donderdag 14 januari 2010

From South to North - Part 1

All pictures can be found here (click here)

And if you haven`t done so, it might be useful to read the introduction to this blog, so you might get an idea what the point of this blog is. (click here)

(first part written on Jan 1, continued on Jan 14)

On the 24th of december, a bit more than a week ago, I took the airplane from Tokyo to Kagoshima, the most southern prefecture of Japan.

All throughout recent months, I had been throwing off weight off my shoulders, things that I used to be attached to, but was able to let go off, one by one. I used to have a nice appartment in the Belgian city of Leuven, where I studied. I sold my huge tv, my computer, my piano, gave my squirrel pet away, and got rid of most of all the other stuff that I had in it, before getting out of the appartment finally. After that, and just before I got to Japan, I lived with my parents again for a little 2 months. It had been a long time since I had lived with my parents, and it was something that I used to have a strong aversion to. Instead of trying to run away from the bad anchors, I got in close touch with my old negative behaviors and beliefs to a lot of things in my past. Throughout those two months, I was able to let go of most of these bad anchors to the past, and was actually able to live together with my mom and dad without wanting to pull my own hair out. There`s a saying that says: If you think you`re enlightened, go live with your parents for a while. That was a challenge, but I think I sorted out things pretty nicely before I finally left Belgium on the first of October, 2010. I had felt like running away from my life in Belgium in 2008-2009. The year before that, in 2007-2008, I had lived in Tokyo for a year as an exchange student, and that year was an awesome year on nearly every level, socially, financially and spiritually. Getting back to Belgium in August 2008, was like getting trapped again into the shackles of the past, like all the development I went through in Japan disappeared into nothingness. On top of that I got out of touch with the people that used to be my best friends in Belgium. It was not easy, but it was one of the most valuable years of my life, and I`m happy that I stayed, and didn`t give up. Finally getting my university Bachelors Degree right before I left for Japan again, was a nice cherry on the pie, and another weight of my shoulders. I left Belgium with a warm feeling, that my country was actually a pretty nice place that I could always return to, instead of the aweful place that I had portraited it as, in the past year. Nevertheless, I was superthrilled to get back to the `Country of the Rising Sun`, the country that carries my passion, Japan.

Getting to Japan, and living in Tokyo again in the months between October and December, was very fun and interesting. I got back in touch with old friends, made new friends, and... you know :).
I also experienced meditation for the first time in my life on a very significant level. I did a meditation retreat of Vipassana Buddhism near Tokyo for 10 days, consisting of more than 12 hours of meditation a day. I could write a whole post about it, and meditation for me in general, so here I won`t be going into detail. (I`ll write about it more specifially in a future post)
It`s my spiritual ambition for a while, to be able to enjoy things and life without creating attachments to the things I like doing, and aversions to the things that create unpleasant experiences. To me, that is the ultimate happiness, because as fun as things in your life may be, if you`re attached to it, it will go hand in hand with suffering. Also, as much as you`re able to avoid things that might create unpleasant experiences, as long as the aversion is still inside you, it will continue to create suffering. This is pretty inspired by Buddhism, although there is a pretty significant difference. A lot of so called highly spiritual people are free from attachments, by becoming poor. They run away from anything that they might become attached to, while the aversion to those things still remains. I think it is possible to enjoy the best things in life, without attachments, and I think it is possible to have experiences that others might see as highly unpleasant, without aversion. I think there`s no problem with eating good food, living in a nice place, wearing comfortable clothes, having a lot of money and having great sex. There`s only a problem if you create suffering for yourself or for others by doing these things. It`s only when you become attached to these things, and if you are aversed to the opposites, that it will make you suffer. Living a life of love, without attachements and without aversions, that is my current quest.

Flashforward to December 24th, the day that I took the airplane from Tokyo to Kagoshima, with nothing more than a backpack.
It`s pretty ironic how leaving behind any kind of long-term housing was at the same time one of the last material weights that I threw off my shoulders, while this backpack is actually pretty damn heavy on the shoulders ^_^. Nevertheless, I felt a freedom like never before, how ever heavy the backpack may be.

