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!

25 comments:

Meri said...

That's our mission -- to bring back the ability to see magic, to create miracles, to impart sacred rituals that heal.

René Wing said...

yes, I like "performing waking up rituals" :) especially since it has the connotation that we are always "waking up" (one hopes!)... and black tea too.

your opening image drew me since it is so similar-- in a different way-- to the image in my latest post, where I also talk about traveling between worlds. this seems to happen often in the blog world, doesn't it... this kind of creating the same thing separately. The collective unconscious?

Reya Mellicker said...

Yes Rene, we are creating a vast "neural" network all over the planet. I'm always so in awe of that, and so pleased that I get to take part in it.

Meri, my magical eye never faded. I've always had it. For me the trick has been finding communities of people who accept this and don't judge me. I do believe I have fallen in with the right crowd here in the blog world. Oh yeah!

Bee said...

My "magical" waking up ritual is to bring a cup of tea to bed! I don't wake easily at all, and have to stretch for awhile before I can muster up the enthusiasm to get out of bed.

Reya Mellicker said...

It just occured to me that meditation is a waking up ritual as well, unbinding the senses in order to notice what's going on right here and right now. It's another layer.

Rain said...

I love your photos Reya. My wakeup ritual involves some positive affirmation, a look at the weather and sneaking up to the dogs' bed to wake them up!

John Hayes said...

Great stuff--love the concepts of binding & unbinding the senses, & of dreaming as a third state that involves a journey!

lakeviewer said...

Yes, how much nicer to perform waking up rituals than... We think of ancient times and what they ate through our modern lenses, our conceptual framework, speaking about it as though they had choices. Even in my sixty+ years on this earth, there were many times when the choice was not that clear. There was so little food when I was growing up, that some food become connected to those times. Beans, for instance. We had beans five, seven days a week, with pasta, with greens, with rice, with bread. We didn't ask what's for dinner. We fought to get the last piece of bread, the last spoonful of beans.

No wonder most of us are still conflicted about food.

Reya Mellicker said...

Yes, Rosaria, no wonder. It's central to our survival and now on top of that, we have marketing people and standards of thinness to contend with. Did you see Bee's post today? My goodness.

Didn't mean to make it sound like medieval people chose to eat too much or too little. They ate what was there, or overindulged if they were rich. It could not have been good for any of them.

rothko said...

My wake up ritual is probably the most important part of my day. Without it, I'm a bit grumpy.

hele said...

the magic still lurks around, desperately trying to catch our eye.

this morning it flashed at me from behind a bush. truly.

Auntie, aka Dog Girl said...

Hi Girl,
Just the other night our 4 yr. old grandson was sleeping with us, and he was laughing & chuckling in his sleep.
Now that is cute.

Verily I go. said...

Not mine. I see. Flying out of bed is not good for us on so many levels but tomorrow I will pay closer attention. Can't wait.

ellen abbott said...

What a shame indeed.

I have often felt that my dream world was just an alternate reality, so rich and involved as it is. Sometimes I wonder if when I'm awake here, I am dreaming there.

My morning ritual is to have coffee and be silent. Husband and I are often awake for an hour or more before we spaek to each other.

The Navaho morning ritual is to face the rising sun and sing the morning song, which is really a sort of prayer.

Mary Ellen said...

Thanks for this - I need a morning ritual! Too often I am just stumbling along frantically trying to get everything done (dog cared for, something to grab and eat on the go). Well - first I need to tear myself away from evening indulgences and get more sleep.

Ladybug said...

Mmm, waking up rituals, I like that. I can't speak until I've had a cup of coffee. Oh, why is my husband so bright and 'yacky' in the morning?!

Woops, haven't had my pills yet. It's 7:46am here and I'm still waking up.

Reya Mellicker said...

Ellen, mystics all over the world have wondered that very same thing, about the separate realities.

Mary Ellen you must be a night owl. I'm the only morning person in my family. All the rest of them could stay in bed till noon, provided our culture allowed that. I think it's a little mean, making everyone conform to a diurnal life when it isn't meant for all of us.

Verily I am dying to know what your waking up rituals are. You have them you do. And I'm sure they are completely unique.

Barry said...

First, the shadowy tree branches in your top photo look very sinister to me. I would not want to dream about them.

Sadly I have no morning ritual and not even much of a morning pattern. I come suddenly awake from a dreamless sleep somewhere between 5:30 and 6:00am and then start in one one of a variety of different things.

Maybe I need some organization in my life. Perhaps some ritual wouldn't hurt.

Reya Mellicker said...

Barry, surely you brush your teeth, splash your face with water or take a shower? Then have some breakfast? These are modern day components of waking up rituals, we just don't think about them that way.

Oh - you probably let Lindsay out into the back yard to do her thing - that, too, would be part of the ritual.

Natalie said...

I love the way the shadows play across the path. Lovely, Reya.xx♥

mum said...

I guess I still live in Medieval Europe. I need those rituals; first, a splash of water on my face - the colder the better. Then tea. Then I Ching. After that, whatever happens? Happens.

Have a good one, Reya.

Tom said...

I envy the people who can wake up slowly over time with a paper and cup-o-whatever...like a long drawn out stretch and yawn! I've always had to get up so early that I skip all but the essentials.

The first picture of the shadow in the shadow is cool...i love its creeping lines.

California Girl said...

I seem to have nothing but frightening dreams just before I wake of late. I know this because I remember them and I remember them because I'm having them before waking. I suppose the trauma my husband's family is going through is manifesting itself in my nocturnal thoughts. I don't like it though; very unsettling. I've found it hard to sleep through the night since I had children and that's over 22 years now! I keep hoping it will change.

ArtSparker said...

I like the humor in the top photo, the lurking dark making monster hands at the linear, rational enlightened letter form.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

I seem to hold dreams as separate from sleep... maybe I'm just a holdover from that earlier time.

love this post. such mindfulness

off to bind my senses.... xx