A Boat on the Side
4Nov/101

How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep*

Without doubt we live in a world of wonder and a world of sorrow. A world of marvels and a world of conflict.  A world of delight and a world of destruction. There are infinite pathways to depression and clearly signposted roads to despair. Surveys reveal over 80% of us are suffering stress. The braver souls among us will have assessed the global situation and found fear. Yet there is always a beacon on the horizon – ever a light in our souls. Where can we go to re-ignite that scintilla of hope? What can we do to make it all better?

We can go to the beach of course. We can be beside the seaside, we can be close to water. It’s part of our ancient heritage – we are drawn to water, we are intimately connected to the planet’s liquid soul. From wallowing in a scented bath to splashing in the shallows to wafting along a quiet river or riding a Pacific breaker. We are at one with water in all its forms. Our bodies are nearly all water and our yearnings are inevitably connected to water. Who doesn’t want to holiday on a tropical island? Or cruise the seven seas in an elegant white ship?

The admen cleverly use watery lures all the time from “crystal waterfalls” to “pristine paradise” – all those swaying palms, the white sand, the impossibly turquoise waters . . . When can we leave? I’m mentally packed already! Bear with me. Scientists will tell you the molecules of H20 are arranged in a four sided pyramid – a tetrahedron. We can use that. Researchers tell us that water is programmable. We can use that too. Mystics will speak of the River of Life, churches use Holy Water and I’ll tell you how to attune to the inner ocean, dispel the sorrows and get a good night’s sleep into the bargain.

We’re going to take a break now  . . . . .

This programme is proudly brought to you by Scruffie Marine, a world of guilt-free sailing fun, elegant yachts, sparkling blue waters and sunny days.

Welcome back  . . . . .

I taught meditation for many years, I taught people from all walks of life – saints, sinners, prisoners, developers, whores, builders and bankers. I even thought I’d have a go at lawyers but that was a challenge beyond mere mortals. The jailbirds were in some ways the most receptive, they were a captive audience (groan!) But these days we can’t call them jailbirds  nor lags or even crims, they aren’t even “guests” of Her Majesty anymore since the prisons are now run for profit by huge American correctional corporations and their “guests” have become cogs in the money machine that is Corrective Services. Along the way bankers became financial advisors and whores became sex workers. None of the lovely ladies I taught ever paid in kind either, in case you were wondering. But spare a thought for those locked away where sorrow and sleeplessness is epidemic. Not for them a warm cuddle at night, no their life is a cold hard clanging affair and  I thought why not try to help them out? Indeed try to help them stay out! So over many sessions a special meditation exercise evolved and crystallised into something like this. It’s most effective when you can’t sleep.

First get yourself comfortable and relax. Start by visualising a three dimensional triangle – a crystalline tetrahedron like the water molecules but large enough to sit, stand or lie in and strong enough to support your weight. Toughened glass mind camping, if you like. Not my original idea but a simplified version of one introduced by  Elizabeth Kruger – an effective foundation, especially at bedtime. We try to relax but tensions and worries often intrude so we’re off to the beach to chase them away and the triangle is the magic carpet.

Lie on your back, legs uncrossed, and relax all of your muscles, one by one, head to toe – as though you were melting into bed. Visualise the beach – it’s perfect and it’s all yours. Warm sand, blue water, waving palms, gentle breeze – it’s your sanctuary, your holiday island. Now concentrate on the waves rolling in and breathe with them. Breathe in as the waves build up, pause a moment and breathe out as they recede. It’s important to relax as you breathe out, paying particular attention to the neck and shoulders. Breathe at your own pace. Ocean breathe with the relaxing rhythm of the waves. Gently but firmly breathe away the sorrow, the worries, the tensions. No place for them in your tropical paradise. Of course they’ll keep coming back, these mischievous disturbers of your peace, but re-focus, re-align and relax them away. Be aware of body tension. What’s bugging you? Work, money, partner, relatives? Whatever it is, it’s likely you’ll feel it in tense neck muscles, tightening abdomen, hunched shoulders. Back to the waves – breathe away the sorrows just as the receding waves wash the beach clean. Keep the flotsam and jetsam of everyday clutter off your beautiful beach.

Now don’t push it too hard, the aim is relaxation and stillness, try too hard and you’ll just create more tension. Breathe until you’ve settled into an easy rhythm. Now you can begin to programme your life. What is bothering you? Politicians? Forgive them. Office bullies? Smile and forgive them. Wayward children? Smile, think of their good points and forgive them. State of the planet? Whoah – the big one! Just try to live mindfully and relax, realise that  you are but a grain of sand yet paradoxically a vital cog in the planetary machine. By breathing, relaxing, getting a good night’s sleep, being at peace with yourself you are automatically a better person the next day. That in itself helps because now your 90% water body is programmed to be healthier, more attractive and more forgiving and let’s face it, every little bit helps.  Treat this as a beginning, a step towards re-programming your future.

There are as many variations on this as there are swimmers in the sea of life but the essence is simplicity. Breathe, relax, breathe – shoulders neck – breathe, relax.

For myself, I sail a beautiful white schooner. I hear the waves playing around her elegant clipper bow, I feel the ship come alive as the South Pacific breeze fills her sails, I breathe as she gently rolls to each wave  . . . I . . . yawn . . . rarely fail to get a good night’s sleep.

Of course you have to avoid excess caffeine, too much alcohol, drugs. Yes I know, a shame, but there you are.

Finally, as you are dropping off you may want to turn over or sleep on your side. Breathe and relax again and visualize the crystal triangle around you. It’s your cocoon.

Ocean breathing, sweet dreaming.

* The text of this item originally published in Living Now magazine under the title “Water – Your Partner in Peace.”


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  1. Thanks Derek. We will try it.


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