‘How good to be companion to onesself
To be alone but not alone to be.
For peace will bring us calm and dreams of wealth
As dreams and symbols help us all to see.
How sweet to hear the silence underneath
The noises of this busy urban life
For that which is above, also’ s beneath
An endless sea where dreams swim without strife,
How gentle is the silence of the trees
Calm now that the storms have passed and gone
Like boats swing anchored on the delphic seas
This soothing silence enters everyone.
No more the fear of loneliness embrace
Acceptance gives such comfort of our days
BBC News image
At issue here is our inner life. In a chapter called “The Social Divide,” Duff describes the widening gap between sleep and waking consciousness. She briefly traces the history of the marginalization of not only our own subjective experience, but also the mythologies that once provided its context.
“I was most familiar with Greek mythology,” she explained. “[The Greeks] paid a lot of attention to sleep and dreams and how that material is worked in us. I was surprised to find out how my Eastern philosophical traditions had studied sleep. Three or four thousand years [later], we think we’ve just discovered it. But there’s so much folklore and cultural life passed down from generation to generation. Everything that mothers learn from their mothers to promote sleep [like] lullabies.
“With the Enlightenment we sort of erased our awareness. Darkness became aligned with [what] we were tying to rise above—emotions, feelings. We wanted rational control, and you can’t control sleep. Sleep is one of the ways we return to nature. By responding to alternating phases of light and darkness, we return to our natural cycles, and join with all of life.”
Sleep and health
It’s no news that regular sleep is important to our overall health. In her work as a counselor, Duff has found increasingly that a good night’s sleep is instrumental—even essential—to our emotional well-being. As part of her intake process, she routinely asks her clients how they are sleeping.
“Once they got more sleep,” she said, “their issues became more manageable. Even bipolar disorder and major depression are often preceded by six months of sleep problems.”
On the other hand, as she states in the book, the “effects of sleep disruption on mood, perception, and behavior are so strong” physicians sometimes misdiagnose patients as having psychiatric disorders when those patients “simply need better sleep.”
Along with diagnoses come medications. In a chapter on the commercialization of sleep, Duff notes: “The use of sleeping pills among adults between twenty and forty-five doubled between 2000 and 2004. In 2011, 60 million Americans filled prescriptions for sleep medications, up from 46 million in 2006.”
Statistics that I find deeply disturbing.
The problem is not so much the amount of sleep we get or how we get it, as it is our relationship with sleep.
“We want to commodify it,” said Duff. “[We want sleep to] help our days be better rather than offering its own vantage point. It’s about productivity. We keep going over the day’s events, but we process them with a different mind, much more associative, which works more by Gestalt. That’s why people will come up with solutions [when they’re asleep]. It’s non-conscious processing, which goes on when we’re awake as well. But we don’t pay attention to that either.”
Duff points out that the problem isn’t with science, but with “scientism”. She is glad that scientists are paying attention to sleep and making serious studies, but she worries about them “jumping on the bandwagon of making money—selling us machines and pills.”
She encourages us to take back our sleep, which she likens to a “n
Oh,take me hold me,love me like you do
With kisses sweet commend me to your heart
Love me like a tea of finest brew.
Love me like a cox’s pippin tart.
oh,dance me,swing me, let me feel alive.
And let me feel your melody anew.
We get what we desire yet don’t deserve.
When one is made from love between the two.
Oh. lend me your maths textbooks for a while
I love irrational numbers like a child.
and transcendental pies do often me beguile
i feel tonight my numbers dancing wild.
So ambiguous is my attitude to men
I wave and then I particle again
To write a poem will take our entire heart
Our mind and soul, our body and our dreams.
With trepidation,take a pen and start
Let preconceptions , though well meant, depart
Creative work evades such plans and schemes
To write a poem will shake the entire heart
We travel lands unknown without a chart
With our courage, trust the dark unseen
For inspiration,take our pens and write
We bite the apple,bitter, hard and tart
Knowledge enters in its dream -like streams
To write a poem will move each living heart
No logic,reasoning, signs, however wrought
Will bring to life the holy pattern’s themes
With each image ,still your dreaming heart
The earth ,the oceans, seas, the sacred scenes
Where humans live out daily what life means
To write a poem , we need a mystic’s heart
In emptiness, we fill our pens,we start
Anticipate, don’t ask.
Do not say “Call me if you need anything,” because your friend will not call. Not because they do not need, but because identifying a need, figuring out who might fill that need, and then making a phone call to ask is light years beyond their energy levels, capacity or interest. Instead, make concrete offers: “I will be there at 4 p.m. on Thursday to bring your recycling to the curb,” or “I will stop by each morning on my way to work and give the dog a quick walk.” Be reliable.
My computer went offline most of the day so I realised I must buy Mr Cohen’s music.
Anyway it just came back on
Practice of an art is more salutary than talk about it.
There is nothing more composing than composition.
—Robert Frost, from his notebooks[Poetry and Prose,
edited by Edward Connery Lathem and Lawrance Thompson
What final advice would you give to someone thinking about taking up poetry?
Keep a notebook and pen on you at all times and pay attention — with all your senses — at all times. You can use a cell phone, tablet, iPad, anything to take notes. Don’t be afraid to jot notes down in transit, at a meeting or at the dinner table. Put inspiration first. And once you sit down to write, let yourself write, even if you fall on clichés. Don’t let your internal critic take over too soon. Another key is to write every day, even if just a little. This is how you nurture the emotional and intellectual breakthroughs, the aesthetic highs, which will serve as the foundation of your writing addiction.
— Don Campbell