I had yet to find out a way of how to get from the airport to the most Southern point of the island, Cape Sata. Kagoshima airport was more than 100km away from it, but I found out from the airport that it wasn`t that hard to get there. I took a bus to Kagoshima city. I had everything in my backpack that I needed, except gas for my gas stove, since they don`t allow that on an airplane. I had bought a gas stove in Tokyo, asking the guy at the counter of the camping gear store for something small, and something that was most easy to refill in the middle of nowhere. He gave me a `white gas` stove, and told me I could use gasoline from any gas station for it. That sounded pretty good, so I bought it. Then I saw on the website, that white gas wasn`t common at all in Japan, and that using normal gas station gasoline in it is very bad for my stove. So for this reason, I went to look for white gas in Kagoshima City. I asked in a gas station first, but the guy of the station looked like he hadn`t even heard of the existence of white gas, or any synonym that I could give for it. There was a cab driver nearby, that just happened to be there by coincidence. He told me there was a shop nearby for camping gear, and he told me directions to it. As I was looking for it, and asking more specific directions to someone on the street, the same cab driver from before drove past me and told me that the shop was closed today, and that he would drive me to another place where they would have it. He insisted that he would bring me for free, and he seemed like a nice guy, so I hopped in gratefully.
He told me about how this prefecture had a lot of Western influence in the Meiji period, a few hundred years ago. It was a very powerful Han (what the provinces were called those days) within Japan, called Satsuma. He told me English cannons were shooting the place up from the sea, while the Satsuma cannons couldn`t even reach their ships, and this impressed them so much that they insisted on learning from the West.
I was able to find myself a liter of white gas in the camping equipment store, and the cab driver drove me all the way to the ferry terminal in the city to go to Sakurajima, the volcano island in the bay of Kagoshima. He gave me 2 cans of coffee `for the road`.

Here the pictures tell more than the words do. I walked around on Sakurajima, took a soak in a hot spring to wash away the travel sweat, and took a walk along the sealine of the island for a few hours, in the dark. I had to camp next to the road, on a mixture soil of a little grass, ground and ash. It was the only spot I could find that wasn`t bare magma rocks. Few people were using the road, so I had a pretty quiet night. In the morning my tent was all muddy from an ash rain/dew mix, but I could care less. A brilliant sea and a cloudless blue sky wished me good morning. (Cloudless apart from the smokecloud coming from the volcano.)
I walked a bit untill I came to a busstop, and took the bus to the entrance of the island, the only connection to the mainland, created in 1914 by a big eruption. There I changed busses, and got to the bus and ferry terminal of Tarumizu, a coasttown. While I was waiting for my final bus to Sata, there were 2 highschoolgirls that were also waiting for their bus, staring at me while giggling. I was eating breakfast, and drinking the coffee that I got for free from the shoplady. They were too shy to have a real conversation, but waved at me when they got on their bus, before they disappeared.
A group of young boys carrying baseball-bags, passed me when they got off the ferry, each wishing me good morning as they passed, some of them brave enough to say it in English.
If there`s one thing very different between Tokyo and the countryside of Japan, it`s the fact that people don`t dismiss each other`s existence like they do in Tokyo. For example, when people pass each other on the street, they often greet each other, and it`s considered kind of unethical not to do so. If not a real greeting like good morning, good day or good evening (In Japanese `Ohayo Gozaimasu`, `Konnichiwa`, `Konbanwa`), there`s often a simple nod or a smile. Quite some towns in the countryside pride themselves of this fact, putting up signs like `this is a town of greetings`, where you enter the town.

I got on the bus to Sata, and made the mistake of reading while sitting on the back seat. The road was kind of swingy, and I started to feel bad in my stomache. The sun was shining brightly, and it was pretty hot inside, so I reached the point that I couldn`t keep it in anymore. I was lucky that there was a window, `coughed` a little bit of the inside of my stomache outside through the window, and felt normal again.
In the early afternoon, I finally reached the Sata area, and I got off at the last stop, about 10km walking distance from the Cape.
It was a beautiful but tiring walk, with lots of ups and downs in the road. Definitely check the pictures, there`s no sense describing the views when there are pics.
I finally got to Cape Sata, or Sata Misaki, accompanied by two Japanese young people who were touring Japan by bicycle.

