Only In Your Dreams

We have trained ourselves to wake up when we do. Aided by an alarm clock, all too often we are jarred from our most restful state by the buzz, bell or chime. We may play tag with the snooze button a couple of times, but eventually we roll out of bed and begin to catch up with the day.
In an ideal world, or on an ideal day, we should take the time to step into morning as diligently as we moved into the night; breathe and then do a slight review of all that has taken place during your sleeping hours. Do this first, while still in bed; exercise the mind while it is still your time. Go there.
Try to recall what went on in your head. Think of the dreams, the scenes, and the people that appeared. Keep a dream journal, and keep it right beside your bed. Write down what you can recall, even stream of conscious thoughts, and get it on paper.

Where were you? Who was there? Were the surroundings recognizable? Have you been there before? Details: let them out. Was it a familiar topic? Recurring? New?

As you write, don’t be overly concerned with telling the whole story, not yet. And don’t go overboard with initial analysis. Just write it down.
You will come to train yourself to pay attention, as you come to find the value in this morning review, the notes will begin to take shape and allow further exploration of these nightly visions. Later in the day, when you have a moment for reflection, take a more formal direction in analyzing your dreams.

Was this all fantasy, or what parts of the dream are relevant to your career, your relationships, or your goals?
When bits and pieces of your dreams form and fit themselves into your current reality, you will find yourself directing newly-formed thoughts and making them a conscious part of your life plan. This goes well beyond daydreaming.
Your best ideas, the results you can accomplish personally or professionally, come after considerable thought. What happens in the unconscious mind can continue to provide solutions to dilemmas, or ideas you have never thought possible.

‘Only in your dreams’ need not be a sarcastic response, but a means you will use to enjoy and strengthen your journey.

Breathe To Please

A breath is not something we have to think about. You’ve been breathing as long as you’ve been living. It’s quite organic. And necessary. You either do, or you don’t.

Through the day your breath is constant (as it is through the night), but for the sake of sleep and in the interest of dreams, now is a time for a think about how we breathe.
In yoga terms, this is your prana, and in so many ways your sleep is like a long savasana (corpse pose). The body is still and you set your intentions for what lies ahead. The first breaths of this period should guide you to your dreams.
Eyes shut, arms and legs fully extended in a comfortable, non-static position, breathe in deeply, filling your lungs with fresh night air and hold it in for four to six seconds. Then release, a full exhale. Let out more air than you take in, and with that exhale, release any nervous energy, negative thoughts, and compromising emotions. Empty your lungs entirely. Pause. Then inhale again; this time deeper, more, fully expanding your lungs, and another pause. Exhale.
This is not how you will breathe through the night, but the pattern should be repeated several times. It is fully conscious breathing, a complete inhale and full exhale, five to 10 times, or more. You will feel what works for you, and you will feel it fully.
These should be the final steps in ridding yourself of the day. Think of this as filling a paper bag with the stray thoughts. No, it’s not hyperventilating, but you can visualize, if you must, a balloon increasing in size. Then release.

Let everything out to make room for what will arrive through the night.
Your next set of breaths is still focused, but not nearly as deep. Chose a mental focal point, as simple as a colour, to train the mind to one place. Increasing the intensity of the colour as you inhale, deflating to the lightest shade possible on the exhale. Repeat, steadily, setting a rhythm from light to vivid, brightness to dark, and back again.
In a short time after a precise, pre-sleep breathing regime your body will begin to do what comes naturally. Your pulse will lessen, your blood pressure will drop, each cell of the body will react to this restful state. Slowly you will succumb to this drowsiness. Let everything go. Allow each part of your body to slacken; your jaw will drop, eyes slip further back in the sockets, and the muscles release any tension. You’ll feel the meat falling off the bone.

The lungs will continue to fill, but the chest will not rise and fall, as you enter a halcyonic state. The brain appreciates the dose of fresh oxygen, free of negative ions, and full of purpose.

You may remain in this neutral, seemingly motionless stage, or you may slip into the sleeping position that has served you well in the past. Stillness. The mind will remain active through several documented sleep stages, including REM, where the dreams (the major ones any way) mainly take place.

Like your breath, dreams can become a life force that pulls you through the day. Research indicates the mind is more active during the nocturnal state. By setting yourself up with a mindful breathing practice, without all the decisions and diplomacy that have dogged you through the day, you are better able to rejuvenate the body, activate the brain, and then wake up to the new day and do it all again.

deep breath
deep sleep
deep thoughts
deep peace

© 2017 j.g. lewis

The Swoon Of The Train

A sleepless summer night. No dreams to placate an unsettled mind, yet, off in the distance, there was a train.

I’m young, I know. I’ve never been anywhere, not on a train, but nowhere even seemed significant. On a train. Lying in bed. The window wide-open, curtains pulled back, allowing any available breeze to circulate through the house. My door is not closed, everyone else is asleep. There are no middle-of-the-night sounds in this little city, except the train.

Night moves, along with the train, and I with it. Each click-clack, click-clack, of the track takes me further along. I am not alone. My eyes might be open as I take in a world streaming by this place I call home. An Imagination stoked by Hardy Boys books and The Wonderful World of Disney, the swoon of the train took me places, long before I even understood the concept of romanticism. Or surrealism.

I travelled the train many times, sitting up with the conductor or hopping a freight car with an errant hobo or two. Occasionally one or two of my friends would be along for the ride as we’d move from city to town; the thrill of travel to a young boy growing up in a city surrounded by wheat and silence.

There were always trains in my dreams, in my life, and near each home in every city I have lived. Until recently. Trains, off in the distance, signaling their place in our world. In one small town the tracks ran straight down the middle. At night you would hear the whistle as the engine approached, or wake to the rumble of the house as it passed through. It never frightened me. I’ve always been comforted, or grounded, by the sounds of a train.

Was it the train stories of Jack Kerouac that pulled me into his prose, or was it reading and knowing that adventure is the foundation for any dreamer’s life?

Trains have a purpose, connecting the country, bringing people together, and moving freight from wherever to destinations unknown. In daylight I would marvel at the layers of cars rolling down the tracks, or wonder what could be contained in the big box cars, or try to make sense of the graffiti sprayed on to the surface. I still do. I still wonder where the train is going. Trains are always on the move.

A train is more than transportation to a young boy, is it more than a toy or electric trainset you would set up in the living room to bide time. A train is adventure.

Adventure is something worthy for a boy to be dreaming about. It is something that boy still does now, as a man. Endless dreams, without notice I will wake from adventures on a train. I meet people and see places. I can be places, on a train, in my dreams.

I may never get back to those faraway places, but finding a train in your dreams indicates you are on the right track of your life’s journey. I’m uncertain whether I am headed in the right direction, and there have been a few significant stops along the way, but, like the train, I continue moving forward.

What made my dreams so hollow was standing at the depot
With a steeple full of swallows that could never ring the bell
And I’ve come ten thousand miles away, not one thing to show
It was a train that took me away from here
But a train can’t bring me home
Tom Waits
Train Song