First the Rest, Then the Rising

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"REST

is the conversation between what we love to do and how we love to be. Rest is the essence of giving and receiving; an act of remembering, imaginatively and intellectually but also physiologically and physically. To rest is to give up on the already exhausted will as the prime motivator of endeavor, with its endless outward need to reward itself through established goals. To rest is to give up on worrying and fretting and the sense that there is something wrong with the world unless we are there to put it right; to rest is to fall back literally or figuratively from outer targets and shift the goal not to an inner static bull’s eye, an imagined state of perfect stillness, but to an inner state of natural exchange."

David Whyte


The moment I finally said a full YES to rest: I was sitting in my mini-van, a mommy mess, at the end of my tether, in a thunder & lightning downpour. There were lots of tears and an intense desire to "Eat, Pray, Love" it out of my life. Then I remembered - oh right, I used to practice yoga nidra REST meditation and I loved it. It felt like an intravenous drip of DEEP REST. So right there in the minivan I decided to commit to this beautiful gift of REST - every day for a year.

Yes, this was crazy. My boys were 8 and 10. But I was enthusiastic, and hung a "Mom's Napping" sign on the door to my bedroom every time I took my yoga nidra nap. For the first week, each time before napping I coached the boys through what to do in order NOT to disturb me from my 20 minutes of yoga nidra. Only in an emergency were they to disturb me. "Is LeBron James coming to the front door an emergency?" my 10-year-old asked. NO. If LeBron James is at the front door he will have to wait outside. REST COMES FIRST.

I lasted 40 DAYS of my 1 year plan to practice yoga nidra. And those 40 DAYS of yoga nidra napping changed my life. I couldn't believe the transformation. I could THINK CLEARLY again. I forgot how angry I was at the school system that was failing my dyslexic son's life. I also had the motivation to take on the school district (and WIN) to get my son into a life-changing school. I forgave the kids who were bullying him. I SMILED a lot. And WHISTLED while I cooked dinner. 40 DAYS in my rest cave did all this. I would not have believed it, but I lived it so knew it was true.

Eventually I said to myself, what if every woman took 40-days to REST DEEPLY? What if, like some cultures do after a woman has a baby, a woman gave herself permission to pause and restore her energy at any time in her life? Women push so many "babies" out. We need 40-day rest periods for ourselves and our sanity.

Believe me, I felt so insane before yoga nidra. Like a crazy loser mom who could not juggle one more fucking ball. I had too many balls. And then, BOOM, I laid down for 40 DAYS and suddenly I didn't feel the balls. Oh yes, all my "to dos" were still there, but the heaviness had lifted. I realized what mattered. I felt ridiculously rested in my body for the first time, perhaps ever.

And so I said: that's it...I gotta tell other women about this. I've got to introduce them to the 40-days. So we can all feel WELL-RESTED. Amen, right?

That's why I wrote the book Daring to Rest. So women now everywhere can now free their well-rested woman. 40 DAYS. That's all it takes. Think of it as a REBOOT. A juice cleanse. Or whatever way you need to frame it. Once a year you give yourself 40 DAYS OF REST. Or twice. Or whatever YOU want.

The point is: it's time to FREE YOUR WELL-RESTED WOMAN.

Women are great leaders, but too often we're leading by chugging sleep meds or not sleeping at all.

40 DAYS of REST can help you change that unsustainable paradigm.

You can pre-order the book now. Please do. My friend just told me that she bought 5 for her girlfriends as holiday presents. YES! She even bought one for her brother-in-law who technically this book isn't written for because it's geared to women, but he hasn't slept well in YEARS and she knows he'll benefit too. He will. Promise. You will too. So please, pre-order the book.

And please share this blog post. So we can help women around the world dare to rest.

The DARING TO REST movement time is now. Right now. It's OVERtime.

Our world, community, and personal health depend on it.

xo

Karen

The Healthcare Sisterhood Test

Lately I've been dreaming a lot about good quality healthcare, the kind where we feel a YES with the person helping to support our well-being.

I hear over and over again how many women don't feel good about their healthcare provider.

In fact, after years of going from doctor to doctor about my gynecological health issues with no answers it was during my first yoga nidra training where after practicing yoga nidra one day I saw a mass in my reproductive area and knew they needed to look further. (they did, and found lots of fibroids).