It took me about a day to get to Cape Sata from Tokyo. I went by airplane, by bus, by taxi, by ferry and by foot to get there, but it was only the road to a new beginning. At this place, at Sata Misaki, a trek of more than 3000 kilometers has started. It was the start of not only an exploration of Japan and the Japanese people, but also an exploration of myself. How would a trek like this affect me? Before I started, I didn`t know, and I didn`t have any real expectations. Whatever happens may happen, whatever comes may come. I made the decision to throw myself in an adventure where I can get the experiences that I`m destined to experience. I`m writing this on the 14th of January, so I can already tell that I`m not getting disappointed. The whole point of this is that there`s not really a point. To be honest I don`t care if I reach my final goal of the North of Japan, because that`s not the point of this. Although I`ve decided that I want to do this by foot, I don`t really care if to get in a car for short distances, if people invite me to stay over at their home, for example. My point is not that I want to impress myself and others by walking this whole 3000+km distance, because that would just create new attachments and aversions. I am walking this whole distance because I truly feel like doing it, and I won`t be sad if somehow I would become unable to complete it. The point, that`s not really a point, because it cannot be grasped by the mind, is that I create a space for myself of total freedom, in which I can experience the truth of just being, existing.

After testing out my gas stove for the first time at the Cape, and making a pot of hot noodlesoup, I started walking, at 15:45 on the 25th of December, 2009. Because it would be dark a little bit past 6pm, I set up camp after a 10km walk, at a conveniently located camping ground, right next to the beach. The beach was full of dry wood that was washed on the shore, so that evening I tried making a fire on the beach, just because I felt like doing so, but I couldn`t get the wood to burn in this humid air. So I went to sleep early instead. The wind got stronger and stronger throughout the night, and in the morning as soon as I got out of my tent, it got ripped from the sandy ground by the wind. Luckily I was quick enough to react. It was quite a job to put the tent back in its bag with this wind, but it wasn`t a problem, since my body and my thoughts were carried by an adventurous spirit in high moods for soon to be explored new lands. I undid 6 carrots of their skin, put them in my pocket as breakfast, and took off at about 8AM, into the evergreen hills of South Kyushu.

woensdag 23 december 2009

My last night in Tokyo - Tomorrow is the big day

All pictures can be found here:

I haven't been sitting still for the last few weeks. Since I will be walking 30 kilometers a day from tomorrow on, I have done quite some preperation to get myself ready for the next few months. First there was the necessary preperation to get all the equipment that I will need on my trek. So I got myself a huge backpack with which I can probably steal at least 10 babies if I wanted to. (IF i wanted to, just to be clear, this is just a metaphor)
Got myself good walking shoes, a tent that hopefully won't rip apart the first night I use it, a very warm sleeping bag, a basic gas stove to make myself some food during the hungry hours, and much much more, enough to fill up the space of the 10 babies. I opted for quality stuff that hopefully won't get me in trouble.

Another piece of the preparation was to get my physique ready for walking these vast distances. I went hiking around the hot-spring region of Hakone, followed by a stay at an awesome Japanese style ryokan, hot-spring included. On this trip, I was honored by the company of my 2 year long friend Sachiko.
Another piece of preparation was walking the tour of Tokyo, passing through every station of the Yamanote trainloop. This is the major trainloop in Tokyo that passes most important places in Tokyo. That was mostly a flat walk, and I did this one alone, but it was nevertheless enjoyable. I took a picture at most waypoints, the Yamanote line stations.

The most serious and most challenging walk I've done was about two weeks ago. I planned to climb the Kumotori-yama. This is the highest mountain in the provinces around Tokyo, reaching slightly higher than 2000m. The starting point of the hike I planned was at a height of 1000m above sealevel, and obviously this was not a single-day trip. (the original plan was 1 day going up, one day going back down, following a different trail)
The main purpose of it was giving all my equipment a test in the field, and also checking out where my stamina was at.

This little hike actually proved to be one of the biggest adventures of my short life up until now. On departure day, the weather was looking great, and the weather forecast for the next day, the day that I was planning to arrive at the final destination (back down), was looking good too. I arrived at Owa, 320m height, at about 1pm. I was one hour later than planned because I had underestimated the journey getting there. In my guidebook where I found out about this hike, there was written about a cablecar ropeway going from this place to the starting point of my hike at 1090m, called . I got out of the bus at Owa, and practically found myself in a ghosttown. All buildings looked like they could implode at any second, and there was no living soul to be seen. There was also no ropeway to be seen, although I could find a direction sign pointing to the destination of the ropeway, Mitsumine Shrine. After a few minutes I found a guy of about 70 years old. 'Where is the ropeway?', I asked him. 'Nowhere. It broke down a while ago.' The weather was looking good, and I was in a good mood, so I decided to just walk my way up there, adding a 770m climb to the plan. I quickly came upon this sign:

