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Chinese pillow history - What is the perfect pillow?

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Thousands of years ago, Chinese people realised that nothing on the earth lasts forever, including human life. Having the perfect pillow was a way to improve sleep and reach a grand old age. But there’s more to sleep than health, and sleep traditions show many aspects of Chinese culture, from studying to falling in love.

 

Article: https://wellcomecollection.org/articles/XV_E7BEAACIAo9Vz

 

nlyc72a.jpg


 

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Thanks, interesting article.  Didn't know about the bamboo pillows with "ventilation," looks like a a good idea for sleeping somewhere hot and humid without the air conditioner.     

 

I used to have a ceramic pillow exactly like this one:

 

413296-1.thumb.jpg.2f1650a4b8c81fcd45bbc0d45d342629.jpg

 

I tried sleeping on it but it was too high and too cold.  So I just kept it on a shelf as decoration -- but my cat wanted that spot on the shelf for himself and threw it off and broke it.  He normally doesn't do things like that.  Probably perceived the ceramic cat as a rival of some sort.   

 

After much experimenting, I made a pillow for myself stuffed with buckwheat hulls, customized to the specific head/neck/shoulder distances, sizes and relationships that are mine alone.  I believe a perfect pillow has to be as individually made to size as one's underwear or shoes.  Mine is actually two pillows, one for the neck and one for the top of the head.  Both are small, sausage shaped,  firm but not hard, and perfect.  A perfect pillow for me didn't exist until I invented it.     

 

  

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The Korean spa I go to has wooden 'stool' pillows in its many strange healing rooms (Gold, amethyst, charcoal, hot, cold..).  It takes awhile but once your relaxed enough they work.

 

Latest sleep habit I'm doing is just before bed, sitting at its edge, consciously relaxing.. head, face, body.  Then letting my thoughts run down, while keeping an awareness of my body being deeply under.  Its works pretty well, especially since its on the bed, just before I go to sleep.  Not much movement or time before I tuck in.

 

shades of 'Cai Jitong ŤĒ°Ś≠£ťÄö, a scholar in the Song Dynasty, suggested that calming down the mind was the key to falling asleep in his text ‚ÄėKnacks for Sleep‚Äô ÁĚ°ŤĮÄ. Overthinking and overexcitement of the mind are linked with the activeness of Yang, which could keep one from sleeping.'

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27 minutes ago, Taomeow said:

Thanks, interesting article.  Didn't know about the bamboo pillows with "ventilation," looks like a a good idea for sleeping somewhere hot and humid without the air conditioner.     

 

I used to have a ceramic pillow exactly like this one:

 

413296-1.thumb.jpg.2f1650a4b8c81fcd45bbc0d45d342629.jpg

 

I tried sleeping on it but it was too high and too cold.  So I just kept it on a shelf as decoration -- but my cat wanted that spot on the shelf for himself and threw it off and broke it.  He normally doesn't do things like that.  Probably perceived the ceramic cat as a rival of some sort.   

 

 

  

This experience also shows that if the earth was flat the cats would have pushed everything off by now.

 

I like the Chinese round long pillow it helps support my shoulders and neck. On mount wudang my pillow feels like tiny rocks and the bed is super firm. After 8 + hours of kung fu a day I do not wake up sore. 

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White cats are notoriously deaf.  I had one and it pushed ALL my dinnerware onto the floor, broken.  It was that afternoon she turned into an outdoor cat.

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Interesting history.

I'm surprised how tall some of the "pillows" were.

Doesn't seem very good for the neck.

 

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41 minutes ago, steve said:

Interesting history.

I'm surprised how tall some of the "pillows" were.

Doesn't seem very good for the neck.

 

 

Yes, they do seem a bit too high.  And yet, many indigenous tribes like them like that.  And apparently their necks don't suffer.  There may be other factors involved as well.

