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Before I Sleep…..

As you rest your head on your pillow, what do you think about? Ever thought about what systematically goes on in your head then? What patterns of thinking usually surface? A while back, I tried to introspect & observe myself every night. Sometimes I would be too drained & would find myself transcending to that altered state of consciousness in seconds. At other times, I toss and turn. My thoughts would be racing in seemingly endless motion.

To start with, I love to sleep & always look forward to that special time with myself. When I don’t get enough sleep, my mood suffers; no matter how hard I try to make believe that it’s not. I engaged in a lot of self-talk in an attempt to train myself to live with only few hours of sleep. Soon, I’d say, I will have no choice & be put to permanent sleep involuntarily. It didn’t work. I’ve grown to accept the fact that my biological endowment requires me to have a good-night sleep. I just can’t help it. I need to change my belief that when I sleep, I am actually losing time in being more dynamic in other matters. My incessant passion to get things done was a major driving force. I need to slow that down. Let me go with the flow. Respect what my body needs, accept it, and enjoy it while I can.

So what happens as I lay there? Very interesting observations conjured up. It has been noted that in waking states we have around 60,000 thoughts each day. Some of these recur during the day more often than others. What I noticed was an extension of these thoughts as I hug my fluffy pillow & attempt to sleep. Flashbacks of what happened during the day emerge. These could be major or minor events. The flow of similar thought processes continues to include planning ahead: what I need to do tomorrow & how next day will look like. I guess that is common & automatic for most of us. What I noticed, also, is a tendency for my thoughts to be more random-like & mixed up as I fall into the actual sleep state. This is known as the “hypnagogic state” during which thoughts become dream-like and resemble hallucinations. It is followed sometimes by a feeling of a free-fall into a dark abyss. And that is often times associated by a jerky movement in bed as if resisting the fall. The whole thing is just the beginning of something like a trance.

Another observation is that whenever I am not soon enough in that “hypnagogic state”, it is sometimes because my inner ramblings are so charged, intense & fast. It is in such instances that I needed to resort to slowing them down. (I) (s t a r t) (t h i n k i n g) (s l o w l y ) (a b o u t) (a n y t h i n g) . . . . I also resort to imagining that abyss & that I have, in fact, started falling endlessly. I just attempt to dive in there. I even deliberately make my thoughts chaotic: think of mixed up events, people, or settings randomly. This would be enough to prepare me to transcend beyond wakefulness. These techniques work with me almost every time.

One last thing I promised myself to do a long time ago & before I sleep is a quick assessment of the day. I still do that. Was it a productive day? How can I improve on this or that? Am I a better person today? Did I positively influence anyone? Was I helpful today? Am I closer to my dreams and goals? What are today’s lessons? And so on…… These questions crossroads with the flashbacks I have about the day & the planning for the next. It is by far the most important thing I can do to conclude my day.

During all this process, many times, I like to design my own conscious dreams. I know some things are too far fetched to come into reality, but there’s no harm in imagining the impossible. For me, the sky is not the limit. Conscious dreams serve two purposes: they are an escape to the ideal world I yearn, and they are in the form of goals to fulfill. They are under my control & I can shape them the way I like. In the end, the process “before I sleep” undeniably turns out to be something I look forward to. It is so varied and so fascinating. Am I to blame, then, when I welcome having a good sleep? Putting my busy head to respite – my own way – is one thing I will forever cherish & enjoy. The involuntary dreams that follow are even a more captivating experience. I won’t whine, after all that, for sleeping as much as I do (mind you it’s not more than 8 hours of sleep per day) :).

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