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Straining in other passive activities
#1
It's occurred to me that my urge to make a process controlled and active does not just extend to my vision. For as long as I can remember it's taken much longer for me to get to sleep than it is supposed to. I've never understood why. Now I'm wondering if I'm straining to sleep as well as straining to see.

I do find myself ordering myself to sleep every night, which I know doesn't make sense on several levels, but I actually don't know any other way. If I don't keep my mind active in order to remind itself not to exist, won't it just continue until fatigue forces it down? That's what ends up happening anyway. It's impossible to keep thinking the same thing for that long, and by definition impossible to sleep while thinking at all, so it gets harder and harder to concentrate.

On some deep level, I don't understand sleep and how it's reached, and when faced with it I'm anxious. When I feel myself drifting off (usually it's so sudden I don't notice or remember it, luckily), I force myself back awake because it causes anxiety. I guess it's the lack of control and lack of input. When I palm, I get nervous when there's a near complete lack of light. I'm always resisting absence.

It reminds me of the short animated horror film, The Sandman (watch here). This film makes a connection between the fears of death, darkness and loss of sight that is powerful to me. When you close your eyes to sleep, you're inviting them never to open again. At least, you're completely relinquishing control, and are effectively trapped in darkness, in temporary death for an unmeasured, unpredictable amount of time. See what happens when the child first closes his eyes, then opens them... I don't think this through consciously each night, but I feel the fear just the same.

Do others with impaired vision notice non-visual manifestations of the psychology? Especially, is there a common connection between eye and sleep disturbances? There's more I could say but I'll spare everyone an essay. I do think that there are probably going to be clues to each of our problems that could be helpful to recognise.
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#2
I too have a hard time getting to sleep, but two people hardly make a strong case. I learned long ago that in order to get to sleep you have to relax, it isn't something that you make happen, but at the same time my brain is often restless.

This is something that you must work on, but it's hard to give advice because I almost can't understand it. I think you should seek out somewhere very quiet and very private for your palming sessions before you move into a more adverse environment if the darkness is that disturbing. To an extent I think you're also, for a lack of a better description, over-reacting to darkness. It's not something that will hurt you, but I also know that it will take more than coaxing over the internet to help you become more acclimatized to it.

I'm honestly at a loss, it's been so long I can't at this moment remember how you could come to be at ease in darkness. I'll keep it in the back of my head and let you know if anything pops to mind.

Out of curiosity, if you don't mind my asking, how old are you?
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#3
optifog,

I too think it would take more than some coaxing over the internet to fix an irrational fear like the fear of darkness or death. But a few things you should know:

- Just because you're asleep doesn't mean you're relaxed. It's just a different state of consciousness
- Relaxing, however, will help you get to sleep and have a better sleep if you stay relaxed
- Telling yourself repeatedly to sleep just keeps you awake
- Similarly, keeping your mind active with worries will keep you awake or make for a bad sleep
- If you have physical health issues (such as not enough sunlight or exercise) it could screw up your circadian rhythm
- You aren't going to die by falling asleep
- If you're going to relax while asleep, you have to relax while awake
- You don't have to know how to go to sleep - hardly anybody knows how, they just do it. If you can't do it, then one of the above is probably the issue.

David
Site Administrator

"Half of our funny, heathen lives, we are bent double to gather things we have tossed away." - George Meredith
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#4
Urban Wrote:This is something that you must work on, but it's hard to give advice because I almost can't understand it. I think you should seek out somewhere very quiet and very private for your palming sessions before you move into a more adverse environment if the darkness is that disturbing. To an extent I think you're also, for a lack of a better description, over-reacting to darkness. It's not something that will hurt you, but I also know that it will take more than coaxing over the internet to help you become more acclimatized to it.

I'm definitely going to work on it. It could be that this kind of fear is driving the urge to excessively control my vision, and to see everything at once. I don't fully understand it yet either, but the similarities between how I feel when going to sleep, and how I react to seeing nothing, don't seem coincidental to me. It all appears to come down to an excessive fear of losing access to awareness.

Urban Wrote:I'm honestly at a loss, it's been so long I can't at this moment remember how you could come to be at ease in darkness. I'll keep it in the back of my head and let you know if anything pops to mind.

