The Practice of Creativity

Posts Tagged ‘dreams

Affirmations-366Days#92: Becoming the writer of my dreams is realized a little each day I sit down to write.

For new readers, here’s why I’m committing to writing affirmations, about the creative process, during the next 366 days.

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Affirmations-366Days#29: I allow myself to entertain big writing dreams.

For new readers, here’s why I’m committing to writing affirmations, about the creative process, during the next 366 days.

For many years I kept a dream journal and consistently recorded my dreams. I did this mostly for personal interest, but also to build a creative repository. My diligence, over the years, in keeping up a dream journal has waned. My dreams are only sporadically recorded and rarely do I mine them for creative ideas. Even rarer still is the occasion that I use a specific image from a dream in a story.

Two years ago, however, I had a dream that was pretty disturbing. I was in a forest and in it stood a gigantic meat grinder. And, all sorts of fantastical characters were being thrown in. Many Disney characters. I don’t know who or what was operating it. Think body parts everywhere. Gruesome, I know. I woke up and immediately recorded this dream in my journal. For the past two years, I could not get this image out of my head. Why and how did my psyche throw together meat grinding and Disney?

There is a wonderful book by Naomi Epel called Writers Dreaming that features prominent writers discussing the intersections between their dream life and their creative life. Steven King, in his interview, likens most dreams to a kind of “mental or spiritual flatulence”, a pressure relieving mechanism that helps process the mundane aspects of life. But, he also likens some dreams to big underwater fish that we rarely see:

 

fish

“…if you go down real deep, you see all these bright fluorescent, weird, strange things with membranous umbrellas and weird skirts that flare out from their bodies. Those are the creatures that we don’t see very often because they explode if we bring them up too close to the surface. They are to surface fish what dreams are to our surface thoughts. Deep fish are like dreams of surface fish. They change shape, they change form. There are dreams and there are deep dreams.”

King also notes only a few instances where he was able to use a dream image unaltered in a story. My ‘meat grinder dream’ didn’t leave me alone. I wanted to find a way to write about it.

I’m happy to say with a little trial and error, I did find a way. The poem and flash fiction pieces that I wrote were like nothing else I had ever written before. It’s dark and creepy. Every time I wrote a draft, I felt like I was walking back into the eerie nature of the dream. My flash fiction/prose poem piece ‘Grinding Disney #2’ was just announced as placing in the 2014 Science Fiction Poetry Association Contest under the ‘Long form’. I bet you didn’t know there was an association devoted to studying and promoting science fiction poetry. Neither did I until recently and I love what they do. They are interested in “poetry with some element of speculation—usually science fiction, fantasy, or horror, though some include surrealism, some straight science.” It was founded by one of my favorite writers, Suzette Haden Elgin. SFPA “holds an annual open contest, and yearly awards for speculative poetry: the Rhysling Awards for individual poems, the Dwarf Stars Award for short-short poems, and the Elgin Awards (new in 2013) for genre poetry books and chapbooks, named for the SFPA founder.”

Poet and editor Kenji Liu was the judge and I am thrilled to be in the company of such amazing poets.

Here is a tidbit of my poem:

I have a meat grinder and I have brought it to this forest. Invitations were sent and as the light fades, I see them twirl in, oblivious to danger. Leading the way is the fairest of them all (why doesn’t she use sunscreen nowadays?), the one who keeps losing her shoe, the one who went from mermaid to human and the rest of the princesses and common girls assemble.

Read the rest of my poem and all the amazing winning poems here.

I hope a dream or two of yours will bring up some deep fish.

 

Photo: The ‘sarcastic fringehead’ from jwz.org.

 

 

Chronic exhaustion is a regular feature of modern life. Summer, however, presents the perfect time for us to slow down and get back in tune with our natural body’s rhythms. Until about a decade ago, I denigrated my body’s need for rest. Now I measure some of my success by my ability to get the rest I need on a consistent basis. And, I routinely advocate for people to explore restorative yoga postures and yoga nidra as powerful tools to experience deep full-body relaxation–which can lead to better sleep. For people who struggle with slowing down, I highly recommend creativity pioneer Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy’s (SARK) Change Your Life Without Getting Out of Bed: The Ultimate Nap Book. Carol Puchailo, a community health nurse, provides us with simple steps we can take to experience the power of deep rest.

