Using Old Tricks for New Applications

Last week, I talked about the adjustments I was making to my last challenge of 2016, and it has brought far more clarity than the previous weeks. I even cheated a bit, making the task as effortless as possible.

Rather than sitting in bed with pen and paper, ready to write down the main question of the evening, I allowed my thoughts to stay in my mind. The one adjustment I did make is a practice I instituted some 15 years ago when I wanted to put an end to my weekly childhood nightmares.

To this day, I remember those horrific images with great clarity even though the science of memory recall would tell me otherwise. From an old woman sweeping her driveway by day and turning into an eight foot tall monster and stealing my sister away by night to talking, terrorist dinosaurs holding my family hostage, these incredibly fake plot lines were heart wrenching.

I couldn’t take it anymore, so I began playing around with my thoughts as I fell asleep. I would replay happy moments in my mind like playing baseball, hanging out with friends, or a funny cartoon I saw that afternoon. By making sure I fell asleep with positive thoughts in my head, my nightmares stopped instantaneously.

I just felt ready. Not just to get my answers down, but to take action on those answers.

It’s odd to look back and recognize how flawlessly this mental reconditioning panned out. Maybe it was nothing more than pure coincidence. Maybe I began this practice at the same exact time I was entering a new stage of mental maturity and these childhood nightmares were becoming a thing of the past already. Maybe, but I’d like to think the probability of such an event is near zero.

With first-hand proof that my thoughts prior to entering my REM cycles carry significant weight, I wanted to use what I already knew worked for me and incorporate it into this month’s challenge. So, rather than writing my question down, I simply repeated it over and over again in my head while falling asleep.

You know what happened next? Every single morning, I had answers anxiously waiting to be written down, typed out, or whatever other way I could bring them into the world. Answers relevant to the question I asked the night before.

I would wake up ready. There’s really no other way to describe it. I just felt ready. Not just to get my answers down, but to take action on those answers and start brainstorming further and further until I already knew the next question I’d be setting myself up for that evening.


I’ll be the first to admit, some of this motivation is simply due to the approaching new year. As much as the idea of resolutions and the like rub me the wrong way, I’m still caught in a wave of excitement knowing the calendar is going to turn.

What’s more motivating than making progress while doing nothing?

I’m on a bit of a hot streak when it comes to how I’ve been spending my 365 days. For the past four years, every time January 1st rolls around, I reflect on the year that was, and I’m filled with happiness. Somehow, some way, as I go up and down the roller coaster, I find myself higher than ever before when it’s all said and done.

This year is no different. I’m excited for 2017 and it’s certainly influencing my internal drive this week. But, this only accounts for a small part of my experience over these last seven days.

The majority of this kick is a result of the uninterrupted thought process I’ve been able to sustain while frolicking around in dreamland. What’s more motivating than making progress while doing nothing?


Before I begin promoting this as though it’s some magic cure to start each day, remember I had adapted the practice to fit a “skill” I acquired when I was younger. The second worthwhile note is to understand I’ve only been doing this for a week.

Whether these effects are long-term or just a flash in the pan remain to be seen. As I move into January and continue with this practice, I’ll be able to report back with stronger evidence.

As a final note, if you choose to pursue this habit, you need to manage the way you approach the question you ask yourself. There is a big difference between falling asleep with a question in mind and getting a restful eight hours and falling asleep with stress and anxiety, afraid the answers won’t present themselves in the morning, so you find yourself waking up every couple of hours.

This is a useless practice if you find yourself mentally and physically exhausted day after day, trying to address your questions when you’re supposed to be resting. If you find yourself trapped in this state, stick with the original game plan. Let the questions reside on paper, go to sleep, allow your subconscious mind to mull over that final image you just uploaded, and explore the answers in the morning.

However you choose to go about this activity, make sure you’re enjoying yourself. There are a thousand ways to brainstorm, ruminate, or whatever you want to call it, and this is just one of those, if not more eye-catching, methods. Do you have any methods you like using to get your mind going? Let the community know in the comments!

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