May 17, 2016

A Gentle Reminder for those Sleepless Nights.

house window night home

When it’s late and my thoughts are restless, I listen to the night.

The ticking of the clock. The chiming of the nearby courthouse bells tolling the hours. The sound of a train in the distance. The soft sounds of lullabies coming from the nursery down the hall.

My life has changed so much in the last year that it seems all I have are thoughts.

This time last year I had filed for divorce and was preparing to relocate. My days were filled with taking care of two small children and packing boxes. A year ago I was evaluating my possessions and eliminating what I did not need in order to downsize from a four-bedroom home to a two-bedroom apartment. I was busy staring long and hard at my savings to figure out how I would pay the bills until I found a part-time job, as I was a stay-at-home mother at the time. My life was filled with ending a relationship and starting over.

A year later, I am in my own place with my children. I have a wonderful job and a whole new life. I have ventured back out into the dating world and built an entirely new existence. I have even begun to dream again and been rewarded by having my writing published many times. Life is so much better.

Still, there are times when my thoughts run in so many different directions that sleep is a challenge.

When sleep won’t come and our minds are restless, we can reach out and ask for others to lend their calm thoughts and kind intentions, their most serene energy and gentle remembrances. We can wrap ourselves inside them, a buffer against the noise in our heads.

In these moments with the support of our loved ones in the very air around us, we can also practice this gentleness with ourselves. We can turn our thoughts to calm moments and small kindnesses. We can trade our busy thoughts to serene ones, and we can focus on the gentle memories rather than the ones that keep our minds racing ahead.

These quiet moments are opportunities for being mindful of the moment.

We can experience the weight of our eyelids as we draw closer to sleep. We can concentrate on the feel of pillows and blankets against our weary bodies. We can listen to the night sounds and relax into them. Instead of counting sheep or making lists in our head of all the tasks ahead of us, we can count up our blessings. As long as we draw breath, there are always blessings to be tallied.

Whether we identify with a particular religion or simply identify as spiritual, we can send out our gratitude to the Universe or our Higher Power for the lives that we lead. I am not an atheist, but I imagine that even from this perspective, we can send our gratitude out to the people in our lives who enrich it.

Mindfulness and gratitude—I find myself revisiting these concepts often.

They balance me in this busy life. They help me manage my emotions and keep me centered. When we practice mindfulness and gratitude, our lives can become so much more vivid and joyful. We also seem better able to reach out to others with compassion.

Tick tock. As the darkness grows deeper and the hour later, we can take a few minutes to practice mindfulness and gratitude before sleep comes to claim us. We can lend our energy into sending calm thoughts and kind intentions to ourselves and out into the world as we settle into peaceful, gentle sleep.


Author: Crystal Jackson

Editor: Nicole Cameron

Image: Holly Lay/Flickr 

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