Naps

I love taking naps. Don’t misunderstand me, I also enjoy nighttime sleeping, but I love naps. Short power naps – the recommended 20-minute kind – are very helpful as a battery recharge. But a real nap, for me, means no time limit: a natural wakeup when the body is ready. That is absolute perfection, in my book.

Very few of us can enjoy that sort of ‘luxury’ when we arise in the morning, because there are morning tasks to be completed in a timely fashion. Maybe you need to make breakfast and pack up lunches and drive children to school. Perhaps it is just a matter of getting yourself washed and dressed and out the door to work or school. Perhaps the dog wakes you up, insisting on a walk or the cats want their food or the baby needs to be fed or changed. Whether the stimulus is our alarm clock or the sounds of a fellow creature, we roll out of bed and get moving.

A nap, on the other hand, can be planned (occasionally) at a time when there is no incipient pressure to be active, to meet a need or a deadline. A quiet place, a soft surface on which to recline, a cozy blanket and open-ended time are the prime ingredients. I personally enjoy using an eyebag because the gentle weight of it reminds my eyes that they are completely at rest. And somehow that seems to quiet my mind as well. My muscles relax and I sink into my body, which doesn’t make sense as words, but that’s how it feels to me.

I am not one of those people who can fall asleep anywhere: in/on planes, trains and automobiles. Sometimes I wish that I were, but then again, I really enjoy watching people and scenery, so that’s okay. There have been occasions, particularly on a long flight, where I do nod off for a bit, but the resulting neck pain is terrible.

For me, napping is a private thing. I want to be somewhere secluded and safe, where I will not be observed. It is beginning to sound like I have a lot of requirements for napping, but remember that I am talking ideal circumstances here. Most of my naps are ended by a ringing telephone or the adorable little chime on my smart phone alarm.

Origin of NAP:  Middle English nappen, from Old English hnappian; akin to Old High German hnaffezen (to doze), or Middle High German napfen;                                         First Known Use: before 12th century

Nothing exciting about the origin of the word, except that it appears to have been in use for a long time. Of course some cultures, particularly in warmer climates, have a traditional ‘siesta’ after the midday meal. I’ve always thought that was a sensible and humane routine. I am not convinced that being ‘on’ nonstop is really any good for us as humans or for the cultures we develop using that lifestyle.

Well, if you will excuse me, I need to do some more research; its time for my nap.

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Mind noise

So, I wrote a blog post about lists the other day.  You might wonder why I was so intrigued that I wanted to write about it.  How does it connect to the de-construction of shame?

Allow me to take a few steps back.  First of all, I attended this workshop on sleep and dreams because I am passionate about them.  Most of the folks taking the workshop were there because they ‘suffer’ from insomnia.  I was the odd ball for sure, stating in my self-intro that I loved sleep and naps.  The presenter shared a lot of information about the ‘whys’ of insomnia and suggestions for modifying common behaviors that work against sleep.

What I got from the sessions was validation of my (I don’t know where it came from, but I have always felt it) belief in the significance of sleep and dreams.  There were many obvious (once you hear them) insights into how our cultural norms are stacked against valuing sleep, rest & dreaming; about the mechanistic way that sleep is addressed medically and colloquially.  Generally sleep is considered a matter of bodily maintenance; the personal, emotional, psychological and spiritual realities of sleep and dreaming are widely disregarded.

I absolutely love it when someone offers language to describe and explain what I have been feeling or intuitively knowing.  I guess that’s why I write, in the hope that I could offer that sensation of “Yes, that’s how I feel or think” to another person on the planet.  Speaking of the planet, of course there are other cultures where sleep and dreams are highly esteemed.  Our loss (rejection) of this fundamental human experience appears to be part of the post-Industrial Revolution cultural shift that includes so many other de-humanizing elements.

One of the behaviors mentioned as being detrimental to entering and remaining in the world of sleep was referred to as Mind Noiseimages-2

That’s where the lists come in.  I know I regularly go to bed with a head full of ‘to do’s swirling around.  If I don’t drift into sleep easily or if I awaken in the night, it is ‘to do’ worry that keeps me revved up.  Tomorrow plans:  which errand, chore or task to prioritize, what to wear (is it clean?), what to cook for supper… It’s a mess.  Not surprisingly, when those are my final conscious thoughts, they are there waiting for me first thing in the morning.

How many times have you read or heard these words… “I woke up and at first I felt good and then I remembered…” The sentence is often finished with the mention of a tragedy, like the death of a loved one, or one’s own illness, but it can also be a less dramatic, but very real worry like not having a job or enough money to buy food for your family.  Or having a report due at work or school.  The point is, we often awaken to some form of dread.

I’ve been reading Brené Brown’s 2012 book, Daring Greatly.  Her thoughtful words on vulnerability and shame always resonate for me.  But I was gob-smacked (love that  expression) while reading her chapter on Scarcity: Looking Inside our Culture of “Never Enough”.  I encountered this quote from Lynne Twist’s book, The Soul of Money.

         “For me and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is ‘I didn’t get enough sleep.’  The next one is ‘I don’t have enough time.’  Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it.  … Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something.  And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds are racing with a litany of what we didn’t get, or didn’t get done, that day.  We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to that reverie of lack…”

And there you have it; my day is book-ended by lists and worry, which perpetuate the nasty shameful feeling that I am not good enough.  No matter what I do.  So, as part of this battle to deconstruct shame, I am taking a closer look at the verbs that occupy my lists and the adverbs that inform the actions.  Can it be that this strategy, which I have presumed to be useful and benign, is actually a way that I participate in self-shaming?  Maybe it’s not that simple, but I need to look into it.

Your thoughts are welcome…