In short, it said that this is bearcountry, and that you shouldn`t walk alone here, and that you better talk in a loud voice to let the bears know that you`re coming. I kept on going, and it was 3:30pm when I was past the shrine and at the point that was actually my planned starting point of the hike. I wouldnt be able to get to the checkpoint that I was planning on getting to on day 1, because it was already getting dark at 5pm. The original destination for the day, was a mountain hut with a camping ground, and where I could buy some food. But since I wouldnt be able to get there I bought some kiwi`s at the shrine, the only food that they were selling there. Then I started walking. I brought a flashlight, so I was prepared to walk a little bit when it was getting dark, so I could look for a fitting place to put my tent down or spend the night. It got dark earlier than I expected, because it was getting cloudy, and I was walking in a forest that didn`t allow a lot of sunshine anyway, and so, I was walking in a dark forest, with possibly bears that were nocturnal, on my own, with a backpack and a flashlight. I don`t usually get scared easily, although this situation did creep me out quite a bit. I was whistling now and then to scare away animals on the trail, and at some point I whistled, and somewhere in the direction in front of me I heard a whistle back. I thought there was someone else coming from the direction in front of me, so I whistled again. Then I heard the noise again, that I before thought was a whistle... It was an animal, I have no idea what exactly it was, but it was moving through the bushes near me, not really moving further or closer but just moving around, making that weird whistle-like sound now and then. It moved away after a while, but it sure had been creepy. I`m still not sure what it was, a boar or maybe a deer. Although situations like these are not that enjoyable at that time, it does make you stronger, and more able to make the right decisions when you get yourself into situations that are scary and might be dangerous.

After this I was pretty lucky. I got to a mountaintop of a mountain called Kirimogamine, at about 1500m height, 6pm, and there was a small building where they usually sell drinks in the hiking season. It was closed off, but I found a way in, and spent the night there. As you can see in the pics, in the morning I was in for another surprise. It had been snowing for a few hours, and it was still snowing steadily. The snow was not that deep (initially :D), and I was equipped for snowy walks, so I ate some of the kiwi`s I bought as breakfast, and started walking at about 6.30am towards Kumotori-yama. It was probably the toughest hike I`ve ever done. Not so much the snow, but the combination of the heavy backpack with the steepness of the trail was very hard on the stamina. When I was nearing the top of the mountain, I got so exhausted sometimes that I just dropped myself in the snow for a few minutes to rest, that had gotten pretty damn deep by now. Nevertheless, it was enjoyable for the most part, and the snowy scenery was amazingly beautiful. Near the top of the mountain, there was the mountain hut. I was extremely hungry, and got in to have some food and regain some stamina. There was an old lady. `Can I have a meal here?` `No, we got nothing`
I felt pretty fucked. `But we got some cup noodles if you want any...`
That was good enough for me, and I asked another one after I finished the first one.
I had gotten there around 11am, and I continued towards the top about 30 minutes later. The hardest part was over, and I didn`t waste much time at the top, because it was snowing to hard to enjoy any view at all. My guidebook told me that it was still about 7 hours to the finish, a village with a train station, in the valley.
It was 5 hours until it would get dark again, but I was thinking of maybe going all the way to the finish anyway, if I had the energy for it.

From there on, it was just an enjoyable hike, because going downhill though deep snow isn`t very tiring and it felt pretty safe. At 3pm, I got to what`s called an emergency hut. A hut at a waypoint where people can spend the night if they find themselves stuck during a hike. I took a look inside, and there was a guy there. I thought maybe he was keeping this place open, so I asked him if he sold any food, because the noodles that I had 4 hours ago were already well used up. He told me that he had food, and I quickly understood that he was another hiker, and not someone that managed this place as I had thought. He told me that the village was still pretty far away, and that it would be a good idea to stay. He was offering me food, so I decided to agree to stay there for the night. He was one of those Japanese veteran hikers that had hiked most of the European Alps, and even the Himalaya. He had his own cooking equipment, giving me good idea`s of what stuff to get myself when I would start my big trek. He first gave me another cup of noodles, and then made rice&curry for both of us later on. There was another guy in a tent near the hut, although he was more of a loner. Akiya, the guy I stayed with in the hut, told me that both he and the guy in the tent stayed here the whole day, because they thought the weather was too tough to hike in. Apparently there had been only one idiot crazy enough to go through this weather :P.

