Research method: napping


Over the years as I worked through the #trudgery of academic assignments, napping has become an important aspect of my process. I read and write on a subject for a few hours. Then I drink about 8 ounces of black coffee, just at the moment I feel really tired. I lay down immediately with my iPad. I read on the subject a bit more, then I doze off still thinking about the notions I want to deal with in my writing.

I usually slip into a thoughtful dreaming. My process continues but not as constrained. Sometimes I wander off and get totally away from the topic. But usually, I wander around in the notions relating ideas to ideas with less concern for rigor. The coffee just before I lay down ensures that I will not sleep too long and that when I get up, I will be wide awake and aware of my dozing meditations. Then, I either have a clear idea of where to go next in deeper exploration or I understand that the topic is just one I have to crunch through because I don’t really care that much about it.

Most of  my better thinking comes out of this napping-contemplation. Pretty much, it customizes my sleeping to being a time of letting-go for exploration. The more constrained the notions are in my waking life–a very specific assignment in order to cater to an instructor’s narrow expectations–the shorter the naps. The sleeping cogitator understands free floating in ideations at some point will just get in the way of the sophistries I must offer up to obtain accreditation.

When I can work even these sophistries back toward something more encompassing and thrilling to investigate, my sleeping becomes longer and engages with possibilities.

I see this napping as a method that coincides with the purpose of night vigil. That is, the naps help me focus what I do as a part of my thinking qua professional. While the vigils, where I awake in the middle of night and meditate on life, are aspects of my thinking qua possible Existenz. They each support the other, but are aligned with different aspects of “who I am”, of how my I presents as an identity seeking comprehension.

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