How could my intuition find answers that no health provider could?

For those who are already skeptical about conventional healthcare and believe in the power of intuition you may not feel surprised. But lately I'm imagining a world where our intuition and our healthcare providers worked side by side.

A few weeks ago I met a doctor who gave me a clue to what it's going to take to achieve this.

When I walked into this new doctor's office I was nervous. Yet within minutes the doctor said four words to me that changed everything. She said:

Today we are sisters.

She said when a woman walks into her office, part of her job is to treat her as if she is her sister. To be kind, gentle, and loving.

I immediately thought of the first chakra, our root chakra at the base of the spine. This chakra is like your backbone; it grounds you, and builds tribal self-esteem. You don't feel alone. As Carolyn Myss says, it's your "earth ID." When you're disconnected from it, it feels traumatic.

Today we are sisters.

After my doctor's visit, I started thinking about how we could screen our healthcare providers for this kind of care.

I'm calling this screening the Sisterhood Test.

The moment your healthcare provider sees you as her sister this helps you remember exactly who you are; you're plugged back in to your true self. It's okay to be you and to trust them with your well-being.

What if we put all our healthcare providers, conventional and alternative, through the Sisterhood Test? They don't need to say the words "Today you are my sister," but they do need to meet a set of criteria that make us feel:

  • rooted in who we are
  • able to speak our truth
  • Safe and secure in our physical body

You need a lot of courage to put the Sisterhood Test into action. It may mean walking away from a doctor who you like, but is not serving your root. If you have not experienced true sisterhood growing up, for example your real sisters or family members did not support your wellbeing, then the Sisterhood Test will challenge your tribal loyalty. Too many times we end up with care providers that do not serve us because that's all we know. A new belief system seems impossible.

Someone who is your sister believes in the universal law that all is one. Your care provider and you are one. If this isn't so, you may need to go shopping (for a new one).

So how does yoga nidra thread into this conversation? Yoga nidra points you back to your true nature. It keeps you rooted. The more we practice techniques that keep us rooted, the easier it becomes to apply the Sisterhood Test. We gain courage. It's no coincidence that when we experience a health crisis we are more present and as a result many people change doctors, to ones that feel more in synch with who they are and who adhere to an all is one philosophy.

The great news is that yoga nidra brings us to the present moment - lying down. We don't have to wait for a health crisis.

Yes, I'll shake my yoga nidra pom poms to that :)

 

The Freedom of Having No Plan

Led a yoga nidra meditation yesterday afternoon for the women in my Rest Tribe. Oh, how I love the first Tuesday of the month, when I get to sleep with these women.

I used to prepare a neat and tidy yoga nidra nap for these sisters, sometimes a week in advance. Women liked it.

Lately I've changed. Now I do not prepare at all. I tune in. I write down nothing. I am totally unprepared in the ways I have been trained my whole life...to THINK things through... to plan, plan, plan.

I have thrown the plan out.

Instead of reliable, I am choosing risk.

A consistent yoga nidra meditation practice leads you to risk every time. Why? Because when you lie down you're guided into stillness and it's through the inherent stillness in yourself that you find freedom. Lying down will get you to this spacious, open place quickly. You begin to atune to your aliveness. And it's here, you feel safe and can embrace risk.

I've been practicing a lot of yoga nidra lately. Sometimes twice per day. The poignant pause always reveal right action. Something comes to you. A messenger. A feminine voice.

My messenger said: it's time to take a risk with the way you lead your yoga nidra. It may be a bloody mess, and that's okay.

I love yoga nidra meditation because ultimately it teaches us to go beyond the chains of either/or thinking.

I am no longer apologizing for what may be a bloody mess. Because all women know, deep in our cells, it's the bloody mess that makes us whole. This is a woman's journey for much of her life, every month, to accept her bloody mess, and see it as a cleansing gift that keeps us aligned with who we truly are.

Next time you need to prepare for something remember to leave space for that WILD place that says YES to the bloody mess. Don't just think your way there. FEEL your way. Tune in.

If you need help, lay down with yoga nidra meditation, listen for a whisper at the end, and then create from this quiet space.

When we listen quietly, there's magic in the bloody mess.

