Sleep + Rejuvenation: Going Deeper
You've established a healthy sleep/wake cycle, your bedroom is a sanctuary, and you've kicked the late night stimulants. The next level is the best part--developing a personal dream practice. Let's go deeper.
design your own night time ritual
Like most things in life, when we set aside time and intention, magic happens.
One of the most important rituals of our day is the bedtime ritual. If you are a parent of a young child, it is likely that the importance of a bedtime ritual is freshly ingrained in your mind. A warm bath, PJs and brushed teeth, a bedtime story and warm blankets, a lullaby and a kiss goodnight all help carry your kiddo off to dreamland. But what about yourself?
Time and schedules are a prohibitive factor for many, but the thing is, contrary to popular belief, ritual doesn't have to take much time. It isn't about the number of practices or the amount of time spent. It just comes down to the intention and purpose behind it. If the only "ritual" you can squeeze in is brushing your teeth before bed, use that time to wind your body down, receive the care that you are providing for yourself, anticipate the feeling of slipping under the covers and resting your head, reflect on what it feels like in your body right before you are about to fall asleep.
If you can carve out a little bit more time, I suggest the following:
1. Take a moment to walk yourself through the day. Perhaps while you are still tying up loose ends around the house before you fully commit to getting ready for bed, revisit the events of your day from the moment you woke up, to the present moment you are in now. Try not to get stuck or dwell on particular events that happened during the day, but rather just be a conscious observer of all the events that lead you up to being here right now.
2. Put your house to bed. Just as we put our children to bed, take the time to put your house to bed too. Dim the lights, put things away in their designated homes, close the blinds, turn the WiFi off, and whatever else you need to do in your unique home to ensure a good night's rest. In the morning, do the opposite! Enjoy waking up your home by opening the blinds, powering on necessary devices, and opening the windows if weather permits.
3. Give your body some love. Touch is incredibly healing, and also deeply relaxing. One of my favorite practices is herbal body oiling (see the Overall Health module for details), and I love to do this before bed as it sets me up for a total nervous system reset and primes me for incredible dreams. If herbal body oiling isn't for you, find something else that incorporates physical touch. Perhaps a massage, a warm bath or stretching.
4. Do something unique to you. This part I leave totally up to you, but I suggest finding a personal practice that you can tie in to your night time ritual. Perhaps it is writing in a gratitude journal, or burning incense. Maybe looking up at the moon and saying goodnight to the stars. Come up with a simple yet profound way to seal yourself in night time slumber.
dreaming + night medicine
The science behind dreaming is absolutely fascinating--the delicate interplay between our pineal gland, the rest of our body, and the dreamworld. It is also far beyond the scope of this module because of its complexity, but here are the cliff notes: the dream world is a reality. It is just parallel to our physical present.
I come from a long lineage of dreamers. My mother is a prophetic dreamer, and my father is a very active dreamer as well. Growing up, dreams were shared and discussed constantly, particularly around the breakfast table. This gift and practice was successfully passed onto my son, and it is clear that he too is a very active dreamer. There have even been a few nights where he and my mother have shared the same dream despite living thousands of miles away.
I have met many people who claim that they do not dream. This simply isn't the case. What is actually happening is that they have poor dream recall, which is something that with practice, can improve. For those that do dream but do not have a strong personal dream practice, the remedy for this is actually the same as for someone who does not recall their dreams at all.
The following are tools that will improve dream recall, develop a personal dream practice, and gain fluency in dream-speak:
1. Sleep on the floor. This may sound a little off, but sleeping on the floor (mattress on the floor, camping outdoors, etc) actually helps with dreaming as we are closer to the electromagnetic energy of the Earth, which regulates our bodies. Sleeping outdoors on the Earth is a major bonus.
2. Change up your nighttime routine to help dreams come forward. Let's say your usual routine is eat dinner>clean up the house>get into PJs>brush your teeth> go to bed. On a night where you are hoping to recall dreams or call in a more complex dream (such as a prophetic or diagnostic dream, one where you receive answers), do something out of the ordinary, such as going for a walk in between cleaning up the house and before you put your PJs on. This usually works like a charm.
3. Keep a dream journal right next to your bed. I cannot tell you how many times I have an incredibly potent dream in the middle of the night, wake up and think I will remember it in full detail, go back to sleep and awake in the morning having forgotten many of the important details. To remedy this, keep a dream journal next to the bed. When you first wake up from a dream, scribble down key notes to remember, do not wait!
4. Talk about your dreams. Dream sharing is a beautiful thing. No matter how mundane our dreams may seem, they often hold potent medicine for ourselves and others. When we hold our dreams with reverence, our relationship to dreaming strengthens and dreams are more likely to become a major part of our sleep experience. Additionally, when we talk about our dreams, it allows them to travel from the parallel plane and become directly planted in our physical plane.
When dreams come to you in the night (or day), and you need a little bit of help reading them or understanding their message, please utilize the Dream Medicine worksheet in the Sleep: Bonuses module.
Sleep ROUND UP + OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
Sleep is one of the most potent medicines we can enjoy as humans, and one that carries endless possibilities. The dreamworld is a fantastic place, and this gift should not be taken for granted. Challenge yourself to take your sleep and dream practice more seriously, and I promise you, it will be magic.
Copyright © 2018 by Motherhood Medicine.
All rights reserved. These writings or any portion there of many not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the expressed written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a review. These writings are not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians. The reader should regularly consult a physician in matters related to his/her health and particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.