Calm Your Worries: Part 10
Can’t Sleep and Racing with Worry?
I heard a wonderful quote while at Kripalu the other day about worrying in the middle of the night. “Sleepless worry is creativity all dressed up with nowhere to go.” I think this is true. There you are wanting peace and rest and the body and mind become super active. Thoughts explode and have nowhere to go. For some of us, our mind’s default setting is to worry. Since it’s dark and quiet, the worry can get very loud and animated. It sometimes feels very scary or emotional. Actually, sleep problems tend to increase in the Spring.
When you wake up with worried thoughts, one of the worst things that happens is you tell yourself that you don’t or can’t sleep. This thought sets up a an anxiety loop. You wake feeling worry and then you worry more because you “can’t” sleep. Knowing you need sleep, you feel more worry and begin to fret and panic. Usually anger or fear follows and then the body and mind are fully engaged and wide awake. Uh oh!
What can you do with sleepless nights and a worried mind?
I suggest guiding yourself through your own meditation. Of course there are many great meditations available to you right on your phone. You may find one that is exactly to your liking. However, if worry for you has that quality of creativity with nowhere to go, why not use that creativity to make your own? Here are a few ideas to get you started. You can try them alone or in combination.
“Huh! That’s Interesting!”
I’ve been using this self-guided meditation a lot lately when I have worry during the night. First, I recognize that I have a part that in the night is likely to take any fears and insecurities from the daytime and bundle them into some pretty freaked out scary ideas at night. After this part has actually woken me, I take just a pause and think, “Huh! That’s interesting!” Or “Yeah, that’s pretty nuts!’ or “Woo! Yep, scary!”
I acknowledge that there ‘s a part that worries but with a tone that says, “I see you. I get it, but I’m not buying into all you’re saying” Then I bring in just 10% more recognition that it is very late, and I am very tired and of course no part of me can think very clearly right now. Next comes a couple gentle breaths and a reminder that in the morning things will likely feel clearer. I sigh deeply, sweetly pat my own head, and send it back to bed.
“Rest is always possible.”
Even though your mind feels worry and your body may be joining in the activity, rest is still possible. Remind yourself that this is true. Here’s how to turn this idea into a self-guided meditation. Notice that your body is lying in your bed. Make it as comfortably inert as possible. Feel how flat your body is on your mattress. Notice the slight indentations where your weight presses into the mattress. See how heavy your body can feel. Enjoy the idea that you are lucky enough to be awake and appreciate the luxuriousness of just laying around with nothing to do.
Breathe in saying, “This is my body at rest.” or “I am at rest.” Remind yourself that a body at rest like this can repair itself and get refreshed. It does not require you to sleep to do so. Allow your eyelids to rest as well. Let your eyes experience this nice resting position. See how heavy they can feel in their sockets. Eyes in the dark are resting. Remind them. You can take this as far as you like, guiding each little part of your body to experience a sense of being at rest, calm and without movement or expectation. Breathe. You may not be sleeping soundly, but tonight you choose to rest.
“My Mind Can Play!”
If you really have a lot of thought and worry, why not use the time to let your mind play? Again, as long as your body is at rest, it will be alright. Now, let your mind slow enough to simply play instead of worry. This may take a little practice, but it can actually be quite fun. Instead of sending your mind angry messages about how you need to get up early and will feel rotten and you never sleep anymore and so on, ask it what it would rather think about now that it has some time. Then create your thought. Keep it slow and easy. Remind your mind that you are in rest mode but can let it play a bit.
Breathe and offer some options.
Maybe your mind would like to find a great memory from your past. Let it know that only the best moments are reserved for late night thinking. Perhaps a fun story with you as the star would amuse your creative parts. How about a fun fantasy? Worried about money? Imagine you are rolling in it. Worried about your kids? Make the best story you can imagine about them. Want a new partner? Create that person in your mind’s eye.
Redecorate your living room; imagine a new career; recall every book you’ve ever read. Keep breathing slowly. Keep the body at rest. Drop agendas and allow the mind to simply play. Guide yourself gently and with a positive mindset. This is resting. Honestly, whenever I use this self-guided meditation idea, I almost wish I could stay awake a little longer.
There are many more good ideas for helping you calm your worries in my book.