Out of curiosity, if you don't mind my asking, how old are you?
Nineteen. Although I did have a classic fear of the dark for longer than most people, and slept with my bedroom light on until I was maybe 11, it's no longer fear of what might be lurking in the shadows; I just have a distaste for seeing absolutely nothing at all.

Apart from the unnerving knowledge that my eyes have been rendered useless and unreliable, and having no frame of reference for where I am, whether my eyes are open and what if anything is actually there, when there's nothing for my eyes to home in on, not even a hint or glimmer from somewhere, I feel disorientated. That's the best way I can describe it.

When I get to a certain level of palming, I get that same sense of disorientation, feeling lost in my own head. It actually feels as if I'm falling forwards. I can probably get accustomed to it, but at the moment palming doesn't usually create that complete blackness anyway. In the day there are usually impressions from whatever I've just seen with my eyes open.

Drifting to sleep also feels like falling and twisting round, and I've read that when states of consciousness change in sleep or meditation, on brain scans the part of the brain that manages our sense of balance, space and co-ordination is one of the first to be appear deactivated. The resulting physical sensations seem to help to provoke my fear of entering the unknown in a helpless state, epitomised already by both absence of light and unconsciousness.

Then there's the feeling that my eyes don't seem to exist anymore. That may come from so rarely genuinely seeing nothing. There's the feeling that my field of vision is collapsing in on itself. It's not so much the environment as myself over which I need control.

David Wrote:- If you have physical health issues (such as not enough sunlight or exercise) it could screw up your circadian rhythm
Physiologically, I do everything by the book that I know of to do. I'm not sleep deprived or tired, I just have to waste hours going to bed earlier than most people because it takes me much longer fall asleep initially. Once there, I'm usually fine for the rest of the night.

David Wrote:- You aren't going to die by falling asleep
I know that, sitting here, but when my mind is slowed and stressed and all forms of awareness are fading into oblivion... well, you know.

David Wrote:- You don't have to know how to go to sleep - hardly anybody knows how, they just do it. If you can't do it, then one of the above is probably the issue.
That's interesting, I don't know if that should surprise me or not. So all I need to know is how not to do whatever I'm doing wrong.

--------------------------

I don't know if it was some of the thoughts of the two of you above, or simply considering the issue in a new way, organising it in written form and getting it 'off my chest' (I typed most of this message yesterday), but I fell asleep unusually easily last night. Unfortunately a house alarm woke me later, and as always it took longer to nod off the second time, but I was impressed with that. Smile


Anyway, regarding other strain manifestations, what about thinking? Maybe mental block is just straining to think, instead of letting the mind do it's thing and go where it wants with something. I started off heavy with the sleep issue, but there are other problems almost everyone faces that could be worth looking in to.
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#5
Well, thats something David has touched on before. To recover your vision is nothing short of a complete transformation of how you do EVERYTHING, including how you think. As I recall he mentioned that he had to learn to relax and only lightly touch memories and thoughts instead of grabbing hold of them.

As for your dreaming, something interesting occurred to me. Your experiences remind me of the lucid dreaming community. Now I'll start off by saying I can personally attest the the truth of lucid dreams, I started trying to get them and even succeeded once during the beginning of this school year, but I just don't have the time at the moment to play around with sleep cycles. Your strange sensations remind me of a lucid dreaming technique (in case you don't know lucid dreaming is the art of retaining your conscious mind during your dreams). This technique involved continually occupying the mind with a though, keeping it awake while the body fell asleep. I tried this once, I didn't succeed in falling asleep, but I did achieve partial success.

When you fall sleep the body experiences a great many disturbing illusions, lights, sounds, feelings. These aren't real, but its how you feel when your body starts falling asleep and shutting down. One of these feelings was disorientation, the feeling of floating in the air, incredible lightness. I think you should attempt to clear you mind while you sleep to achieve better success. When you go to bed, don't force yourself to bed when you're not tired, that won't work, but when you're ready, lay down and start relaxing. Breathing deeply clear you mind, its important not to make effort in this, thoughts WILL pop into your mind, this is normal. As you get better these thoughts will come less and less frequently. When a thought intrudes, don't panic and attempt to force it out, recognize its presence, don't bother bringing your rational or intellect to bear on it, but just discard it and go back to relaxing and breathing deeply.

