Inquiry on the Oddities of Alpha Sleep

This may not be the most thrilling post, but it is a subject that I think is worth more attention for my fellow dreamers.

I have been told by a friend of mine that he often experiences these loops of what happened the previous day while he is about to go to sleep. Sometimes as he recounts the repetitive tasks of the day (i.e. playing tennis, checking his phone, ect.) and will be startled awake by sounds or feelings that get “too real” during these memories. This is known as a hypnogogic hallucination, a mental mishap followed by a sudden muscle contraction that is common during the first stage of sleep.

Alpha waves are released when the mind enters a relaxed, focused state and provide a contrast to the other powerhouse Beta waves that are active in our day-to-day life.

Alpha waves have far-reaching potential, ranging from meditative expertise to controlling video games with your mind. I’ll get back to meditation, but the mind-reading technology is getting cheaper and more trendy. In this TED talk, Tan Le describes the accessibility and utility of headsets made to take advantage of this mental energy.

What I imagine a brain-wave to look like. As created by Dale Chihuly, and displayed in Fairchild Botanical Gardens.

What I imagine a brain-wave to look like. Sculpture created by Dale Chihuly and displayed in Fairchild Botanical Gardens.

In July of 2014 I had the opportunity to attend the annual science exhibition of The Royal Society and saw a display on brain function. Strapped into a headset, I won a brain-powered game of pong versus an elderly woman I had just met. The exhibition educators explained that youth, mental acuity, and inherent ability all play a role in the strength of brain waves. With this I’ve come to question how lucid dreaming and meditation could increase our Alpha wave control.

It seems natural to me that if these brain waves are being projected in such a way that can be measured externally, the mode of that projection should be able to be manipulated by the user. With new technology in this field we may not be so far from telepathy. Exercising alpha waves through meditative practices seems like the best way to ensure adaptability to this upcoming realm of technology. Although that’s just speculation.

How does this energy translate into sleep rituals? Is there more to hypnogogic hallucinations than mere inconvenience?

I want to know so badly. In my youth I dreamed of creating DBZ kamehameha waves and moving objects with the power of my mind. The simmering potential of alpha waves proves to me that these fantasies aren’t so far from reality.

Dream on little dreamers,

EB

Advertisements

Goodnight Mr. Owl

At midnight an owl swooped right behind me along my way home in the swamp of North Florida. It glided from the brush on my right to to silently snatch a morsel a few feet to my left.  Caught by surprise, I spun to catch sight of it only to see the shadows and ruffled leaves.

For a moment, I could see the events through Mr. Owl’s eyes.

Eyes like lighthouses!

Graffiti in Atlanta, Georgia: Little Five Points. These are eyes like lighthouses!

Rodent rummaging in the plastic scraps of yesterdays trash pickup, it’s exposed – but jumpy. My perch in the cover of the tree keeps the moonlight from making lighthouses of my eyes. Angling my wings forward for the descent, my talons sit loose on the branches. Situation. Two humans approach, walking between me and dinner. Rodent perks up to see the ruckus, readying to flee. Additional risk assessed; launch. Steady wings lean through the wind. Dodge human, narrowly. Kill confirmed.

I should probably host the next season of Planet Earth.

What strikes me the most about my encounter with Mr. Owl was the level of focus required to make the judgement call he did. I’m assuming he passed so close behind me because it was the absolute fastest he could assure his kill. Mistiming his launch from the branch would have meant an unpleasant collision with a human, yet he calculated it to inches.

There’s some kind of takeaway from this about inspiration from animal design and the power of focus. I’m a little too sleepy to express that takeaway concisely. For now I’m content to say: Goodnight Mr. Owl.

Dream On Little Dreamers,

EB

Dream Coaching (A Ponderous Ramble)

Today a friend of mine interjected our conversation to say that something I said reminded him of his dream last night. I dropped everything and asked if he would be willing to write it down. He meant to start a dream journal, but had never tried. I offered to prompt him through the process, should he be comfortable with the idea of sharing with me.

It blossomed into an interesting gambit of quick-tips as he scribbled fragments of an almost-lost dream. I focused on just getting an outline of the dream rather than trying to create a narrative. I asked general questions about the environment and company, “were you inside or outside?” “was there a crowd of people or a just a few.” With a couple of jumpstarts he was able to remember facts about the dream that he hadn’t originally recalled in our initial conversation.

I tried to stress the need to move forward with the narrative rather than get jammed up on the little details. If an action or character in the dream has you stumped then just note it quickly and move on. As his ideas slowed down, I asked him to draw any vivid images (stick figures allowed) to give him something to look back on. My friend said it was a very useful experience and I wondered if I could recreate it for others.

I like the idea of developing a coaching regiment for dream journaling. I think people would enjoy a lecture on the subject of dream recollection. Would you attend? What tips do you think are important for inexperienced journal keepers?

