And … Sleep!

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The night started reasonably enough, my mind filled with pleasant images of how to look after your roses, and the modern twist on cottage gardens, thanks to the lovely Monty Don and an hour of “Gardener’s World.”

I cleaned my teeth, spilled the cat water, and got into bed, the sheets freshly changed and smelling of lavender, the room pleasantly cool and dark and I dropped off into a peaceful slumber, for all of about three hours…

Then it started.

My partner came to bed, disturbing Charlie who demonstrated her displeasure by vomiting copiously under the bed. So, I got up and cleaned it up, grovelling about on my hands and knees at 3.30a.m. trying not to retch myself as you really don’t want to be dealing with catsick at that time of morning.

Meanwhile, my partner had got himself tucked into bed, wrinkling the sheets on my side and was snoring merrily away. After about half an hour of sighing heavily and thumping my legs about I lost patience and whisper-shouted: “STOP SNORING!!”

Still asleep, he rolled over and there was blissful silence.

Then I got the phantom itches. Have you ever had those? A dreadful, creeping sensation that leaves you convinced that there is some sort of bug in the bed with you… a crawling, that started in my hair, down my ribcage and finished at my left shin, leaving me itchy and so absolutely certain I had a horde of spiderlings in my pyjamas that I had to get out of bed and go to the bathroom to check that my flowery (not glittery) pyjamas were not actually infested with some kind of alien mite.

They weren’t.

Back to bed. My pyjamas then decided to act like a strait jacket, the top wrapping itself uncomfortably tightly around my chest, while the bottoms rolled up in such an engaging and amusing fashion they ended up as tourniquets around the tops of my thighs.

I gave up and got up, just as dawn’s tender fingers were painting the sky delicate shades of blush pink and apricot. Drawn irresistibly outside I sat down in the garden swing, watching the moths conclude the night’s partying chased by bats – “Come back! I didn’t get your number! Are you on NatureBook…?”

Soothed by the scent of petunias and the gentle trickle of the pond waterfall… I fell asleep.

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Howlite and Hauntings

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I’m not a great sleeper. Don’t get me wrong, I love sleep, I’m just not very good at it. I mentioned this in passing to my son’s lovely crystal lady Lizian and she suggested I try some Howlite, placed under my pillow.

It’s not the most beautiful crystal I own, but it is certainly one of the most useful. It has a cool, silk texture and a satisfying feel to the hand, one of those crystals that conjure “mind pictures”, and I at once thought of a tall glass of milk, cool, soothing, calming.

I was unsurprised to learn, therefore, that it is in fact, a wonderfully beneficial stone for those with insomnia. I use it in conjunction with Selenite, and these two crystals combined allow me a glimpse of the Promised Land … Slumber.

Howlite stills the mind, turning down the volume of everyday life and allowing serenity and calmness in. In that breathing space, reasoned communication can be achieved as it allows your open mind to receive attunement and wisdom; its patterning of soft grey lines almost showing you a mental map, a way forward, to release selfishness and criticism and fulfill your own positive spiritual and material ambitions.

img_8998Dyed Howlite (or Turquenite) balances mood fluctuations and brings inner peace 

My appalling sleep habits started when I was tiny, and although I have gone through weeks, months even, when I have slept all right, the demon of Insomnia returns to pluck at the edges of my consciousness …

I had the most terrible nightmares when I was little, perhaps about two or three years old. I can remember to this day the metallic taste of my own fear, the creeping terror that chilled my limbs and numbed my brain, while the blood pounded and thumped its slow sluggish way through my heart…

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My parents had finally earned enough to move out of the veterinary practice house, and buy a house of their own, for themselves and their two daughters. It was a brand – new house, built in the late ‘60’s, when the city we lived in had a rise in population and people moving away from the city centre to the suburbs. The sandy coloured bricks were clean, the woodwork shiny white and fresh … an immaculately kept front garden, four bedrooms, good sizes, beautiful modern bathroom and a fitted kitchen with all mod-cons. My mother loved it. I hated it.

She set about making this house into our home, and yet … and yet …

Looking back, this house had the fetid fug of unhappiness clinging to it, like the shredded remnants of a corpse shroud. And I began to dream … and what dreams. Nightmares of being stuck in a multi – storey car park. Hiding desperately behind a car, hearing the tick – tick – tick of its cooling engine, and knowing that out there waited a sword – wielding maniac with clothes that smelt of blood and a laugh like poison.

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Dreams of ogres, that clawed and dragged their way up the stairs of this house ; not cute ogres, but creatures of terror and despair, yellow rotting fangs in a mouth open wide to tear my body apart, so afraid, so frozen with fear I could hardly scream or breathe, clawing my way back to cold, sweating wakefulness with tears of sheer horror clinging to my face.

I developed asthma and a reluctance to go to bed. Every night, at a certain time, my parents in the front room – my bedroom was directly above it – would hear a thud, and then footsteps, going from my room across the landing and into the bathroom. The dogs would raise their heads and watch the footsteps travel across the ceiling … My father tried to pass the noises off as my cat, jumping off the bed and walking across the landing. My mother kept the cat in the front room with them, and yet the noises still happened. Whenever my parents went to check on me, I was in bed. Asleep.