With a yoga nidra summer sweaty heat wave smile,

Karen

Uniting Yoga Nidra & Essential Oils – Good Medicine

GUEST POST: Deborah Sullivan. Deborah is the owner of Sacred Ways and the creator of the Daring to Rest Essential Oil Collection. She co-teaches Daring to Rest's The Power of Yoga Nidra & Essential Oils.

 

Not Causing Harm – It’s a transformative experience to simply pause instead of immediately filling up the space. By waiting, we begin to connect with fundamental restlessness as well as fundamental spaciousness.”

~Pema Chodron

How do you navigate turbulent times? What helps you to center and self-reflect so you can be at choice, rather than reactive to the myriad of energies that flood in daily?  How does your body, mind, emotions and sleeping patterns transmute these ongoing energies?  Do you have practices that anchor you and support you while riding the currents that are constantly in flux and flow?

I listen to many women speak these words to describe their uncertainty in these challenging times. I know you can add to the list:  stressed, afraid, tense, depleted, unsettled, hyper vigilant, thin skinned, exhausted, flooded and overwhelmed.  Each of these words have their holy opposite: safe, ease, restored, rested, anchored, protected, peace, resilient, and optimal wellbeing.  The journey is about holding sacred space so we can meet ourselves where we are.  Then we explore the paths that lead us to our true nature, to the truth and beauty of the sacred feminine which is the container (our spiritual embryo) that gestates all these experiences.  These holy pairs are a radical invitation to become a seer in the dark, to plunge into the primordial waters and look through the glimmering light that is illuminating us from the inside.  Our eyes learn to see in the dark, our intuition becomes more refined and we become the gardens of our sacred feminine.   The raw, untamed, unbridled energies of the sacred feminine emerge.  We awaken to the truth of who we are becoming, and begin to hone the resources to grow ourselves. Moving through the inner landscapes of our being we awaken to this uncharted and mysterious precious life.

What I love about uniting the holy pair of yoga nidra and essentials oils, is as they merge they shift our energy, and transport us into the immediacy of the moment. The sacredness of the moment. They bring us to our center, to our breath, and to a way of being where we can make couscous choices.  We arrive in the present moment and can just ‘be’. They are portals lifting the veils between worlds and guide our intuition, compassion, and vision.  They speak the language of love, and of our soul’s messages. They are a sacred practice, good medicine for challenging times.

When we practice over time we create a cloak of protection, a permeable boundary of resiliency, and we take a seat in our sacred center.  We become sensitive to the nuances of frequencies, that are flowing through us before they become out of balance.  And even when we do feel off kilter, we can bring our selves home with more ease, love and acceptance.  When we take care of ourselves, we are more available to our loved ones, our intensions and visions and our sacred service on our Mother Earth.

Uniting yoga nidra and sacred scent is ‘magic’.  Together they create a powerful call invoking the energy to inspire and sustain our intentions, visions and dreams.  If you feel this call to self-reflection and creating sacred ways of reconnecting with the sacred feminine through yoga nidra and sacred scent you may enjoy three practices Karen and I offer in the rest shop.  It will be an honor to give birth to this field of love together.

Blessings of love, light, and beauty,

deborah 

Tools for Challenging Times

Recently I've been practicing yoga nidra meditation as much as possible lately, noting all my feelings, trying to not numb out or go into panic mode. At times, my legs have been shaking.

Feelings are real, and it's not easy to hold it all. 

I know many of us are now experiencing a range of emotions after the US Election. This is why I'm popping into your inbox today, to remind you that you're not alone and that this is the time to pull out your mindfulness tools - and use them.

As many of you know, a book I keep it firmly on my bedside table, is Pema Chodron's When Things Fall Apart. After a few days of practicing yoga nidra last week, feeling really fragile, I held Pema's book close, closed my eyes, and opened it to a random page. I like doing this because I always receive what I need, even if I don't understand it at that moment. Here's the words I opened to:

"The gloriousness of our inspiration connects us to the sacredness of the world. But when the tables are turned, and we feel wretched, that softens us up. It ripens our hearts. It becomes the ground for understanding others. Both the inspiration and the wretchedness can be celebrated. We can be big and we can be small at the same time."

This is SO yoga nidra. You can be both.You can feel anxiety, and you can also feel the opposite. It is there too. This is exactly what helped me climb out of a life of panic attacks, knowing I can be both.  

