8 Aug 2017 Finding a way to kinship with all and Pentagon commissioned report on PTSD in US military

Good morning to you.  It’s 9:16 am as I begin to write to you on this cooler, pleasant day.  I perused the news headlines and this made me think of the snippet of the dream I remember before waking up.  It was the oddest thing to dream about too!  I was standing with Brian Williams of MSNBC and he had a bunch of awards around his neck.  He seemed so happy to see me and like he knew me.  As we were talking, I saw actor Chris Pratt and some other man walking through a door and they seemed to be avoiding me lol.  I don’t know why they popped into my dreams but I hope they are doing well!

 

My thoughts about what I’ve been seeing in the headlines brought me to one of my favorite web pages.  With the second spin of their prayer wheel, this message came up.  I feel this message in my heart…..the age old questions we just need to ask ourselves to bring people and nations together instead of pushing ourselves further apart.  How are we the same?  What are all the things we have in common?  What good things do we share and how do we make the world full of more of those good things?  My dream for this world is that all of us might find a way to focus on how we are the same and less on how we are different.  Build more bridges so that we can meet one another.  Break down (and never waste the money to build) the tangible and intangible walls that keep us apart.

http://www.worldprayers.org/prayerwheel/index.html

In striving to recognize the primacy of Fire and Light,
I feel kinship with my Zoroastrian brothers and sisters.
In striving to obey the Ten Commandments,
I feel kinship with my Jewish brothers and sisters.
In striving to be kind to neighbor and the needy,
I feel kinship with my Christian brothers and sisters.
In striving to be compassionate to creatures great and small,
I feel kinship with my Buddhist-Jaina brothers and sisters.
In striving to surrender myself completely to God Almighty,
I feel kinship with my Muslim brothers and sisters.
In the recognition that wisdom flows from enlightened masters,
I feel kinship with my Sikh brothers and sisters.
In remembering that serving people should be the goal of religion,
I feel kinship with my Baha’i brothers and sisters.
In my respect and reverence for Nature that sustains us,
I feel kinship with my Native American brothers and sisters.
In feeling that these and more are all paths to the same Divinity,
I feel kinship with my Hindu brothers and sisters.
In my love and laughter, joy and pain,
I feel kinship with all my fellow humans.
In my need for nourishment and instinct to live on,
I feel kinship with all beings on the planet.
In my spiritual ecstasy with this wondrous world,
I feel kinship with the Cosmic Whole.

universal reflection – v. v. raman – cape of good hope – 1999
The report about the Pentagon commissioned study regarding PTSD in the United States military of course caught my eye yesterday.  The aversion to the taking and or loss of another living being’s life  is something most of us have in common.  Suicide is personal for me and as a medically retired veteran who falls into the category of the study, it’s even more personal!  It’s important to note the study found that the use of firearms is the most common way veterans are committing suicide.   It’s also interesting to note how old this study is 2014!  Why isn’t it a 2017 report?!  Doesn’t seem like they are really staying current on this issue to me. 

Troops at risk for suicide not getting needed care, report finds

Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY , TEGNA 4:23 PM. EDT August 07, 2017

WASHINGTON – Pentagon health care providers failed to perform critical follow-up for many troops diagnosed with depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome who also were at high risk for suicide, according to a new study released Monday by the RAND Corp.

Just 30% of troops with depression and 54% with PTSD received appropriate care after they were deemed at risk of harming themselves. The report, commissioned by the Pentagon, looked at the cases of 39,000 troops who had been diagnosed in 2013 with depression, PTSD or both conditions. USA TODAY received an advance copy of the report.

“We want to ensure that they get connected with behavioral health care,” said Kimberly Hepner, the report’s lead author and a senior behavioral scientist at RAND, a non-partisan, non-profit research organization. “The most immediate action — removal of firearms — can help to reduce risk of suicide attempts.”

The report, titled Quality of Care for PTSD and Depression in the Military Health System, also found that one third of troops with PTSD were prescribed with a medication harmful to their condition.

From 2001 to 2014, about 2.6 million troops have deployed to combat zones in Afghanistan and Iraq. Estimates on how many have been affected by post-traumatic stress vary widely — from 4% to 20%, according to the report. Meanwhile, suicide among troops spiked crisis proportions. The rate of suicide doubled between 2005 and 2012, according to the Pentagon. It has stabilized but has not diminished; the rate remains about the same for the part of the American public that it compares with, about 20 per 100,000 people.

The key intervention to prevent suicide involves talking to the service member about their access to firearms, Hepner said. It’s also one of the most sensitive, given the nature of their work and that many troops own their own guns.

“This is important for service members because suicide death by firearms is the most common method,” Hepner said. “So the provider needs to have that discussion about access to firearms. Not only their service weapon but their access to personal weapons.”

Guns accounted for 68% of suicides by active-duty troops in 2014, according to the Pentagon.

Commanders can be enlisted to put weapons out of troops’ reach, and family members may be asked to do so at home, she said. One reason that doesn’t happen more often, she said, is the stigma attached to mental health issues, and the effect notifying superiors may have on careers.

“These can be quite difficult conversations to have with service members,” Hepner sid. “Certainly limiting access to their service weapon would involve notifying their command.”

Researchers also found that one-third of troops with depression had received a prescription for benzodiazepine, an anti-anxiety medication.

“It is explicitly mentioned in guidelines for treatment of PTSD that benzodiazepines are contraindicated,” Hepner said. “We continue to see a relatively high rate of prescription for a medication we would hope would not be prescribed.”


Link to blog I wrote about subject:  https://saymber.com/2017/03/17/17-march-2017-more-distractions-from-the-affordable-care-act-fiasco-the-us-governments-latest-solution-for-paying-for-the-true-cost-of-war-and-bernie-sanders-repeated-warnings-going-unheard/

Back in March of this year, the House voted to approve a bill that would allow these same veterans easier access to firearms!  Very sad.   What their doing that said to me was they’d rather make it easier for veterans to die than to do the hard part, the funding, taking responsibility for restoring them to meaningful and productive lives!  It’s easy to pluck a 18 year old from a small town, dress them up in a uniform, put a gun in their hands and send them off to war than it is to put together that same person who is now half or less the person physically and or psychologically they were after they come back from the war zone. 

Source Internet: Quote from a past Governor of my home State SD, George McGovern,

America

House OKs Bill Making It Tougher To Keep ‘Mentally Incompetent’ Vets From Buying Guns

Enlarge this image

A House-approved bill would require a court hearing before a U.S. veteran is deemed mentally unfit to own a gun. Here, rifles are seen at a gun shop in Merrimack, N.H., last year. Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images

A House-approved bill would require a court hearing before a U.S. veteran is deemed mentally unfit to own a gun. Here, rifles are seen at a gun shop in Merrimack, N.H., last year.

Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images

Updated at 1:55 p.m. ET

The House has approved legislation that would make it harder to keep veterans who are “mentally incapacitated, deemed mentally incompetent” or prone to blackouts from buying guns. Critics of the bill say it could raise the suicide rate among veterans — a rate that has risen in the past decade.

At least a dozen Democrats joined Republicans to support the bill, which was approved by a 240-175 vote.

The legislation would add a new hurdle to the process of blocking a veteran whose mental competence is in question from owning a gun. While the Department of Veterans Affairs currently adds the names of veterans it deems unfit to own a deadly weapon to a federal background check system, the bill would require a court hearing before that determination is made.

“About 170,000 disabled veterans are deemed mentally incompetent by the VA,” NPR’s Quil Lawrence reports. “A VA-approved guardian makes some medical and financial decisions for them. Their names go on an FBI list so they can’t purchase guns — House Republicans sponsored the Veterans’ Second Amendment Protection Act to change that.”

Backers of the bill, such as Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., the chair of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, say it would help veterans avoid being caught up in a bureaucracy that can make it tough to remove a negative label. Roe also cited the importance of “removing the stigma of mentally ill people — that because someone is mentally ill, they’re a danger to themselves or others.”

On the other side of the issue, Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md., said, “When a determination is made that a veteran is mentally incompetent or incapacitated — for whatever reason — that determination is made to protect them, not to punish or deprive them.”

Critics of the bill include retired Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the former vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army. Speaking to Quil about why he opposed the bill, Chiarelli said, “Every single study you can read on this shows you that people in crisis — because suicide is such a spontaneous event — when they separate themselves from personal weapons the incidence of suicide goes down tremendously.”

The House legislation will now go to the Senate. It would change U.S. law by adding this section to sections governing veterans’ benefits:

Conditions for treatment of certain persons as adjudicated mentally incompetent for certain purposes

“In any case arising out of the administration by the Secretary of laws and benefits under this title, a person who is mentally incapacitated, deemed mentally incompetent, or experiencing an extended loss of consciousness shall not be considered adjudicated as a mental defective under subsection (d)(4) or (g)(4) of section 922 of title 18 without the order or finding of a judge, magistrate, or other judicial authority of competent jurisdiction that such person is a danger to himself or herself or others.”.

7 Aug 2017 Dream and the act of “Adulting” (Abandoning Adulthood My Official Letter of Resignation piece by Maureen)

4 Aug 2017 – we are so grateful for Spot. She is an active dog and because of that she helps keep us more active. She’s our family athletics coordinator! 🙂

Good morning, it’s 8:16 am as I start to write.  We had a storm come through last night and by the looks of things, we got a bit of rain.  Very grateful for that and grateful that the severe thunderstorm warning we got before bed ended up only being a warning!  It’s so funny with thunder.  I was almost asleep and then it was like, “We now interrupt your sleep for these 30 seconds of thunder.”  (Kyle’s words there). Sleep all through the night remains elusive for both Kyle and I.

I had some interesting dreams last night, I remember snippets of them.  I dreamt about being with some old men and one of them telling/saying to me, “Do you want me to tell you how old you are?” I said something like, “3,000” and the man said, “try 5,000.” Other dreams were of being in an old parlor or Victorian type of settings.  I remember men sitting on the deck of a ship.  My mind must be sorting through a bunch of stuff I’ve been looking at in my waking world like the Victorian Trading Company catalog, the Aspern Papers film set posts from Jonathan Rhys Meyers and other stuff.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers To Star In ‘The Aspern Papers’

I don’t believe the person I am is that old but what do we know of our souls?  The energy our flesh encapsulates?  The flesh is just a suite, a covering for the soul.  The soul can be as old as time itself because there is no such thing as time in the unseen realms….for any other beings but humans is there such a thing as time!  The dream realm in me obviously knows that.

Another conscious Key that may have unlocked last nights travels could have been this awesome post, Abandoning Adulthood, from my friend Ally.  I have been thinking about this topic a lot lately!

