Apech

The myth of the eight-hour sleep

66 posts in this topic

I have a question to Gerard. I read your recommendations about when to sleep and when to eat with great interest. I am giving it a try, getting to sleep before 23 / 11 pm and getting up somewhat between 3 am and 6 am and not to eat past 6 pm. I hope to need less sleep by adjusting my sleeping times.

 

However, I ask myself and you, how to interpret those time informations in connection with daylight saving time. Obviously, nature doesn't just jump an hour, but we (in Switzerland and Central Europa from where I am writing) advanced the clock for an hour last sunday.

 

So 3 am in your recommendation = 2 am during the summer semester?

 

Thanks for dissipating my confusion.

 

David

Edited by d'avid

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So 3 am in your recommendation = 2 am during the summer semester?

 

Wouldn't that be more like:

3 am in his recommendation = 4 am during the summer semester?

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Fantastic article, treating depression and even bipolar with carefully timed bright light and very small doses of melatonin? I hope to hear more about this soon!

 

I found the above while researching sleep disorder research centers. Living in New York City, over the years I have seen small newspaper ads, mostly in university newspapers, sleep clinics looking for volunteers.

 

Once I get a little further ahead, perhaps this summer, Mark I think it would be cool to do your "waking up and falling asleep" practice all hooked up in a lab setting! See the shifts in Brain activity while doing your practice. What I experience is a deep meditative state and not so much a deep knocked out sleep. However the end result is almost the same, I wake up refreshed...

 

 

http://www.cumc.columbia.edu/dept/pulmonary/4ClinicalPage/Clinical%20Centers/Sleep%20Lab.htm

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I found the above while researching sleep disorder research centers. Living in New York City, over the years I have seen small newspaper ads, mostly in university newspapers, sleep clinics looking for volunteers.

 

Once I get a little further ahead, perhaps this summer, Mark I think it would be cool to do your "waking up and falling asleep" practice all hooked up in a lab setting! See the shifts in Brain activity while doing your practice. What I experience is a deep meditative state and not so much a deep knocked out sleep. However the end result is almost the same, I wake up refreshed...

 

 

That would be cool. I'd certainly be interested to hear.

 

Me, I sleep. Interesting to hear that you don't, really. And I do wake up the same way, that's the mystery, that it's the same. Somebody on Hardcore Zen blog mentioned that they only generally heard about "waking up" and "falling asleep" in Buddhism in connection with the awakening of enlightenment and the illusion of maya or samsara. I went looking for a quote for them from the description of mindfulness in the Pali Suttas, and found a long list of "full awarenesses" (elsewhere "clear comprehensions") in the minfulness of the body section, including:

 

"(one) who acts in full awareness when walking, standing, sitting, falling asleep, waking up, talking, and keeping silent." MN 119

 

I think I would prefer this as "one who acts with clear comprehension when walking, standing, sitting, falling asleep, waking up, talking, and keeping silent". That makes sense to me, though it's a mix of translations.

 

The full awareness in "falling asleep, waking up" caught my eye. My Pali Society books translate this as "asleep, awake", which never made much sense to me; how can a person clearly comprehend "asleep"? But "falling asleep, waking up", I think I may have a clue. To what extent does that clue apply to the other things on the list, in section 6 of the sermon (section on full awareness, translation referenced above)?- probably most if not all items on the list, although it's a funny thing to make an effort and then realize that no effort equally applies.

 

Something new for me to think about. I am so wrapped up in exploring this for myself, I have not emailed the BBC about the practice in connection with "The Myth of the Eight Hour Sleep" (started to, but the computer ate my email the first time around and I haven't gotten back to it). Maybe I'll do that.

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Is forcing or enforcing a routine, natural?

 

Is following or striving a schedule following nature?

 

I think one needs to decide if they are trying to break a pattern vs following an idea vs following their nature.

 

My personal experience is to follow your natural rhythm. At times I sleep a very long time vs sleep a very short time vs sleep twice (afternoon nap). What you are doing and eating and drinking and experiencing and practicing seems to be variables from my experience.

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Me, I sleep. Interesting to hear that you don't, really.

 

Something new for me to think about. I am so wrapped up in exploring this for myself, I have not emailed the BBC about the practice in connection with "The Myth of the Eight Hour Sleep" (started to, but the computer ate my email the first time around and I haven't gotten back to it). Maybe I'll do that.

 

good to hear from you Mark.