I know it doesn't feel safe for everyone right now. I feel this in my bones, my Jewish ancestors shaking in their graves, urging me to stay awake and aware, but we cannot stay on fire all the time. Over a long period of time this maxes our nervous systems out. This is burnout.

Lately I've been repeating this to myself.

I am inspired to make change happen,

and I feel frightened for the coming change.

I feel Big and small.

(tweet it if you feel it).

You have permission to feel it all. This is a key principle in yoga nidra meditation. It helps you welcome everything just the way it is. Big and small.

Practically, because I know many nervous systems are on high alert, I encourage you to use all your mindfulness tools now. 

  • Practice yoga nidra meditation. We need deep rest now more than ever to counter the feeling of being on high alert.
  • Watch and read as little media as possible. Constant media disrupts your nervous system. Ask someone you know to tell you about anything important or give yourself a limited time every day to read media. Do it consciously and then let it go. (listen here to what Thich Nnat Hanh has to say about social media and smartphones).
  • Take one moment each day to inhale joy. Close your eyes, breathe in, imagine a joyful time in your life, feel it in your body, let go of the memory and stay present to how joy feels in your body.
  • Carry a touchstone (a stone, crystal) with you that brings you to the present moment when you touch it. Keep it in your purse or pocket. Lay it on your heart during yoga nidra meditation, or any area of the body that needs healing, love, and light. 
  • Breathe. Slow belly breathing, in and out, can help shift your energy to a calmer place. Put your hand on your heart, even tap at your heart, and then breathe in and out for several minutes, long and slow breaths.
  • Be conscious of your words. It's important, as much as possible, to use loving speech. This raises your vibration and those around you.

Finally...a new consciousness is coming. Many thought it was coming in the front door, but as Marion Woodman points out, new consciousnesses often have to come in the back door. This is why now more than ever it's important to not just play small. We need big and small. 

With love and yoga nidra pompom shakes,

xo

Karen

Refuse to be Defined

Remember when quiet used to be a bad word? I do.

Shy. Sensitive. Introvert. Quiet.

I was called it all.

Now, suddenly, being quiet is the new black - super cool. Susan Cain, in her powerful book Quiet, tells us quiet people make great leaders. The Omega Institute holds workshops for educators on how to nurture the quiet kids in their classrooms. Meditation, a quiet practice, is hot. I love all this 'quiet' noise (ironic, eh?), but this only tells half the story.

Yes, I am quiet...and I am loud. 

I love...blasting Michael Franti while cooking, going out with friends to see a show or catch a movie, getting into passionate discussions...and I've been known to go to a rally or two with large crowds...even lead a few.  

"You're an ambivert," a friend told me recently.

A what? 

Ambivert: a person who is intermediate between an extrovert and an introvert.

Aaaah, I felt myself exhaling. I no longer had to define myself as quiet or not quiet...I am both.

Jungian psychologist Marion Woodman, in Coming Home to Myself, says,

In a patriarchy,

everything is split.

It's either or.

In the feminine realm,

it's both and.

I hope you can sense lately how we're at the beginning of the end of patriarchy. Women are tired of being defined by society. And people are fed up with defining themselves in many realms of life. I've been visiting college campuses with my son this year, who's in his final year of high school, noticing the 'gender neutral' bathrooms.

The definitions of 'normal' are crumbling and yes it's scary for some,

like we're headed to the edge of a cliff.

Even if you want something to end

there's always the suspense of what's over the cliff,

will it get worse before it gets better?

And the big question...

if I let go of every definition I've given to myself

or has been given to me,

and to my community,

then: Who. Am. I?

When we're ungrounded in our well-being, we think we're a separate, powerless doer. The problem with this is that separation breeds over-doing and thinking you have to overcome something to feel better. If you're sad you need happiness. If you're fearful you need trust. (and there's a pill for that). As a result, we start defining ourselves. ADHD, anxious, bad at relationships. Patriarchy needs to define everything: good/bad. This is the spiral most people live in. Please don't answer the "Who Am I?" question here. Wait.

The pompom shaking yumness of yogic sleep is that the moment you lie down you enter the feminine realm, a place of pure being. This is when the "Who Am I?" question can be fully answered. In the feminine realm, you are undefined. You are potent. You are limitless. Good and bad are not opposing forces. You are both and neither. 

And this sets you free.