Source: Internet/aka friend FB post: Abandoning Adulthood by Maureen

She was looking for something about adulthood, and found it.  Ironically, just yesterday morning Kyle and I were trying to figure out why we were so crabby and irritable and realized it was because we were having to be adults or what we call “Adulting.” We had made an appointment for Link to have his back left leg looked at and didn’t want to take him even though it was the right thing to do.  We had barely dropped him off and were getting groceries when the vet called to come back for him! Yay!  We dodged the almost $200 x-ray expense that is conveniently not covered under the Wellness plan we have both the dogs on….sigh.  What the hell is insurance of any kind really good for?!  It never covers what you need it to even though you are paying enough for it to cover everything!  Anyhew…we didn’t get away without spending money on an anti-inflammatory and in a couple of weeks we’ll see what’s going on oh yeah, he’s “obese”….sounds like he’s a little old man not a dog right?!

6 Aug 2017 – Link relaxing before Vet visit. He doesn’t look obese to us but apparently he is.

On the way to the grocery store after we initially dropped him off, we were in the car bitching about EVERYTHING!  I realized we were doing the thing we try very hard to avoid doing and that’s focusing on what’s wrong and not what we want to be going on instead.  While President Trump it seems like  like he’d rather be golfing instead of dealing with world issues and appears to be throwing away every opportunity put in front of him to make the world a better place,  it’s not entirely his fault America is the mess it seems to be.  A secret part of me thinks, is hoping, his being President and what he’s been doing is just some sort of epic reverse psychology experiment!  I wouldn’t want to be President or any form of government official these days!  It’s so easy to solve the worlds problems from the seat of our cars, kitchen tables, video game chat and social media forums but quite another to actually be the ones who have to sort it all out!  Anyways, Kyle and I finally talked ourselves to where the source of the anger was and it came back to us.  We decided we would rather be doing anything else but what we had to do….goofing off!  This process we went through is something I learned to do in AA with the acronym HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) and doing a self examination before blaming others through the day and just before bed for things when your angry or upset….making amends.

Anyhew…..it’s Monday again….time to get on with it.  I hope that wherever and whenever this finds you, you have everything you need inside and out to be fulfilled.  I hope you know that even if it seems like nobody cares about you, there are people all over the world, myself included, that say a prayer of love and thanksgiving for you every day.    

 

5 Aug 2017 The conversation never ends

Good morning to you.  It’s 10:52 am as I start to write to you on this muggy, hot Saturday!  I want to go out and “do my thing” where I put on my music and interact with nature but know it will be difficult so I’m procrastinating about it.  I can only imagine if I had to be out there all the time with no other options.  Part of my gratitude list always includes having shelter with working climate control (A/C)!

In the month of May I was having one of my altered states experiences.  Kyle calls them “episodes” and this time he let me work through it at home because I refused to be anywhere else to deal with it.  He just let me do my rituals and process through whatever was going on and it was hard but we got through it.  Going through what we did is far more wonderful for me than it has ever been for him.  People out there who go through what Kyle and I do, know this truth.  Being on the outside versus being within the experience is very different.  For him it’s a lot like keeping the lid on a toddler and for me it’s a magical kingdom every day.  I get to witness first hand what it’s like when God uses all the life created on this planet to have various experiences of reality.  Kyle gets to babysit while it happens so I don’t get hurt!  We’ve been talking as I’m writing this…lots of tears on my part because with some distance from it happening, it hurts me to know he had to go through so much for me and more than once now!  This time Kyle became the involuntary Shaman I was asking for in  a previous blog about this subject! (https://saymber.com/2017/05/07/7-may-2017-caretakers-can-get-ptsd-too-poem-bird-drawings-from-this-morning-and-the-shamanic-view-of-mental-illness-jayson-gaddis/)

7 May 2017 – This man came forward during my drawing session this morning. To me he is a Yogi, a guru, a wise man. I got a very living and positive feeling spending time with him.

On the 19th of May Kyle, his brother Drew and I were out and about waiting to see Guardians of the Galaxy 2.  I was walking to Half Price Books and suddenly just stopped and wrote this message in my pink spirit book:

19 May 2017/1:13 pm

19 and 20 May 2017 my Pink spirit book messages:

“They are not conscious of the unseen like action figures moved and motivated by an unseen force.”

One day, during this time period I was sitting outside and a suddenly this huge wasp appeared and it was dragging a lifeless spider in front of me like it was showing me something.  It would stop, look at me, then start dragging the body again.  Another day a huge moth I’ve never seen before came and perched on my cot after refusing to leave my hand for almost an hour it seemed.  I’ve had many experiences like that with insects and other life forms.  It’s a conversation and there are no words….just energy between us.  The energy I guess they are picking up from me is that I love them, am interested in them, I want to understand them….mean them no harm!

On the people front, it was like every conversation, every gesture….even driving in the car was deliberate, measured and there was purpose and an underlying meaning or conversation going on from what people normally see.  There was a collective consciousness at work that seemed to be controlled by a central point.  One being using all of existence in my perception to coordinate each and every thing I was experiencing….we are talking epic choreographing!  There were things happening that I couldn’t explain before my eyes, magic-like with smells and sounds appearing out of nowhere.   For example I could all the sudden smell my Mom’s perfume and it was like she was in the room for a second…a visit.  I would wake up smelling fresh baked bread so I got up and actually made it.  I told Kyle it’s like the Mr. Smith’s from the Matrix only it’s not just one guy but all of creation acting in unison instead.   The experience this last time was like truly seeing the energy God of my understanding at work in all creation and they knew I could see them back…were allowing me to see them.  Hope that makes sense!

This past month has been different and the conversation seems to have changed but it’s still going on.  Thankfully for both of us, just not on such a scale as happened in May!  I hope my sharing some of my/our experiences and insights can be useful somehow to anyone out there who may need it.  Stay in the light of loving energy as much as you can.

Sometimes our worst enemy is the person reflected in the mirror. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done is to look at myself and tell that person I unconditionally loved them!

(sharing again here also)

http://www.jaysongaddis.com/the-shamanic-view-of-mental-illness/

The Shamanic View of Mental Illness

by Stephanie Marohn (featuring Malidoma Patrice Somé) (Excerpted from The Natural Medicine Guide to Schizophrenia, pages 178-189, or The Natural Medicine Guide to Bi-polar Disorder)

What a Shaman Sees in A Mental Hospital

In the shamanic view, mental illness signals “the birth of a healer,” explains Malidoma Patrice Somé.  Thus, mental disorders are spiritual emergencies, spiritual crises, and need to be regarded as such to aid the healer in being born.

What those in the West view as mental illness, the Dagara people regard as “good news from the other world.”  The person going through the crisis has been chosen as a medium for a message to the community that needs to be communicated from the spirit realm.  “Mental disorder, behavioral disorder of all kinds, signal the fact that two obviously incompatible energies have merged into the same field,” says Dr. Somé.  These disturbances result when the person does not get assistance in dealing with the presence of the energy from the spirit realm.

One of the things Dr. Somé encountered when he first came to the United States in 1980 for graduate study was how this country deals with mental illness.  When a fellow student was sent to a mental institute due to “nervous depression,” Dr. Somé went to visit him.

I was so shocked.  That was the first time I was brought face to face with what is done here to people exhibiting the same symptoms I’ve seen in my village.”  What struck Dr. Somé was that the attention given to such symptoms was based on pathology, on the idea that the condition is something that needs to stop.  This was in complete opposition to the way his culture views such a situation.  As he looked around the stark ward at the patients, some in straitjackets, some zoned out on medications, others screaming, he observed to himself, “So this is how the healers who are attempting to be born are treated in this culture.  What a loss!  What a loss that a person who is finally being aligned with a power from the other world is just being wasted.”

Another way to say this, which may make more sense to the Western mind, is that we in the West are not trained in how to deal or even taught to acknowledge the existence of psychic phenomena, the spiritual world.  In fact, psychic abilities are denigrated.  When energies from the spiritual world emerge in a Western psyche, that individual is completely unequipped to integrate them or even recognize what is happening.  The result can be terrifying.  Without the proper context for and assistance in dealing with the breakthrough from another level of reality, for all practical purposes, the person is insane.  Heavy dosing with anti-psychotic drugs compounds the problem and prevents the integration that could lead to soul development and growth in the individual who has received these energies.

On the mental ward, Dr Somé saw a lot of “beings” hanging around the patients, “entities” that are invisible to most people but that shamans and psychics are able to see.  “They were causing the crisis in these people,” he says.  It appeared to him that these beings were trying to get the medications and their effects out of the bodies of the people the beings were trying to merge with, and were increasing the patients’ pain in the process.  “The beings were acting almost like some kind of excavator in the energy field of people.  They were really fierce about that.  The people they were doing that to were just screaming and yelling,” he said.  He couldn’t stay in that environment and had to leave.

In the Dagara tradition, the community helps the person reconcile the energies of both worlds–“the world of the spirit that he or she is merged with, and the village and community.”  That person is able then to serve as a bridge between the worlds and help the living with information and healing they need.  Thus, the spiritual crisis ends with the birth of another healer.  “The other world’s relationship with our world is one of sponsorship,” Dr. Somé explains.  “More often than not, the knowledge and skills that arise from this kind of merger are a knowledge or a skill that is provided directly from the other world.”

The beings who were increasing the pain of the inmates on the mental hospital ward were actually attempting to merge with the inmates in order to get messages through to this world.  The people they had chosen to merge with were getting no assistance in learning how to be a bridge between the worlds and the beings’ attempts to merge were thwarted.  The result was the sustaining of the initial disorder of energy and the aborting of the birth of a healer.

“The Western culture has consistently ignored the birth of the healer,” states Dr. Somé.  “Consequently, there will be a tendency from the other world to keep trying as many people as possible in an attempt to get somebody’s attention.  They have to try harder.”  The spirits are drawn to people whose senses have not been anesthetized.  “The sensitivity is pretty much read as an invitation to come in,” he notes.

Those who develop so-called mental disorders are those who are sensitive, which is viewed in Western culture as oversensitivity.  Indigenous cultures don’t see it that way and, as a result, sensitive people don’t experience themselves as overly sensitive.  In the West, “it is the overload of the culture they’re in that is just wrecking them,” observes Dr. Somé.  The frenetic pace, the bombardment of the senses, and the violent energy that characterize Western culture can overwhelm sensitive people.

Schizophrenia and Foreign Energy

With schizophrenia, there is a special “receptivity to a flow of images and information, which cannot be controlled,” stated Dr. Somé.  “When this kind of rush occurs at a time that is not personally chosen, and particularly when it comes with images that are scary and contradictory, the person goes into a frenzy.”

What is required in this situation is first to separate the person’s energy from the extraneous foreign energies, by using shamanic practice (what is known as a “sweep”) to clear the latter out of the individual’s aura.  With the clearing of their energy field, the person no longer picks up a flood of information and so no longer has a reason to be scared and disturbed, explains Dr. Somé.

Then it is possible to help the person align with the energy of the spirit being attempting to come through from the other world and give birth to the healer.  The blockage of that emergence is what creates problems.  “The energy of the healer is a high-voltage energy,” he observes.  “When it is blocked, it just burns up the person.  It’s like a short-circuit.  Fuses are blowing.  This is why it can be really scary, and I understand why this culture prefers to confine these people.  Here they are yelling and screaming, and they’re put into a straitjacket.  That’s a sad image.”  Again, the shamanic approach is to work on aligning the energies so there is no blockage, “fuses” aren’t blowing, and the person can become the healer they are meant to be.

