Tag Archives: sleep

Who-am-I-3This may seem like a very simple question. It’s something that we as a race have asked ourselves as far back as we have been able to remember. But when most of us ask this question we go no further back than our own memory. That can include our memory of what we learned in history, what we’ve read, what we’ve been told by others, what we have personally experienced and what input we have processed on our time on this earth. The key word that provides us the best clue to how we identify ourselves is input.

With all of the technology that we’ve experienced we naturally hear the word input and think of computers, recorders, cameras, microphones, telephones; all of the gadgets that create a record or memory of what we or someone else has experienced. But all these gadgets simply imitate a capacity that we all share. That capacity is the use of our senses. Our senses depend on input. Our senses depend on stimulus (new information) that we can compare to what we already know, what we’ve committed to memory, what is different from what we already know or feel at the moment. We depend on input to define ourselves.

Selfie-Mona LisaWhen we are asked, “Who are you?” our answers are based on input we have received about ourselves from our surrounding world. We define ourselves by how the world sees us and how we see ourselves as participating in that world. To begin with we say our name. Did you choose your own name? No. Your parents gave that to you based on the input they perceived about you. Are you your job? No. You define yourself based on input that you and others perceive about what you do. Are you your family? No. Who you are is based on the input that you and others perceive about the people you live with and, most likely, work at supporting. The point I’m making is that sense input produces what is accepted as being true about you or not through your senses and those of others. It’s a compilation of and comparison to what you are and aren’t as compared to your surrounding world. So, what would happen to how you perceive who you are if we slowly removed those senses on by one? How, then, would you define yourself to yourself and others? Let’s see…

Smell-orangutansSince smell and taste are very closely related, let’s remove those together. Do you like a good steak? How would you know if all you could sense about it was the texture or what it feels like as you put it into your mouth? There would probably be very little difference between that and chicken, or turkey. Do you like ice cream? Yogurt? The texture of both are very similar. The only difference you’d recognize would be the color and that ice cream would feel much colder. What about flowers? You no longer can smell them. The only difference would be how they looked and how they felt (fragile, strong, thorny, tall short, etc.) With no smell and no taste, your ability to see food and flowers and feel their texture and temperature would be the only way that you could tell them apart. You, then, would have to lean much more heavily into the input available from your other senses of sight, tactile feeling and hearing. To wit, it is said that when someone goes blind the acuity of their remaining senses multiplies. Let’s remove another sensual input.

The kiss-RodanLet’s remove your tactile input. How would sex feel if you had no sense of touch? No taste? No smell? You might become aroused by what you could see or hear, but, then how could you feel the tactile pleasure of caressing? Warmth? Texture? Friction? Let’s go one further. How would you now identify your sexual experience? In pictures? In sounds? Your only input is your sight, hearing and of course your memory of what you’ve experienced before. With the loss of touch, taste and smell what has happened to the intensity of your experience? What has happened to the depth of your experience? How will you now describe it and your participation to others? How do you now define yourself in terms of sex and your experience with it? Your loss of three senses has monumentally diminished your experience with sex, food, texture, warmth, cold. What now remains to commit to memory? Let’s remove one more sense.

Hearing-Dog-1Sound has now left your repertoire. Can you hear music? Birds chirping, wind rustling leaves, the sighs of your lover during sex? What is now left to commit to memory to compare with what you’re already experienced? Only what you can see.