The next morning Akiya and me hiked together downhill towards the village. The weather was perfect, offering great views of the surrounding mountains, giving me the opportunity to see Mount Fuji for the first time in my life in its full glory. Definitely check those pics out. We found bear tracks in the snow at some point, walking on the same trail as we were walking. I took a picture of it. We didn`t see any bears though.

All in all, it had been a great hike, with a lot of new experience, making me feel completely ready for the real adventure to come.

vrijdag 4 december 2009

Life Beyond Boundaries: Introduction

After a long period of inactivity, I thought it was time to blow some new life into this weblog. This is going to be a new start, because the main subject is going to change from sleeping to something more active. When I think about it, I realize that I've never explained here what the real idea behind this blog is. As you might have noticed, the big title at the top of the page reads 'Life Beyond Boundaries', 'The only limit is your imagination'. It are lines that sound like they come from The Matrix, or some other fantasy or science-fiction stories. I think, however, that for many of us, if not for everyone, there's a strong unconscious inner drive that wants us to go beyond all limiting boundaries, not only in our dreams or fantasy stories, but in the 'real' world. For me, at this moment, it's not an unconscious drive, it's a conscious one. During the past four-ish years of my life, it's been a very powerful motto for me, that's been supporting me in everything I do. When I look back at it, I've come a far way, but I'm definitely still on the road.

The reason why I made this blog, is not (only :P) to seek attention. There are several reasons. When I look at the experiences I've had in my life, and the things that are my reality right now, physically, mentally and spiritually, I feel like I have a lot of material that I can share, to be an inspiration to others that are on a similar path than I am, consciously or unconsciously. This path can be called many different ways. I've called it the path beyond all boundaries, but it can also be called the path to unlimited happiness, the path to unlimited fulfillment, the path to God etc...
This path is not a path that only has a goal inside dreams and illusions, in my experience. I feel myself getting closer to it every day. I've had a piece of the pie, and I'm very determined to have the whole pie. (it might be unclear for some people how happiness and freedom are connected, and maybe in the reality of some people they aren't connected. I'll explain later in my reality how they are connected very directly.)

In the past, when I was in the first half of my teens, I used to be a quiet, socially frightened, addicted, bullied, nerdy, spiritually hollow kid. In short, I was not very happy. I was resisting so many things that were reality, and seeking shelter in illusions and dreams. Nevertheless, I was rarely hopeless or depressed, because unconsciously I've always had a very strong drive to find that thing that would make me happy, one day. I was looking for it in the wrong places though. Even though I had a strong obsessive drive for the things that I was doing, there was a lot of suffering and frustration as a result of looking where I couldn't find it. The happiness that I was chasing after never came closer. I thought that in the world, there were happy people, and there were unhappy people, and it was impossible to make the change from unhappy to happy without reaching that 'thing' that I never really thought about, but I was sure was very hard to reach.

As a contrast, in the present, unhappy moments rarely happen. What made me happy are not the things that I thought in the past would. It's not that now the sun is always shining every day. I still have to cook my own food, there's no one cleaning my house, I don't know what the future will be, and I'm not having sex with a different sexy girl every single night.
In my experience, the thing that's important for being happy and fulfilled, is not your reality itself, but how you experience that reality.
I am thankful to countless people that inspired me on this path, either by reading their material or hearing from them. They put me on fire, or rather showed me how to put myself on fire, and with this blog I want to spread the flame.

Now, what's this blog going to become, concretely? I'm going to continue pretty much like the intro (polyphasic sleeping) has started a few months ago. I'm going to talk about weird transformative experiences that were important for me in becoming a more happy person. I'm going to try to make it enjoyable to read, while keeping it real and not going to fantasy-land. I'm going to talk about the past, and about the future. In the past, apart from sleeping 2 hours/day for a month, I've been a poker-semiprofessional, I've meditated for 140 hours in 10 days time, I was a Dungeon Master 8-), I've tried to master giving any girl I sexed with squirting orgasms, I've lived in Japan for a year, I had the chance to experience many kinds of drugs, I have fasted for a whole week on only water, (I've stolen my sister's cremekoek, sorry Tine...), I became a Pick-up Artist, I've learned energy healing, etc... In the very near future, from the 24th of december and for the 5/6-ish months after that, I will be walking the whole length of Japan, about 3000 kilometers from southwest to northeast, 100% by foot. I will be posting about my experiences. (and I'll upload pictures, to offer something to the eye as well.) As you can see in this post, pictures/images are not necessarily related to the subject, and are sometimes just placed for the lolz/to make stuff more colorful and easier to read.

