Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Nightmares #2

I dislike this intensely - an innocent child being attacked by a bad dream


oday we’re going to go to “war” - against nightmares. We’re going to use the aggressive “war art’ side of the martial arts, not “recreational” martial arts, to do so.

In the first post on Nightmares, written last week, I mentioned the all-important attitude of facing the problem - directly. As I mentioned, I suffered nightmares. But that all stopped when I first joined a martial arts class.

For the most part, martial artists don’t take kindly to things that attack their health and their minds. They’re taught to return fire, immediately. I took that attitude with me into my sleep.

I don’t much enjoy the invasiveness of bad dreams; there is enough stress in life without it being allowed to sneak into your sleep. Sleep is a time for bliss and rejuvenation.

My suggestion remains the same - always face your fear.

Counterattack - change the script in your mind


I’m reminded of a story about a Karate instructor who took his students at night to a graveyard to train. Good attitude, I say. Learn to fight what you see - and what you don’t see.

I’ve done lots of training at night, alone outside. I like to train in a heavy, hard wind, where the trees bend over. Please give me some rain too, and lots of moving shadows!

In the past, I’ve also been asked to clear someone’s room of the “sticky” kind of silence, the claustrophobic air, the kind where the only sound is the hum of a street light outside.

(If you ever have a chance, watch the startling night scenes of Ingmar Bergman’s Cries and Whispers).

But I digress. Let’s get to the techniques -

1.  Practise the breathing methods for a good night’s sleep described in one of my earlier posts. They will help calm you, and that calmness will generate a healthy pattern of sleep. Especially if you practise the breathing technique, stage by stage, every night. Within 2 weeks, you will be a master at getting to sleep - and enjoying a sound sleep without being disturbed by bad dreams.

2.  If you suffer from a recurring nightmare, start a program of visualization before you go to sleep. Sit in a position of meditation, perform the deep breathing, and visualize the worst part of the nightmare, the one that keeps coming back.

Run it through again and again until it becomes a tired, old script. Then go to sleep.

On the next night, go over the same scenario - but this time change the script, change the movie in your mind. Take the horror out of it. You have the control. You are the director. Change the dream, mentally.

Do this for the next few nights.

3. If you haven’t had a nightmare for a while, recall an old nightmare - or make up a new one. Visualize. You’re like a martial artist sparring. The nightmare being visualized by you is your sparring partner. It’s a workout. Enjoy!

4. Take whatever you’re afraid of into your visualization training - locked closets, big empty houses, abandoned streets, shadows, strange faces, people you know, animals. Corner them, trap them, push them against a wall. You’re on the attack - before that fear ever has a chance to attack you again! Turn everything around. An entirely new attitude, an entirely new world in your dreams at night!

5. Take any situation that has recently caused you stress or is destined to cause you worry in the future. Meditate - visualize - attack.

If you follow this type of training for the next 2 weeks, you’ll develop an attitude, a quick response, that you’ll take into your sleep. You will, literally, be able to control the onset, and the events, of a nightmare.

6. Please remember the “dissolving technique” technique I touched on in the first post on Nightmares. Picture in your mind a scene from one of your nightmares and breathe through the image, again and again, until the image - and its impact - dissolves. I’ve done this and I find it to be a very powerful technique.

Watch a scary movie - then practise with the images!


2 quick “mind clearing” techniques -

1. Before sleep, practise your breathing techniques. Only this time, pretend to inhale through the acupoint GV 24 (between the eyebrows). As you exhale, imagine energy collected at that point being pushed down a big funnel from your head down the middle of your torso.

2. Or pretend that you’re inhaling through the top of your head and as you exhale, the energy from the top of your head shoots down the same funnel down the middle of your torso.

Both these techniques serve to clear the mind.

Some other quick suggestions -

1.  Physical training - meditate in the “creepiest” corner, or room, of the house, or somewhere similar outside.

2. Watch a horror movie, a really scary one, and meditate on a scene using all of your techniques from dissolving the images to changing the script. Once you’ve trained enough, watch the movie and immediately turn the lights off afterward, sit in the room - and attack!

I hope these ideas help. As with all things in the martial arts, lots of practise will make a big difference!

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