Saturday, June 6, 2009
Sleeping and Waking
In medieval Europe, sleep was often described as a "binding of the senses." Some people thought the senses had to be bound in order to digest food, an idea that makes sense when you think about what those people ate. For most Europeans of that time, there was no such thing as a balanced diet. Too much or way too little of every food group was the way of things. Can you imagine the indigestion? Yikes.
Dreams were not considered a part of sleep, though everyone understood that only by going to sleep could you access that state of consciousness. How true is that? I'm not saying I know what dreams are, but I agree, they are not the same thing as sleep. Sometimes when I watch Jake "running" and "barking" in his dreams, I think Jake is taking a shamanic journey to another world.
I love the idea of waking up as an unbinding of the senses. Especially when I'm in a deep sleep, struggling to come up to the surface to turn off the damn alarm clock, it does feel like I'm working free of a full length straitjacket.
In medieval Europe there were specific rituals meant to bring the senses back after sleep, including rinsing the mouth, splashing the face with water, singing and praying. Add soap to the rinse and splash, followed by a cup of black tea, and you've pretty much described my personal waking up rituals.
Getting up or getting ready for work sounds so much more tedious than performing waking up rituals, doesn't it? The Age of Reason swept away our ability to see the world with a magical eye. What a shame!