100 Days & Sleepin

Tuesday June 16, 2009

It has been said that the election of Barack Hussein Obama as the 44th U.S. President awakened the sleeping giant that is the spiritual potential of America, marking an era when the American global impact is fully conscious and reflecting not just the corporate elite of our nation, but also the heart and intellect of our young people, our economically depressed, and any other voices who have felt marginalized by stereotypical limitations. However, as indicative of Obama's grassroots campaign and as he said in his inaugural speech January 20th, 2009, the awakening process from a REM to reality is one that should be expected to take work and to be time consuming.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. Awakening our physical body is no different. Sleep is a state of natural bodily rest for humans (and many other animals and insects) used to repair and detoxify our internal systems. All during our waking hours, our bodies are producing a biochemical compound (adenosine) that increasingly builds until it induces sleep. Once we fall asleep, our body temperature drops, our breathing slows, and our muscles relax as we transition through the Non-Rapid Eye Movement stages of slumber. During these stages the wealth of our activity transfers from the brain to the body as we physically heal from the day's stress. Just before waking, as we transition to the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep, there is a shift back to brain activity and a psychological and emotional healing process takes place through our dreams.

When our body is most able to achieve rest and naturally transition to an awake state, we are more energized and we more easily recall our dreams and are able to mindfully continue the healing process throughout the day. Unfortunately, many of us urbanites, most of the time, are groggy and forget our dreams because rather than working on nature's clock and awakening with the sun, we instead use noisy alarm clocks which jar us out of our sleep state and immediately triggers a physical autopilot: brush teeth, shower, dress, work; What becomes of us, now in our waking state, is that we take on another day's stress, allowing physical and psychological trauma to accumulate at rates greater than those with which our body and mind are naturally equipped to deal. To accommodate, we lash out emotionally (and sometimes physically) as a tension release. We can begin to reverse this violent behavior through exercise (sweating releases toxins) and through a more gentle waking process.

If an alarm clock must be used, consider using the one on your cell phone, setting it to vibrate (experiment on a day when you have no work commitment) and placing it under your pillow before you sleep. The vibration on the soft surface will be a more subtle wake up call than a repetitive beeping or pop song. Once you are fully conscious, take three deep breaths before opening your eyes and, before even getting out of bed, stretch your arms above your head and point your toes away from your face to stretch out your legs. Purposefully yawn, sticking out your tongue to stretch your jaw. Open your eyes wide and slowly look from left to right. These simple movements help to stimulate your circulation and allow you to truly awaken to your daydream.

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