 

interestingly, I locate 'IT'(the mind, consciousness whatever you like to call it) always above the waistline, never in the legs or feet. not sure why. face area, cheeks, jaw,nect is OK. but the brain also seems to be off limits. What are some of the places that you are able to locate it?

 

The only one time, that I located 'IT' towards the back/side of my brain, immediately I had a flash of imagery. I recognised it right away as a long forgotten dream I had almost a year ago. The little snippet of the dream now is part of my conscious memory. i was quite startled by it and felt I was intruding upon IT as it went about its business :)

 

I would really encourage you to spread the word about your practice, have others share in their experiences.

 

all the best

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Is forcing or enforcing a routine, natural?

 

Is following or striving a schedule following nature?

 

 

It is if you have a regular job :)

 

most employers are not that forgiving about employees taking afternoon naps at work!

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interestingly, I locate 'IT'(the mind, consciousness whatever you like to call it) always above the waistline, never in the legs or feet. not sure why. face area, cheeks, jaw,nect is OK. but the brain also seems to be off limits. What are some of the places that you are able to locate it?

 

The only one time, that I located 'IT' towards the back/side of my brain, immediately I had a flash of imagery. I recognised it right away as a long forgotten dream I had almost a year ago. The little snippet of the dream now is part of my conscious memory. i was quite startled by it and felt I was intruding upon IT as it went about its business :)

 

I would really encourage you to spread the word about your practice, have others share in their experiences.

 

 

Likewise, humbleone, makes my day to hear about your experience with this.

 

I find consciousness in a lot of places, when I stop and turn the light around, as it were. Also the fact that I am attending to the sense of place can tend to move that sense of place. I get a sense of consciousness as located in my head, in my chest, sometimes in my arms, often in my legs. I work at opening my ability to feel by hanging with the sense of place, and sometimes it seems like it helps to take inventory of the places my mind doesn't go and see if I have feeling there. Like my backside, and my calves.

 

Putting my attention on the pivots of the sacrum tends to cause my sense of place to actually shift to the hara, isn't that a weird one? I'm focusing attention on the sacrum, but when I relax and slip into sense of place, my consciousness is at the hara without quite giving up the sacrum. I guess that's the ability to feel and the place of consciousness in relation, somehow! Like to experience that more.

 

The bit about the dream memory at the back of the mind, wow.

Edited by Mark Foote

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Trying to organize my thoughts around this, especially around practice. I think the practice I describe in "Waking Up and Falling Asleep" is correct, but your statement about never experiencing the location of awareness below the waist interests me. I realize that there's more that can be said.

 

First off, here's the description Gautama the Buddha gave of the practice I am calling "waking up and falling asleep":

 

"(Anyone)…knowing and seeing eye as it really is, knowing and seeing material shapes… visual consciousness… impact on the eye as it really is, and knowing, seeing as it really is the experience, whether pleasant, painful, or neither painful nor pleasant, that arises conditioned by impact on the eye, is not attached to the eye nor to material shapes nor to visual consciousness nor to impact on the eye; and that experience, whether pleasant, painful, or neither painful nor pleasant, that arises conditioned by impact on the eye—neither to that is (such a one) attached. …(Such a one’s) physical anxieties decrease, and mental anxieties decrease, and bodily torments… and mental torments… and bodily fevers decrease, and mental fevers decrease. (Such a one) experiences happiness of body and happiness of mind. (repeated for ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind)."

 

(Majjhima-Nikaya 149, Pali Text Society volume 3 pg 337-338, ©Pali Text Society)

 

At first glance, not a lot like "Waking Up and Falling Asleep", but I believe they are the same.

 

Gautama goes on to state that the above "knowing and seeing as it really is" with regard to the six senses develops and brings to fruition the eight fold path and all the other components necessary to enlightenment. At the same time, Gautama described his practice both before and after his enlightenment as "the intent contemplation on in-breathing and out-breathing" (SN V X, volume 5 pg 280 & 289, ©Pali Text Society). This contemplation was a way of setting up mindfulness through sixteen awarenesses, each awareness in connection with inhalation or exhalation.