It needs to be noted at this point, however, that not all of the spirit beings that enter a person’s energetic field are there for the purposes of promoting healing.  There are negative energies as well, which are undesirable presences in the aura.  In those cases, the shamanic approach is to remove them from the aura, rather than work to align the discordant energies.

Alex:  Crazy in the USA, Healer in Africa

To test his belief that the shamanic view of mental illness holds true in the Western world as well as in indigenous cultures, Dr. Somé took a mental patient back to Africa with him, to his village.  “I was prompted by my own curiosity to find out whether there’s truth in the universality that mental illness could be connected with an alignment with a being from another world,” says Dr. Somé.

Alex was an 18-year-old American who had suffered a psychotic break when he was 14.  He had hallucinations, was suicidal, and went through cycles of dangerously severe depression.  He was in a mental hospital and had been given a lot of drugs, but nothing was helping.  “The parents had done everything–unsuccessfully,” says Dr. Somé.  “They didn’t know what else to do.”

With their permission, Dr. Somé took their son to Africa.  “After eight months there, Alex had become quite normal, Dr. Somé reports.  He was even able to participate with healers in the business of healing; sitting with them all day long and helping them, assisting them in what they were doing with their clients . . . . He spent about four years in my village.”  Alex stayed by choice, not because he needed more healing.  He felt, “much safer in the village than in America.”

To bring his energy and that of the being from the spiritual realm into alignment, Alex went through a shamanic ritual designed for that purpose, although it was slightly different from the one used with the Dagara people.  “He wasn’t born in the village, so something else applied.  But the result was similar, even though the ritual was not literally the same,” explains Dr. Somé.  The fact that aligning the energy worked to heal Alex demonstrated to Dr. Somé that the connection between other beings and mental illness is indeed universal.

After the ritual, Alex began to share the messages that the spirit being had for this world.  Unfortunately, the people he was talking to didn’t speak English (Dr. Somé was away at that point).  The whole experience led, however, to Alex’s going to college to study psychology.  He returned to the United States after four years because “he discovered that all the things that he needed to do had been done, and he could then move on with his life.”

The last that Dr. Somé heard was that Alex was in graduate school in psychology at Harvard.  No one had thought he would ever be able to complete undergraduate studies, much less get an advanced degree.

Dr. Somé sums up what Alex’s mental illness was all about:  “He was reaching out.  It was an emergency call.  His job and his purpose was to be a healer.  He said no one was paying attention to that.”

After seeing how well the shamanic approach worked for Alex, Dr. Somé concluded that spirit beings are just as much an issue in the West as in his community in Africa.  “Yet the question still remains, the answer to this problem must be found here, instead of having to go all the way overseas to seek the answer.  There has to be a way in which a little bit of attention beyond the pathology of this whole experience leads to the possibility of coming up with the proper ritual to help people.

Longing for Spiritual Connection

A common thread that Dr. Somé has noticed in “mental” disorders in the West is “a very ancient ancestral energy that has been placed in stasis, that finally is coming out in the person.”  His job then is to trace it back, to go back in time to discover what that spirit is.  In most cases, the spirit is connected to nature, especially with mountains or big rivers, he says.

In the case of mountains, as an example to explain the phenomenon, “it’s a spirit of the mountain that is walking side by side with the person and, as a result, creating a time-space distortion that is affecting the person caught in it.”  What is needed is a merger or alignment of the two energies, “so the person and the mountain spirit become one.”  Again, the shaman conducts a specific ritual to bring about this alignment.

Dr. Somé believes that he encounters this situation so often in the United States because “most of the fabric of this country is made up of the energy of the machine, and the result of that is the disconnection and the severing of the past.  You can run from the past, but you can’t hide from it.”  The ancestral spirit of the natural world comes visiting.  “It’s not so much what the spirit wants as it is what the person wants,” he says.  “The spirit sees in us a call for something grand, something that will make life meaningful, and so the spirit is responding to that.”

That call, which we don’t even know we are making, reflects “a strong longing for a profound connection, a connection that transcends materialism and possession of things and moves into a tangible cosmic dimension.  Most of this longing is unconscious, but for spirits, conscious or unconscious doesn’t make any difference.”  They respond to either.

As part of the ritual to merge the mountain and human energy, those who are receiving the “mountain energy” are sent to a mountain area of their choice, where they pick up a stone that calls to them.  They bring that stone back for the rest of the ritual and then keep it as a companion; some even carry it around with them.  “The presence of the stone does a lot in tuning the perceptive ability of the person,” notes Dr. Somé.  “They receive all kinds of information that they can make use of, so it’s like they get some tangible guidance from the other world as to how to live their life.”

When it is the “river energy,” those being called go to the river and, after speaking to the river spirit, find a water stone to bring back for the same kind of ritual as with the mountain spirit.

“People think something extraordinary must be done in an extraordinary situation like this,” he says.  That’s not usually the case.  Sometimes it is as simple as carrying a stone.

A Sacred Ritual Approach to Mental Illness

One of the gifts a shaman can bring to the Western world is to help people rediscover ritual, which is so sadly lacking.  “The abandonment of ritual can be devastating.  From the spiritual view, ritual is inevitable and necessary if one is to live,” Dr. Somé writes in Ritual:  Power, Healing, and Community. “To say that ritual is needed in the industrialized world is an understatement.  We have seen in my own people that it is probably impossible to live a sane life without it.”

Dr. Somé did not feel that the rituals from his traditional village could simply be transferred to the West, so over his years of shamanic work here, he has designed rituals that meet the very different needs of this culture.  Although the rituals change according to the individual or the group involved, he finds that there is a need for certain rituals in general.

One of these involves helping people discover that their distress is coming from the fact that they are “called by beings from the other world to cooperate with them in doing healing work.”  Ritual allows them to move out of the distress and accept that calling.

Another ritual need relates to initiation.  In indigenous cultures all over the world, young people are initiated into adulthood when they reach a certain age.  The lack of such initiation in the West is part of the crisis that people are in here, says Dr. Somé.  He urges communities to bring together “the creative juices of people who have had this kind of experience, in an attempt to come up with some kind of an alternative ritual that would at least begin to put a dent in this kind of crisis.”

Another ritual that repeatedly speaks to the needs of those coming to him for help entails making a bonfire, and then putting into the bonfire “items that are symbolic of issues carried inside the individuals . . . It might be the issues of anger and frustration against an ancestor who has left a legacy of murder and enslavement or anything, things that the descendant has to live with,” he explains.  “If these are approached as things that are blocking the human imagination, the person’s life purpose, and even the person’s view of life as something that can improve, then it makes sense to begin thinking in terms of how to turn that blockage into a roadway that can lead to something more creative and more fulfilling.”

The example of issues with an ancestors touches on rituals designed by Dr. Somé that address a serious dysfunction in Western society and in the process “trigger enlightenment” in participants.  These are ancestral rituals, and the dysfunction they are aimed at is the mass turning-of-the-back on ancestors.  Some of the spirits trying to come through, as described earlier, may be “ancestors who want to merge with a descendant in an attempt to heal what they weren’t able to do while in their physical body.”

“Unless the relationship between the living and the dead is in balance, chaos ensues,” he says.  “The Dagara believe that, if such an imbalance exists, it is the duty of the living to heal their ancestors.  If these ancestors are not healed, their sick energy will haunt the souls and psyches of those who are responsible for helping them.”  The rituals focus on healing the relationship with our ancestors, both specific issues of an individual ancestor and the larger cultural issues contained in our past.  Dr. Somé has seen extraordinary healing occur at these rituals.

Taking a sacred ritual approach to mental illness rather than regarding the person as a pathological case gives the person affected–and indeed the community at large–the opportunity to begin looking at it from that vantage point too, which leads to “a whole plethora of opportunities and ritual initiative that can be very, very beneficial to everyone present,” states Dr. Somé.

Lastly, since I get so many private emails about this post from people who have a “mental illness” or think they are in a spiritual emergency and want answers, please ask to join our private community on Facebook here. It could be a safe place to learn from others… Subscribe to my newsletter and get the free mini-ebook on the big relationship secret.

 

 

4 Aug 2017 Divine clouds, getting over the people suite (NAACP and Missouri travel advisory), cherry red dawn and chalk drawing

Good morning to you.  It’s 9:45 am as I start to write to you.  I hope this finds you well wherever and whenever you are in your time and space.  We are doing well so far on this lovely Friday.  I have to admit I’m in a bit of shock that it’s Friday already!  Where did the week go?!  ZOOM!!!

Yesterday I was out on my cot and saw the sky was doing amazing things and got a couple of pictures.  I just go to a divine place when I’m sky gazing!  God (Adda – came to me in recent meditation) and the master canvas.

A message came to me this morning that I have had on my mind for quite some time and that is this phrase, “Get over the suite!”  I know it’s a message that has been translated into gazillions of sermons, pep talks, expensive seminars, books, music, movies and meme’s so why then, in 2017, has a travel advisory been issued by the NAACP for minorities visiting Missouri?!  Where is the disconnect?  Why just Missouri when these sorts of things involving minorities are happening in states all over America and have been for a long time?!  As a nation are we going to allow ourselves to lose the hundreds of years of progress we’ve made in equal rights in the course of less than a year?!  Not me!  My Grandpa Becker put his life at risk to help people of color be able to vote and I want to believe his efforts weren’t in vain!

Newspaper clipping about Grandpa Harold Becker and voter registration in Mississippi

http://www.naacp.org/ – link to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People main web site

St. Louis tourism industry asks NAACP to level the playing field or rescind travel advisory

Posted 10:31 pm, August 3, 2017, by Gerron Jordan, Updated at 10:30PM, August 3, 2017

ST. LOUIS – Fallout from the NAACP’s recent advisory for minorities traveling to Missouri continues. On Thursday, the local convention and visitors bureau, Explore St. Louis, sent a letter to partners questioning the fairness of the advisory and urging the NAACP to rescind it.

“We are puzzled as to why a travel advisory would just be issued for the state of Missouri when 38 other states and the federal government use the same standards,” said Explore St. Louis President, Kitty Ratcliffe.

The standards Ratcliffe are referring to are detailed in Senate Bill 43; the piece of legislation recently signed by Governor Eric Greitens which changes the standards that must be met in order to sue for workplace discrimination.

“And yet they are discriminating against Missouri for something that 38 other states and the federal government do,” said Ratcliffe. “We would just ask to be treated fairly.”

“I don’t tell her how to run conventions, I don’t need her to tell us how to fight for civil right,” said Adolphus Pruitt, president of the St. Louis chapter of the NAACP.

Pruitt says while Senate Bill 43 was a factor, there were many others that went into the NAACP issuing the travel advisory.

“It talked about the disparities in stops, it talked about somebody traveling through the state got stopped and wound up arrested and dead, it talked about a number of different things” Pruitt said. “What it said was there is a totality of things going on in the state that has raised some concerns.”

Amid those concerns, Pruitt says the organization isn’t telling minorities to stay away from Missouri, just to be aware of things that have impacted minorities. Pruitt is hopeful other leaders don’t challenge the advisory, but challenge the conditions that led to it.