Jump-start Your June: JUMP Back into BED

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Ready. Set. Jump into bed!  Okay, so you are not asking for world peace at a bed – in like Yoko Ono or John Lennon, but you can find your own personal peace during your precious sleep time.  This will give you the most out of life and this summer season.  There are some simple steps and over the counter supplements that can assist you to getting a more restful sleep; along with sticking to bedtime routines that repair and rejuvenate your body and increase your daytime energy and vitality to enjoy your June. I know I can use more PEACE in my life. How about you?

The British Columbia Sleep guidelines (2004), places specific emphasis on sleep hygiene (bedtime routines) that assist in improving and maintaining a restful sleep.  First, ensure your room is cool and comfortable. If you share a bed with your partner and your bed heats up like a furnace, separate your covers so that you can have individual control over the temperature.  It will also help to put up a blackout curtain that reduces light from entering the bedroom. A dark bedroom will help the release of a hormone called melatonin. I will tell you more about this wonderful hormone in a minute. Fact: An adult needs an average of 7-8 hours of sleep per night, and as we age we produce less melatonin and that’s one reason why elderly people sleep less.

Second, ensure that you use your bed only for sleeping and sex.  If you were to read, watch T.V. or play Suduko in bed, these activities require a level of mental alertness that you subconsciously link with your peaceful bed and bedroom.  So if you must read, watch T.V., or play Suduko then I suggest you leave the bedroom and find a different location and come back to bed only when you are tired.  This separation allows your body to know where and when to rest and relax or where to concentrate and have mental alertness.

Third, for seven days of the week you need to wake up at roughly the same time every day since this reinforces your body’s internal clock (Circadian rhythm).  Going outside during the day and having the sun shine into your eyes helps to reset your circadian rhythm that will allow your brain to bath in a hormone called melatonin.  As I said before, you need a dark room at night time for the release of melatonin to occur. This wonderful sleepy hormone controls many bodily functions including: your sleep wake cycle, your body temperature,  enhances your immune function, and it also acts as a free-radical scavenger (looking for cells that are pre-cancerous). There is evidence that suggests melatonin has protective benefits as adequate amounts limit tumor growth (Brezinski, 1997). Now that is an amazing little hormone! I am so grateful that it acts so efficiently, it is just up to me to set the stage.

Melatonin is a precursor (the beginning hormone that becomes serotonin), and only when the lights are off and the room is really dark and cool can it do magical jobs.  Have you ever experienced jet lag? Jet lag happens because the internal clock (circadian rhythm) can get out of balance when we travel by plane or if our homes are too brightly lit at night. Too much light will affect when melatonin is released and this alteration changes your sleep pattern. According to Dr. A Brzezinski (1997), a melatonin supplement can be used to help alleviate sleep problems related to a disturbance in the circadian rhythm, and the earlier in the evening it is taken (before air travel for example), the better results you will experience. For example, if you were to take 5 mg of melatonin at 6:00pm before a flight your body would experience less jet lag. You could continue to take that dose at the same time every day for 5 days and this could hasten your symptoms of jet lag, help you feel drowsy and sleep better.

Fourth, to ensure you are ready for a good night’s sleep exercise 4 hours before you go to bed; exercise is best done first thing in the morning, but that is not always possible. Be mindful of timing your exercise routine to maximize your sleep hygiene and experience a more restful sleep. If you love your coffee then you are going to want to drink it 6 hours before bed to ensure it is out of your system and it does not interfere with your sleep.

Last, from my own experience, having a piece of paper and pen at the bedside has given me permission to record dreams that I have or to write about a problem that I am facing.  This dream journal gives me a place to write about my night time adventures or to reflect on what my subconscious has to teach me.  I look forward to bedtime and writing down what has been revealed to me during my dream time. I will dialogue about what is bothering me and how I have tried to solve it so far, but most amazingly I will ask for specific solutions to my request and be given an answer that I will understand. One of my favorite pastimes is dream interpretation, drop me a line or tell me your dreams.

Here’s hoping you hop into bed happy each night and wake up feeling rested, peaceful and enjoy the summer days ahead.

Carol Puchailo RN, BN and currently working on her Master’s Degree in Nursing to become a Nurse Practitioner. As a community health nurse, she has a rural practice in Manitoba, Canada and one day dreams of opening her very own wellness business. Email her at carol.puchailo@gmail.com

References:

Primary care management of sleep complaints in adults, (2004). British Colombia Guidelines. http://www.bcguidelines.ca/pdf/sleepcomp.pdf

Amnon, B. (1997).  Mechanism of disease: Melatonin in Humans. The New England Journal of medicine, Vol 336 (3), pp. 186-195. Retrieved online http://www.deborahburnett.com/images/uploads/MelatonininHumans.pdf


Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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