It was just nine o’clock… I had potentially nine hours of healing sleep ahead of me and, as I’d been struggling to stay awake all day, I fully intended to use them. I was shivering, so I had, very sensibly, warmed the bed before getting in. I snuggled down in silent darkness and in absolute comfort…
…then couldn’t find a cool patch for my overheating frame.
Eons passed in a blur of tossing, turning and increasing desperation. I finally gave up, picked the discarded bedding back up from the floor and wandered off in search of coffee.
The dog raised her head from the sofa and stared at me accusingly. I had left her curled up on her bed in the hall, but the sofa is always a better place to sleep. Evidently, my inconsiderate appearance had disturbed her rest. But she would condescend to go out anyway, check the foggy night air and let the cold in… for which I was, for once, grateful.
I glanced at the clock. I should probably have done so sooner. Quarter past eleven. I’m seldom even in bed by that time, let alone back out of it…and here I was up, wide awake, shivering and cursing on the doorstep. Again. So much for a good night’s sleep. And so much for the alleged protection of the ‘flu vaccination and the efficacy of migraine pills.
My mind had not stopped all the time I had been in bed. Fair enough, I thought. Let it work… get whatever it is out of its system. I often work best in the silent hours, when my corner of the world is sleeping and the ether is not bristling with the thoughts of others, like static interference on a radio. I would work until the first wave of tiredness brushed the shores of consciousness, then go straight back to bed.
It didn’t work. I gave up and tried reading instead. I gave that up too, my brain capable of nothing useful except making observations on the scenes playing out in there without my volition.
It was weird. The only other time I have felt this disconnected from my own mind is when I have been dosed up on morphine post-surgery. I was no more than a dispassionate observer and it is a strange feeling.
In dreams, for instance, ‘you’ are simply there, within the story. It happens to you. In imagination, lucid dreams or daydreams, you can either be in the story or observe it, but your conscious mind remains in control, directing what happens. In this state, though, I had no control, nor was I ‘in’ it, although ‘I’ was an observable part of the action. The conscious and active mind was in abeyance, yet certain of where it was…and that was not in the scenes that unfolded, although they contained a simulacrum of ‘me’.
I found it a curious experience. The body I usually refer to as me was doing nothing, curled up on the sofa, wide awake, with the dog. The mind I think of as mine was doing its own thing, watching some kind of internal movie. Yet I… some part of me that is neither body nor mind, was watching both… and at a yet deeper level, ‘I’ was watching myself observing myself and marvelling as the layers of consciousness separated out for me to see… and beyond that some part of ‘me’ was nodding as if to say, ‘well, finally…’.
Which was unfair in a way. I had been here before, but I had not really followed the train of thought to a practical conclusion. It is something we explore in the teachings of the Silent Eye and yet, even so, I had not fully realised the implications. If nothing else, it was subjective proof that the unseen exists… even within our own beings.
What I was seeing was a graphic illustration of infinite regress, and of how complex we are as beings… and of how often we seem to live in such a small part of our being. Focus seems to shift to the most immediate level and stay there. If we are cold or hungry, we focus on the consciousness of the body. If we have a problem to solve, the logical mind. Creativity calls upon imagination, while emotion focuses on the heart.
There are so many layers to our being, without even considering going beyond those that science would recognise. How much more could we bring to life, how much more deeply could we experience life, by consciously combining those layers…bringing them to a conjoined and balanced focus?
In the system with which we work, we speak of three centres…emotional, intellectual and physical. That all of these should be brought to a place where they can work together makes perfect sense. Intellect without a heart is cold, emotion without a mind can degenerate into sentimentality. But those are three centres that pertain to a perceivable ‘you’. How much more is buried beneath, or beyond, the surface… and what could we become if we can learn to engage them?
It left me thinking… and still sleepless, but I cannot say it was a wasted night.