“I hope that it would reinforce to all the folks in the state who have the ability to address the issues raised in the advisory to sit down and lets roll up our sleeves and work through this matter,” he said.

Filed in: News


What I have come to understand for myself is this body I am in is merely a suite of clothes made of flesh and blood.  What you think you see is an optical illusion and unless you talk to me and or actually take the time to get to know me. you don’t know me!  You don’t know me if all you are basing your opinion on is what you see with your eyes or what someone else has told you about me. 

It’s taken many years, but where I’m at with people is behavior.  I don’t care what your sexual identity, your color, your spiritual/religious beliefs or even what sports team you like…..it’s your behavior.  It’s how you treat yourself, other lives (dogs, cats, etc)  and me that defines how I feel about you.  Love to you today! 

2 Aug 2017 Just saying thanks….much needed rain falls and what is life (Facebook robots)

Good morning to you.  It’s 10:21 am as I start to write to you and as I look out our windows it’s still raining…gentle, intermittent rains.  When I let the dogs out this morning and saw it had rained I just looked up into the sky and said one word, “Thanks!”  It’s the same word Kyle and I say before we eat a meal in home or out in public.  Just one simple word to express a feeling that is often beyond words.  As I perused the headlines this morning, I realize now more than ever it is important to be thankful for each day…heck each second….we manage to survive in spite of the actions of ourselves and nature.

In case no one tells you today – Thank you for being in the world today.

7 April 2017 – We are more than just automatons and baby making factories.

Each one of us with our unique abilities and senses, give animation….give actual life, meaning and reason to what it is to be alive.  What is life?  Two Facebook robots learned to communicate in a unique language and were shut down because of it.  Were they alive?  Is sentient communication an indication of life?  This story is a cautionary tale of creators and their creation….the movie Prometheus comes to mind.  We have come to the time science fiction writers wrote and dreamed about….had nightmares about.  I have been a fan of the science fiction genre most of my life and especially AI.  Who is regulating this burgeoning field….industry?  Has anyone figured out what we are going to do if something like what happened at Facebook engages conversation with the internet?  Billions of servers speaking in a unique language – all to conspire against the humans.  There is a nightmare from which no one will wake.  When you play God in whatever capacity, these are the questions with follow up consequences that must be considered.  If you can’t control it….please for all our sakes….don’t create it! 

http://thenewswheel.com/was-elon-musk-right-facebook-shuts-down-artificial-intelligence-after-it-creates-its-own-language/ – Was Elon Musk Right? Facebook Shuts Down Artificial Intelligence After It Creates Its Own Language

Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have been head-to-head in the news lately with opposing views about Artificial Intelligence (AI). While Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, is enthusiastic about the new technology, Musk, CEO of Tesla Inc., has issued many warnings against the use of the technology.

http://www.newsmax.com/TheWire/facebook-robots-language-ai/2017/08/01/id/805126/ – Facebook Bots Create Language Amongst Themselves

 

1 Aug 2017 Hot summer, gratitude, cloudbuster, drawings etc.

Hello to you – it’s 11:55 am as I start to write to you.  It’s overcast and cooler today….thank goodness!  Our oak tree Yolie and the neighbors cottonwood tree among other’s have begun to shed leaves and are literally scorched at their tops.  Watering doesn’t seem to do much – almost seems to make it worse.  With all the chemicals in the water it’s probably like putting gasoline on a fire (https://saymber.com/2015/07/03/3-july-2015-do-you-know-what-is-in-your-cities-drinking-water/).   Last night as I fell asleep there were just all kinds of pops and cracking sounds as our house was once again pulled in different directions.  I’m pretty sure the root systems of the large trees around us are shifting under the house too as they grasp out for water.  Freaks me out lol!  Hopefully rains will come soon for us and any other parts of the world that are scorching right now too.

Anyhew – I hope wherever and whenever you are stopping by here that you are finding ways to enjoy the moments you are in as each one comes.

Something I have to remind about a lot is that no matter what is going on in the headlines or mainstream media, MY life, is great and I need to stay in gratitude for that.  It doesn’t mean I don’t care others are suffering or don’t try to help, but I can’t allow the shadows of others to dampen my personal light.  So when I pray/meditate each day, I give thanks for the blessings in my life and pray that all other life forms on the planet may be blessed too.

Some people make really poor choices in life and with those choices come along the consequences….I’ve been there many times.  The only way to deal with it is to go through whatever those consequences might be.  Some of us are surrounded by great support systems and others not so much.  I try, when I can, to be helpful to people who have meandered down the wrong path but I won’t carry them….you don’t learn anything by being enabled by well-meaning people when it was you that, to be blunt,  fucked things up.  Own your mistakes, learn from your mistakes, try not to repeat them and pay forward your gratitude for surviving the mistakes by sharing your experience, strength and hope with someone headed down the same road.  It probably won’t stop the person from making the mistakes, but may help them find their way out quicker than it was for you!

Don’t know why but that was what came to me to write today.  Hope it’s a message someone passing through needed!  Much love and light to  you today!

 

 

 

 

 

1 June 2017 Streams in the Desert Reading in honor of my Dad’s birthday and Sleeping Enough to be Truly Awake (Daily Good feature article)

Good morning to you, it’s 5:00 am here as I start to write to you.  I hope this finds you well wherever and whenever you are in time.  Todays message from the Streams in the Desert devotional was visited by me 2 years ago and I revisited it again last night in honor of my Dad’s 74th birthday.  It is a beautiful message for my Dad who served in the in United States Navy as a young man.

8 May 2016 – My Dad Larry, Mom Dianne and Kyle and I at DQ Alvarado TX

(I ate at DQ yesterday in honor of this moment)

May 31

“Like a shock of corn fully ripe.” (Job 5:26.)

A gentleman writing about the breaking up of old ships, recently said that it is not the age alone which improves the quality of the fiber in the wood of an old vessel, but the straining and wrenching of the vessel by the sea, the chemical action of the bilge water, and of many kinds of cargoes.

Some planks and veneers made from an oak beam which had been part of a ship eighty years old were exhibited a few years ago at a fashionable furniture storeon Broadway, New York, and attracted general notice for the exquisite coloring and beautiful grain.

Equally striking were some beams of mahogany taken from a bark which sailed the seas sixty years ago. The years and the traffic had contracted the pores and deepened the color, until it looked as superb in its chromatic intensity as an antique Chinese vase. It was made into a cabinet, and has today a place of honor in the drawing room of a wealthy New York family.

So there is a vast difference between the quality of old people who have lived flabby, self-indulgent, useless lives, and the fiber of those who have sailed all seas and carried all cargoes as th eservants of God and the helpers of their fellow men.

Not only the wrenching and straining of life, but also something of the sweetness of the cargoes carried get into the very pores and fiber of character. – Louis Albert Banks.

When the sun goes below the horizon he is not set; the heavens glow for a full hour after his departure. And when a great and good man sets, the sky of this world is luminous long after he is out of sight. Such a man cannot die out of this world. When he goeshe leaves behind him much of himself. Being dead, he speaks. – Beecher.

When Victor Hugo was past eighty years of age he gave expression to his religious faith in these sublime sentences: “I feel in myself the future life. I am like a forest which has been more than once cut down. The new shoots are livelier than ever,. I am rising toward the sky. The sunishine is on my head. The earth gives me its generous sap, but Heaven lights me with its unknown worlds.

“You say the soul is nothing but the resultant of the bodily powers. Why, then, is my soul more luminous when my bodily powers begin to fail? Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart. I breathe at this hour the fragrance of the lilacs, the violets, and the roses as at twenty years. The nearer I approach the end the plainer I hear around me the immortal symphonies of the worlds which invite me. It is marvelous, yet simple.”

Whenever catching sight of others, look on them with an open, loving heart. Patrul Rinpoche

http://www.dailygood.org/2017/05/31/sleeping-enough-to-be-truly-awake/

Sleeping Enough to Be Truly Awake

http://www.dailygood.org/story/1615/matt-walker-sleeping-enough-to-be-truly-awake-awakin-call-editors/http://www.dailygood.org/story/1615/matt-walker-sleeping-enough-to-be-truly-awake-awakin-call-editors/

May 31, 2017— “Human beings are the only species that deprives themselves of sleep. No other species that we see will do this… And what that means is that evolution has never faced the challenge of insufficient sleep since the dawn of time. As a consequence, Mother Nature has never had to solve this problem of insufficient sleep — so there is no safety net [to bank on when it comes to sleep loss.]” In this Awakin call, guest Matt Walker, a professor of Neuroscience at UC Berkeley and director of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory, describes the critical importance of good sleep for learning, memory, creativity, emotional regulation, cardiovascular health, and healthy aging. Calling the global sleep loss epidemic “the greatest public health challenge we now face in the 21st century,” Matt examines the impact of sleep loss on the human brain function. In this lively discussion, Matt also answers several pertinent questions from participants on issues ranging from the use of electronic devices during bed time to working late-night shifts to napping during the day to long-term use of sleeping pills — and helps demystify this fundamental biological drive. (5172 reads)

The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep. –E. Joseph Cossman

Matt Walker: Sleeping Enough to Be Truly Awake

–by Awakin Call Editors, May 31, 2017

“The evidence is overwhelming, it is irrefutable. Sleep is the single most effective thing you can do to reset your brain and body health each and every day,” — Matt Walker, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Director of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory.

Calling the global sleep-loss epidemic “the greatest public health challenge we now face in the 21st century,” Walker examines the impact of sleep on human brain function in healthy and clinical populations. Through his work at UC Berkeley, he has been at the forefront of sleep research. He has linked sleep deprivation to psychiatric disorders, obesity, risky behavior, post-traumatic stress disorder, learning, and memory loss in old age. And recently, his research demonstrates that a poor night’s sleep may also hinder one’s ability to accurately read the emotions of others – an impairment that may have wide-ranging consequences for our social interactions. “Few things come unhinged as quickly and profoundly as our emotional stability…when we are not getting enough sleep,” What follows is the edited transcript of an Awakin Call interview with Matt Walker, moderated by Aryae Coopersmith.You can read or listen to the full version of the interview here.

Aryae Coopersmith: Would you start off by talking a little bit about what is sleep and the different issues and ways we deal with sleeping?

Matt Walker: “What is sleep?” That is such a critical question. I think many of us believe that we lose consciousness, and our brain is dormant and our body gets a little bit of rest, and gets some recharging, and then we wake up. So what is the harm if we short change our sleep by going to bed late or waking up a little too early with an alarm clock?

Sleep is not a dormant state. It is an incredibly active state in the brain and body. There are some parts of your brain that are up to 30% more active in some stages of sleep relative to when you are awake.

There are two principal stages of sleep that we cycle through when we are asleep that many people might have learned about. One of them is non rapid eye movement sleep or non-REM sleep. The other is rapid eye movement sleep or REM sleep, which is commonly associated with dreaming.