I’ve left the most impactful sense for last; sight. In today’s world we receive the largest volume of our sensual input through our sight. We learn things creating input watching television, our computer. We move about finding our direction through our house, the supermarket. We recognize people. We recognize ourselves in the mirror. We recognize the difference between night and day. We write Eye-heart-2down shopping lists of things to remember. We know when to stop filling a glass. We know when we come too close to the edge of a cliff. We see the steps we must traverse to go up or down in our houses. We can see when it’s safe to cross the street in traffic. Our last sense input is gone. How now can we experience the world? What have we left to identify ourselves with? Only our memory.

exhaustion-childBut, for most people, when the external input is turned off and we are so exhausted from following the convolutions and gymnastics of our conscious mind, it is our cue to sleep. When this occurs, most of us simply vacate bodily awareness and withdraw from our worldly participation. Removing any attention we may have on our body allows it the time and the space to disengage from all the resistances and polarities our conscious mind has constructed in dealing with daily events and the resulting stress it had deposited in our muscles and nervous system. In letting go of our body and mind it allows us to return to that unified non-polarized place we lived in before we were born in order to integrate our newest day’s activities into our “larger self” and clarify any changes in direction needed to further enhance our experience when we return to Larger self-1our physical world. When we are fully recharged and begin to reconnect with our body and mind it is then that we begin to dream. This is where the antics of our mind begin to negotiate with the timeless unified state we were just visiting and produce, sometimes, enlightening insights and sometimes, confusing timing and irrational scenarios that puzzle the conscious mind. When we have fully awakened, our unified awareness has totally shifted into our polarized perspective ready to participate in the physical world making choices and creating new resistance. This process repeats itself every night. If we are deprived of our REM sleep, that is, our opportunity to negotiate what we’ve integrated about being between “here” and “there” with our newest experiences, we eventually lose our mental thread and perceptual grounding: we lose our connection to “reality.” We all know that sleep deprivation makes most of us “loopy.”

SucubusHowever, the momentum of our conscious mind is sometimes so strongly connected to where we’ve been, or what we are going through, that we are unable to totally let go of our connection to our bodies resulting in the type of insomnia where we’re half in sleep and half out and dreaming. So now, with no external input the mind goes crazy dredging up enough material from our memory of past experiences to fill our awareness and “solve” what it is that we are distressed and tense about. When we finally awaken we are only partially recharged and working on only five cylinders for the rest of the day.

The point I’m making here is that the mind itself can be considered a sense. Because it contains the total memory of our past experiences and conjurations of possible outcomes in the future, it too is part of the polarization process controlling the “on” or “off” states (e.g., taste or don’t taste) of what we sense. Our senses and mind must both be released in order that we are able Energized-1to fully discharge enough of the resistance we have built and accumulated daily that we may be able to let go and vacate back into our unified essence to regroup. We can compare our regrouping to a computer that we would reboot clearing its memory and cache in order to have enough RAM to perform new tasks when turned back on again.

Desensitization tank-1It’s also worthy to note that back in the 60s the rage in colleges was to climb into desensitization tanks that would “deaden” the senses enough so that all that remained was our conscious mind. Some people loved the experience. Others became terrified at being “alone” with themselves. There is very little difference between this and the substances we currently use to either heighten or deaden our senses today like the difference between what alcohol does and what barbiturates do. Some want to escape the senses. Others want to be overwhelmed by them so they feel nothing else. Either way, it’s an escape from facing ourselves and what we feel.

So where does this leave us in terms of who we are? We know that when the senses are gone or turned off our mind replaces them with the memory of what we’ve already sensed or anticipated sensing. In recognizing this we know that we aren’t our senses. We also can say that when the physical senses are turned off, the mind goes into overdrive attempting to fill the perceptual gap. As the mind increases in speed, there eventually comes appoint where our Catch the trainability to make sense of it can no longer keep up with the speed and we are thrown free like a child from an accelerating merry go round and end up in the sidelines watching it spin. This tells us that we also aren’t our minds either, yet, we do have a mind just like we have senses. This means that when we physically die, what we can recognize, our senses and mind, are NOT all there is.

So what’s left to define? Feelings and intuition? These are continuous and involuntary types of energy that arise within us. They were present within us before we came here. But even they occur within us. So who or what are they within? So who or what is us? You? I? Without being separate from what we are attempting to define or discriminate, we can’t answer the question. It’s our belief in separation that creates the question. If there is no separation, there is no question. So now we must ask, “Who or what is it that we are asking this of?”

