Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Take Back Your Dreams: Work in Progress Excerpt

Take Back Your Dreams
Chapter Two: How to Dream
Section One: Sleep Quality

When I tell people I’m writing a book about dreaming, many people tell me they can’t remember their dreams.  In my experience, for almost everyone, this is caused by chronic sleep deprivation.  Our modern culture woefully undervalues sleeps.  Almost everyone knows, and science backs it up, that a lot of us aren’t getting enough quality sleep.   Most healthy adults need from 7-9 hours of sleep per night; less than 3% of adults can remain healthy if they are regularly getting less than six hours a night.  Young people need more, and healthy older adults need slightly less.  If you wake up refreshed and ready to go, you’re probably getting enough sleep.  If you dread your alarm, or find yourself nodding off in the afternoons and evening, you are almost certainly not.  A wide variety of health concerns can be dramatically improved by a commitment to proper sleep; sleep is as important as diet and exercise to health, and yet many of us pay it very little attention.  Proper sleeping habits can improve memory, focus, mood, and anxiety, improve metabolism and energy, reinvigorate a low sex drive.  Chronic sleep deprivation increases risk of heart attack, diabetes, and stroke as much as obesity, and yet our culture, with all it’s focus on diet and exercise, glorifies chronic tiredness as a badge of honor.

Aside from all the health benefits, sleep is the foundation of dreaming; the first step in taking back your dreams is to take back your sleep   So, before me move on to more magical practices, let’s take a few minutes to talk about how to cultivate excellent sleep.

Let’s begin with some very straightforward suggestions for improving sleep:

Most experts agree that a cool bedroom, around 65 degrees, promotes deep, restful sleep, so be sure to turn down the temperature about an hour before bed, so you and the room have time to cool down before you crawl under the covers.  For most people, a clean bedroom improves sleep.  Be sure your bedroom isn’t too dusty, and that your bedlinens and pajamas are clean.  Noise pollution can significantly interfere with sleep, especially for us city dwellers.  While silence is best, white noise can dramatically improve sleep by “evening out” a noisy environment.  These days, there are innumerable free and cheap apps that will provide a wide variety of white and ambient noises.  My favorite is MyNoise.net, from audio engineer Dr. Ir. Stéphane Pigeon.  

Light pollution is probably the most insidious thing messing up our sleep.  All day long, we’re exposed to artificial light from screens, which can disrupt your natural circadian rhythm.  Turning off screens for an hour before bedtime can make a huge impact on your sleep, but if you won’t do that, try the app f.lux, which automatically adjusts yours devices to redder and redder light as you get closer and closer to bedtime.  Streetlights and even sunlight can also interfere with sleep.  Invest in blackout shades or curtains for your bedroom; it’s best for it to be as dark as possible while sleeping.  Because, as a Dream Worker, you may sometimes wake up to record dreams several times a night, I like to keep a lamp with a red light bulb next to the bed.  Turning on the red light will provide more than enough light to write by, but it will help make it easier to go back to sleep after, and is unlikely to wake a partner.  You can get a special light bulb that emits white-looking light but heavy on the red end of the spectrum, designed to promote sleep, however I recommend a simple red light bulb, like you’d find in a photographer’s dark room.

A comfortable bed, while obviously a great thing, is not nearly as necessary to quality sleep as silence, darkness, and temperature regulation are.  Humans evolved sleeping on the lumpy ground, but not in the bustling city.  While you should invest in the best bed you can afford, addressing sound and light pollution is likely to improve your sleep as much, if not more, than a new bed will.

Finally, many drugs can interfere with sleep and dreaming.  Everyone knows that nicotine and caffeine can interfere with your sleep; if you choose to use them, try to cut back before bed.  While both alcohol and marijuana can make it easier to get to sleep, but both interfere with REM sleep and with dreaming.  It’s best to avoid them when you’re dream working.  If you take prescription medicines, ask your doctor or pharmacist how they’ll impact your sleep and dreams.

Now that you’ve taken some mundane steps to improve your sleep, it’s time to get down to some dream magic.  Over the next several pages, I’ll present a complete, a lot of magical options to jump start your dream work.  You don’t need to do all of them; pick and choose which ones seem best to you.

Clean your Room

Especially if you’ve had any disturbances in the room recently, such as illness or injury, nightmares, or arguments with a partner, it’s a good idea to start by cleaning and banishing your bedroom. If you have reason to believe you need stronger banishing, seek out a professional priest, witch or shaman, but most “psychic resonance” can be cleaned with a good washing.  I like this wash for walls and hard floors.  

General Banishing & Blessing Floor & Wall Wash
1 Gallon Rain or Spring Water
1/2 cup Salt
1 cup rosewater or orange blossom water (get at Indian or Middle Eastern grocers)
1 cup PineSol or similar
As you add each ingredient, speak to it out loud, awakening its magical properties.  You can say something like this, but speak from you heart:
  • “Living Water, clean and pure, wash away all anger, illness, pain, and malevolence from this place.  You are the waters of the womb of the Earth, where I slept before I was born, and the waters of life that sustains all living things.”
  • “Salt, creature of earth, exorcist’s friend drive away from this place all anger, illness, pain or malevolence.  Cast out all unclean things, leaving purity and peace in their wake.
  • “Sweet perfume, bring healing and peace on the scent of your lovely blossoms.  
  • “Pine tree, lord of the forest, ancient symbol of immortality, grant life and health and blessing to all who smell your scent.”

Cleaning and Blessing Your Bed

It’s best to begin this process in the morning, so it can air as long as possible.  Begin by stripping you bed, and washing your bed linens, and mattress pad (if you use one).  Vacuum the mattress itself, using an upholstery brush.  Nearly everyone’s bed has stains, don’t worry about them.  Spray down the mattress with a mild disinfectant.  I recommend this simple, natural, safe mixture, unless you’ve recently been sick, in which I would break out something more “hard core” like lysol.

1 cup hot water
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup rubbing alcohol
3 Tbsp salt
1 tsp tea tree or lavender oil (I’m allergic to lavender, so I use tea tree, but many people swear by lavender as a sleep aid as well as a disinfectant)

It’s easiest to mix the salt into hot water until it dissolves, then mix the oil into the alcohol, and then mix everything together.

Spray down the mattress, and let it sit for about an hour to dry.  If possible, open the curtains so that sunlight falls onto the mattress.

Once the bed is mostly dry, sprinkle baking soda over it.  Don’t be stingy; I use an entire 1 pound box on my queen size bed.  Let the baking soda sit as long as possible, then vacuum it up.  I recommend adding a cloth mattress cover, which will absorb sweat and other fluids, and help keep your newly fresh mattress clean, and also provides a protective barrier to keep out bedbugs, mites, and other undesirables..  It can also help keep the bed cooler, especially on foam mattresses.

Make your bed.  While you do, take a moment to say a short prayer to the divinity of your choice that they watch over your sleep, making it restful, healing, and inspiring.  It’s a good idea to repeat this process every six months or so.  Many beds can be rotated and flipped so that they wear evenly.  Doing this at the same time will dramatically extend the comfortable life of your mattress.

Herbal Dream Oil

Mix the following herbs together, using rough the same amount of each.  Fresh is better, but dried will also work fine.
clary sage

sweet woodruff

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