In the past before I encountered any of this stuff, I would have labeled many of these things as good or bad, bullshit or interesting, and probably as a reader you do too. The reason that I'm going to write about my experiences, is not because I want to convince anyone that certain things are good or bad, or that I'm awesome or a douche-bag. I don't think all the things that I have done and going to write about are good in particular. I think what you do is not necessarily important, but rather how you do it, the reasoning behind it and the thought going around in your head before, while and after you do it. Also, by writing about the more unusual experiences, I want to show you that there is an infinite world outside the box that society and even your own mind wants you to think and experience only inside of, but mainly I want to inspire you to find your own happiness and fulfillment by showing how these experiences led me further on the way to having a happy and fulfilling life.

I want to warn you for something already. At some points, this blog might get personal, maybe so much that you'll feel awkward in my place. I don't particularly kick on sharing my awkwardnesses, but on the other side I couldn't care less if the whole world would think that I have sex with sheep or other critters every now and then. (this is just an example of course! Or maybe not?) Getting over the awkwardnesses in my life was a big and important step for me, so I'm not going to avoid them if they're part of the story. I also think lots of people have very similar uncertainties in life, and talking about them openly might do some good overall. I'm not writing this blog anonymously, and many people I know/knew in real life might be reading this blog, and might get surprised now and then.

You might think that after reading this post, I will be telling you the truth about life and happiness that I discovered. This is not really what I have in mind, however. I think everyone's path to happiness is different, and there is no universal truth about it. I simply hope that I can inspire you to find your own path towards happiness and fulfillment. If I'm not able to do that, I hope to offer you an enjoyable read anyway.

donderdag 19 november 2009

Polyphasic Sleeping Experiment : How it failed

Excuse me for not making an end post to the polyphasic-sleeping adventure. I ended up oversleeping a few times in a few days time. I still don't quite understand the cause. Or my alarm failed on me, not going off, or I had slept past them completely, waking up at a random time, a few hours after I went for the 20 minute nap. That happened at the end of august. I kept trying to keep up until the start of september, putting more alarms and being more strict on myself, but the amount of sleep-deprivation without real adjustment to the new system, made it impossible. I had to go to a multi-day poker-tournament in Prague at the start of september, and that was the complete end of it. Since there was quite some money involved, I wanted to be well rested, so I went back to a monophasic sleeping rhytm again since then.

A few months after the facts, I can say that even though my experiment didn't succeed, I am happy that I was able to have an experience like this. For some reason, this experiment made me much more aware in my daily life, and this effect continued even after returning back to a normal sleeping rhytm. Also, my sleeping system seems to have permanently changed after doing this. Even after returning back to monophasic sleeping for longer than 2 months, my dream-sleep, that usually only occurs after 90 minutes sleep, occurs much earlier in my sleep. When I take a nap of shorter than an hour now, I have very vivid dreams every time. Also, my lucid dreaming rate has gone up spectacularly, without doing special effort for it.
In a usual night of sleep, I can remember double as many dreams as before this experiment, without writing anything down or any other effort. I wonder if I am just more often in dreaming phases, or if I'm just more aware of them.
Another very positive after-effect, is that I don't need the 8 hours of sleep anymore that I used to need. Since september, I have enough with six hours, and I feel more energy than ever. Recently I'm even going more towards five/four hours, but there are other reasons for that, that I will get into in future posts.
Weirdly enough, the spectacular improved quality of my skin that I experienced during this experiment, went back to how it used to be, when I went back to monophasic. I can't really find an explanation for that.

Definitely read next post if you found the part about polyphasic sleeping interesting. This blog is getting a new active, although different life very soon. (as in, from tomorrow)

zondag 23 augustus 2009

Day 18 - Short review - I give up ='(

Just kidding about the giving up, although I must say I was very close to doing it today.
One would think that after the first 3 weeks of adapting to uberman, the hardest part would be over, but I don't experience it that way. Just a short history of my adaptation period so far:

- I've been following a very strict schedule, as recommended by the book Ubersleep. Napping 20 minutes at 4, 8, and
12. I always go to sleep exactly at 5 minutes before the hour, and wake up exactly at 20 past the hour. (I need 2 to 5 minutes to fall asleep)

- First week went completely flawless, no oversleeping and the tiredness was only at night and pretty easy to bear.

- From day 7 on, I started dreaming and feeling very refreshed after the nap.