Temptation-1We’ve all said or thought this to ourselves at some point in our lives. For some of us this is spoken every day. For some of us it’s rarely acknowledged. For those of us who feel it often, we feel and acknowledge our own frailties in handling life and being in a challenging world. For others of us who can’t acknowledge this within ourselves, our perceived control over our lives becomes the deciding factor. Inclusive of whatever approach or combination of them we choose to recognize, we all face the physical, emotional and mental realities of the tremendous chasm that exists between what we perceive as pain and what we perceive as pleasure. Regardless of the romanticism we attach to either, the difference existing between the two is not as philosophical or spiritual as we might think. Its roots are firmly planted in the perceptions we feel in our physical senses and we always tend to react in ways that show themselves through what we do to our physical bodies and the perspectives and attitudes we take in handling them.

Pain & Pleasure-1Pain and pleasure are two sides of the same coin. This is well known and accepted as part of conventional wisdom in just about every culture and is used as fodder for every assumption and determination in constructing our beliefs concerning why we are here and what paths we must take in order to minimize our pain and heighten our pleasure. When we think of pleasure, we define it as something we’d like to move toward. When we think of pain, we define it as something we would prefer to escape. Both pain and pleasure are irrevocably interwoven into our presence in the physical world. They are born of the separation between what we want and what we don’t want. The necessity of our having to navigate between these two is inescapable until we leave these bodies. The best we can do, while we’re here, is to minimize the chasm between the pleasure of having what we want and the pain of not. The next question that might come to our minds would be was there ever a time when they didn’t exist? My answer would be yes. It was before we came into these physical bodies. For those of us who have, at the least, a sense that we are more than who we appear to be in this world, this will be easy to swallow and move on with. For those of us who believe that when we die there is nothing more, this will seem foolish and unfounded and remind us of the terror we’ll face in dying. I obviously ascribe to the first perspective.

in-utero-babyIt is my belief that before we came into these bodies, and even in utero before we took our first breath, that there was no pain or pleasure. There was no separation from or division of what we felt. There was no absence of food. There was no absence of warmth. There was no absence of nurturance. There was no absence of comfort. We floated in an ocean of feeling with other beings all moving together in waves of communal feelings. What one of us felt, all others felt. There was no perceived separation. If we think of this state in religious terms, we might call it Heaven, Paradise, Nirvana. There was no knowledge or perception of good and evil. There was no separation. When we are born we are, essentially, “ejected” from Paradise. There is quite a bit of debate in metaphysical circles as to whether this is our choice or whether some force or authority “makes” this happen. Regardless of which Heaven-1perspective is “right,” when it occurs a tremendous separation occurs. We now perceive a separation between our having and not having food, warmth, nurturance, comfort and all the qualities that were one before we emerged. This separation is our first encounter with pain. This is our first perception of the polarized world; the difference between the pleasure of being unified before we’re born and pain of separation after. This is our first bite from the tree of knowledge. Everything in our new existence is now perceived in terms of opposites. This pain of division and separation make an indelible impression on our psyches. It sets up a field of energetic movement that creates the beginnings of our mind. This Nirvana-1state is unfathomable by our adult minds as it is non-verbal and, as yet, is without language for us to describe. The urge to return to Paradise, Nirvana, Heaven, is now our primary urge within the new field of separation. It underlies every other urge we, as adults, might feel or describe throughout the rest of our lives. It is all powerful, all consuming and all knowing. Sound familiar? As we grow to accumulate language, our mental faculties and the loud and intense presence of the physical world through our senses, our attention to the physical world overwhelms and buries our Paradise-1primary urge deep within our subconscious. As we grow older our awareness of this urge may exists well beneath our awareness but its effect remains at the root of every urge we feel toward pleasure and away from pain. Its main connection and activating influence now registers almost solely through our physical senses. Knowing this we can now understand the urges we feel in our daily, mundane encounters with differing life circumstances and perspectives. Our primary urge, still unrecognizable, now registers easily and simply through our senses and within our mind and our need to rationalize and plan our physical and emotionally triggered actions. My explanation may have taken the long way around but I think it was necessary to have a clear foundation and understanding of what we’re dealing with. Let’s take a look at its many faces and how it presents itself as an available avenue for relief in our daily lives.

