Wednesday, April 4, 2012

When Sleep Eludes Me

Sleep never comes very easily for me, but some nights are just worse than others.  I find that if I can keep my mind clear of stories (“What am I going to do? I can’t do this anymore! How will I function tomorrow? I’m never going to get any sleep…”) I do much better.  Letting go of the pressure I put on myself, I often just fall asleep. And then there are nights like last night, where the normal inability to sleep is compounded by an upcoming event that is causing me to be anxious.  Left unchecked, I can create the most miserable of nights!

This morning, after a cup of coffee and some moments of quiet, I have had time to think back on the drama of my sleep…or the lack thereof. In my daily reading, author Mark Nepo talked about the causes of why we hurt ourselves and those around us.  There are obviously many causes, but this quote resonated deeply within me,
“For it is out of fear that we feel the need to isolate ourselves or to control others, and it is often in the act of elevating ourselves that we hurt one another, not to mention ourselves. When not afraid, when in a moment of peace, we feel quite a different need. We feel a sudden requirement to connect and belong to other living things, and it is then in an act of true embrace that we love one another.”
Last night, during the hours in which I should have been sleeping, I spent a lot of time in fear. Fear that created feelings of inadequacy, fear that created the desire to control certain situations in my life, fear that made my heart race and left me in the constant hum of panic.  Fear that created an environment impossible for sleep and eventually gave me a very painful headache.

I can tell you, that in this picture, I was in a complete moment of peace.  Nature does this to me. Whether I am standing in the ocean, walking in the forest or sitting at the edge of a field – I DO feel the sudden requirement to connect and belong, and this connection always creates intense moments of love for the world around me and all those in it.

What I fail to recognize in the moments when my mind is left unchecked is that those opportunities for peace are available to me EVEN within the darkest of nights. Even in those moments of restlessness and pain. Even when events are beyond my control! This morning, after reading the quote, I was finally able to let go of my fear.  And in that letting go, I no longer feel inadequate; I no longer need to control the upcoming circumstances…I no longer feel threatened.  Those that seemed against me now are the recipients of my desire to connect and to love.

How much better this feels! How much relief is mine in the letting go! How much better it is to love than to fear!!

Success will not always be mine. I’m sure that in the zone of half asleep and half awake, I will succumb to the craziness of my fears yet again. But it’s not about perfection, is it? It’s about learning from our mistakes, forgiving and loving. And this we can do at any moment we choose, in any space we find ourselves and with anyone. 

Blessed moments of peace be yours. 


theotheralig said...

I find using 'mindfulness' really helps. My clinical psychologist recommended it. It takes practice but does stop that freewheel into anxiety that can hijack us. Really helps with my anxiety attacks.

Tweedles -- that's me said...

Thank you for sharing this understanding with us.
I too share that peace with nature, as you do.
Mostly it is nature that keeps me sane especailly when the world nearest me is thundering like a storm of hurt. And the bolts of lightning are striking at me.
I needed your words today- thank you for coming back to share your heart.
I wish we could share some time, and sit on that mossy log together- the one with the quiet sunrays shining down on it.
Do you see it?


Theresa said...

Tweedles, I DO see it. And I long so for it!!! What a beautiful thing it would be to sit there with you. Quietly knowing what we know, understanding what we understand - it would be the most wonderful gift. I will imagine it forever in my heart.

theotheralig: YES! Mindfulness is exactly what I use as well. If you have not read Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now and A New Earth - I HIGHLY suggest it. His works, combined with some of the great Buddhist monks of our time, have absolutely changed my life in this regard. Yet even so...I am only we all are!! And boy do I forget sometimes!! Last night was a classic example - combined with not being fully awake - well, let's say I learned a great lesson. Which is really what life is always about. Thank you so much for your reminder!!

abcsofra said...

Wow! Did I need that quote. This hit home for me. I have been soooo stressed out lately. We must have been up on the same night, at the same time and probably with similar worries. OK, well maybe not similar worries but worries just the same. I love this quote. Now I need to tatoo it on my forehead to carry with me every single day and to remind myself to breath slow, breath deep and let it go. Just let it go. And if that is a picture of you in the ocean...WOW! It is beautiful.

Theresa said...

Deb, I really needed it too! Funny how we get sometimes... I think I am doing so well keeping things simple, mindful...calm. And then a couple of things creep into the picture, some added stress and BANG! I'm falling into old patterns, telling myself stories, trying to orchestrate life... When I had the presence of mind to stop and really think about what I was feeling - it was ALL fear. All kinds of worries about inadequacy, not being a good mother, people not loving me, feeling unimportant...WHATEVER?!? I know better. So when I finally listened to myself I was able to just let it all go. Fall back into the comfort and rhythm of life and just "let it be". The Beatles sure had it right.
Blessings to you, my friend, as we fumble along this path together. I'm just glad you're here. :-)

Bill Kearns said...

Thank you for pausing to write down your thoughts here Teresa. This has been a lifelong problem of mine since I was 12 and I thought it was just me. I can't take sleeping pills because I just feel off center for 2 to 3 days afterwards and it makes it impossible to do my job. So when I've tossed and turned long enough, driven myself half mad with the constant churning of thoughts. Thoughts of solving the world's problems, or just the anxiety of knowing that I need to be sleeping like right now; -I typically give in about this time, 4 a.m. EST, and take half a Xanax hoping that I can salvage at least an hour of sleep. Only for the alarm to go off at 5:30 and I start the morning routine of building up a workable level of caffeine in my system. This at least gives me hope and a path worth looking down. Thank you again.