floodwater dreams + empathy mgmt

I had a floodwater dream this morning, the first since I can remember. I don’t feel stressed or otherwise overwhelmed in my life, but things are about to get more full-on at uni when the subject about psychotherapeutic models begins. There was a dream before this where I had gone adventuring with a friend and we had for some reason not taken my camping gear ~ he had his, but there was a feeling that me having my gear was unimportant (not that I would cope without it, but that if I didn’t cope it wasn’t important ~ like, my needs were unimportant).

While writing about this I checked my various channels for messages and there were messages from two women friends who have been confiding in me a lot lately (about their traumas and consequent insecurities). I read these messages while significant numbers were displaying on my phone ~ 44%4:00am (first message from one friend), and 43%4:03am (message from the other friend). After reading these messages I saw a video from Bored Panda’s feed about chocolate makers who had sculpted Atlas, replete with world-symbol on his shoulders.

After the camping dream I woke up, and it was too early to get out of bed because I was still tired, but my mind was too active to sleep (thinking mostly about what uni work I will prioritise today). I eventually must have slept, until I woke from the flooding dream.

In that dream I was coasting down some really nice slopes on my bicycle. They were grassy but firm and my bike is good for those conditions. I was really hookin along, around curves and down sudden gradients, no worries. There were some muddy patches I thought would unsaddle me, but they didn’t. There were some places where water was lapping at the track. I reached the bottom of a valley and saw that floodwaters had engulfed the path ahead, brown and surging. I tried to backtrack but the waters were coming from that way now too and I was stuffed. I woke up just as the waters began to lift me.

Another question I have is about a dream that was accompanied by an experience IRL. I had been awake studying since about 3 or 4 (my typical waking hours, which I accommodate by going to be around 8 or 9), and I did my sadhana around 10 or 11, which this day included yoga nidra. I got about 5 mins into the session before I fell asleep (unusual). I slept for nearly an hour and woke up from a dream where I was asleep in a chair in an outdoor-setting on a verandah. A young girl wanted my attention from inside the house behind a sliding glassdoor, but I couldn’t make my eyes open to be present for her. It was distressing for me that I couldn’t keep my eyes open ~ I wanted to give her the attention she needed.

When I woke up and turned my phone on there was a msg from one of these friends, who for a few days had been saying she wanted to confide in me about a recent dating trauma she had experienced. The message was somewhat leading (asking what was happening for me at the time ~ she must have messaged during the time I was doing the yoga nidra and/or having the dream). Her and I identified a few months ago that we are twinflame soulmates. It’s not a romantic or sexual relationship, but we connected immediately when we met a few years ago, didn’t see each other for years, and have since reconnected and begun to notice there are distinct parallels in our lives and the paths we took independently to get where we are now.

I called her when I had composed myself from this paradoxically exhausting sadhana, and we spoke on the phone for half an hour or so, during which time she wasn’t able to express what had happened on the traumatic date, saying it was too painful to speak about. She texted me about it after we got off the phone, and it was indeed an experience that no one should allow themselves to have, calling into question all sorts of things about boundaries and in/abilities to say ‘no’.

During the phone call and immediately after, I felt profoundly exhausted and unable to take a full breath (as though I was deep in anxiety, but instead of anxiety I just felt numb and tired). I wondered if it was because I had too much coffee that morning and was having a caffeine crash. But I should have woken up restored from the yoga nidra. It wasn’t until a few hours later, when I noticed that I was once again full of beans (no pun intended) and ploughing through some uni readings, that I wondered if maybe I had picked up on what she was feeling.

I found an interesting empathy quiz the other day, and learned that, according to the model behind that quiz, I am an “authentic empath”. I’ve been wondering more and more lately about how much of what I feel is actually “my stuff” and how much is stuff I pick up from people and the environment around me. This phone-call case was especially extreme and I’m still learning how to manage the boundaries between my empathy and other people’s suffering.

