This article is an expansion of the ideas developed in my previous article “10 Routines, Practices and Habits that changed my life (2)”.
7) Taking naps and mastering sleep time
Naps changed my life for the better. I have always been very cautious about how much I sleep. I am fortunate to have the ability to fall asleep when I decide to (unless I had too much caffeine, which happens less than six times a year). When I was a teenager and we were on holidays in Thailand with my parents, I would feel tired and just take a nap sitting on a bench with my arms crossed on a table and my head laying on top while my parents would be visiting a potter’s village.
During my exchange semester in Singapore, I loved seeing a lot of students taking naps after lunch. In Asia it is much more commonly practiced than in Europe.
Here is the recipe for a perfect nap:
- Turn your phone on plane mode.
- Lie down.
- Set a timer for 20 minutes.
- Breathe and let go.
- Wake up at the alarm.
If you don’t fall asleep on the first day, don’t worry, just try again the next day.
Practice at regular hours, five days a week.
For mastering sleep time, here are a few recommendations:
- Reduce or remove caffeine from your diet.
- Turn your phone off or on plane mode and leave it away from your room.
- No screens 1 hour prior to bed.
- Go to bed at the same time every night.
- Wake up at the same time every day.
8) Lucid dreaming
I am on a rooftop. As I walk, I see a giant rose with beer flowing from out of its mouth. I thing that something is weird about it, so I count my fingers. I have six fingers. I think: “Oh, I’m dreaming.” I am not 100% sure, so I press my right index into my left palm. I press harder, and my finger went through. I feel excitement :
“I am dreaming and I know I am dreaming!”
I start to walk on the rooftop, and I decide to fly. I am flying. It iss so much fun. I feel so excited, that I wake up.
That was one of the most fun-filling experiences in my trials with altered states of consciousness.
That experience of lucid dreaming occurred after reading and applying insights from A field guide to lucid dreaming, by Tuccillo, Zeizel and Peisel.
One of the keys to Lucid Dreaming is to know when you are dreaming and when you are in your waking life.
There are techniques to help you discern called reality checks. Here is a simple one:
In your waking life, several times a day, ask yourself:
“Am I dreaming?”
Then, look at your hand, and count your fingers slowly (from 1 to 5).
Then, if you count 5 fingers, double check by trying to press your index finger into the palm of your opposite hand. Try hard.
If you count a different number of fingers, and your index might go into your palm, you know you are in the dream state.
Not only can lucid dreaming be fun, it can also help you with problem solving, creativity and any other mental preparation for a project, a business plan, a presentation or a lecture.
9) Cold showers
Most people love warm showers. The comfort of it feels good. Especially after a long day of work, or a workout. In my desire to push myself and experiment, cold showers have been cathartic. Following the contemporary yogi (my words) Wim Hof, the experiment with cold showers has proved very effective for building a strong mind, increasing willpower, calming down the thought patterns, increasing my immune system.
Furthermore, the experience itself, once one has passed the threshold of discomfort is a transcendent one.
The key piece is the breathing. It all starts with the breath. Take deeper breaths, or use this breathing technique before you take your shower:
This will build up internal heat in your body so you will feel good with the cold shower.
Learning to breathe is the key to Life.
Now, here are simple steps to loving cold showers:
- Have a warm shower.
- Decrease the temperature slowly.
- Stop at a warm temperature.
- Wash your body with soap.
- Decrease the temperature slightly and rinse with colder water.
- Stop before it is too cold.
- Start again the next day, and decrease temperature over the course of several days.
- After a while, you will love the cold and feel that the warm is uncomfortable !
Here is another interesting article on when to take a cold shower vs. when to take a hot one and the benefits of each.
If you’d like to learn more, check out part 4 !