 

Now the critical part of the "intent contemplation on in-breathing and out-breathing" is the very first instruction after "(one) breathes in mindfully and mindfully breathes out":

 

"As (one) draws in a long breath (one) knows: a long breath I draw in. As (one) breathes out a long breath (one) knows: I breath out a long breath. As (one) draws in a short breath (one) knows: a short breath I draw in. As (one) breathes out a short breath (one) knows: I breath out a short breath." (Ibid)

 

Zen master Dogen's teacher Tientong (Rujing) had this to say about the length of in-breaths and out-breaths:

 

"Breath enters and reaches the tanden, and yet there is no place from which it comes. Therefore it is neither long nor short. Breath emerges from the tanden, and yet there is nowhere it goes. Therefore it is neither short nor long."

 

("Dogen's Extensive Record: A Translation of the Eihei Koroku", by Dan Leighton, Shohaku Okumura, Steven Heine, and John Daido Loori, pg 349)

 

The description of the practice in words that can impart a basis for experience is a challenge, and Gautama the Buddha clearly encouraged everyone to question authority and discover the truth of the matter for themselves, saying "everything changes, work out your own salvation".

 

Now I would like to expand on the Gautamid's practice of "knowing and seeing... as it really is" (with regard to the six senses), with the hope of reconciling Gautama's practice with Tientong's understanding. But first I have this question: where does the impact that Gautama mentions (in connection with consciousness) take place, and how does that engender feeling? Does consciousness of contact between a sense organ and sense object take place in the sense organ, so that consciousness of contact between the eye and a visual object generates consciousness in the eye?

 

I think not. If so, what happens when there are multiple sense contacts- I myself experience consciousness as a unitary phenomena, not as multiple consciousnesses happening at the same time. My sense of place in connection with consciousness may shift with multiple contacts in my senses, but my experience of consciousness itself is that it happens at one place at a time, one place after another if you will.

 

With regard to the sense of touch, impact from contact in the body I believe is the source of the "hypnagogic myoclonic twitch", which is the involuntary jerk that many people experience as they are dropping off to sleep.

This is hypothesized to be a result of the loss of motor control and the association (in the mind) of the loss of motor control with falling. When I sit, I am looking to let go of any action whatsoever, just like falling asleep; I experience subtle contractions in the paired muscles of posture that occur in connection with the sense of place associated with consciousness. This is a hypnic jerk phenomena, that contributes to the alignment of the spine and through the alignment of the spine, to the ability to feel connected with the sense organs.

 

For me, the relaxed movement of breath depends on "knowing and seeing... as it really is" (as consciousness takes place), while the necessary "knowing and seeing... as it really is" depends on the length of the inhalation or exhalation. I would say the trick is to relax and let go of action until the place of occurrence of consciousness comes forward; as the Gautamid said:

 

"... making self-surrender (one's) object of thought, (one) lays hold of concentration, lays hold of one-pointedness of mind." (SN V 200, Pali Text Society volume 5 pg 175-176, ©Pali Text Society)

Edited by Mark Foote

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There are some "hypnagogic myoclonic twitches" that seem fundamental; here's the list, funny list from China circa 500 C.E., but a list that I rely on:

 

“An empty hand grasps the hoe handle

Walking along, I ride the ox

The ox crosses the wooden bridge

The bridge is flowing, the water is still.”

 

(“Zen’s Chinese Heritage”, Andy Ferguson, pg 2, ©2000 Andrew Ferguson)

Edited by Mark Foote

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Trying to organize my thoughts around this, especially around practice. I think the practice I describe in "Waking Up and Falling Asleep" is correct, but your statement about never experiencing the location of awareness below the waist interests me.

 

 

Mark,i plead ignorance. :)

Q1) could you please explain it in layman's terms?

 

couple of other questions for you.

while visiting san francisco about ten years ago. driving a rental car in the industrial area to the south, where there is a chaotic mess of local roads and highway ramps. I was stopped at a red light, there was a car to my left and two cars to the right. I didn't realize the left three lanes were turning left onto the highway ramp, but I wanted to continue straight on the local road.

 

When the light turned green, I stepped on the gas, was looking straight ahead to go straight. unbeknownst to me 'something' slammed the brakes next, avoiding a collision. It happened in milliseconds without any awareness on my part at all. without any outside clues or warnings.

 

Q2) what is that 'something' that slammed on the brakes?

 

Q3) Is this 'something' the same mind you talk about in your example of location of mind to catch yourself when falling?

 

Finally and perhaps somewhat unrelated. do you recall reading Eugen Herrigel 'zen in the art of archery'. Herrigel gives an account of his mystical experience, when the teacher asked him to return that night. the teacher blindfolded shoots two arrows in total darkness at the target. the first arrow lands in dead center. the second arrow pierces the shaft of the first arrow and also lands dead center. The master turns to herrigel and says, just now 'IT' shot.

