Reports of my being kidnapped and sold to the Japanese mafia
have been greatly exaggerated.
have been feeling so much better lately. I've had only
two nights of nightmares in the past two weeks or so.
I'm sleeping much more regularly. Was it sleeping pills?
No. Vitamins? No. A large blunt object to the head before
was meditation. Believe it or not.
that's right, true believers. I have been engaging in
intensive meditation for the past two weeks. An hour
or two a day (interestingly enough, on the days I skip
meditation, those nights were the only nights which
I had nightmares). I've been meditating for over a decade
now (not too many 24-year-olds who can say that, huh??),
but it's always been an on-and-off type of thing. It's
an extremely useful tool.
it and peel away your perceptions, your distractions,
the outside world. Like peeling away the layers of an
onion, until you get distilled consciousness.
Quite an experience, I can tell you. A feeling of clairvoyant
omniscience. This level of concentration is extremely
difficult to get to, but once you are there, there is
no problem in your life you cannot solve. Nothing that
is not possible. There is no goal that is too difficult.
No task of concentration which you cannot do. Count
doubles to test it or to help get you there if you can't
focus on an object or imaginary shape, or the stillness
of your own mind. I stop when I get to the hundred millions.
has a way of re-aligning the body and has been shown to
be helpful to heal the body.
cannot adequately describe the physical sense of pleasure
that being able to say this statement brings me. I
have six weeks. Six weeks. I already hear the clock
let me backtrack a bit. My last class was last Monday,
but the day after was 'Cleaning Day' and the day after
that was 'Closing Ceremony Day'. There's some pics on
the sidebar of the oh-so-exciting-and-action-packed
closing ceremony. The real reason I think students here
get a summer vacation is because I don't think the teachers
want to stay in an un-air-conditioned building while
the temperature climbs to 192 degrees F. OK, that's
an exaggeration. 150 degrees F.
the past couple weeks I'd been at Isao I was helping
two students prepare for the English speech contest
which is held in September. If they get the big prize
they get to go to the US for six glorious days or so.
Ahhh, yes. The Promised Land. One of the students is
really trying my patience. I keep trying to get her
to relax, speak louder, and do speech exercises which
I learned in some of my old drama classes (thank you,
Mr. Hocter), but she nearly trembles when I even ask
her to repeat a sentence or word for a second or third
time. I don't know her name. The other girl, Kiyoko,
let me call her 'Seiko' for a week (I thought that was
her name), before she told a Japanese teacher (who didn't
know her first name either, incidentally) that her first
name, was in fact, Kiyoko. Sigh.
school ended, and with school ending came a new group
of ALTs eager to begin their Japanese adventure. One
of them moved into my building and me and Glen showed
him around a bit, helped him get a few things for his
empty apartment, and taught him the ropes. His newly
furnished apartment has no water-heater for the kitchen.
I.E., he has no hot water in the kitchen. What's up
with that? Mr. T, our supervisor, asked him to buy it
himself out of his own pocket. Grumble, grumble.
new group of ALTs seem really nice. I'm going to miss Kara.
A gal who I went to harvest bamboo
with earlier this year.
else gets sleep
paralysis? Shortly after my
last entry, my little brother emailed me to tell
me that he also gets (or suffers from, depending on
how you look at it) sleep paralysis. He doesn't like
it either and who could blame him?? Waking up to the
sudden realization that you can't move a muscle. Your
breathing is constricted. You feel like your chest is
being sqeezed slowly. Panic may creep in. Then, after
a short while, you can move again. Your brain finally
says, "Oh!! DUH! I forgot to switch my body back
'on' after my dream ended! Sowwy!!" I hate that
shit. Pisses me off. I kind of figured out what it was
long before I knew there was a name for it. My mother
didn't though... she thought my little brother was just
dreaming when he told her about it. I don't really blame
her... it sounds crazy.
course, no one really knows why people have sleep paralysis
episodes, though I have a half-baked theory. I think
it's due to a slight dysfunction in the Reticular Activating
System (RAS). (I think the mis-activity would show up
on an EEG and perhaps abnormalities might show up on
a MRI or perhaps even a CAT or a PET scan.) This often
overlooked and unexciting part of the brain is responsible
for regulating neural activity as the brain ascends
into or rises out of sleep (hence, the logical connection
to sleep paralysis. GASP!) I also have strong suspicions
that the RAS is the hidden culprit behind several other
neurological disorders, most notably schizophrenia,
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD), Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder (PTSD), and manic depression/Bipolar
disorder, but there doesn't seem to be much research
in that direction (but what the hell do I know, right?).
Classic symptoms of these disorders include hyperarousal/underarousal,
sensory-gating deficits, hallucinations, sleeping
problems and other symptoms, many functions of which
are initally controlled or regulated by the RAS. It
just seems to fit (sometimes I think I should have picked
bio instead of physics). I think if you were looking
for a root cause for one of those particular disorders,
it might make more sense to look at a particular part
of the brain which has a hand in all those symptoms
rather than chase around a half dozen types of neurotransmitters
(though I think that's probably the cause, sometimes).
What kind of dysfunction could cause this type of response?
Allergic reactions? Externally-originating biochemical
damage (such as MSG or other artificial chemicals put
into so many foods these days)? Genetics? And what form
would the dysfunction take? Maybe a overproduction or
underproduction of cells. Mis-metabolism of glucose
in that part of the brain. Who knows. But I would absolutely
love see a study or survey done to determine what percentage
of people who suffer from the above neurological disorders
also suffer from sleep paralysis... I think the results
would be very interesting.
End of Jeff's Amateur Neurobiology Class-->