So my experiment, inspired by the daily routine of the medieval monks and fueled with research on the history of sleep, is supposed to take me to a routine that leaves me awake in the small hours. Rather than try to work out a day plan from scratch I decided to use the monks actual routine as a framework for my own. I don’t intend to follow it by rote but I am curious to see how effectively I can match it to the demands of the modern world. Since a medieval monk’s day began with the ringing of bells just after midnight for the office known originally as vigils, I am going to see if my changed sleep pattern will align with this. Today many monastic orders begin the day around two or two thirty and I wonder what connection the change had, if any, with the changes brought on by electric light. Before the advent of wax candles in the 14th century, the office was said in the dark or with very minimal lighting; monks were expected to memorize everything, since quite obviously no one could see to read.
A vigil in the ordinary sense is a period of keeping awake during the time usually spent asleep, especially to keep watch or pray. In the Christian Church a vigil is the eve of a festival or holy day as an occasion of religious observance. Named from this practice Vigils originally consisted of four watches, or vigils 6PM-9PM, 9PM-Midnight, Midnight-3 AM, and 3 AM-6 AM and was also known as the Night Office. Later the first watch was eliminated and it consisted of three “nocturnes,” 9-Midnight, Midnight-3 AM, 3 AM-6 AM. Eventually, the next office, Matins, ended up being the closing part of Vigils, and they both began to be called Matins.
All of that is is well beyond anything I am willing or able do and as you can see even the monastic communities simplified the regime. So what will I do for my night office? Certainly reading is appropriate. Then perhaps this year I will make my goal on the reading challenge. Often the cats are awake and active at various times of the night and I certainly can use that time to give them the attention that daily activities might distract from. During the quiet of the night there would be no distractions to writing either. And if the materials for doing so are right at hand on the night table it might be profitable if some of that writing was recording my dreams. I often have vivid and detailed dreams but like most people, within a short time of awakening recall fades.
So catching those dreams would be a benefit and bring together two areas of personal development I want to explore further, changing my sleep pattern to see if I see health benefits and the personal alchemy I want to explore. In my previous post, I mentioned the importance of dreams in psychological alchemy. I have to gold myself accountable to myself, so I pulled out a small journal book I received from a vendor as a gift and a new pen and put them on the nightstand. With them there inches from my pillow I should be able to achieve my intention.