to try the pillow idea.

423 Relax and Succeed - The awakened sagesRemember, sleep is a very specific state of mind. Get to know it as you lay there. Watch for the feelings that go with it. Know them. And when you’re laying there and you cannot sleep, recall those feelings. That alone will take you an enormous amount of the way toward sleep. Breathe deeply as you would as if you were sleeping. Your brain will know that rhythm and it will match it and relaxation will follow.

If you do this enough days in a row, easily falling asleep will become a habit. And then on the rare days where you still can’t get to sleep, write it off to an ion storm or something. Who knows what forces are all at play in our lives? I will still occasionally get one night of inexplicable insomnia. So give yourself the occasional sleepless night as being entirely “normal” (whatever that is). But by consciously considering how you do fall asleep, you should be able to conjure that state of mind pretty much at will with just a little practice. Just keep a quiet mind, and imagine what it’s like to be asleep.

Learn to control your thinking. Free yourself up from second-guesses and a lack of focus and things like insomnia. Guide your own mind like a Ninja and put yourself in your own personal sleeper hold. All it takes is some awareness and some practice. You can do it as long as you believe you can. Go for it. And sweet dreams.

peace. s