This is what helps me get to sleep when I'm having trouble. You cannot enter into sleep with a restless mind (unless excessively tired).

One more point. About the darkness bothering you. Complete darkness is also disturbing to me, but only when my eyes are open. I find that when I place myself in darkness by palming or when I'm in the dark and close my eyes, that it no longer bothers me. I think that we strain to see because we know something is there, but we can't see anything because of the dark.

Good luck on getting some zzzzzZZzzzz

Ted
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#6
Thanks Ted, that looks like good advice.

You are probably right that there is a connection to lucid dreaming here. I used to experience an involuntary form of lucid dreaming, sleep paralysis, quite regularly. This too often involved floating, levitating or falling sensations, and not the normal, vague, fleeting ones associated with pre-sleep states. As apparently real as anything I've felt during the day.

It was when finding out about this that I learned that it's not normal for the dream stage of sleep to come first, and that that is mainly something seen in people with sleep disorders. It used to be quite regular for me. I preferred it, because when going directly from a waking to a dream state I wouldn't even be aware that I was falling asleep, and wouldn't be scared. Nothing about the night is as scary as the chance of sleep paralysis though. Nothing. :o

Thankfully I'm now confident that it's gone. That's a story in itself. But perhaps given this predisposition, it's not surprising that my experience of falling asleep is not entirely standard.
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#7
optifog,

Well you have some interesting comments. I do agree that there's a connection between your sleeping issues and vision. Being over-controlling with oneself is in a way what strain is.

Like Urban said that I said, I say that restoring vision is, sooner or later, when successful, a transformation of how you do everything. If something feels weird, unnatural, or disorienting, there's a good chance it's actually more natural than what you're used to, and once you get used to how the new weird thing feels and how you as yourself in your life are experiencing things differently, and that it's tied to your vision improving, then it'll become clearer what is normal or natural or correct or best. So you have to expect something to change, because the way you're doing things now, your way of living or your way of consciousness, isn't working in a way that lets you have clear vision. You're actually very fortunate, in fact. Many people struggle impossibly with improving their vision, have no awareness of any issues relating to consciousness or darkness or fear or control, and they stay completely stuck as they are. But really it's all simple in practice, more than it may sound, just a matter of jumping in and facing your fears and seeing what happens when you don't try to save yourself from apparent threats anymore.

Sleep paralysis is interesting. If someone shakes you awake, you'll wake up and be able to move right away. Scientists sometimes describe it as a chemical preventing you from moving during stages of sleep, but really that's clearly not how it happens if you're able to move so quickly. The chemical doesn't just vanish. But anyway, I remember having that a few times, where I apparently can't move. It's that state of astral projection, where you can apparently walk around outside your physical body, though now I tend to believe it's not actually a place but a special something of the mind. So I think it would be good for you to do it again and explore as much as you can until the concept of being in different states you aren't familiar with is no longer disturbing.

I remember one time I became conscious while sleeping, and I was just there, and the feeling was unfamiliar that I was 100% content to just be there, aware, in the blackness, thinking of nothing, for hours until I woke up. I don't think I did for long, though. I probably started dreaming eventually. But that really stuck with me, how thoughts and emotions distract us and bother us when it's really not necessary for them to exist at all when we don't want them.

So anyway, I've never had success at trying to force thoughts away while going to sleep, so I definitely can't recommend doing that. Even when trying to stay focused on one thought or nothingness, I get confused. I can only go by my experience above where I just suddenly snapped into it, and actually one other time of note that I was palming and suddenly became completely and utterly quiet and peaceful. I've quieted my mind often, and I try to do it as often as I remember, but those two experiences really stand out as being completely restful and quiet in a non-awake state. But it's also a great feeling to be like that while awake, to not be occupied with any random thought, to only have thoughts that I invited and created, and I'm starting to really think that it might be the key to everyone else's vision recovery process too.

Dave
Site Administrator

"Half of our funny, heathen lives, we are bent double to gather things we have tossed away." - George Meredith
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