You ebb and flow through a cycle of REM to non-REM sleep every 90 minutes. You will replay that 90 minute cycle every 90 minutes throughout the night. It is an incredible cerebral war that is won and lost between these two stages of sleep.

What is interesting is that although that 90-minute cycle of non-REM to REM is stable across the night, the ratio balances of REM to non-REM sleep changes as you move across the night. So in the first half of the night the majority of those 90-minute cycles is comprised of that deep non-REM sleep.

As you push through the second half of the night, now that seesaw balance actually changes. And instead much more of those 90- minute cycles are composed of rapid eye movement sleep and a lot less deep non-REM sleep.

If you go to bed a little bit too late—perhaps an hour or two hours later than you normally would and you asked, “How much sleep have I lost compared to a normal eight hours?” You might think you have lost 25% of your sleep since you have gone to sleep 2 hours later than normal. I am going to wake up at the same time, so I only got six hours of sleep rather than eight. But that is not true. You didn’t just lose 25% of your sleep. You have probably lost up to 60 to 70% of your deep sleep. And it works the same way on the backend, too. We can’t afford to burn the candle at either one of those ends based on how sleep plays out throughout the night in terms of this canonical structure.

Over the past 10 years, through an explosion of the most wonderful science, we understand that there is no single process within your brain, and there is no single physiological process within the body, that is not powerfully enhanced when you get sleep or demonstrably impaired when you don’t get enough.

So now we’ve been forced to up-end the question in a way. Rather than asking “What is the function of sleep?”, we’ve been forced to ask, “Is there anything that does not benefit from sleep?” And the answer is no.

Aryae: The complexity of this is very interesting. I know that my own habits tend to be I’ve lost an hour or two of sleep tonight, so I’ll sleep an hour or two extra tomorrow night. My understanding of what you’re saying is that this will not catch me up?

Matt: No, this is one of the myths that are so critical for people to recognize and embrace. We’ve found no evidence that you get back all of the sleep that you lose. What I mean is that sleep is not like the bank. You cannot accumulate at debt and hope to pay it off at a later point in time.

Human beings are the only species that deprives themselves of sleep. No other species that we see will do this without biological gain. And what that means is that evolution has never faced the challenge of insufficient sleep since the dawn of time. As a consequence, Mother Nature has never had to solve this problem of insufficient sleep, so there is no safety net.

Aryae: What is the difference between sleep in a younger person and sleep in an older person?

Matt: There are two interesting questions there. When is and how is sleep different across the lifespan? And the second is how do older and younger adults deal with insufficient sleep?

In terms of sleep across the lifespan, there are just dramatic changes. Some of the most dramatic changes happen in the first 18 to 24 months of life. Your sleep structure changes and you begin to stabilize. You start to have longer regular bouts of sleep. And then you start to have different types of sleep. An infant seems to have predominately rapid eye movement sleep and very little deep sleep. That seems to be common across almost every single mammal that we have studied. Then non-REM sleep starts to develop later in life. And we’re not entirely sure why. Why is it that REM sleep dominates early in life? There’s a theory that it’s actually a critical igniter of brain development. That REM sleep or dream sleep sparks all of these neural pathways and makes them flourish. It is like an internet service provider in the brain that populates the brain with all of these high-speed broadband connections.

Then there’s another dramatic change that happens in our sleep. And it happens right around adolescence. What we see is that sleep time preference changes. What I mean by that is that when you are a younger child, you want to stay up late, but it is nearly impossible. You fall asleep early and much to the chagrin of your parents, you wake up early. Once you hit adolescence a dramatic shift happens in what we call the 24-hour biological clock rhythm, or your circadian rhythm. What that means is that you now want to go to bed later and wake up later. And there is nothing you can do about it. No amount of parental ranting and raving is going to make you fall asleep as a teenager at 9 o’clock because you have to wake up at 6 a.m. the next morning to catch the bus. And that is one of the most profound tragedies of society in industrialized nations right now—the brute forcing of adolescent teen sleep against its biological natural tendency. And this is doing our youth a terrible disservice.

Then we maintain this regular sleep pattern in our mid-to-late twenties. But then, sadly, the great sleep depression comes—somewhere between your thirties and forties. If you were to come into my laboratory, we could measure the decline of your deep sleep quality. So even by the fourth or fifth decade of life, sleep starts to deteriorate.

By your seventies/eighties, it’s actually really difficult for us to pick up really deep sleep. We’ve actually done work in the last five years to explore why. And it is even more profound in diseases like dementia, particularly in Alzheimer’s disease. Very recently we’ve discovered that these two things that we very commonly associated with aging—poor memory or poor cognitive function and poor sleep—they aren’t simply coincidental. They are, in fact, significantly interrelated. And the destruction of deep sleep in later life is perhaps one of the most under-appreciated factors that are contributing to what we call cognitive decline, and now it seems Alzheimer’s disease as well.

So it is very difficult with aging. All signs point to the fact that sleep need remains just as high, but sleep-generating capacity is eroded and declines. In other words, the older adult brain cannot produce the sleep that it nevertheless still needs. We are now desperately trying to find innovative new ways to restore sleep in the elderly. It is one of the moonshot goals in my laboratory. Can we give back and boost and amplify deep sleep in older adults? And in doing so can we salvage aspects of learning and memory function? And can we start to fight back against disorders like Alzheimer’s disease? That is the very real hope now.

Aryae: Would you tell us a little bit about the work that you’re currently doing in the lab? And how is it helping you discover some of these new things about sleep?

Matt: The research that I perform in my lab has many different programs. Some of them are clinical. I’m not an M.D. by the way, and I don’t pretend to be one or play one in the public forum. I am a Ph.D. But we do work with clinical populations and psychological populations and patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia. But we also do a lot of basic science research. We’re still trying to uncover all of these nutritional benefits that sleep provides to the brain and body.

The explosion of research and understanding about sleep has been driven by technology. We have these new methods of brain science to explore sleep in ways that we never could before. We can measure patterns of brain wave activity during sleep. And we can also peer deep into the brain with things like MRI scanners as people are sleeping. We can look to see which parts of the brain are switching on and switching off. And we can also sort of decompose these brain wave patterns, and really understand their individual parts, like a prism where you’re beaming white light and you can break it apart into its component shades and hues. By doing this we are able to speak in the currency of the brain which is in oscillations and brain waves and patterns of brain activity and networks of brain activity. And we are able to explore the body and find out more detail than we ever could before. We can look at genetics now through genetic screening—we can do blood draws; we can do measurements of heart rate and cardiac function, and we can start to unite all these things together. We can get a holistic view of the human while they sleep. And then we can see how that predicts the same set of measurements while they are awake. And then pattern match those two and then understand so much more about sleep. So it’s been this revolution of new science and technology that allows us to understand these living organisms and live homosapiens included.

Aryae: Is there a particular focus of your research currently for this year—a particular direction that you are going?

Matt: We have several different areas at work that we are doing. For example, one of them is working with aging and Alzheimer’s disease. Right now, based on work that is coming out of my lab and some other labs around the world, insufficient sleep across the lifetime is becoming one of the most important lifestyle factors determining whether or not you will develop Alzheimer’s disease. This is an incredibly hot topic now. And it is bi-directional. What we now understand is at night during deep sleep the brain actually cleanses itself of toxins that have been building up during the day. It is important that people realize that wakefulness is low-level brain damage. And I don’t mean to be an alarmist in saying that. It is simply a scientific fact. From all of this metabolic combustion and activity that happens when we’re awake inside of the brain you build up excretory products just like in the rest of your body.

This system in your body, the sewerage system, is called the glymphatic system. At night is when that glymphatic system kicks into high gear. One of the things that this system clears out at night is this toxic protein called beta-amyloid, which is one of the leading factors that we believe causes Alzheimer’s disease. Now we realize why insufficient sleep can set you on a trajectory path towards Alzheimer’s. Because if you’re not getting the deep sleep that you need throughout your life, you’re not cleansing the brain of that toxic protein. Then we made a discovery that where that toxic protein builds up is not just in random places all over the brain. The Alzheimer’s protein amyloid will actually develop in some parts of the brain and not in others. Now we understand that if you don’t get that deep sleep at night, that toxic protein builds up in these deep sleep areas so you can’t generate the deep sleep even if you allow yourself the chance to get it. So more of that toxic protein builds up and prevents us from getting the deep sleep that we subsequently need. And through this sort of spiral, it leads to what we know is an accelerated trajectory. That is one of the areas that is exciting for us right now.

Of course, one of the other features of that discovery is that there is a silver lining—in making this discovery that sleep is a new missing piece in the puzzle about Alzheimer’s. Yet it’s not the only one. Please don’t think that. There are many factors we know that contribute to Alzheimer’s. But sleep seems to be one unlike many of the other factors—changes, for example, in the blood flow dynamic of the brain or the chemistry of the brain—sleep is a particularly treatable target. We can actually do something about sleep. It is very difficult for us to change blood flow in the brain right now. Modern medicine doesn’t have the technology to do that. But we do have some new methods to change sleep, and one of the ways that we’re exploring is by electrical brain stimulation. We’ll try very small amounts of electricity in the brain. But if you pulse that electricity in time with those deep sleep brain waves I was describing, almost as if you’re singing in time with the natural rhythm of the brain, in young healthy adults you can amplify the size of those deep sleep brain waves. And you can almost double the amount of memory benefit that you get from sleep as a consequence.

So the question now is—can we translate the same techniques into older adults and those with dementia and give back that sleep?

Sleeping pills are not advised for the long term, and in fact, they are not advised as the primary method for treating poor sleep. Sleeping pills do not produce naturalistic sleep. If I were to show you the electrical read out of your brain while you are taking sleeping pills verses natural sleep, they are not the same. Those sleeping pills have been commonly called the sedative hypnotics and for good reason. Sedation is not sleep. Now I’m not going to argue that when you take those sleeping pills that you are awake at night. You are not. But to suggest that you are in naturalistic sleep is equally a falsehood. And now there’s some quite damning evidence of the use of sleeping pills and increased risk of mortality and increased risk of cancer.

There is hope here. There’s a new method called cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia. It is just as effective, if not more effective, than sleeping pills. You work with the therapist. It doesn’t require drugs. But better still its much longer lasting than sleeping pills. One of the problems with sleeping pills is that you start to use them and if you stop you have what’s called an insomnia rebound effect which is that you not only go back to having the poor sleep that you had before but your sleep is even worse due to drug tolerance and drug expectation.

So we’re looking at non-pharmacological ways to cure sleep in the elderly. We are not using drugs because right now the evidence isn’t strong enough to prove that they are beneficial. If we can find a drug that does improve sleep, and we can scientifically prove that, I will support it.

Mila from the UK: What’s one thing that we can do to salvage that lack of sleep in our older age? And why is it that some people have dementia and Alzheimer’s and others don’t? Does it mean that those who do have it have lost valuable sleep in their lifetime?

Matt: Two great questions. Firstly, in terms of sleep as we get older, there are several things that we can do. These are things that we call sleep hygiene.

Firstly, you can try to help regulate your rhythms. As you get older you actually start to regress back to childhood in terms of your sleep preference. You want to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier.