 

In any event,  so many Western style sleepers develop double chins (older people almost invariably) and sleep apnea, and so few people who sleep on "something weird" elsewhere, that one may have something to do with the other.  A soft pillow that sags under your head and offers no support to the neck and the jaw, so that your neck sort of swallows your chin when you lie down, might be at least partially to blame.  

 q8l85cbf4o511-1.thumb.jpg.43962f1f0edad424201a75efddb69942.jpg

 

 

23fbc77842dfb98ed1a9fa8f24b36e94.jpg

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Part of the secret may be that bodies not using our chairs for sitting (to name one lifestyle peculiarity out of many) work differently -- these pillows also double up as stools:

 

w_ZhNOx4DtAhMz0qAEHAjr8JE_RtnPpyzfKazGmBWAk.jpg?width=960&crop=smart&auto=webp&s=df7f6a148d53462b2ba0cc55e82f3a310003247e

Edited by Taomeow
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1 hour ago, thelerner said:

The Korean spa I go to has wooden 'stool' pillows in its many strange healing rooms (Gold, amethyst, charcoal, hot, cold..).  It takes awhile but once your relaxed enough they work.

 

Latest sleep habit I'm doing is just before bed, sitting at its edge, consciously relaxing.. head, face, body.  Then letting my thoughts run down, while keeping an awareness of my body being deeply under.  Its works pretty well, especially since its on the bed, just before I go to sleep.  Not much movement or time before I tuck in.

 

shades of 'Cai Jitong ŤĒ°Ś≠£ťÄö, a scholar in the Song Dynasty, suggested that calming down the mind was the key to falling asleep in his text ‚ÄėKnacks for Sleep‚Äô ÁĚ°ŤĮÄ. Overthinking and overexcitement of the mind are linked with the activeness of Yang, which could keep one from sleeping.'

 

Korean jjim jil bang are fantastic. The wooden pillows also make more sense if you find people bringing them into the different bangs (rooms) to relax on that allowed them to handle the absorption in those rooms. 

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Dont need no pillow   ....

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spoiler

Actually, this is SOOOOO lame , I decided to double hide it

 

  -  warning !

 

Spoiler

19-white-dudes-with-afros-1-25537-139273

 

 

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Wang Deshun, a 85 years old model and fitness man, claims that he gets all his energy by sleeping on the chinese pillow that he used when he was training in a Shaolin temple at a young age.
He says: "This ancient pillow position the neck to align the spine's 31 segments"

 

 

I dont know how much of this is commercial (he's also selling a more confortable but pricy pillow), but surely it's interesting.
I might search and buy the old classic (and cheaper I hope) pillow to see if it really gives these benefits.

Edited by atrus
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15 hours ago, atrus said:

Wang Deshun, a 85 years old model and fitness man

Lol...Wang Deshun is from northern China...and is not "Okita Kato" - a "tech tycoon" from Japan.  As you can imagine, this misinfomercial just keeps skidding further downhill from there... :rolleyes:

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Pillows have supposedly been around since 7000 BCE, in early Mesopotamia.  Of course, they were made of stone and so understandably less comfortable; very unlike what we think of as pillows today.  In fact, it is said that these stone pillows were made to help keep bugs from crawling into the ears of wealthier citizens.

So, pillows were probably invented to keep bugs out of people's heads...not for good posture.  (Maybe earplugs would have been a better idea?)

 

Ergo, I'm with David Wolfe now - pillows are like smoking and are basically trainers for bad posture.  Think about it, everyone in the colonial world is developing "desk jockey syndrome" from hours spent hunched in front of screens, now...

Screen-Shot-2016-04-11-at-11.55.05-AM-e1

41598_2018_21625_Fig1_HTML.png?as=webp

And, what does a pillow do?  It also pushes the head forward, just like in a standing slouch...

posture-wp.jpg

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And you are then additionally training your posture like this 8 hours per night! :o

 

This is a DOUBLE-WHAMMY for colonialist civilization - and explains why slouching is so epidemic today!

 

Now, what if you simply slept without a pillow?  Now, you're retraining good posture 8 hours/night effortlessly IN YOUR SLEEP!

aid265102-v4-728px-Maintain-Good-Posture

 

I've actually been doing this for the past year or so...and it has definitely helped to correct my cervical posture!