cornucopia-1Food: In all these faces there are many ways, including our primary urge that they may present. Food is no exception. Purely from a physical point of view we can be hungry. That hunger can simply be an urge to literally refill an empty stomach and/or to supply missing nutrients. In addition to simply feeling hungry our body, very specifically, can create urges for specific foods that it knows will supply missing nutrients. For example, if our body is low on iron we may feel an urge for either spinach, raisins or perhaps eggplant, all of which contain helpful amounts of iron. Additionally, if we have become sugar or flour junkies, our body will have produced an inordinate amount of yeast through which the body will also sense and put out an urge to consume cakes, bread and sweets to replenish the sugar and feed the yeast. Further submerged and mixed in with these urges there may also come an additional urge for “comfort food.” We can translate that into eating in order to feel “full,” loved and secure. I believe that this is only one of the causes underlying our current epidemic of obesity in addition to many others including the availability of fat producing and nutritionally inferior fast and processed foods. I also feel that eating to feel loved is also one of the detrimental consequences of our contemporarily dissolving family structure leaving more of us feeling disconnected and separated from our loved ones than we have ever been or felt before. Filling ourselves with comfort food has become a method serving to mitigate or minimize our feelings of loneliness or disconnect from those whom we want to feel close to. This aspect of pain through lack resonates all the way down to our primal desire to return to the time when we had feelings of warmth and nurturance before we were born.

sex-1Sex: The urge toward having sex is a much less disguised urge than food. For most of us it is a tension or separation eliminator described as a pleasure experience. Of course we have many mental and emotional rationalizations for experiencing and following the urge. In attaching ceremony, romanticism and an unbelievably large list of contingencies to the act as we do, we do our best to color and euphemize, if not obscure, our raw and base animal physical urges. Essentially, we each often allow ourselves to follow through on the urge but only within and through our personally generated list of required contingencies. These are different for everyone, however, the nature of the primary urge remains the same: to return to a feeling where there was no separation, no pain and no feeling of lack, aka, total union with our partner (mother, universe, etc.). We feel this the most poignantly at the point of orgasm. The degree of the orgasm we experience is relative to the degree with which we have been able to totally disengage from everything else in our physical and emotional world except for the present moment with our partner. Our partner, or whatever fantasy we fixate on, is the avenue or doorway to that reunion. Orgasm is the closest we can come to the death experience while remaining within our physical bodies with the exception of a sneeze which is a much shorter and less intense experience. It is almost the total but temporary dropping of resistance we can do while inhabiting a body. The only thing closer to death is an NDE or near death experience during which, while remaining aware, we reside outside the body for a short period of time.

Sleep-1Sleep: When we sleep naturally and deeply we are able to return to that place where there is no separation. The reunion gives us a recharge in energy. We can know that we have temporarily and totally dropped the resistance and feelings of separation accumulated in the body when we wake up refreshed and energized. In normal sleep we are able to bridge the gap and reconnect our “separated parts” and revisit “heaven” if you will. When we haven’t, we may reawaken tired and only partially renewed or, if we’ve had a rough night, even more tired and worn than when we laid down. Normally, at the end of sleep and when we begin to re-inhabit our body, we pass through an in-between state where we will find ourselves dreaming. Here we begin to recollect some of the resistances and separations we use to identify ourselves in our physical waking world. I find it interesting that as infants we spend an inordinate amount of time sleeping as if to gradually immerse ourselves into the harsh world of the physical and when we are close to death we also begin to spend more time in sleep as if to prepare for our transition back to our pre-birth union. Essentially, natural sleep is a reunion with our “larger” selves. We can compare it to a weekly staff meeting where we assess the week’s events and plan the week to come.