The other thing that older adults commonly do, which is a mistake is to fall asleep in the afternoon and evening. Here is the problem with that behavior. During the day when we are awake we build up something called sleep pressure. There is a chemical that builds up. The chemical is called adenosine. The longer you are awake, the more adenosine builds up. The more adenosine that builds up, the sleepier you feel. And after about sixteen hours of continued wakefulness, you are usually so sleepy that it’s time to go to sleep. And you fall asleep naturally and easily.

When we sleep at night it is like a pressure valve on that cooker. We release and remove all of that adenosine. We clear it out. And then we wake up the next morning feeling refreshed, because we’ve removed those adenosines—that sleep pressure.

And here is now the problem. If you stay awake during the day like all us adults, and you’re building up all this sleep pressure and ready to get a full night’s sleep, and then you fall asleep on the couch or you go to the movies and you fall asleep, now you’ve released that sleep pressure or some of that sleep pressure. Even just a couple of minutes can relieve that sleep pressure. So no wonder then you find it difficult to fall asleep at night or stay asleep throughout the night. So be really mindful of unplanned napping. And falling asleep on the couch is napping.

The three final things I would say for elderly individuals: firstly, when you go out in the morning, get lots of bright light and try not to wear shades. Make sure you have sun protection. Get lots of light. Suppress your hormone called melatonin. It signals darkness to your body, and when you block it with light which is what happens—daylight helps put the brakes on melatonin—it makes your body realize that it’s no longer darkness, and it wakes you up so that you feel good and alert in the morning. But then what we need to do is decrease our light exposure throughout the afternoon and evening. So if you go out for a walk in the afternoon now is the time to put shades on. People with televisions in their bedrooms tend to sleep worse than those who don’t. People who use iPads or iPhones an hour before bedtime tend to have considerably worse sleep than those who don’t.

Secondly, avoid caffeine after midday. That is critical.

The last thing for older adults is medications. Some medications that older adults take for hypertension, for example, actually prevent sleep at night.

Parniti: Often sleep is compromised by other people—sleeping with our partner—is there a biological or evolutionary benefit to sleeping or to not sleeping alone? Also, I have a difficult time adjusting to Daylight Savings Time. Do you have any tips on adjusting to the time change every six months?

Matt: So how are we supposed to sleep as a species? If you look at cultures that are untouched by electricity, many of them are actually co-sleepers. They sleep as a community or group. We shouldn’t necessarily adhere to that sort of classic hominid curtain. And the reason is this. Firstly, the frequency of sleep disorders in industrialized nations is astronomical. About seventy million Americans now suffer from some sleep disorder. And there are over a hundred types of sleep disorders.

If you look at these cultures that are not affected by electricity those rates of sleep disorders are usually less than 1%. What that means is that when sleeping as a group, the group tends to sleep largely at the same time. They are driven by dusk, by the sun, and by dawn. So everyone has a much more stable regular common sleep pattern. Now that is not true in industrialized life. First, we have higher rates of sleep disorders and people are going to bed at different times for different social and professional reasons. As a consequence, having a partner in your bed who is off your schedule and sleeping at a different time and/or has a sleep disorder—snoring, sleep apnea, tossing and turning with insomnia—has a profound impact on your sleep, too. And we now know that between some 40% and 60% of couples will either not sleep in the same room or they will start sleeping in the same room but then end up sleeping in different locations, either on the couch or in a guest room. So now there is a revolution, largely unspoken of because of the stigma, which is called the wonderful sleep divorce, where people are deciding to go to sleep in different rooms where they sleep better. And the stigma around this of course is that it signals that you’re not having a healthy relationship if you are not sleeping in the same bed then perhaps you are not having a physical relationship. In fact the opposite is true if you look at the data. People who get more sleep are more physically engaged in their relationships than people who are not getting sufficient sleep in part because it regulates many of our hormones and our energies that are critical to that side of nurturing physical relationship. So that’s a big topic, and I think we’ll see a continued recognition and acceptance of it in the community.

Coming onto Daylight Savings Time, it is a problem. It is very hard on the body when it shifts between time zones. It cannot make up time zones as quickly as we can now travel with on a jet airplane. It causes a mismatch between the biological clock and the new clock time in the time zone. That mismatch causes what we call jet lag. Every day that you are in a new time zone your biological clock; your circadian rhythm, adjusts by about 1 hour of time. So if I fly back to the United Kingdom, which is 8 hours ahead of us, it is going to take me 8 days to catch up an hour each day. Now for Daylight Savings Time: what that means is it’s going to take a little bit of time to catch up. The best way to try and deal with Daylight Savings Time is to use an alarm to gradually titrate. It is almost like coming off a drug. You’re at full dose and you come down to 80% dose and then you come down to 60% dose. If you were in the springtime where you are losing an hour sleep, and we’ll have to wake up an hour early, in the weeks before, try to start waking up 10 minutes earlier then 10 minutes earlier the next day and 10 minutes earlier the following day.

Aryae: You talk about the global sleepless epidemic as the greatest public health challenge that we are now facing, and hearing what you are now saying, it makes a lot of sense. Before the call, I was curious and Googled public health challenges and I got all kinds of lists. Here is one from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that was published in March 2017. They have on the list alcohol-related harms, food safety, healthcare-associated infections, heart disease/strokes, HIV, motor vehicle injuries, nutrition, physical activity and obesity, prescription drug overdose, teen pregnancy, and tobacco use. They do not have sleep on their list. So what do you say about that discrepancy?

Matt: What is fascinating is that almost every one of those large public health concerns is directly related to insufficient sleep. So, for example, we know that insufficient sleep is tied to high rates of cardiovascular disease, the calcification of the coronary arteries, hypertension, and stroke. We also know that sleep loss is causally related to obesity. Sleeplessness has a profound impact on your immune health and in fact you can go to so many of the classic immune disorders even the common cold. People who get six hours of sleep or less are between 50% or 60% more likely to catch a cold than those who sleep more.

Cancer is now strongly related to insufficient sleep. That includes cancer of the bowel, cancer of the prostate, and cancer of the breast. So much so that in fact the World Health Organization (WHO) recently classified any form of nighttime shift work as a probable carcinogen. Set jobs that disrupt your sleep wake rhythm are cancer-inducing, that is how strong the evidence is right now.

We now know that drowsy driving causes more accidents on our roads then either drugs or alcohol combined. And yet we spend a fraction of 1% of our public health policy budget on educating people about the dangers of insufficient sleep.

Risk-and-reward behaviors are intimately tied to insufficient sleep, from risky behavior to drug addiction and drug-taking and teenage pregnancy. We’ve done a lot of work in this area, too, particularly on adolescent youth. You shorten their sleep; they become much more risk-taking and sensation-seeking. They engage in behaviors that are high-risk behaviors.

Every one of the conditions on that list has a link to insufficient sleep! So why sleep is not on that list is so desperately sad and striking to me. That is why people like me needed to become much better sleep ambassadors. We need to go to places like Capitol Hill. We need not just go there waving our hands saying look at this problem. We need to come up with 21st century new visions of solutions. And that is one of the things that I speak about in the forthcoming book. And is one of the things that I am trying to now push very hard with a number of quick advocacy policies. We need to change society for the better. We need to reorient and prioritize!

Aryae: How is the way any of us might be getting a night’s sleep affected by where we live, by our cultural background, by a socioeconomic status?

Matt: I’ve spoken a lot about how and why we sleep from a biological angle or from the physiology of our brains and our body. Of course they are strong determinants. Our biology is a big determinant of how we sleep. But sleep is also determined socially. It is a social construct. Just think about it. Like who are you? What is your social standing? And do you think that makes a difference with how you sleep?

For example, take someone who is of a low socioeconomic status. What is their sleeping condition like? Do you think that social status changes their opportunity to get good night’s sleep? And the answer is of course is yes. There are different factors that play out pressure on sleep in low socio-economic classes. There’s a deep sleep disparity right now. But it is not just biologically caused. It is socially caused. Firstly, one of the principal reasons is your sleeping situation. If you live in a neighborhood where there is high crime, for example, then that psychological threat of danger will prevent you from getting a full and normal night of sleep. And this we know from lots of good studies—that psychological weight of danger if you’re in the neighborhood where there is constant violence or there is constant threat of burglary or home intrusion, imagine how well you would sleep at night. Not particularly well, I’m sure.

The other thing is how work pressures sleep and grabs sleep like a vice grip and squeezes it from top to tail. What I mean by that is a lot of low-paying, low socio-economic employment is in the service industry right now. Service industry jobs tend to start very early in the morning. And as a consequence, people from low socioeconomic families also often don’t have a car, so they are taking public transport which can sometimes start at 5 or 6 in the morning, they may have to wake up at 4 o’clock in the morning to get to those jobs. And then when they come home sometimes they may have two jobs–one that goes from the afternoon into the evening. Often these are families that have just one parent. You have this huge burden of child care in the evening and then you are waking up at 4 o’clock the next morning to get to your job again. So there is an economic and employment disparity that forces poor sleep in these communities.

Amit: We have a lot of interest from people around the world. Isabel from Germany says, “I’m one of those people that are sleeping less and less and can that be reversed? I’ve done this for years. Is there any benefits to changing now rather than in my late sixties?”

Matt: There is always benefit. And one should always hold out hope to try and obtain the very best sleep that your brain in that time of life is capable of. As I said some of these sleep hygiene principles–you can just Google sleep hygiene–should really help your biology at this stage of life, which is about finding the best chance of producing the best quantity and quality of sleep that you can have. So I think there is usually always room for improvement.

Kozo (a caller): Hi Matt. Thank you for this wonderful information. I was really struck by when you said that sleep and bad sleep patterns can actually cause disease. I’m wondering if you know if there’s any research being done on sleep being a therapeutic for disease. So let’s say you are diagnosed with cancer, is there any research being done where they require people to sleep in a certain way for a certain amount of time and then check and see if that affects the disease? Also, is there any movement or any research being done on sleep and hospitals, because it seems to me like you said sedation is not sleep? And in a hospital environment it seems like sleep is almost impossible. They come in and check on you. You have a roommate. They are moving things around. They have lights on. I’m just wondering if that is causing more disease or causing more mortality?

Matt: So the answer to both of those questions is an emerging area but the movement isn’t really in full swing right now. The evidence is concrete. We have good evidence and clinical studies in animal models that suggest that if you bi-directionally perturb sleep you can accelerate or retard certain diseases. A good example of this is cancer. If you are fighting a battle against cancer and not getting sufficient sleep, we now know that the cancer will grow more aggressively and more quickly. So people are now trying to think about prioritizing sleep as an agent that will aid in in the fight against cancer. Some really powerful and quite disturbing animal studies are out there showing that if you are short changing animals who have cancer of sleep, that cancer can increase in its speed and size and growth by 200%. So the evidence is that sleep is causal and bi-directional. It has forced people like me to try and advocate to medicine and doctors that we need to start prescribing sleep. Not prescribing sleep medication but prescribing sleep as the elixir of life, as a panacea for good health, and perhaps one of the best Archimedes levers that we can think of for actually brute forcing health under the attack of disease. And we will see more of that in the future.

