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How To Go Back To Sleep

February 14, 2012

A joy forever…

Here is a simple and effective technique for getting back to sleep when an over-active brain wakes you up at night and won’t stop yammering. The provenance of this sleepy-time gift is auspicious as hell — a world-historical individual named Robert W. Smith, author of the first important book about tai chi in English.

In the Seventies, I became Bob’s closed-door student.  Never mind how I ended up taking private instruction from a martial arts legend — the breakthrough first Western student of Professor Chen Man Ching, China’s last great unbeatable “soft” boxer.

I know, I know, what does all of that mean? Isn’t important for now. What I want to get across is simply this. During those Disco Nights, while others were busy dancing The Hustle in a white polyester suit, a man I admired down to the ground, a man as American as Spencer Tracy, hipped me to the difference between how Westerners and Asians inhabit their bodies.

Sounds innocent enough, perhaps, yet it opens onto the universe next door, and so what it leads to, over years of study of chi by even a slow learner, is profound beyond fascination. However, be that as it may, what I wanted to explain now was a little mind game Bob taught us which I call Midway.

Want to drop back off to sleep? Try this…

Stretch out on your back, arms comfortably disposed, breath normally and relax. The idea will be to trace one continuous line around your entire body, back and front, top to bottom, with a single moving point of sensitivity no bigger than a dime.

So become aware of — feel as a point of sensitivity — the lip-notch under your nose, then slowly and steadily move this sensitive point downward over your lips, around the curve of your chin, across the Adam’s Apple, and so on straight along the center-line of your torso. No rush, but keep the point moving and truly feel the skin.

At about three inches below your navel, pass the point of sensitivity through your body, dividing it into two points, and, always feeling both areas of skin simultaneously, move these twin points in parallel at the same time lower on your upper thighs, knees, calves, around the heels and up over the middle toes and mounting  the front of both legs.

Arriving at the pelvis, the two sensitive points merge into one and cross through your body again, and travel now up your spine, between the shoulder blades, between the twin tendons of your neck, up and over the top of your head, down the forehead, like a drop of water running down your nose, right back again where you started, at the nose-notch.

Keep your Midway going for, say, three cycles. No matter how hyper my mind gets at night, when I can’t drop off to sleep, I’ve yet to make it through a fourth cycle of Midway. Remember, you must not fool yourself by merely visualizing the path you are tracing but must truly feel your own flesh every inch of the way.

Easy and fun and good for you in all sorts of esoteric Chinese-medical ways we can go into some other time. Have a good night’s sleep on Herbork.

Thanks, Bob.

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