Refusing to be defined sets you free.

I am quiet and I am loud and I am both and neither.

Try this freeing exercise yourself.

  • think of a definition of yourself, perhaps one you felt never fit but this is how people have defined you.
  • pair it with an opposite definition.
  • put the word "and" between them
  • and then at the end add "and I am both and neither"
  • repeat it a few times every day
  • bonus points for repeating it in the mirror
  • double bonus points for using it as your intention during your yoga nidra meditation

It's so exhausting defining oneself and the world around us. Let's start taking those chains of exhaustion off this month.

Yoga nidra is very clear that all feelings reside in us. To deny one, is to deny a part of us. Feeling in rhythm is about embracing all sides of you. When we don't, we betray our self worth.

I don't know about you, but I'm done with not feeling worthy.

We need well-rested worthy women in the world.

Happy November,

Keep it real.

And please, give yourself permission to rest. (I will too - this is medicine I need to keep reminding myself too!).

I always love hearing from you. You can comment below.

Hugs & yoga nidra kisses & ambivert fist bumps, 

Karen

Too Busy to Rest

"Maybe you need to dare to rest," Lynn said with a chuckle, knowing the title of the book I'm inches away from finishing.

"Right," I said, trying to smile at the irony.

"We often teach what we need," she said.

Yep. I was on a call with Lynn, a friend's incredible healer in New Zealand, laying flat on my back trying to figure out why a few days earlier my back went completely out. I don't have a back problem. And I definitely didn't have time for a back problem. 

Gotta finish the book (I'd already chucked perfect on one deadline due to a rib injury playing basketball last month!).

Gotta help my 12th grader with his college personal essay (supporting him to write about the impact of his dyslexia on his life is proving quite a challenge!).

Gotta help my 10th grader with high school hiccups (please teachers, I beg you, put all the homework in one place).

Gotta celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary (great day together with a curandera + lunch at our favorite middle eastern!).

I clearly had no time for a back problem. And that's why...I was sent another opportunity to practice what I preach. To slow down. Be still. Get clear on my intention.

Was I practicing yoga nidra before my back went out? Yep. But what I soon realized after a few days in bed is that I was practicing "take out yoga nidra." I was squeezing it in when I could, often not in quiet places, and..THIS IS BIG...I was practicing without an intention. I'd lost my sankulpa.

What's so beautiful about yoga nidra, and what makes it so different from other forms of meditation (other than the fact that it takes you to sleep consciously and other meditations don't) is that in each yoga nidra meditation you are invited to plant your sankulpa (a Sanskrit word meaning "deep vow" or intention) when you are in very deep meditation, a place where the subconscious mind is open. It's like planting a seed in fertile soil. The moment you say your intention in deep meditation it imprints on the subconscious mind and then when you wake you are more aligned to this intention. I've seen this happen so many times. It's with a strong sankulpa that I wrote my play. And yet for the past few months I'd been practicing without one. Or, more precisely, I'd switch intentions just about every day. No wonder my yoga nidra meditations were not feeling as restful.

And no wonder my back went out. I needed some rest time to get re-inspired and clear on my intention. Being flat on your back put a lot of things in perspective.

The book isn't that important.

And supporting my son to write his college essay isn't that important either.

So this week I put everything down. Missed my deadline. Told my sons I'll get to them later. And devoted myself to ME. This sounds easy, but we know it's not, right? When you'be been super busy and everything suddenly stops the idea of having time on your hands feels odd. It's like you have to re-learn how to rest. And re-learn how to be good to yourself. Years ago, if I got injured, I'd go on lots of medication and distract myself with a list of 'things to do while I'm injured." I'd rest productively. How crazypants is that...and yet our default is to do it again and again.

All I can say is a big back flippin' thank you to yoga nidra. The moment I plugged into yoga nidra this time I surrendered. When I surrender, yoga nidra always guides me home. She always re-teaches me how to rest. How to be good to myself. And yet again, when I'm not doing yoga nidra take-out style, she always helps me live with more intention.

I'm not completely out of bed yet (well, I probably could be, but I'm kinda enjoying this!). Next time, because there is always a next time, I'm comforted to know I've got a sleep and higher consciousness tool to get back to what Yogi Amrit Desai calls the Zero Stress Zone. 

What feelings are rising for you as you read this?