- On day 8 I overslept one cycle of 4 hours, waking up to the alarm of my next nap.

- I didn't dream anymore between day
8 and 10

- On day 11 I started dreaming again.

- From day 13 or 14 on, effects from sleep deprivation have become worse, and I find myself feeling really tired and micronapping more often when I'm sitting down. (this happens only between 3 and 9 am)

- I slept an hour through a pretty loud and annoying alarm, after which my parents woke me up because it was annoying the hell out of them during the night.

- Between day 13 and day 16 were completely according to plan.

- On day 16 I fell asleep during the day for an hour while lying on the grass. Normally I didn't have trouble feeling tired or falling asleep during daytime, but this time it did happen.

- Yesterday morning, I slept through a complete cycle again, sleeping for 4 hours.

- This morning I suffered from the biggest
blow, almost making me decide to give up. What happened was this: After waking up from my midnight nap, I had been outside a bit, and around quarter before 1AM, I went inside and sat down in the sofa to meditate and listen to
an audiobook with earphones at same time. When I meditate I sit very straight, in a position tha
t's not really that comfortable that I would fall asleep in it. I normally have no trouble staying awake at all, and also I didn't feel tired at all at this particular time, but still, next thing I notice, I'm waking up from my 8AM alarm screaming in my ears, laying down in the sofa. (note: I have all my alarms scheduled on my iphone, so I don't have to set them up every time.) It's a complete riddle to me how the hell I ended up laying down. I'm very strict to myself about laying down during night hours, so nothing in my sane mind would allow me to do that. Also I'm wondering if my 4am alarms weren't enabled for some reason, or if I slept through them or just unconsciously put them off. If the alarm really went off, there would be no way that I woulnd't have woken up from it, because I had my earphones in when asleep, and the alarm was coming from the earphones at maximum volume. (not something I normally do, it scared the hell out of me when I did wake up at 8AM)

Now I realize that it just can't continue the way it is. I wanted to give up this morning, because I felt like it just didn't seem like it was working out for me. That was pretty painful for me, because I'm someone who never gives up on goals that are within my reach. I have a ton of willpower, and have achieved a lot of things for my age, but I just didn't seem to have control over this one.

Then I sat down and started looking up some information about people who actually succeeded at adapting to uberman. I could only find two people two that had kept blogs or reports that are readily available. (apart from Puredoxyk, the author of Ubersleep, but I had read about
that in detail already) On one hand there was Steve Pavlina, the famous blogger, and on the other hand Aya Hu, member of the Polyphasic sleeping google group. I noticed that both of them have a schedule that's different from the one that Puredoxyk emphasizes so much on in her book. Pavlina had an extra nap in the period where he felt most tired in the early hours, having 7 instead of 6 naps, in the first 10 days or so, and after that he completely threw away the schedule and just took a nap whenever he felt that it was appropriate. (ending up in 6 to 7 naps a day) In Aya Hu's case, I understand that she even combined her adaptation with her job, so she had no choice but to put more naps in nighttime and less naps during daytime. This looks like a logical thing to do, when I think about it, because during daytime I have no trouble at all usually to stay awake, while nighttime is when all the oversleeping etc happens. Aya Hu actually became sick after day 10 or so, went to an everyman schedule succesfully, and then went back to uberman after a week without any trouble. Reading about this made me feel rediculous for giving up on it, because she had a far less strict schedule, even fell sick, and succeeded at it anyway. There's no way that I can just give up like this.

I also noticed one common factor between most of the ubermen, and that is vegetarianism. I eat meat myself, although I'm willing to try being a vegatarian until I'm fully adapted.

So now I'm kind of wondering what's the best thing to do. I'm wavering between the method how Pavlina did it, and the method that Aya Hu did it. So I could switch to an everyman
schedule, which will probably be the easiest thing to do, and
once I feel comfortable to that in a sustainable way, go back to
uberman. I'm not 100% sure
about it, if this is a smart thing to do though. I think creating
the habit of having a core sleep of 3 hours at night, will maybe
make my adaptation period stretch out even longer again, and will get me further from
uberman instead of closer maybe. On the other hand I
could put in an extra nap between my midnight and my
4am nap, or/and my 4am nap and my 8am nap, because that are the times that I'm having
trouble. I'm pretty sure that it will be manageable with 7 or even
8 naps a day, and I would be able to adapt to that pretty
easily, and seems less like a detour. In the end I could also
maybe try switching to a system where I nap when I feel that I
need the nap, like Pavlina ended up doing.

vrijdag 21 augustus 2009

Day 16 - Adapting, but not flawlessly

Copy/paste from a post I made on the Polyphasic sleep google group.


