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Posts Tagged ‘worry’

The most important lesson of my most recent cocooning is the deep and powerful importance of getting enough sleep.  And I mean restful, truly sufficient sleep.

Unfortunately, I learned this lesson through not always getting it.

Now, the first step in getting enough sleep is the one I too-often skipped: making sure I was going to bed at a decent time each night, early enough that I would be assured about eight hours before I had to start waking up.  Okay, so there’s been times I’ve needed more than that, but I’ll be honest and admit that I wasn’t even giving myself eight consistently.  That was wrong.

Now the second step is actually being able to get to sleep.  This has been a lifelong problem for me, and it took me a minimum of an hour to get to sleep, usually up to two.  In fact, no matter what trick or tip I followed I just couldn’t get my mind to settle down and let me sleep.  That is, until I put together a certain meditation as an extra credit project for a class once.  Since I don’t think I’ve shared it before, here it is:

I get myself all ready for bed, tuck myself in, and close my eyes.  As I take a deep breath I count “Ten”, and imagine relaxation creeping up through my toes and through my feet.  As I exhale, the tension flows out, allowing the relaxation to creep further up to my knees.  I deeply breathe in “Nine”, and the relaxation creeps up my legs, and with the exhale it encompasses up to my waist.  Breathing in “Eight”, the relaxation comes up to my torso, and breathing out brings it to my shoulders.  Breathing in “Seven” encompasses my shoulders in relaxation, which spreads down through my arms and fingertips as I breathe out.  I then breathe in “Six”, and the relaxation moves up through my neck, filling and spilling out the top of my head as I breathe out.

Breathing in “Five”, I feel myself being carried through the energies of relaxation toward a soothing, starlit darkness, leading me toward somewhere special.  The inbreath of “Four” brings me into view of a space that I find very tranquil, and peaceful, and save.  With “Three” I am entering this space, feeling its welcoming embrace surround me.  Breathing in “Two”, I settle down into it, and with “One”, I am fully present within this sanctuary.

Breathing in and out this soothing air, I see glowing helpers coming toward me.  They could be angels or faeries or lockboxes or even shining spheres – whatever it is that I feel to be good caretakers of precious things.  One of them pauses before me, waiting to accept something from me.  I take the thought that’s foremost in my mind, and place it into their expert care.  I ask them to please be a good caretaker of this very important thought, and to work on it while I sleep.  They take it and move away to do their work, making room for the next one who takes my next thought, and so on, and so forth.  Sometimes I organize them one by one, and sometimes I just dump the tangle thought-mess into the box and let the caretakers sort them out.

What this does is re-assures all the many worries and concerns and hopes and fears that keep me awake… it reassures them that I recognize their importance.  I understand and appreciate that I can’t just shove them out of my head, and I make sure that they’re being taken good care of while I get much, much-needed sleep.  And if I find myself thinking other thoughts, I let a caretaker come up to receive it, then let it move on.

If I don’t fall asleep before I run out of thoughts, I take my empty mind and replay a song that I find soothing, over and over in my mind.  When I find my mind drifting I let the thought go and get back to the song.  When the lyrics start getting goofy and nonsense, I know I’m on the path to sleep.

When I awake in the morning, when I remember to, I ask the caretakers to please bring me back any thoughts or concerns that are ready for me to take up again, and that I’m ready to work with.  Any and all answers and resolutions are picked up with gratitude, and things that need to be worked on longer in my subconscious I let stay with the caretakers.  (And I do sometimes get really good answers, either immediately or during the day!)

I then breathe from one to five, drifting away from the space and back to the waking world.  I then breathe in “Six” to bring energetic wakefulness in through my toes, all the way up through to my head while breathing “One”.  Then I’m more alert, rested, and ready to face my day!

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I was talking to a friend today about overcoming Worry Addiction. I used to be horridly addicted to worrying and fretting, and now I’m merely susceptible.  This is thanks to giving up worrying for lent one year.

I’m pretty sure the way I managed it was practicing “postponement” – agreeing with myself that right now isn’t the best time to put my energy toward a situation, as this present moment isn’t when I can do anything about it. Either I don’t have all the necessary info, or I’m just not in a place where it can be helped. Therefore, I promised to do what I could to get into the right time and place and then put the needed energy to it.

This worked, with practice, because the part of myself that felt the deep importance of whatever it was I was worrying over didn’t feel neglected. It felt that I was giving it strong consideration, and rather than dismissing it, was merely trying to make sure it got the time and energy needed for such a momentous issue. (It doesn’t matter how trivial the issue; it’s absolutely EVERYTHING to the part of me that feels it’s so important, just like a baby with a favorite toy.)

It also helped to have a few things on tap to shift my attention to, such as something I COULD plan for, especially if it was something I could also look forward to. Or even just something positive to dwell on. Anything to keep the energy channeled toward something happy rather than manic.

Anyway, I still catch myself getting frantic now and then. But with practice, it’s gotten easier to redirect the energy.

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I don’t know about you, but I’ve spun my wheels a lot dwelling on stuff without finding a solution, and getting hung up on not knowing the answer.  The worry didn’t help.  I just burned energy going nowhere, because NOT burning energy made me feel like I wasn’t doing anything — even when there was nothing more I could have done.

I’ve read studies on inspiration and the “Eureka!” moments, and the current line of thought is that we don’t get those magic moments by pushing the problem through our head.  We get it when our subconscious has finished mulling it over, and we step back and give it enough space to give us the answer.  That’s why the “Aha!” tends to come not while we’re yelling at the computer, but while washing a glass.  Time spent worrying and struggling actually impeded that process.

I just saw the other day that Sri Aurobindo said, “True knowledge is not attained by thinking. It is what you are; it is what you become.”

I guess the trick is recognizing that point where THINKING about something is getting in the way of PROCESSING something.  Where the pursuit of knowledge actually gets in the way of us truly knowing something.

I think that’s why for a while I’ve been saying that the most important thing to learn is “how to learn”.  I’m still trying to get that right. 🙂

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