YES! Afternoon naps, twilight naps, naps captured with a little toes-up in the green, green shade of summer. I bet you are already yawning and feeling sleepy. Why do we make ourselves so guilty about this perfect way of recharging our creative juices? And, what does the word “nap” mean anyway?
It seems that the word is derived from a combination of the Old Swedish nappa, meaning “to catch, to snatch” and from the Middle English word nappen, “a short sleep, a doze.” In other words: to catch a quick doze or snatch a short sleep. Perfect. Don’t you just want to do that right now? “But,” we say to ourselves, “there’s SO much to DO. If I don’t do it, who will? What will (fill in the blank) say if I don’t drive myself to exhaustion getting Everything Done? You could remind “them” as well as yourself that Thomas Edison, Gertrude Stein, Mozart, Einstein and the Dalai Lama all have honored the Art of the Nap.
Maybe we should follow some of the Master Napsters’ philosophies. When one of DaVinci’s apprentices came rushing out of the artist-inventor’s studio calling “Maestro, Maestro you are needed for an emergency,” the Italian Renaissance man awoke from his nap under a large plane tree. Snatching the apprentice by the ruff DaVinci lifted him into the air and roared: “Never, never interrupt me again. Don’t you know this is the most important work I can do? This is how I receive my greatest inspirations!”
Robert Louis Stevenson claimed that, when he was stuck in his writing of the novel KIDNAPPED, he would “simply lie down and let the Little People solve it for me.” Children know just how to accomplish the art of napping: run around and around, remaining amazed and fascinated with everything until you simply drop in your tracks–wherever you are. And what about our wiser relatives the cats, dogs, marmots, to name only a few? Every mammal naps sometime. Bears do it. Seals do it. Even the birds and bees do it…
With a 20-minute nap, the brain neurotransmission and the parasympathetic nervous systems have been “reset.” Any negative thought pattern or emotion can evaporate with a nap. We can awaken with a different mind than the one which created our problem. We can reconsider an immediate issue, regenerate creative and innovative brain patterning and resolve some of our current stuck thoughts with just a nap. Blood pressure, heart rate, anxiety and cortisol levels drop. The stress which corrodes our physical and spiritual well-being pauses, allowing even the possibility of Divine Intervention, or at least an entertaining dream.
As I was planning the photo for this blog I thought of featuring one of the 3 empty hammocks hanging at Wise Acre, our secret island in the Rockies. Then I had to bring myself to a halt. I needed to be taking a nap, not taking a photo. And above is what my partner, Mark, snapped as Guenivere and I caught a little cat-nap.
I learned from my elegant grandmother, Nonnie, that napping is a ritual to be cherished and enacted properly. To accomplish this, my grandmother slipped off only her shoes. One then lies across the bed, horizontally, NOT length-wise, as in preparing to sleep at night. Fully clothed–no jammies! Next, one draws up a special, very light coverlet folded at the foot of the bed which is reserved especially for napping. A lavender-filled eye-pillow over the eyes is nice, but not de rigeur. Rest your eyes (i.e. sleep) no longer than an hour, or one may awake feeling as if she has died and not quite been reborn. And worse–may behave that way, too.
The wise Arawakan people of South America knew all of this and more. They gave the invading Spanish the word “hamaca” for the woven sling which these indigenous nomads carried with them everywhere. When an Arawakan was tired of the company, the climate or the Conquistadors’ endless demands–she hung up the hammock and had a sweet sleep. No matter what. Siestas estan muy importadas!
Remember when you took a nap so deep and so profound that when you woke up, you didn’t know where you were? Go there. Your Day-Dreams are waiting.