And then one night I had a convulsion and stopped breathing. On this particular night, I had already been unwell, wheezy and tightchested, but had gone to bed, soothed by the promise of regular checks from my mother. At the usual time, she heard the footsteps and rushed upstairs to check on me… I remember to this day the awful sensation of trying and trying to expand my chest and simply not getting enough air… and that’s all I remember about that night.

Apparently, I gasped and stopped. Breathing. Panicked, my mother shook me whilst screaming for my father to ring the doctor. The breath came back to me and I was all right, I was breathing, but the doctor came anyway and gave me an injection …

At work the next day, my mother was relating the tale of my brush with Death. A colleague said to her:

Well, I was quite surprised actually anyway, when I heard you had bought that house…”

My mother, pounced on this statement, perhaps thinking of the faulty damp course and demanded an explanation. The colleague obliged.

Oh yes, it was such a tragedy. The family that lived there before you, they had a little girl about Samantha’s age. I think she had asthma too… well, anyway, poor little thing. One night she had a really bad attack and died… Couldn’t do a thing for her…”

The house went on the market that same day and my family returned to the practice house.

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***

(As a post script to this story, I Googled the address of this house where we used to live. I was interested to see it was up for sale. Again.)

Home

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In her day to day life she coped. She managed. In the workplace, her co-workers noted her for her dedication to her job and her determination. No-one knew what lay beneath. At night time alone, alone in her bed, she hungered. The memory of his touch burned her skin and branded her soul. Above, she was as calm as the proverbial millpond.

Occasionally, the passion that simmered beneath burst through like bubbling lava. It manifested itself in outbursts of temper, quite unlike her usual moon-calm self, as sudden and unexpected as a desert storm. Her colleagues noticed.

When she woke from sleep heavy eyed and angry, she could bear it no longer. Never one for the doctor, she had no wish to bare her soul to the kindly old man who had known her since birth, and turned instead to a more “New Age” solution.

Her colleague, a wispy woman who spent most weekends at spiritual events, had taken her aside once, confidingly:

“You’re an old soul, my love… has anyone ever suggested hypnosis to you? Perhaps you have some issues from a past life that need resolving…”

She thanked her colleague politely and gently removed the woman’s hand from her arm.

The idea, however, took root. Waking yet again from another dream where her soul was left yearning for she knew not what, she took matters into her own hands. She researched thoroughly the credentials of each hypnotist she found – she was that sort of person, ordered and methodical. She determined that she would find the cause of this underlying distant unhappiness and eliminate it. It had no place in her life.

Her appointment time arrived and she dressed with care. Comfortable loose clothing and an open mind. The pleasant woman hypnotist welcomed her in and directed her to a padded chair. She sat down and surprisingly, for one who considered herself so strong minded she was there. He was waiting. She was lost in his deep, dark gaze and her body knew him and mourned his passing.

But he was there, arms outstretched and as they enfolded her she went home.

***

The hypnotist panicked. Unable to recall her, she ran for her phone to call emergency services. If she had stayed and watched, she would have seen the woman’s chest cease to rise and fall; the faint smile that curved her lips as she stopped breathing.

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Lepidolite and Long Cats

IMG_7191 (2).JPGA beautiful example of rough Lepidolite, thank you Lizian!

Lepidolite is one of my favourite crystals, one of my ‘worker’ group. It has a comforting, rough grained texture to it, and can vary in colour from pinkish purple to lilac. The sparkles in it are actually mica, and as Lepidolite is formed in layers, it can work on several different levels to alleviate problems. I have two pieces, an egg shape and a piece that reminds me of a book… It’s a very good crystal to wear in contact with the skin as it actually contains lithium, a chemical used in the manufacture of certain anti-depressants.

I have depression and in the long, drawn-out hours that stretch before me, Lepidolite is a lightener, a mousse for the soul that lightens, if you will, that can help in some of the bleaker moments. It can be used to clear electromagnetic pollution and is a motivational crystal that will only let itself be used for the highest purpose.

A typical interpretation of this stone is that it will dissolve negativity and restore calm and balance. Lepidolite is associated with the heart, crown and third eye chakras, opening your consciousness to cosmic awareness: embracing the whole can help resolve troubles from past lives and aid progression into the future. As I have already mentioned, Lepidolite can help with reducing stress, lighten depression and get rid of dependencies. This calming, positive stone is restorative and beneficial, helping to re-organise potentially harmful psychological and behavioural patterns.

IMG_7231 (2).JPGDragon scales of Lepidolite, showing its layered formation… thank you Lizian

Lepidolite is also said to be good for insomnia. I have perfect examples of how to sleep surrounding me most nights when I begin my usual battle to force the gates into the Land of Nod…cats. Cats who relax completely and utterly, not even curled into a ball but L-O-N-G cats, stretched and blissful, asleep in the arms of Morpheus…

I love to see a long cat, because it shows me that they are completely relaxed into their environment, trusting there will be no mishap to disturb them. Some of the positions my girls manage to contort themselves into are practically a whole new range of yoga poses.