 

Q4) what is that 'IT' in herrigel's account?

 

all the best

Edited by humbleone

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Mark,i plead ignorance. :)

Q1) could you please explain it in layman's terms?

 

I apologize for putting my thoughts on paper when they were not entirely on-topic. I have had some time to think about the fact that you don't experience the location of consciousness below the waist, and writing on my own blog I found these words, which I'll hope are more germane:

 

 

'Moshe Feldenkrais wrote about finding support for the lower spine so that the breath could be continued through shifts in posture. To that end, he recommended exercises to experience the basic motions of pitch, yaw, and roll while sitting on a chair. Hypnic phenomena connected with the place of occurrence of consciousness can initiate all three of these basic motions, as necessary for the support of the lower spine in the movement of breath- and do so solely as a result of the place of occurrence of consciousness from moment to moment. Sometimes I recall a Chinese adage that aptly describes the ability to feel that can develop, as the place of occurrence of consciousness responds to the necessity of breath in a given posture or carriage: "the true person, breathing to their heels".'

 

I conclude, as I did a few posts above:

 

"... making self-surrender (one's) object of thought, (one) lays hold of concentration, lays hold of one-pointedness of mind." (SN V 2 , Pali Text Society volume 5 pg 175-176, ©Pali Text Society)'

 

There is a relationship for me between the movement of breath, posture or carriage, and the place of occurrence of consciousness. That's a restatement of something of mine you quoted me, without cranial-sacral theory; either way, I don't experience this activity unless I am "waking up or falling asleep", and the initiation of action is a result of the place of occurrence of consciousness rather than my habitual activity of posture.

 

The instances you cite go to the heart of the matter, regarding "zazen that gets up and walks around". I am still trying to offer a description of the relationships involved in this, such that another person can understand the relationships and arrive at the experience.

 

The amygdala is probably involved in stepping on the brakes, memories that are tagged with adrenalin that trigger action when similar circumstances are encountered. But I would also say that psychics teach their art by asking people to catch the images in the mind before the descriptions; your experience with your dream demonstrates that place is a component of the mind catching images before descriptions. With the car, you not only realized what was happening before mental comprehension, but your awareness moved to where your whole body could be thrown into action before your full comprehension. I've had that kind of experience, and that was my take when I stopped to reflect on it, my awareness shifted. Kind of like falling down, yes.

 

Puts me in mind of the time I was held up, out behind a McDonald's in San Francisco. I was the janitor, cleaning the mop outside the back entrance, when a guy jumped the fence. I thought it was our breakfast cook at first, same build with his cap low and grinning, but then he raised a paper bag with his hand in it. I closed and grabbed the barrel, long-barreled thing it was- then I had a split second to decide if I was letting go or jumping him. I realized he didn't mean to do any harm, and let go. He was pissed, marched me inside and had us all face down on the floor, then he disappeared with the weekend receipts.

 

A week later, I read in the paper that two German tourists were held up on Bush street by a short man with a long-barreled gun. They thought it was a joke, and tried to jump him; he shot one of them in the kneecap and one in the shoulder, I think it was.

 

Writing about myclonic twitches and writing in response to you in general brings me back to letting go of all the things I do when I sit, and otherwise. It's a good place to be in, I think. Sometimes I feel like my words are my archery, and I am looking for "it" to place the words on paper to change my life and this world (hopefully for the better?). Truth is, only all sentient beings together can do this.

Edited by Mark Foote
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I talked to a friend of mine last night, and he said that he read the article about "the myth of the eight-hour sleep" and it changed his life. Previously he would wake up in the wee hours of the morning, and lie in bed anxious about the fact that he wasn't asleep; the anxiety actually kept him from going back to sleep. Now he reads for awhile and then falls back to sleep, no problem, because he realizes it's ok to be up for awhile.

 

Big difference in his life; thanks, Apech, for pointing out the article.

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Haven't managed to read this whole thread, so apologies if it's mentioned above, but there's a chapter in "The Head Trip" about sleeping in two shifts.

 

I read it a while back so don't remember the details, but thought the book as a whole was very interesting. I'm looking forward to the commoditisation of neurofeedback technology (nearly there, but with a few glitches, in Neurosky's products.)

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