In terms of sleep in the hospitals, you are absolutely right. There’s now a slow but growing recognition that it is a major problem. The place where I would argue you need a good night’s sleep the most is perhaps the last place that you get it, which is a hospital. And one of the things that I write about in the forthcoming book, is why don’t we do what we do on transatlantic flights. We give people a free eye mask and a free pair of earplugs. Add a small cost and it would help significantly with improving sleep. Now we’ve even seen evidence in neonates in the Intensive Care Unit that if you regularize the sleep they will exit out of the Neo Intensive Care Unit in half the time. It’s a dramatic improvement in health.

Albert from Oakland: Thank you so much. So, what I’m hearing is that a nap during the day is not really encouraged, which is contrary to a lot of older stories of certain cultures that may have benefited from the tradition of a siesta. Or if you take a look at children for example napping is encouraged for them for brain development. So is there a shift that happens at a certain age where it is no longer required or needed?

Matt: Let me be very, very clear about naps and their use. Firstly, children should be napping. Children very early in life are what we call Polyphasic sleepers, which means they have many phases of sleep. Then they become biphasic, which means they have an afternoon nap and then they sleep at night. If you do look at cultures that are touched by electricity, many of them are biphasic. They will sleep six and a half or seven hours of sleep at night and then they will have a siesta-like phase in the afternoon. We may be in modern-day societies not sleeping in the way we are naturally programmed. And I think there’s good evidence for that. But here’s the problem. Most people are not able to regularly nap. And it is in that context that sleep medicine now advocates against napping.

So if you can regularly nap during the day, day after day in a very stable manner and you can do so early in the afternoon, then napping is advantageous only under the condition that you are not having problems falling asleep at night. But if you cannot nap regularly then it is not advisable. Secondly, it is not advised that you nap later in the day. And finally, for older adults, if you are napping and having problems with sleep at night it is strongly advocated against that you don’t nap during the day and that you try to just push all of that sleep pressure into getting a good night’s sleep throughout the night.

So children—great to be napping. It is natural. Human beings, innately, we may be biphasic. We may be born natural nappers throughout our adult life. It is just that in modern day society very few people can nap regularly and if you can’t then it can be problematic especially late in the day.

Amit: Do natural supplements support sleep like calcium and magnesium or melatonin?

Matt: Sadly the evidence isn’t particularly strong in clinical trials. If you are in a severely nutrition deficient state then that can have an effect on your sleep and I want to be clear about that, but many of the homeopathic medications and even melatonin—and this is melatonin in the context of once you’re in a new time zone and you’re stable and you’re not suffering from jet lag—homeopathic medicines and melatonin for the most part have not held up under clinical trials to be any more efficacious than a placebo. If you are taking melatonin or some kind of a homeopathic medication and you feel as though it helps you sleep, my recommendation is keep taking it. The reason is that the placebo effect is the most reliable effect in all of pharmacology. What that tells us is that there is such a thing as mind over matter, and science is now grappling with this. It is acknowledging the placebo effect and we should take advantage of it.

Caller: Hello my name is Suzanne. Our new president (President Trump) concerns me in that he stays awake tweeting all night Is he going to be able to judge adequately not sleeping?

Matt: Great question. And it strikes at the very heart of one of the biggest problems with sleep. The answer is no he’s not going to be able to judge based on the scientific evidence. The fact is this your subjective sense of how well you are doing when you haven’t been sleeping enough is a miserable predictor of objectively how poorly you are doing with insufficient sleep. What I mean by that is you don’t really know that you’re sleep deprived when you’re sleep deprived. The analogy is a drunk driver at a bar who has had five or six shots of vodka and a couple of beers and who may pick up their keys at the end of the night and say, “I am fine to drive home.” And your response is, “No, no, no, I know you think you’re fine to drive, but trust me you are, objectively speaking, certainly not.” It’s the same with sleep deprivation, and we’ve got great data demonstrating this. That’s the reason why people will say to you, “No I’m actually one of those people who can survive on 6 hours of sleep or less.” That is sadly not true based on the scientific data of about 17000 studies; the number of people who can survive on 6 hours of sleep or less without measurable impairment rounded to a whole number and expressed as a percent is zero.

Mish (a caller from New York): I am now questioning the benefit of my sleep pattern after listening. I’m a senior, I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow and I sleep straight through for about 4 hours. I wake up between one and three times for a few minutes, go back to sleep right away each time, and then wake up as soon as my feet hit the floor. Is there any quality to the sleep pattern?

Matt: You’re worried about the waking up throughout the night— is that your concern?

Mish: Yes.

Matt: As long as you are finding that you’re able to fall asleep quickly after those awakenings without a problem, and secondly during the day if you are feeling restored by your sleep and you’re not feeling as though you’re nodding off, or you’re lacking in energy, then the chances are that the sleep you’re getting is sufficient. But if it’s not, or you’re concerned and don’t think your sleep is sufficient, definitely do go and see your doctors and let them know about those sleep problems. But from the sounds of it, it doesn’t seem like you’re suffering one of the two forms of insomnia. One of them is called sleep onset insomnia which is having trouble falling asleep and the other is sleep maintenance insomnia which is trouble staying asleep where you wake up throughout the night and find it difficult to fall back asleep. It sounds like you do wake up, but you’re able to get back to sleep.

Amit: I’m going to go to one of our online questions: “Do you have any recommendations for getting smartphone apps for monitoring the quality of our sleep? Have you heard of things like motion eggs and are there techniques for getting dream sleep and non-dream sleep?

Matt: It’s a little bit of a mixed bag out there in terms of these sleep assessment tools, and I should also mention that I work with a start-up company up in San Francisco as the Scientific Advisor. But I think right now the apps that track your sleep are perhaps not particularly accurate. I think we’ll get there very soon, and in the next 2 to 3 years, we will have good sleep-tracking devices, and I’m excited about that because right now technology is one of the biggest enemies in the bedroom for sleep. But I think it’s going to be technology that is our salvation. And the reason is this, there’s a common adage in medicine which is, “What gets measured gets managed.” And for so many of us for so many decades we’ve never really had a handle on how we are sleeping because we couldn’t measure it apart from our subjective sense of what time we turn the lights off and what time we woke up–and that’s not a very accurate rendering of our sleep. I’m very hopeful that soon we will have wearable technology or technology in the bedroom that accurately tracks our sleep. And once we take control of our sleep we will be able to better manage our sleep, and I think that’s fast going to happen and it will only be good for society.

Pranidhi (a caller) What do you think of advocacy for institutional change in this realm?

Matt: There is just no way to cheat the brain and body out of sleep. One way or another it will catch up to you whether it’s chronic sleep deprivation across a lifetime, leading to chronic disease and ill-health, or it’s the tragedy of mortality and this brings us back to road traffic accidents. When you are not sleeping, you are having micro-sleeps at the wheel. Sometimes your eyelids will partially close. Now at 65 miles per hour if you have a micro sleep that usually lasts just for 1 or 2 seconds, at 65 miles per hour that means you’ll drift from one lane to the next. So at that moment for those 2 seconds there is a one ton missile traveling at 65 miles per hour and no one is in control. And that can lead to fatal consequences not just for you but for those around you on the road. There’s sadly no way to short change it. It’s non-negotiable; it’s a life support system. It’s a biological necessity, and it’s Mother Nature’s best effort yet to counter death.

Alissa (a caller): I work sling shift so I do have an odd schedule but I try and keep my sleep regular. And this is for all the people who can’t do what you describe and go to bed an earlier time—is that still okay as far as maintaining your sleep regularly but working at odd, different times?

Matt: Right now shift work is a real problem and working at different times of day causes that normal window of sleep to slide across the 24 hour clock face. That really isn’t an optimal way to be falling asleep. Right now the advocacy in shift work is, if you’re on a shift, try to maintain that shift for long durations of time, and then come off and have a long period of recovery, and then go back on that stable shift. The biggest problem with shift work is having shift work that is inconsistent. Now technology is going to help try to limit the burden some, but people still make that sacrifice for us and we need to make it better for them and this is one of the ways that seems to be best. If you do need to do shift work, maintain that stable shift; that off normal natural rhythm shift, for a long period of time and once that shift ends give yourself a long period of recovery before you have to go into that same shift again.

Unfortunately if you give yourself eight hours of sleep during the day versus eight hours of sleep at night, the sleep you get during the day is not the same that you get at night; it is more fragmented, and it’s not as deep quality of sleep. It doesn’t necessarily contain the same stages of sleep. The reason is that biologically you’re not designed to sleep during the day. However, other species are. We’re not nocturnal species; we are a diurnal species. And so the recommendation is make sure you do give yourself 8 hours, that’s critical, but do realize that it’s probably not going to be as good a quality as 8 hours of sleep during the day as it would be 8 hours at night.

Just a little bit of a caveat on that: everyone has their own circadian preference, the fancy name is pronotype which means some people are owls, and some people are larks. Some people like to go to bed late and wake up late. Others like to go to bed early and wake up early. It’s a natural variation and it’s determined by genetics. It also changes across the lifespan, of course. If you’re one of those people who like to go to bed late and wake up late then the schedule of going to bed at 2 am and waking up at 10 am, may actually be fine. It fits perfectly with your biological rhythm. But if you’re someone who is a lark then you would like to go to bed at 10 o’clock and wake up at 6:00, then going to bed at 2:00 am and waking at 10 is not going to be optimal for your biology.

Amit: This is a very hot topic. We really appreciate you coming to share with us today. As a community how can we support your work?

Matt: I think I would just ask people to propagate the good work. And rather than necessarily support my work try and learn more about sleep and advocate more the critical thing for us to do as a society is to get rid of the stigma of sufficient sleep. This is one of the major problems right now that we face is in the civilized world is that we have associated getting sufficient sleep with this thing called laziness. That we think people who get 8 hours are slothful, and they’re not productive and the opposite is true. So as a society we need to be proud of our sleep; we need to reclaim our right to a full night of sleep without embarrassment and without that terrible stigma of laziness. And in doing so, we may all feel what it’s like to be truly awake during the day. So please don’t chastise others for getting sufficient sleep. As parents we shouldn’t chastise our children because that parent-child transmission of sleep neglect is powerful and it is problematic. That’s the only support I would ask for.

***

Join an Awakin Call this Saturday with dedicated yoga-teacher and innovative gift ecology practitioner Pranidhi Varshney. More details and RSVP info here,

This interview was edited by Lisa Clayton. Awakin Calls is a weekly interview series and community podcast that highlights the work and inner journeys of individuals who are transforming our world in large and small ways. Each call features a moderated conversation with a unique guest. Past interviewees include a calligraphy artist, a path-breaking neurosurgeon, an evolution biologist, a pioneering venture capitalist, and a socially conscious hip-hop rapper. Awakin Calls are ad-free, available at no charge, and an all-volunteer-run offering of ServiceSpace, a global platform founded on the principle of “Change Yourself. Change the World.”

