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Embracing Sleepless Nights: Tools and Perspectives

I no longer see sleepless nights as trouble. Ok. I feel your judgment right now. Sorry, I had to start the blog off this way.

Yes, sometimes I do lie awake for hours or wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep. I am plagued by psychic attacks late at night and feel like I have to solve every one of them before dawn. I groan in pain as I toss and turn and sweat and worry. But somehow, this no longer feels like a problem to me.

I have pursued the practices of pranayama, meditation, and yoga for weapons and armor against the relentless worries that surface in the wee hours.

Yes, I have learned how to breathe for relaxation. I have tools for energy and clarity that help with the long days that follow those longer nights. I can focus on Chakras, points of meditation, in my body and try to find more balance.

I've spent lots of money on sleep apps, biurnal beat tracks. I've listened to podcasts designed to be so boring they lull me easily into sleep.

You'll be happy to know that all of this works.

Until it doesn't.

What I am writing about today is that there is something more. And this something may not be too sexy. It's not a hack. It's not going to go viral. It might barely be worth your time reading right now. But it is a secret from the sages. It's about shifting perspective.

Sleeplessness, worry, physical discomfort, next-day fatigue, and in general, just feeling like you are somehow wrong or that there is something wrong with you - these are not actually problems that need FIXING. You are not flawed. You are not bad. These discomforts. These very real pains and losses are another facet of a very big, very full, and very precious human life.

This shift in perspective has only happened for me over the past few years as I have experienced numerous unwelcome changes in my health and life. As I approach mid-50s I am faced with a blossoming of chronic pain, autoimmune issues, and the steel curtain of changes brought by menopause.

Resistance, as the saying goes, has been futile.

During my studies at Duke on Yoga for Cancer, I encountered a profound piece of wisdom: "Suffering = Pain x Resistance to Pain."

At the time, I found this teaching insightful, but Ididn't fully grasp its depth. I was young. I was driven by a naive but noble desire to "help" people. I hadn't faced that within myself.

I get it now.

The less we resist, the less we suffer.

If you’re seeking advice on how to sleep better, I have tools to share and insights to offer. You'll find them attached to this blog.

But the most valuable advice I can give is to stop judging your sleeplessness as something wrong with you.

Use these tools. Get relief. Sleep. But remember that where there is sleeplessness there is opportunity too. You can put your mind to something that you feel is nourishing. Write. Watch a documentary on some topic you are interested in. Look at the moon. Crack your window and breathe in the smells of midnight. Listen in that quiet for messages from the cosmos. Or get to know the silence of night. It has much to teach all of us.

What the experts say:

  1. Exercise vigorously in the earlier part of your day. If you do so in the later part of your day your energy will be turned ON when it could be turning DOWN.

  2. Do a yoga practice for balance and energy mid-day. I am attaching a class from a few years ago that might help here.

  3. Reduce screen time before bed. Turn off TVs, phones, and laptops 1-2 hours before you want to go to bed.

  4. Create a bedtime ritual. I recommend a warm bath and Abhyanga - Self Massage with Ayurvedic Oil. Go to Banyan Botanical website to learn more about your individual constitution and which oil is best for you.

  5. Try the attached meditation and pranayama techniques. They are from our current Breathing Circle. The pranayama helps to build the exhale which is a hallmark of the kind of breathing a well-fed lion would do (taking a nap, alone, in the middle of africa) and the meditation is a powerful visual from the Shaiva Tantra tradition.

  1. .

  2. Look into real technology for training brainwaves. Here is what I have been using.


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