Dream on Little Dreamers,

EB

How to Sleep When Friends are Nocturnal

This topic keeps me awake at night. It’s hard to hit the hay when your friends want to hang. These are some thoughts of mine, but I’m hoping to receive feedback on some of your methods.

For me gaming, socializing, and lounging can all go exponential into the wee hours of the morning when friends are involved. Bonding time is extremely valuable, but it’s important to note the potential enabling of a poor circadian rhythm. Sleeping schedules can get soft-wired into your system and be a potential nuisance when you want to maintain a work ethic.

It’s easy to ignore long term issues for short term pleasure, no one can argue that hedonism is a fun way to live. However, proper education on the role of sleep can lead to empowered rhythm surfing. Rhythm surfing is my way of saying, smooth and calculated adjustments to your sleep schedule to meet your life needs.

Friends complicate things, I often hear from my Miami friends “The clubs get best after 2 am!”

There may be some value in exploring how group discussion on sleep makes for better cohesion. I imagine that friendships operate better between well-rested people as opposed to groggy ones.

Share any thoughts you have. I could definitely use the advice.

Dream On Little Dreamers,

EB

Dreaming of Dead Ends

Sometimes I put myself under an enormous amount of pressure to succeed. It’s a good trait to have, but the stale sense of doom that whips it into motion can be oppressive.

Lately I’ve been dreaming of, you guessed it, dead ends. The sort that keep sleeping-me confused in blobby dark places and waking-me feeling like I haven’t taken a breath in minutes. The imagery I can gather from my journals is a bit gruesome:

—–

I remember sitting in a barber’s chair getting a haircut by a large foreign man. I was distressed because I knew I had already received a haircut recently and didn’t want him to botch it. He told me I had to stay for the shave but I complained I had no time, there was work to be done. I left only to be chased through a dark mall by zombies. Circling around the building, I found myself at the barber again just in time to see him use his blade to cut the scalp off his next customer. I was validated in my earlier fears, but also resigned to my doom to zombies and apparently Sweeney Todd. 

—-

For the most part I’m struggling to remember the fine details of these dead-end dreams. It’s frustrating to know how self-perpetuating these kinds of dreams can be. But I’ll be out of this dreary period soon. Earlier today I had a dream with vibrant color and if that’s not a blessed sign I don’t know what is.

It can be hard for me to post in this blog when I’m not recalling my dreams as well. However, I fully intend to be the pondering hub for all your wiggly dream things. I’d like to thank my small community of followers, every ‘like’ and ‘view’ encourages me incredibly.

Dream on little dreamers,

EB

Bittersweet Sigh of a Forgotten Dream

Awakened quickly to ringing tones

I set myself to this day’s home

Traffic hums – the beasts’ moan

Listening to my mind of stones

I feel so close and yet so vague

A woman there, I think, a shade?

Time’s too finite here.

Car door opened, no longer alone

solid things needing to be known.

On desk-like parapet I note a peer…

There were eyes like that one’s

with star mist gaze like talons.

I shook it off, not in this world.

Despite myself, no dream unfurled.

What Do We Seek From Dreams?

In essence, dreams are our personal window to the subtle mechanisms that underlie our everyday self. Sometimes these insights are inspiring, other times they are frightful. But the question I seek to answer is: how do these ephemeral movies reveal their worth in a tangible way? There is no worth to this practice of journaling unless I can prove that it makes a positive difference in my quality of life.

I’ve just made the five hour drive from Miami to Gainesville, and I listened to the audiobook Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse along the way. The book, published in 1922, depicts the spiritual journey of the character Siddhartha as he seeks the meaning of worldly existence. It was amazingly written, to say the least, but the point of interest came not from Siddhartha but from Hermann himself.

Hermann Hesse was a german-born novelist who, by virtue of his birth in 1877, lived in the interesting time of the two world wars and the rise of psychoanalysis. His commitment to psychotherapy, the practice of dream analysis, is credited with helping Hesse move past periods of writers block caused by the intense strain of his time period. It was through his dreams that Hesse was able to recapture the value of his waking life’s work, and thus continue to work on highly appraised literature such as Siddhartha.

Through our lives there will be many sources of anxiety and stress that will lock us away from the drives that fulfill us. It is difficult to achieve our actualizing goals, and easy to forget about their importance in the tumults of life. Dreams are the key to these inevitable locks. It is in our dreams that we cannot ignore the necessities of our eternal witness. Whether you attend to them or not, dreams will remind you of your virtues and your failures.

The thing that we seek from dreams is luminescence on the path of our lives. If we can better see the past and future lain out by our innermost self, we may be better prepared to act upon that wisdom when the opportunity arrives.

What do you want from your dreams? I’m surely missing quite a few potential uses. When was the last time a dream made an effect on your reality?

Dream on Little Dreamers,

EB