WP_20160112_22_15_09_Pro.jpgLily doing an example of “Twisted Dragon”…

WP_20160119_18_17_39_Pro (2).jpgErin’s interpretation of Twisted Dragon…

The long poses show off the grace and elegance of the feline body, supple and athletic. Charlie will stand up on her back legs to open doors, reach cupboard handles, or even tap me imperiously on the thigh:

Hey! Where’s my second breakfast?”

Long cats surround me as I sleep, stretched out by my side and by my feet, purring and soothing, sleep reaching and air kneading, showing me by clear example how to banish the long minutes of the night through sleep…

WP_20150512_22_40_11_Pro.jpgAaaand sleep.

All photos were taken by my son!

Sleep

Deep, restful healing slumber is one of those things that persistently eludes me, like a massive lottery win…

It started when I was a baby – my mother told me I had trouble sleeping, so my father used to stick the carrycot in the back of the car and spend hours driving around, trying to get me to sleep. My uneasy relationship continued when I was a little girl. I suffered from night terrors, possibly not helped by the fact that the house we lived in at the time was supposedly haunted. The blood pounding in your ears when you lay down was, to me, the footsteps of giants coming up the stairs. I was never one for sleeping in my parents’ bed either, despite the fact it can help soothe a child to sleep. I was always too hot, too restless, tucked between my parents, wanting the cat, wanting to be awake so I would know what was coming to get me… My own bed, my cat and a large stuffed black panther called Bagheera, helped me achieve some semblance of night time peace; but even then, I remained a prey to nightmares.

Sleep (1)Doesn’t she look peaceful?

The blessing of older siblings…my sister insisted I watch television with her. She’s ten years older than me and obviously when we were younger, our viewing tastes were very different. I wanted to watch “Lassie”, my sister wanted “The Birds.” I still have nightmares now about the scene where Tippi Hedren stumbles across a room full of birds, perching, watching, waiting, then attacking. Sharp pointed beaks and clawed feet dragging at her hair and scratching at her face… My dream remains the same after all these years, even though I’ve never watched the film again. I’m a child, kneeling in front of a door, desperately trying to push the prying beaks back through as they puncture the wood.

My cats have helped. As I go to sleep, I usually like to have a hand on who ever is my sleep guardian that night, knowing that their warm furry presence will stay with me as I wrestle with trolls, run away from shadowy threats and look, always endlessly looking for I don’t know what.

Sleep (3)Ammonite (millions year old fossilised sea snail) under your pillow is supposed to aid restful slumber…

Drowning. That’s another good one. I don’t really watch films that involve boats or the sea. “Titanic” haunted my dreams for months, trapped beneath the weight of water, gently filling my lungs and suffocating, suffocating, as I beat my fists against the surface of sleep.

I love the preparation for sleep. Clean pyjamas, clean hair, freshly brushed teeth and then slipping between the sheets of my bed – my one indulgence, I love good quality bed linen – soft, fresh pillows and blissful darkness. And then it begins. The impossible itch that chases the nerves around my body. The sheets heat up and turn into snake demons that wrap themselves around me and trap my feet. My pillows turn over and attempt to smother me. Finally I wake up, hands clenched, heart pounding, eyes streaming from yet another dream where I’m running down endless corridors trying to escape from nameless terrors.

Sleep (4)A Selenite palmstone – serene, peaceful, perfect for helping you sleep…

I’ve tried everything. Cool, dark room, no tea before bedtime, no television, milky drink, reading myself to sleep, nice music playing, complete darkness, herbal remedies, sleeping tablets, lavender oil, Howlite, Selenite, Ammonite. These crystals are said to pave the way into restful, calming sleep. No such luck. Even as a student, drinking my way into unconsciousness only guaranteed that I would wake up half an hour later, parched and headachey, grumpy from dreams of wandering through deserts populated only by psychedelic cacti…

Having children made it worse…up every twenty minutes to poke them as they slept, alert to every movement and change in breathing, envious of their complete and utter relaxation into sleep. I envy the cats’ ability to fall so completely into slumber, on the back of the sofa, curled up in the garden, on the newspaper…a smile of satisfaction curving their furry jaws as they enjoy their dreams and wake up relaxed, instead of taut and pinging like an elastic band pulled to full stretch.

SleepHowlite is particularly good for insomnia…

Occasionally I am granted six hours of sleep, as complete as if I’ve been knocked over the head with a brick. The world is bright and clear cut, I am relaxed and calm, able to deal with anything the day throws my way. Then it’s back to bed. The blood starts pounding in my ears, are those footsteps coming up the stairs? The sheets turn into bear traps, tethering my ankles so I can’t run from the terrors that haunt my nights.

Nothing has happened to me. I can’t claim any traumas that would disturb my sleep patterns, I have no justifiable excuse. I just can’t sleep. And my partner snores.

All photos were taken by my son!