 

I mean honestly, if anything, what modern people need is a bed shaped like this that they can sleep faceup on:

1693-fs.jpg

Edited by gendao
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10 minutes ago, Walker said:

Gendao,

 

You are ridiculous.

 

@Walker Considering that pillows were used a lot earlier and sleeping positions in centuries-old forms like Sleeping Qigong of Huashan, even rocks were used to elevate the head for the positions to sleep in to cultivate.

Edited by Earl Grey

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Maybe time traveling colonialists from the future filled their time machines with pillows to pollute ancient history? 

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6 minutes ago, Walker said:

Maybe time traveling colonialists from the future filled their time machines with pillows to pollute ancient history? 

 

Nah, I'd say they were reptiles introducing Christianity...RAPTOR JESUS!

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On 12/31/2019 at 6:26 AM, GSmaster said:

You never had a good pillow, it gives relaxation and peace of mind.

Hard surfaces could also cause tension and blockage, and stagnate blood flow.

 

After trying memory foam I am never going back. Call it technology advancement or alien's invasion, quality memory foam feels like heavens.

If you're sleeping on a memory foam mattress, that would still be a soft surface without a pillow.  But by eliminating the elevation, you are allowing the head/neck to rest in a more neutral position.  Again, just imagine your sleeping position rotated as if standing with your back against a wall.  Still think a pillow wedged behind your head is a good idea?

 

And remember, mastery is all about remastering the most basic, very fundamentals...questioning all your underlying, base assumptions.  A lot of which is like fish noticing water for the first time.

Edited by gendao

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8 minutes ago, gendao said:

 

And remember, mastery is all about remastering the most basic, very fundamentals...questioning all your underlying, base assumptions.  

 

 

And finding out that reality is an L Ron Hubbard novel as reinterpreted by an 8-year old.

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Funny how the smallest steps of defiance against the groupthink herd mentality also seem to inspire the greatest resistance...  Hence, ditching your pillow becomes a scary, revolutionary act and another Rosa Parks moment.  Even though it simply makes total COMMON SENSE!

back-and-neck-pane.jpg

Edited by gendao

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16 minutes ago, GSmaster said:

I have memory foam pillow on top of memory foam mattress

Right, so if you remove your memory foam pillow...your head is...still on memory foam.

 

And while you're at it, implement Esther Gokhale's Stretchlying posture for spinal traction...and you will sleep like an aboriginal, Daoist baby! :D

Edited by gendao
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45 minutes ago, gendao said:

Funny how the smallest steps of defiance against the groupthink herd mentality also seem to inspire the greatest resistance...  Hence, ditching your pillow becomes a scary, revolutionary act and another Rosa Parks moment.

 

Don't stop there. With your single-handed overthrow of millenia of Annunaki-imposed soft-but-deadly somnial oppression, you are Rosa Parks, Che Guevara, Neo, Spartacus, and Muad'dib rolled into one. You are the chosen one. I am astounded that you can utter such brave things without constant fear of being dragged away by the space lizard cheka and sent to a gulag orbiting Betelgeuse.

Edited by SirPalomides
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1 hour ago, GSmaster said:

 

I have memory foam pillow on top of memory foam mattress

 

 

I have one of these too.  They don't work.  My memory is still shit.

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Well, guess what -- I've found a modestly priced one and ordered and can't wait to get this:

 

s-l1600.jpg

 

See my post from September 12th for illustrations of use.  I don't think I'm going to sleep on it, but I plan to experiment with naps, stretches, etc., and definitely want to sit on it when, e.g., watching a movie.  (The squatting position is easy for me, but not easy enough to comfortably last an hour or more -- this turkana may change it.  I'll report on the findings.)  Something draws me to this thingie, ever since I first discovered it exists.  I've found out that it's one of those objects that are thought of as forming a unity with the owner via continuous use, and many African tribes buried the turkana with the owner (some still do) because they are thought to have become inseparable and the bond remains even in afterlife. 

 

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