Creative Abandon-1Creative Abandon: When was the last time you got so involved with a project or endeavor that time and the world around you seemed to totally stand still or even disappear and nothing existed but you and what you were focusing on? This is a partial reunion with that non-separate or larger self. When we create in this way there is no separation between what we see, feel, know and our vision of our completed project or endeavor. We feel totally aligned with our unified endeavor but are still able to “impartially” utilize the worldly polarities in its construction. In this way any artistic endeavor can become a natural vehicle for identifying and aligning with that unified part of ourselves. It could be music, painting, sculpting, writing, theorizing or any other activity that lends itself to creative activities. It’s interesting that the etiology of the word recreation is actually re + creation: that is, enabling the return of our unfettered and stressless pre-birth state.

Cocain-1Drugs: Any artificial substance that can reduce or alter our physical or mental sense acuities and their ability to register our feelings of pain, pleasure and separation can be considered a drug. In this classification of artificial substances, we can also include alcohol, nicotine, hallucinogens and even our relationship with food, especially, since many of our foods are becoming more and more artificial. Many of these substances are used simply to alter our perspective and awareness of our world, first for comfort and enjoyment, but then, as the substance becomes interlaced with our metabolism, it becomes a deadly coercion and necessity simply to exist and function. As a side note: there has been tremendous dispute over the definition of what we consider to be an addiction. My perception is that compulsions and addictions are both in a continuum relating to urges and needs but where the addiction interferes with our normal functioning and survival and where a compulsion is simply a diversion that encompasses a large amount of our time and effort without interfering with our daily function. My definitions may be simplistic but are designed to bring the clarity of understanding and comprehension.

Bible-1Religion: Within our worldly cultures many systems of thought have arisen attempting to explain our place in the world with a measure of its perceived structure focused on our effectiveness and responsibilities for the life situations we find ourselves in. The people who construct these systems, through prior internal work and questioning, have come to a comprehension of the pre-birth state that we have emerged from and have attempted to describe it in terms of being originally directed or created by an external being or deity who has a specific intention or plan that is unknown to us. This has the effect of relieving us of our responsibility for dealing with our worldly situations and leaves our circumstance, essentially, in the hands of this deity partially disconnecting and relieving us of our worldly tensions and giving us the perception of moving closer to our pre-birth state through prayer and worship of the attending deity. Like any other substance or circumstance, it is effective is assisting us in dropping some of the stresses and tensions of residing in our polarized physical existence. Additionally, like the prior methods described, it too can become a compulsion or addiction connected to the relief of the pain of division and separation from our primary pre-birth state overshadowing the control and effectiveness we have through choosing and being accountable for our life circumstances.

Life after death tunnel-1Death: When we disconnect from our bodies we return to the pre-birth state effectively eliminating the tensions and polarities inherent in living in the physical polarized world. Like those of religion who might have sensed or recognized the pre-birth state we have emerged from, and with the pain of division and separation having arisen to an intolerable intensity, suicide becomes an option for relief. I find it interesting and sad that it is considered illegal and immoral by many cultures to assist anyone who is attempting to relieve themselves of their overwhelming pain and separation in the lives they have found themselves in through suicide. Perhaps we have allowed the laws of our man-made religions superseding our instincts and urges to have too much say in our personal choices and needs.

My theory of where we have emerged from to inhabit these bodies is based on my own experience and contemplation resulting in my chosen belief system. I, alone, am responsible for my own choices. Inevitably, we must all choose for ourselves what to believe and how to conduct our lives. It’s important to know that we have the final say in our decisions and chosen actions. Yet, wherever we go or return to after we leave these bodies, who can say? But I do know that our beliefs are our own choice based on each of our own personal experiences. The truth is, I can help myself. So can you. Like an all-night bender, we can drown out our perception of this reality…but only for a while.