I recently read a book: Head Trip, by Jeff Warren.
He suggests that rather than having two basic states, awake and asleep, we have (at least) twelve basic states, some related to when our sense organs are switched off; and the others related to when our sense organs are switched on, when we receive input from external reality, and then there are the in-between states, like when you're just falling asleep, or when you're just waking up.
Hynagogic and Hypnopompic
Hypnagogic--you're going to sleep; hypnopompic, you're waking up. Hypnagogic--your body is feeding you Melatonin. Hypnopompic--you're feeding yourself Cortisol, to wake up.
The in-between moments: hypnagogic, external reality is more real than the dream world, and so there are stages of falling out of external sensory input. Hynopompic, external reality is struggling to get through to your sleepy mind. You are asleep when your brain has switched off the sense organs to the conscious mind, which then wanders into a dream world--which is mapped in the book, the various stages.
So, a music diary! I have tried to find a piece or two of music to...show that music and our consciousness interact; and neither is a solid thing, easy to comprehend or configure--heh...
Tom Waits - Innocent when you dream (4:32)
The Slow Wave
When you eliminate the transition periods, there are primarily two kinds of sleep: Stage 3-4 sleep--known as "slow wave sleep"--and REM sleep. Within the five or six ninety-minute sleep cycles that we move through every night, the distribution of these two sleeps changes so that the first half of the night is dominated by slow-wave sleep, and the latter half by REM sleep.
Head Trip, p 57
The slo o o o w wave.
BrainSync - Delta Induction w/ Fractals (9:12)
This is an intriguing period. We all wake up during the night--we don't remember it in the morning, maybe, but we wake up, sensory inputs are activated. As long as we are not disturbed during the watch, and as long as our waking was natural, then the body feeds us prolactin.
These next two pieces have, for me, watch sounds. The first piece could also be a REM dream, the way John Cale narrates it, but the fact that it is a narration of a dream that is finished gives it, for me, that strange 3:17 am and you just woke up out of a strange dream and you're awake, remembering the dream, it held some meaning, maybe, certainly we are emotional in our dreams. Anyway, here it is:
Lou Reed & John Cale - A Dream (6:24)
The second piece--I don't know if I'm remembering this or it just reminds me of that sound--you're small, you wake up and it feels....mysterious. The universe is big, you might die right now--but you're okay--
Kate Bush - and Dreams of Sheep (2:45)
One other thing he wrote about the watch: that the western habit of sleeping either alone or with one other person, with the intention of sleeping through from late evening to the morning, can be compared to other cultures where sleeping is a group activity, that at any one moment various people may be awake and active while others are fast asleep. The advantage of the group set up, in one theory, is that there is a sort of group eye that is always open.
The REM Dream & the Lucid Dream
REM dreaming is us, as we are now, but with all our external inputs shut off--that's the theory. Instead of responding to what our sense organs are telling us about the outside world, we respond to internal imaginary worlds, built from our collection of memories we have compiled from the data our sense organs have given us, and maybe there's a whole lot more going on in there, the point I note is that we are as awake in a dream as we are when we're awake. The difference is not in the level of consciousness, it's in the logic behind the inputs. Our memory is stored in various ways; there is the emotive connection. One thought sparks another thought completely tangential to the first, but linked via a specific emotional tone, and so the dream changes but it all makes sense.
But we get lost in these interior worlds. they stop making sense as our Cortisol levels rise, we might be thinking, "But he can't be king, because..." and then we're opening our eyes. Or maybe we were in a garden looking at a flower, but the flower started making an ugly noise, so we dropped the petal we'd been touching and wonder what the noise is, what can it be, looking around, and from somewhere far away a voice says, "It's the alarm."
Now, what about if that voice didn't say, "It's the alarm." What if it said, "You're dreaming. Go for it!"
There are tests to see if you are dreaming. Look at a clock, look away, then look at it again. The brain doesn't do clock time well. Or look at a piece of printed material, try to read it. The brain is not good at reproducing texts in dreams.
But do any of you know that sensation? Is this a dream? I had a dream once, I was on a desert isle, the sea was near my toes, I was in all ways content, and I thought, heh, imagine if this was just a dream, I pinched myself--and woke up!
Something to try in a Lucid Dream (4:36)
You wake up, put on your clothes, take them off again, step in the shower, waking up, waking up, the dream memories fragment, the emotions slip away, hot water, ah! There are things to do, I am waking up!
There is a state we can call "being awake", but we don't pass all our time there. There are other states we regularly visit, as our hormonal levels fluctuate through the day. The Trance state is, as I understand it, the "let someone else do the thinking" time. You can slip into a trance while dancing, while listening to music, while watching television, while doing a repetitive task. The trance state is where you zone out a lot of input and concentrate on this one central tone--the performance, or the beat, or the personality of a presenter--and maybe what they're saying, but not just the words, there are techniques for tuning a person into their trance state--some move into it more readily than others--it's about letting someone else make the decisions--I don't know, you tell me!