Today I'm 16 days into an uberman schedule. I can see that I'm
adapting, not feeling like a zombie anymore but very sometimes.
I have a little issue with micronapping though. Especially when I'm
doing things like watching movies, or sitting on the train, etc... I
often find myself waking up from a sleep that could have been at least
one second and at most 10 minutes. Now this morning I had something
that never happened before. I woke up from my 4am nap, walked around a
bit, not feeling very tired at all. I took somethign to eat and
started watching an episode of a drama I'm watching. Next thing I know
is that I wake up from my 8am nap. When I check my memory, I was not
very tired at all when watching this drama, and tracing back in it, I
remembered the first 20 minutes very clearly, and everythign after
that I'm pretty sure that I haven't seen before. So somehow I became
unconscious quite suddenly, and I sleepwalked to my bed, because when
I woke up at 8.20, I was in my bed. (wearing all my clothes though)
I don't remember myself standing up after 20 minutes in the drama, nor
any reason to do it. Also there should have been no reason at all to
lie on my bed, I'm very strict about not laying down in my bed except
for nap time...

I'm wondering 1) if this is common, and it's also just something that
I have to get over, and 2) will I be able to adjust even though I
might oversleep for a few hours every 5 days of so.

dinsdag 18 augustus 2009

Getting there, but not quite yet

Good morning. Today is the 18th of august, and it's 7.20AM now, about 13 days exactly into my little experiment. I guess not updating the blog for three days made quite some people think that I gave up on it, but I can prove that hypothesis wrong. In the period between Saturday evening and Monday morning, I almost died of feeling tired but not allowing myself to fall asleep. Oversleeping for 4 hours on day 8 effectively rewinded my progress a few days, the days after that, REM sleep was gone again, I wasn't getting any of my well-deserved dreams anymore, and even though waking up from naps was easy, the sleep I was getting was very light, and did not give me a lot of mileage.

The weekend was a big test for me. Saturday was the day that my performance was scheduled with my amateur rockband. I had hoped that when I started the sleeping-experiment, that I would be mostly adjusted by this day, but that hypothesis wasn't either the case. On top of this, I still had to write a few pages for my bachelor's thesis, the last puzzle piece to get my bachelor's degree. The deadline for it was monday, so tired or not tired, the weekend was going to be pretty active either way. The rockperformance was a challenge, but I had been looking forward to it for quite a while, so it didn't really give me a lot of additional stress. The bachelor paper that had to get finished on the other hand, certainly did O_o. I was already feeling kind of tired before the performance on saturday. We had a last repetition at 2pm, so I wasn't sure if I would be able to get my 4pm nap. I ended up sleeping for a few minutes, lying in the sun outside while we were chilling. I was lucky that the performance was already at 5 o clock. That's around the most active time of the day for me on this rhythm, so I didn't feel sleepy. I was actually feeling somewhat overly active during the performance, and even though I was highly sleepdeprived, I was able to give the best that I have. Looking back at it now, I have no idea where I got all the energy from. I have a good afterfeeling about it anywayz. After the performance I got really tired, had to take my 8pm nap a little bit inconveniently again inside a driving car. Sunday was a bigger challenge. Even though I felt dead tired all day long, I still had to finish that paper. I finished it at monday morning. Together with handing in my paper at my university, a big weight fell from my shoulders.

I started dreaming again in my naps too yesterday, and the sleep I'm getting from it feels very energizing. If my naps stay like this, I can imagine that I can really start regaining all that spent energy from them. The only thing that I gotta watch out for, are all the hidden ninja's hiding in the shadow of sleep. Somehow, together with dreams, comes also a type of sleep sometimes that's very hard to wake up from, and this morning I slept a straight hour while my alarm was buzzing. It were my parents that woke up from it that saved me. The next coming week will be very key. Firstly I hope that oversleeping for an hour hasn't set me back again. If not, I have the feeling that if I can somehow make it though this week, I will probably have the tough moments behind my back, and making this sleeping rhythm really work systematically will only be a matter of days. Apart from making plans that tackle my oversleeping-issue, I'm not really planning a lot of stuff. I just want a few relaxing days, where I don't have anything or anyone that needs my attention, so I can focus all my willpower on bringing this to a good end.