Tools and Tips

What Carlos Castaneda Told Me About Sleep

What? Taking a nap? That is for babies!

I can hear those words coming out of my mouth as if I’d said them yesterday. It was actually in 1995 when I spoke those very words to my teacher Carlos Castaneda when he suggested taking “power naps.” He had watched me yawning in the middle of his lectures more than once. I couldn’t help it. I was in my twenties, studying hard in college, and I felt tired most of the day. I tried so hard to be “alert” during the lectures, only to be told by Castaneda, mockingly , that my eyes were coming out of my eyeballs. “Take a power nap before coming to class tonight,” he said to me as he waved me goodbye on afternoon, after we’d had lunch at Versailles, his favorite local Cuban restaurant.

The meal was light and healthy, and so didn’t dampen my overriding desire to continue to be an A student enough to get me to lay down. I went home and kept typing a paper I needed to turn in for my English 101 class at West LA College.

My cortisol levels were still high 45 minutes before class time when I decided to try the “power nap” recipe. I couldn’t face Castaneda in class if I hadn’t at least given it a try.

“Lay on your belly, face turned to the left, feet hanging out of bed. Breathe in and out,” he’d instructed me. Simple. Easy. “What the hell, I have nothing to loose,” I thought. Except that I fell deeply asleep. My roommate woke me up. “We need to leave now to get to class on time.”

As we drove towards Santa Monica Yoga studio where Castaneda taught his classes, I felt an ease in my body. I was still a bit drowsy, but at ease. It was on my belly for less than 20 minutes, and my whole physiology seemed transformed. I did still yawn in class that night, which elicited a big belly laugh from Castaneda. It took me a few more months of napping to fully rebalance my system.

Besides naps, I also practiced movement sequences and breathing techniques to aid to my wellbeing, focus and mental clarity. But that 20-minute power nap was the beginning of a series of life-changing experiences and processes that I continue to enjoy and practice today.

How to Nap

At Work:

I get it. You probably cannot take a nap at work. But you can cross your arms on your desk and rest your forehead your arms, while sitting during a break. Take a pause. Close your eyes. Breathe into your belly. You are alive. And you are Being.

At Home:

As indicated above, lay down on your belly. If you are pregnant or have a stiff neck, lay on your side, and place a hand on your belly. Breathe. Feel life coming through you. You are alive. And you take a pause to BE with your breath.

More Information and Support For sounder sleep in general, how hormones influence sleeping patterns and personalized tips for getting deep, rejuvenating rest, I invite you to schedule a consultation with me to address your issues in person.