Right before bed, I had a very troubling phone conversation.
My first thought was, “I won’t be able to sleep.”
My second thought was, “If I manage to get to sleep, I will have terrible, turbulent dreams.”
My third thought was, “My life is a speck on a speck that will be over in a flash. Worrying about a speck in the life of a speck on a speck in a galaxy that is a speck in the universe is insane!”
I smiled at myself for trying to control another speck on a speck, turned off my thoughts, and went right to sleep.
When I woke up blissfully rested, I thought, “Not so bad for a speck on a speck. I think I’ll try that again tonight.”
The author of Alphatudes, The Alphabet of Gratitude, wrote the book because she suffered from insomnia. Instead of counting sheep, Michele Wahlder decided to go through the alphabet and count all the good things that began with each letter. Before she made it through “D,” she was sound asleep.
For those of us whose minds go on a feeding frenzy at the wrong time of night: chewing on our screw-ups, problems, and random mental junk food, and/or regurgitating every conversation and event from the last decade, this tactic may be worth a try.
Even if it doesn’t put us to sleep, we will have fed our ravenous, nocturnal mind a much more nutritious bedtime snack.
Sweet sleep into new day
Out of the fullness of yesterday
Soft slumber in cool sheets
Sinking, sinking into peace
Peace that found me in chaos
Living as I could in you
With your breath
With your wealth
With your love for created things
Without the need of anything
Sounds heavenly, right?
But without surrender, it is impossible.
When I can’t sleep or wake up in the middle of the night with a furrowed brow or a clenched jaw, only by remembering that I did not bring myself into the world nor can I keep myself here, will I experience this peaceful depth of surrender.
(Right now I answer the call to give my all up to You, not down into despair, or around in my head to the dark places of fear)
I thought of this the other night when my mind wouldn’t slow down…awake or asleep…trying to solve a problem that was beyond my ability and the realm of influence. After my surrender, I slept deeply and peacefully.
(Disclaimer: I am commenting on my own experience here, not attempting to over-simplifying this problem for other sufferers.)
I’m wide frickin awake…I can’t believe I’m wide frickin awake…I need to sleep…I really need to sleep…I’m so frustrated that I can’t sleep…I’ll be _____________ (worthless, useless, in trouble, a basket case, sick, incompetent, or dead) if I don’t get some sleep…But I can’t sleep no matter what I do…This is so bad…
But, it is actually the script that’s bad…and totally fruitless. Release from the vicious sigh-cle resides in:
- Ceasing to play all-knowing decision-maker and judge about what is good and what is not good for me
- Making a choice to:
- Get up and work on something productive or
- Practice gratitude
You don’t always show your sweet side. – Lucinda Williams (singer, songwriter)
None of us do.
The song, honestly and passionately sung by Lucinda Williams, is an insightful expository of the scars that often precede the actions.
What I like about this song is the reminder that we are all a “mixed bag” and it is helpful to be aware and accepting of the fact in our relationships to ourselves and others.
1) Less pointing the finger
2) Less gossip
3) Less anger
4) Less hiding
5) More honesty
6) Better boundaries
7) More peace
8) More sleep