Is there a time when you've been sidelined to bed and gone kicking and screaming (like me!), but once you're there you realized, "Whoa, I needed this?" I'd love to hear your comments below.

Okay, gonna lie down now, ice my back, and plug back in to some yoga nidra :)

With yoga nidra love & sleep kisses,

Karen

Reclaiming Sleep and More with Arianna Huffington

Last month I received a copy of Arianna Huffington's new book The Sleep Revolution and the first thing I thought was: this is one stop shopping on the topic of sleep.

The science of sleep and lots of ways on how you can take your sleep back.

I'm delighted to bring you my interview with her. (and for those who have her book or plan to purchase it check out page 25...I'm quoted!).

---

Karen: Thank you for writing The Sleep Revolution. Clearly the science today overwhelmingly points to the tremendous benefits of sleep. We all want more sleep to feel less tired. But in the book you say sleep is a pathway to the sacred. Can you explain?

Arianna: From the beginning of recorded time, sleep and dreams have played a singular role in virtually every religion and spiritual tradition. Sleep was revered—so much so that good sleep was considered something of a luxury, reserved for the rich and those favored by the gods, or something that could be earned by living the proper kind of life.

In both ancient Egypt and ancient Greece, people would often spend the night in “sleep temples” to have their dreams interpreted, asking the gods for answers to life’s questions and the healing of diseases. But sleep and dreams were not just shortcuts to solutions for earthly problems. They were a sacred bridge to the divine, a means of transcendence.

When we reclaim sleep, we reclaim what sleep has offered us throughout human history—a gateway to the sacred and to life’s mystery.

 

Karen: I love that just over half of The Sleep Revolution is focused on taking action.  You give lots of action steps for better sleep and say that ultimately people have to find the unique steps that work for them, but if you had your top three better sleep tips, what would they be and why?

Arianna:

#1 Don’t charge your phone next to your bed.

#2 Make a point to disconnect from your devices, for the sake of your sleep and your overall well-being. I have a specific time at night when I regularly turn off my devices — and gently escort them out of my bedroom.

#3 No caffeine after 2 p.m.

Today caffeine has become a key component of our sleep-deprived culture. But when taken too late in the day— when we are trying to fight off that afternoon slump— caffeine hinders our ability to fall asleep at night. As a result, we are even more tired the next day. So we reach for another caffeinated drink in an endless sleep- deprived cycle.

#4 Create a ritual around your transition to sleep.

A healthy transition to sleep begins before you even step into your bedroom. I treat my own transition to sleep as a sacrosanct ritual. Before bed, I take a hot bath with epsom salts and a candle flickering nearby—a bath that I prolong if I’m feeling anxious or worried about something. I don’t sleep in my workout clothes as I used to (think of the mixed message that sends to our brains) but have pajamas, nightdresses, even T-shirts dedicated to sleep. Sometimes I have a cup of chamomile or lavender tea if I want something warm and comforting before going to bed. 

 

Karen: I’d like to address the never ending work day issue many people today face. Many exhausted parents I speak to don’t want to work these long hours, but the demands of the workplace today make it impossible to respond to fifty or more emails every day and attend several meetings unless they pop back on the computer at night. While, as you point out, some work places are becoming more accommodating you also admit that the workplace is far from ideal yet. What facet of our lives do you feel needs to be addressed first to start changing this paradigm? And what’s a realistic road map from where we are now to a better place?

Arianna: Once we change our minds about sleep, we can begin to change our habits, and the good news is, we have a growing number of business leaders realizing that healthy, fully-charged, well-rested, and fulfilled employees are better employees. For far too long, too many of us -- especially in the world of business -- have been operating under the collective delusion that burning out is the necessary price for accomplishment and success. Recent scientific findings make it clear that this couldn’t be less true. Not only is there no tradeoff between living a well-rounded life and high performance, performance is actually improved when our lives include time for renewal.

And that includes sleep. The business world is waking up to the high cost of sleep deprivation on productivity, health care, and ultimately the bottom line. From offering nap rooms to encouraging more flexible work hours, companies are exploring new ways to help employees make sleep a priority.