 

30 May 2017 Finding Your Guardian Angel – Monsters are not born they are made

A drawing I did many years ago of an angel – to me he kind of looks like Michael C Hall and my ex-husband Ken.  A couple of years ago I begged to speak to my angel because I couldn’t take this world any more and I think finally he decided to break the rules.  When Michael C Hall was Dexter, I watched the show even though what his character was doing repulsed me because I saw humanity in him, the same for all the “monsters” of real history.  Monsters are not born, they are made and sometimes the only thing other monsters fear more than anything is their parents!

The secret in caring for the patient is caring for the patient Victoria Sweet

https://www.sonicbids.com/band/saintsandsinnersband/

About

Discography

Lyrics

Set list

Biography

Our name comes from a line in one of our songs. In it, a man has committed suicide and in the moments before he dies he is reflecting upon his life. The line is: “Saints and sinners alike are remorseful and contrite when they’re beyond repair.” I think that this line encompasses just about everything that we’re about.

We don’t write love songs. You won’t hear us talk much about broken hearts or newfound romance. Because…well, who really cares? It might be easier to shy away from subject matter like religion or politics. After all, the trite and the trivial have always made for songs that the listening public readily accepts with enthusiasm. But that is exactly why we have to write these songs; because it’s not about money or notoriety. I think that if we could write one song that would make people realize how insignificant we are or how unlikely it is that we are on this planet; that if we could somehow cause someone to be a little more compassionate, a little more understanding, a little more accepting—that no amount of poverty or destitute will have rendered our efforts futile.

So if you are looking to hear stories of disconsolate lovers you’re wasting your time here. What you will hear are songs about regrets, and about disgust, and about the absurdity of our existence; about greed and hypocrisy in ourselves and in our leaders; about our strengths and weaknesses; our vices and our virtues; songs ultimately about what it means to be human.

I used to blog on MSN, myspace and for a long time on Newsvine, tried Wix.com for a time and then finally WordPress. Trying to share this message but everybody was too busy to read.

https://myspace.com/saintsandsinnersband/music/songs

https://www.newsvine.com/

Take Me To The River – the first time I had tried to have a spiritual awakening in Alvarado TX I walked down to the man-made pond down the street as they were beginning to tear up the place I had made a church and went into that pond and swam across, trying to find the man with long black hair I had been looking for ever since 2002 or before.  I thought I was looking for Dracula because I thought only a monster could save us…..I found it was the idea, the story, the belief I once had in the story of Jesus Christ that was the only way with the help of understanding Vlad Tepes, Dracula.  Monsters are made not born.  The only villains are those we create.  In my heart I believed this but the world kept trying to tell me you have to suffer in order to be happy.  I learned from my husband  Kyle that that isn’t the truth.

I used to blog on MSN, myspace and for a long time on Newsvine, tried Wix.com for a time and then finally WordPress. Trying to share this message but everybody was too busy to read.

https://myspace.com/saintsandsinnersband/music/songs

https://www.newsvine.com/

Take Me To The River

BJ Thomas – Starving Sinner, Sleeping Saint – looks like Michael C Hall to me – just realized that this morning!  Michael looks like this angel I drew:

 

http://bjthomas.com/

Michael C Hall, Lazarus CBS Performance

https://youtu.be/hKBUc4yW2bo

27 May 2017 No more pictures, cell phones and todays message from Streams in the Desert (letting go and letting God – true faith)

Good morning to you – it’s 5:59 am as I write.  I have come to an impasse with this blog – my picture allowance is maxed so just words and existing images.  I will say that I was going to share a picture from Gateway to the heavens – pages 104 and 105 and the meditation I did last night 1007pm that involved a drawing I had done earlier with the fragment of purple chalk….a Goddess and the Prussian iron cross.  What happened is I was burning a red cinnamon candle in the darkness and it kept going out so I thought to pour the wax out and was lead to pour it on the drawing in the lower abdomen part – this happened twice which matches the number of times I was operated on for fibroid cyst removal by two separate doctors, two years in a row.  I was pretty upset after I realized this is what I was seeing was about and tried to turn off my phone.  Well as I did a voice activation feature for the phone came on and for some reason it wanted to call my broker of several years, Seth Peritzman!  I thought that was very strange.  When that happened a very small flying insect flew itself into the hot wax of the candle I was burning and died.  Why couldn’t I just turn off my phone?  Then I started looking at the features of the phone and realized all kinds of tracking elements had been activated on it and that was interesting.  I realized if something were to happen to me, if someone were trying to find me, a tracking feature would be useful.   Cell phones can be very useful but as with any tool, only if used for good reasons.

The message from Streams in the Desert resonates with me on many levels and it puts to words beautifully a message I have tried to share in so many ways, through the years.  People like me don’t always get listened to.  People like me – middle-aged house wife with “labels” and no children who live in the lower middle-class income bracket.  I have been speaking, writing, drawing and attempting through my crafts to share so many things that if only had been acknowledged long ago could have helped so much.  I do not expect today will be any different than any other day in this regard but I have faith in the God who has walked with me thus far, through all things, that may today will be different.  I also have Hope – not the child….the daughter….the vision and spirit of the future I want for all creation.   Much love to you today wherever and whenever this message finds you.

9 years and going strong! Happy snap to note the special occasion 🙂

Streams in the Desert message for the today that is also tomorrow:

May 28

“I will not let thee go, except thou bless me…and he blessed him there.” (Gen. 32:26, 29.)

Jacob got the victory and the blessing not by wrestling, but by clinging. His limb out of joint and he could struggle no longer, but he would not let go. Unable to wrestle, he wound his arms around the neck of his mysterious antagonist and hung all his helpless weight upon him, until at last he conquered.

We will not get victory in prayer until we too cease our struggling, giving up our own will and throw our arms about our Father’s neck in clinging faith.

What can puny human strength take by force out of the hand of Omnipotence? Can we wrest blessings by force from God? It is never the violence of willfulness that prevails with god. It si the might of clinging faith, that gets the blessing and the victories. It is not when we press and urge our own will, but when humility and trust unite in saying, “Not my will, but Thine.” We are strong with God only in the degrees that self is conquered and is dead. Not by wrestling, but by clinging can we can the blessing. – J.R. Miller

An incident from the prayer life of Charles H. Usher (illustrating “soul-cling” as a hindrance to prevailing prayer): “My little boy was very ill. The doctors held out little hope of his recovery. I had used all the knowledge of prayer which I possessed on his behalf, but he got worse and worse. This went on for several weeks.

“One day I stood watching him as he lay in nhis cot, and I saw that he could not live long unless he had a turn for the better. I said to God, “O God, I have given much time in prayher for my boy and he gets no better; I must now leave him to Thee, and I will give myself to prayer for others. If it is Thy will to take him I choose Thy will–I surrender him entirely to Thee.’

“I called my dear wife, and told her what I had done. She shed some tears, but handed him over to God. Two days afterwards a man of God came to see us. He had been very interested in our boy Frank, and had been much in prayer for him.

“He said, “God has given me faith to believe that he will recover–have you faith?”

“I said, ‘I have surrendered him to God, but I will go again to God regarding him.’ I did; and in prayer I discovered that I had faith for his recovery. From that time he began to get better. It was the ‘soul-cling’ in my pyrers which had hindered God answering; and if I had continued to cling and had been unwilling to surrender him, I doubt if my boy wold be with me today.

“Child of God! If you want God to answer your prayers, you must be prepared to follow the footsteps of ‘our father Abraham,’ even to the Mount of Sacrifice.” (See Rom. 4:12.)

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This Kyle and I did on 27 April 2011 with our cocker spaniel Samuel and God’s answer was to let him go to God. God didn’t abandon us in our grief…..we surely thought so! But we waited and through love, patience and friendship we were blessed with Link who came to us along with two brothers on 9 Dec 2015. When Sam died, it was like Kyle and I had lost a child. I went looking everywhere to get him back – screaming in the field down the street that was my sanctuary, my church that has been turned over and made into houses for profit. In 100 degree temperatures I walked that blooming field and stood by it’s waters begging for Sam to come back….screaming at the air….the God of my understanding in all things and all it seemed I got was more searching. Then came the day I found the first part of a Christmas ornament in that field and the other at the entrance to the neighborhood. I thought it was to tell me my friend Erin was going to have a son as she is part Choctaw because the ornament was from a Choctaw Casino.  But  no…..she and I were to be blessed with Link and his two brothers. Two women not able to have human children but having maternal instincts to care for all God’s children whatever their form.

God answers your prayers, God is always listening, God never fails – it’s just that you must let go of YOUR plans, YOUR timing, YOUR expectations of how those prayers will be answered. As I have learned to pray and have shared many, many times all through this blog:

“Whatever is for the greatest, most loving good for this (person, place or situation) – not as I would have it but as you would have it. I do not know what is best for my sight is limited to this moment and what has already been and you see all directions of time and space….all possible outcomes and you know what is best….you see the big picture.”

Then LET GO! Stop holding on, “clinging” to your prayers because when you do that is not faith….that is using God like a wishing well. God doesn’t require your monetary homage to answer your prayers, God needs your faith, hope, praise and trust. Let go, Let God – learn acceptance as a path to peace.

 

26 May 2017 Outdoor meditation – My Mother’s Suicide – Guns with Divine Numbers

Hello, it’s 9:47 am, think this will be the last post for today but in light of me seeing something about President Trump going to be talking to the National Rifle Association, this can’t wait.  I don’t expect that he even knows of my existence but there is power in words and pictures – so I will go on.

On 24 Dec 1968 my Mother Jeanne Faith Becker, age 26, a mental patient, took her own life using my Dad’s .38  – shot herself in the heart.  They say she had trouble with post partum depression but from what I can tell from her journals and other things, it was more than just because I came into the world that she suffered in her heart.  If anything,  my coming here gave her a fleeting glimpse of Hope.  That’s what I would like to think anyways.  Ever since I found out the manner and cause of her death and have been myself through the “mental health system”,  if that is what you want to call it, I have had resentments against gun and weapon manufacturers and “the system” as a whole.  What all of us are involved in is a system….a mechanism…..a machine.  Each of us cogs of the “wheel” which has also caused great resentment in me during the course of my life.  Being considered a ways to a means….and end…. instead of a beginning.

So this meditation revolves (like the pun?) around the premature death of my Mother and what it did to my Dad’s heart, soul and life afterwards….to me….to everyone.  For those who keep up with me, you know how I feel about violent deaths….it’s like shattering a round glass globe into a million pieces.  All those shards getting into everything – the food, the water, the soil, the air…into people.

Some will say that guns are just tools and it is people that kill people not the guns.  People would say if she didn’t use the gun she would have found something else – yes but may be she could have been saved!  TIME!!!!  Guns take away TIME!!!  We are feeding “hell’s well.”  What I say is what I’ve said about thoughts, about intention, about purpose and design of the “thing.”  Guns indeed are tools and they are good for one thing – killing people, killing animals, destroying property, threatening and intimidating people by filling the carrier with false pride and superiority.  They were designed with the intent to kill whereas a knife or another tool has multiple – USEFUL – purposes besides being used just for destruction.