It's like the slow wave, but the inputs are external, which ramps up the power in the circuits, all those neurons lining up to dance.
Fela Kuti - Water no get enemy (11:00)
This could be a worry, you're sitting there doing something and this worry is there, and you worry about it, start extrapolating out, getting worried, maybe going back over a decision you made, and..."What? Sorry, I was miles away."
Or it could be just thinking about getting home, you're going to cook something tasty, get a bottle of wine on the way home, you're imagining yourself...whoops! Think the eyes might have just closed for a moment, a quick look around...there's a moment where just being awake is getting heavy, maybe it's a boring meeting and your consciousness wanders--
I'm going to suggest that daydreams are what pop songs are about, the thing you are very worried about is very important, as important as the thing you were worrying about last month, maybe this worry is more important!
Or maybe that other daydream was so sweet, really summed it up--that's the tone.
Jimi Hendrix- Rainy Day, Dream Away
The SMR and the Zone
"Yes, SMR: the sensorimotor-rhythm, 12 - 15 hertz. It's a very distinct spindle-like wave centred across your brain's sensory-motor strip. If someone is highly distractible they can't tune out sensory input, and they often can't control motor output, so you see lots of foot tapping and fidgeting. The SMR rhythm is an inhibition wave. It's associated with reduced sensory input
and motor output
. You need to be still for it to come up at all. When people are producing a lot of SMR they generally experience a kind of calm, in-the-moment alertness."
You can be plugged into a machine which measures electrical output from your brain--and you can look at a screen showing that output in a visual form (e.g. three columns representing three different types of brain wave) and you can...try and change the height of the columns by changing your brain in some way, thinking differently, concentrating differently, relaxing, tensing up...SMR is a state of quiet alertness. It's a preparatory form of concentration--you're not concentrating on anything in particular, but you're also not letting yourself be distracted by every last bit of sensory input...
...and then--the focus! The area of influence, where actions take place, and you're all ready, it's as though you knew what you had to do next, no doubts, no over-thinking, just practiced skills and the moment.
Screaming Jay Hawkins - I Put a Spell on You (2:29)
The Pure Conscious Event
Hokkay. From what I've understood, this is like the trance, but instead of someone doing it for or to you, you do it to yourself. You focus in, remove external distractions by concentrating--maybe on your breathing--as Fran had it, you give the elephant a stick to hold so it won't grab everyone's bananas and crash through any living rooms--but the focus is on consciousness itself, stripped of the contents.
It's almost as if you have a tractor beam with a split-second delay shooting out from the front of your head. Every time you turn your head, the beam is there first, illuminating trees and people and pieces of furniture, getting a grip on the world before the world itself makes it into your head as content. As soon as that split-second [100-200 millisecond delay--rg] is up, the tractor beam is activated, and whatever bit of the world is located in its sights gets sucked in for sensory processing. But--and this is critical for our discussion--before this hapens the beam is absolutely empty and content-free.
Now that conscious tractor beam could be full of the junk being processed from the previous in-suck of sensory information--but if you clear out the junk, keep clearing it out, practice removing the junk--the automatic behaviours of the mind as it sorts and filters via feedback with past memories of similar types of input--but hold on, brain, just hold on, stop storing all that stuff, let some of it go, think: what's important? Being here now is a pause--a meditation: don't worry about it, that's just more stuff going in, more associations, more experience. Try to de-clutter the beam for a few minutes--
The idea is that we are energetic monkeys as a default setting--the evolution of our frontal lobes has given us a working environment in which to inhibit certain energetic monkey behaviours and to promote others. Our frontal lobes (according to the theory) are the place where we can develop the ability to discern the processes underlying our consciousness--there are positive feedback loops, where learning not to respond to every last input leads to a softening of the receivers such that not every last input leads directly to the focus of consciousness (at that moment); command is released--a rush as the tension is broken and this rush re-wires the neurons--and vice versa: the intensity of an experience describes the size of the flash that causes the re-wiring--maybe!
One way of entertaining the elephant is to give it a stick. Another way is to sing it a short song, over and over, focusing on the sounds in the words, the vibrations as they are sung--
Or just hit something that gives off a pleasant tone--it might clear the mind, but it is the clearing of the mind that is important, the input that helps in that clearing is useful, but the aim (as I've understood it) is, for a period of time, to free consciousness from attachments internal or external.
Sleep walking is an example of a parasomnia. The body ups itself and starts on a goal-based activity without waiting for consciousness to give the orders. For me, this is equivalent to the music I wasn't listening to that nevertheless got me doing things I wasn't thinking about, some primal urge or need to do something that isn't inactivated by the fact that my conscious mind hasn't noticed. I can't think of a piece to go with that--heh!
Okay, maybe I misunderstood it all. Here's a last track. Wide awake music, musicians in the zone, maybe a bit of hypnagogic inspiration for Herr Bach during composition...
Bach - 2° Concerto Brandeburghese 1° mov. - Abbado (4:43)