Is sleep still elusive? Here’s some great news: there is a way to virtually guarantee that we’ll always be able to sleep, hardly ever feel tired and have almost boundless energy, and that’s to live a meaningful life and take care of ourselves. (And living a meaningful life usually involves taking care of others as well, which is probably no surprise to you.)
If you’re having trouble sleeping, even after relating more kindly to current worries and setting a routine designed to lull you to sleep, then it could be an indication that you’re feeling unsettled at a deeper level. You may even have an intuition that this is the place to start.
As the wiser ancients said: “Know Thyself”. In the modern cacophony of busy-ness and distraction that can be harder than ever to do. Yet it’s so fundamental to everything about our lives, including getting a full and restorative night’s sleep, that you may feel compelled to get to know yourself better sooner rather than later.
When we are fully aligned with our deepest sense of who we really are, and we’re able to live in a way that supports us honestly expressing that, then good-quality sleep and a lot more beside fall into place. Not that it will be a completely smooth path, but the route will be clearer and we’ll feel greater impetus to travel it. It is likely to even feel joyful!
Head and heart
When I think back to times when poor sleep has been accompanied by a feeling of un-wellness, I’m aware of having had nagging doubts about the way I was living and expressing myself. They may have been below my conscious awareness, but there were clues. If I’d listened to them more closely, I would likely have saved myself a lot of heartache and ill health.
Perhaps you can relate to a ‘head’ vs ‘heart’ tussle like this one: I was offered my absolute dream job, yet rather than leap at it, I took two full days to accept it. My head told me it was everything I wanted, but my heart, and the rest of my body, were telling me to run a mile. What followed was a couple of years of conflict, disappointment and a no-win situation for everyone involved. My goal now isn’t to apportion blame to myself or anyone else, it’s simply to acknowledge that if I’d known myself better I’d have saved myself and others a lot of heartache by backing out with as much grace as I could muster.
So what about you? Are you feeling your head and heart are in alignment now? If they are, please take a very long moment to appreciate how wonderful that feels.
If they’re not in synch, please consider whether this might be the cause of restless nights and what you can do about it. As well as disturbed sleep, some other symptoms you may be experiencing include:
– you’re overworking yourself and deep down you know this is an avoidance tactic
– you feel emotionally drained at the end of the day rather than simply tired
– you keep meaning to change something about your life but those old habits seem to have too much of a grip
– or you’ve repeatedly tried to make life changes only to find that they don’t establish themselves and you fall back into your old negative ways.
– you may even have indications of depression, long-term stress or anxiety
In my situation, when I found my dream job was far from that, I had to change it and I felt a flood of relief immediately on resigning. For you, this may not mean handing in your notice, it may not mean drastic lifestyle moves, and it may not mean giving up all your possessions to become a hermit (is it just me who finds this last one attractive?!).
A simple commitment
Often, the simplest and quickest change, and the one that brings an immediate relaxation in the body and mind is the firm decision to explore what you actually want to be and do in your life. Making that commitment to yourself can be like a quietly-spoken private vow, or you could have the strong desire to shout it from the rooftops.
If you feel the urge now to commit to yourself, here are some suggestions for how you might mindfully approach your next steps:
– acknowledge that nothing is permanent and so this situation which you’re finding difficult will inevitably change
– to explore how exactly you’d like it to change, allow yourself the time to slow down, conjure up some possible scenarios for your life and sense how you really feel in your body when you mentally test these out
– find out what you’re grateful for, and be grateful for these things more often and allow this gratitude to be the backdrop for your dreams
– begin with moderate changes, anything that your intuition is telling you to try give it a go, and sense how that feels in your body, what thoughts come to mind and what emotions are evident
– have confidence that your body/mind has all the wisdom that you need; all you have to do it attend to its communications mindfully and kindly
You do have all the answers already, but as I’ve often found, it often takes some gentle and focussed effort to listen to them. For you, this may take various forms: journaling, long walks, meditation, discussions with friends, or guidance in a safe space created by a trusted facilitator.
Whatever your poor sleep is indicating, perhaps invite yourself to think of it as a pathfinder. In the yoga tradition, stretching back to texts more than 3,000 years old, a deep, dreamless phase of sleep has been understood to exist. Called Turiya, or the fourth state, it’s said to be a place of profound rest, restoration and connection with something ineffable. If our sleep is so disturbed that we’re not able to reach this fourth state, then we’re cut off from our deepest intuition, which makes it that much harder for us to truly know our truest desires in our waking state. I hope some of the suggestions above, along with the other blogs mentioned, will help you re-connect with sleep, with your own wisdom and with yourself, both awake and asleep.
Questions for you
How have you learned to listen to your heart? And is what it’s expressing now in alignment with your head?
If you’re feeling aligned, how can you celebrate that? And if you’re not, then what commitment are you ready to make to know yourself more fully?
Want to go deeper?
My mini-course, ‘7 Secrets to Sleeping without Stressing’, guides you through these ideas in more detail. Sign up here (it’s free).