I don’t know what my question is exactly. Maybe I’m just seeking validation. But if anyone has some resources about how to manage unruly empathy, I would appreciate that very much. Thank you.

~~~

featured image by Silvia Cordedda

our bodies are the temple

Dieta

I am beginning to learn, through research and experience, just how important our body is to our mental, emotional and psychological wellbeing, and what follows from this is the importance of diet.

I call it dieta because: 1) that extra a, from the Spanish, seems to lift the seriousness from the idea of dieting; 2) I picked up the word watching a documentary about shamanism, and the main motivating force behind diet for me is to have a cleaner body so I can be more in touch with what’s going on internally (in terms of digestion, but also and moreso in terms of emotions and psychic movements … pun intended 😉

I also think of all this as more like a yogic diet than just a diet diet, because that for me carries connotations of this being more about dietary choices that I hope will persist over a lifetime rather than about a few austerities I will observe temporarily as though my life were nothing more than a series of passing fads.

One of my early bosses (who was an alcoholic and chain smoker) used to say (ironically), ‘My body is a temple.’ I never really understood what this meant, but since then I have had some divine/mystical experiences that were the consquence of clean-eating and dedicated spiritual practices, so I know the body~mind partnership is capable of some truly transcendental stuff (holy shit), and I really want to begin to honour that some more.

I have also begun to notice that my general wellbeing is profoundly influenced by what I do and do not put into my body.

At the time of this writing I am 34, born 1983 in the Australian outer suburbs. Since that time the basic food pyramid has been turned on its head and, among other correlates, the gut~brain connection has been researched up the wazoo. We now know there are neurons in the heart and gut, not just the brain, and people are starting to use ‘second brain’ to refer to the gut.

When I was learning how to eat, it was mostly through mimicry in the suburbs, and my diet was (relatively) fine for the last 30 years or so, but I put that down to having been blessed with a profoundly strong constitution (physical and psychological), which is now beginning to show signs of wear and tear:

for a long time I was able to get away with eating a halfway-healthy diet, even though that included indiscrimate consumption of meat and other animal products, processed foods like commercial bread, plus wanton amounts of dairy and sugar, not to mention the various poisons of alcohol, commercial tobacco, caffeine and the hydroponic ‘biker bud’ I found myself smoking, which constitutes something of a segue to a sidenote:

It’s been 34 years since I started learning how to eat and feed myself, and it’s been about 19 years since I started scoring and smoking ganja. This was in the mid~late-90s and the Australian suburbs … skip forward to 2015 in c://maine (Castlemaine, VIC), which is essentially an outer suburb of Melbourne, where I asked my friend and dealer where our ganja was coming from ~ bikers, he said.

This was the year I first began to realise that maybe I was suffering depression and that the anxiety I was feeling maybe wasn’t normal. It was also the year I had my first major spiritual emergency. It was around then I started to realise that something needed to change if I wanted to ever feel like contentment, satisfaction, meaning and purpose were conditions I might feel frequently and consistently, and that something was gonna hafta to be me.

This tangent is getting a bit out of hand, when the only really important point is that the profound suffering (mixed with moments of transcendental joy and awe) that characterised that year were catalytic in promoting a search that lead to two realisations:

1) what I had absorbed about diet was no longer serving me, and food production had most likely changed radically in the preceding 30 years, but more (or less) importantly, 2) drug production had most likely changed radically in the last 20 years as well.

In the suburbs of the 90s I was probably smoking mostly homegrown or maybe some hydro that someone had come across. Now that I think about it, I do remember that ‘hydro’ was kind of a big deal back then, a new thing that was only just beginning to reach new levels of accessibility.

Skip forward again to c://maine, where the buzz was bush bud: whereas my buddies at high school would get excited because they had found some hydro that would get us really ‘whacked’, my friends in c://maine would get (mildly) excited when they came across some homegrown that would give us a nice, easy-going high.

So, things/times have changed, and the point of this long-winded tangent is that many factors influence our mental health, not just drug (ab)use: food, for example, is just another vehicle for chemicals that effect our mental states via the gut~brain, and as Dennis McKenna says anyway, “All experience is a drug experience” [12:33]:

Whether it’s mediated by our own [endogenous] drugs, or whether it’s mediated by substances that we ingest that are found in plants, cognition, consciousness, the working of the brain, it’s all a chemically mediated process. Life itself is a drug experience.

Apart from wanting to bust the myth that ‘marijuana causes depression’, I want to experiment with and illuminate experience and ideas around how everything we put into our bodies (including information) may cause depression (et al) if we are not wise about our choices.

The most illuminating experience I have had so far, experimenting with eliminating grains, is that both times I did this I suffered extreme bouts of insomnia. [12:36] I learned / was reminded of my own experience that eating grains has a profoundly soporific effect on the body, a great enabler of sleep.

It took me two of these experiments and a not-uncanny encounter with a friend to learn, from her, that if we want to just straight-up drop grains from our life, we need to be sure we have melatonin supplements, along with other herbal sleep supplements like valerian and hops, which I have now bought for any future experiments.

For these reasons and myriad others I am not yet aware of, I am documenting here the nature and contents of the dieta I am experimenting with, the details of which can be found on the sub-page, Dieta Detailia. [1:39]

the brutality of insomnia

You wouldn’t think so, but insomnia is fucked, absolutely brutal.

As a kid I vaguely envied Stephen King when I learned he was an insomniac ~ I thought cool, just stay up writing all night. By my early twenties I discovered Peter Carey, who said something like, “All good writers are necessarily mentally unwell, so be careful what you wish for.”

Insomnia is a mental illness. My mind feels like a V8 engine with only one spark plug and a leadfoot at the wheel ~ it would be revving its tits off if it wasn’t spluttering, farting and stalling with every attempt at cognition. I turn back to the fridge with a bottle of milk in hand and think, Shit, what was I doing?

This is profoundly painful for me, who so heavily identifies with having a powerful intellect at his disposal most of the time. When my mind begins to fail me like this, I get scared, knowing that belief in your correct perception of reality can fall away in an instant, given sufficient stressors, plunging you into the Chasm of Chaos … but,

I’m getting ahead of myself ~ it’s not that bad yet, at night four, but by night seven when it starts to feel like my body is falling apart, shit could get real. At night six during one bout, I told my friend I was scared, and she said (ever the ironically jovial supporter), “You know that by night eleven you will go insane and die?” I believed her then, and I believe her now.

Sleep is precious like water, my dear loved ones ~ don’t mess with it. Don’t ever take it for granted. I used to say, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” Real clever, Gung-ho Gonzo. If you’re reading this and the birds are chirping, go to bed, have a wank, and do some sleeping for me, okay? Do it for the children!