At HuffPost, there was skepticism when we first installed nap rooms in New York in 2011. HuffPosters were reluctant to be seen walking into a nap room in the middle of a bustling newsroom in “the city that never sleeps.” But now they are perpetually full, and we’re spreading nap rooms around the world, starting with our London office. And more and more companies are installing nap rooms, including Ben & Jerry’s, Zappos, and Nike. I expect the nap room to soon become as universal as the conference room!

 

Karen: One of the many incredible statistics you mention in the book is that “In the 1970s there were only 3 centers in the United States devoted to sleep disorders. By the 1990s, that number had swelled to more than 300. Today there are more than 2,500 accredited sleep centers.” Wow. Do you think for the most part these centers help improve people’s sleep or is there a better alternative? If so, what’s your vision of the next generation’s sleep center?

Arianna: These centers are one of the best indicators that we are truly living in a golden age of sleep science—revealing all the ways in which sleep plays a vital role in our decision making, emotional intelligence, cognitive function, and creativity. And I think the next generation’s sleep center – which in many ways is already here -- will be defined by a shift from clinics and centers to ways to measure our sleep that are integrated into our everyday lives, from sleep trackers and smart beds to apps on our tablets and smartphones that not only track our sleep but point us to ways to improve it.

 

Karen: I love that you address the importance of dreaming. I too am fascinated with the work of Carl Jung and how dreams are a gateway to the soul. What are the three biggest reasons to get excited about the promise of noticing our dreams? And if we don’t remember our dreams, how can we start?

Arianna: Those who have integrated dreams into their lives have found that the “otherworld” of sleep has become more real— something to be welcomed rather than resistedFor me, it is way more than just feeling recharged. There is also a sense of freedom that comes from less attachment to daily battles, successes, failures, and illusions.

There are some simple steps we can take before we go to sleep to reinstate dreams to a central place in our lives and experience firsthand why they matter. After we put our devices aside, wind down, and let go of the day, we can learn from the practices of ancient temples and do a modern-day version of dream incubation—a process of preparing our consciousness to receive guidance from our inner counselors. It can be about big life decisions, but also about anything that we want more clarity and wisdom around, however trivial it may seem.

If I wake up in the middle of the night, even if I have not asked for specific guidance in any part of my life, I write down whatever I remember from my dreams with a pen that has a flashlight attached to it. I find that when I don’t turn on the lamp on my nightstand, it is easier not to lose the thread of my dreams. When you wake up in the morning, if you want to remember your dreams, don’t grab your cell phone the moment you open your eyes and become inundated with news, texts, and emails. Before letting the outside world in, taking a momentary pause and a few deep breaths can help you recall more of your dreams, reliving the paths traveled while in your dream world.

 

Karen: Let’s talk stillness. In the book you talk about your “Sleep Goody Bag” and how appreciating the concept of stillness is key. Since Bold Tranquility is a sleep-based meditation company, I’m clearly a huge fan of welcoming stillness too. Can you share some of your favorite stillness tips in your sleep goody bag and why they’re so meaningful to you?

Arianna: When I’m really having trouble sleeping, or wake up with thoughts crowding my mind, I’ve found meditation to be a great remedy. Instead of stressing out about how I’m staying awake and fearing I’ll be tired the next day, I prop a few extra pillows under me and reframe what’s happening as a great opportunity to practice my meditation. If it’s in the middle of the night, I remind myself that that’s precisely when many avid meditation practitioners, like the Dalai Lama, wake up to get in two or three hours of meditation; this both takes the stress out of my wakefulness and adds an extra layer of gratitude to my practice. Just by reframing it from a problem to a blessing that allows me to go deeper without a deadline or any distractions, I find that I both have some of my deepest meditation experiences and, inevitably, drift off to sleep at some point.

Every night can be a reminder that we are more than the sum of our successes and failures, that beyond all our struggling and our rushing there is a stillness that’s available to us, that comes from a place deeper and more ancient than the unending noise that surrounds us. When we connect to that stillness through sleep, we can tap into it, even in the middle of the most action-packed day.

 

Karen: If a genie granted you a sleep wish – how you’d like sleep to be used by people in the world and for the world – what would that wish be?

Arianna: My wish would be to overturn the collective delusion I mentioned above. Because we need to reclaim this special realm— not just because sleep makes us better at our jobs (though there’s that) and not just because it makes us healthier in every way (there is that, too) but also because of the unique way it allows us to connect with a deeper part of ourselves.