If you could slow down an action that usually zooms by, or speed up an event that normally drags on, which would you choose, and why? asks The Daily Post
The long pause between sleep and wake, floating a few centimetres above the bed and yet my body heavy as a rock, the edges of everything are merged into everything else, hard edges of furniture and bodies like silk. I want to stretch that out, smear it like a photo filter over 24 hours.
These days, I’ve learned to jump out of that state quickly, as if my synapses have changed. The urgent online prompt pummels itself in like a schoolyard bully the second after I’ve opened my eyes. The phone and the tablet are generally not beside the bed – that is at least one technological rule I adhere to regularly. The urge is strong to leave the bed even though getting up is the last thing I want to do. What am I worried about? That I’ve missed something? That something happened on the internet and I missed it? What’s the rush? The whole fucking thing’s documented.
I’d take that daydreamy drug, smear it all over everything like Vaseline over a camera lens so that no matter what I come up against, it’s inconsequential. And yet at the same time fully there, so that the wisest and best, most creative ways to deal with everything and everyone are the most obvious. Then I’d know that whatever there is online can wait till I get up, because the lorikeets are splashing in the bird bath just out the window. Or my mind is roaming, thinking about spiderweb spinning, about 17th century Welsh farming practices, about how trees communicate with each other via their roots and via fungi and I want to explore the golden thread that connects them all.
We all know that things flow when we’re cruised up. When I’m out of bed and the inflammation that accompanies most of my waking hours has burnt out my mantra – “I am anxious but I am not in danger” – I know that the pressure is from inside my body, but it’s the world that feels like it’s crushing in on top of me.
But this is where being online really becomes helpful. Lying down on the couch, spread out under a light blanket, one of the many yoga nidra videos on YouTube takes me to that space, even while I’m awake. It’s a commonly-repeated refrain that one hour of yoga nidra is like four hours of sleep. Sure, it doesn’t happen like that for me all the time. But on many days, that frazzle, that tired-but-wired feeling is gone or appeased when I wake up out of that state that feels like sleep but isn’t.
There is something super special about this practice. It’s all quite simple, really, and also seems quite stupid. You are guided to place your attention on different parts of your body, each just for a moment or two until you move your attention to the next part. Around the body you move, and your instructor sometimes repeats different areas, or groups them together in different ways, so that after placing your attention on each finger you now place it on your whole arm together, or your arms and legs together. You’re instructed to focus on the entire front of your body, the back of your body, to imagine it is light as a feather, as heavy as iron. It sounds dumb, but so is smoking crack.
People have been doing this stuff for centuries and centuries. It seems weird, but it’s amazing the difference it can make. Yogic sleep, they call it, and for an hour or for hours after, it’s effects linger so that you’re in the same world you were in before, but it’s all different. You’ve tapped into that beautiful bit that we hope is a real part of the world, that maybe the universe is constructed of love even though there’s bad, evil shit in it (sorry, just finished watching episode 5 of The X-Files).
When you are in the beautiful flow, it is obvious that it’s how we are meant to function. It’s though your molecules and your atoms have been smoothed down, like hair in a conditioner commercial, so that you move through the world more like silk and less like hessian. It is the closest thing I’ve found to being able to take that beautiful sleep space and smoothe it over my day. And it’s cheaper than getting stoned, and with less paranoia too 🙂 It’s from this space that the stories flow in, where the possibilities abound. Here, everything belongs.
Image: The Balance Walk by Peter & Ute Grahlmann, cc2.0 https://www.flickr.com/photos/vangral/10580542666/in/album-72157623932808783/