Do you suffer from lack of sleep due to a racing mind?
As you may recall, I decided about 6 months ago to take on a part-time position with a local health food store, and it has turned out to be one of the best decisions I could have made because of all the great information and people I am exposed to weekly.
I enter into many conversations with customers about problems sleeping because ‘their minds won’t turn off’ and the incessant loops of thoughts keep them up at night, or, they can fall asleep, but they wake up with this loop of thoughts preventing them from going back to sleep.
We all have thousands of thoughts moving through our minds daily…some of them are really mundane, while others are profound.
I’ve found that if you are not pulling out the mundane thoughts, like unwanted and scraggly weeds, your thought-garden gets too clogged up to allow the profound and life-enhancing thoughts any room to grow and go to seed.
One method that works for me is dumping what I hear in my head on paper for about 25 minutes and then throwing the paper away.
What do I mean by dumping what I hear in my head?
Literally, for 20 or 25 minutes, I sit at my dining room table with a pad and pen, and write down what I ‘hear’ going on in my head. I don’t judge the words, I don’t try and think about what I am writing. I just get out the random thoughts.
If I am nervous or tense about something, I usually do this exercise at night before I turn in.
Did my heart just skip a beat? Is that ok? What do I need to make for Cam’s next dinner so that she doesn’t have to worry about cooking while she is getting to know her new baby? What can I use instead of aluminum foil so she can reheat a Mexican casserole in the oven? What can I do to get rid of the hundreds of curly worms in the basement? Does that weird smell in the basement have anything to do with the worm bin? Did Shayne feed the worms this week? Do I need to let him know where to plant the new Hydrangia? Do I need to tell him how deep to dig the hole? Should we amend the soil?
And this goes on and on for 20 more minutes as you watch where your mind goes, and what is it is currently preoccupied with. I usually crumple up the paper after I am done and just throw it away.
Sometimes a question or observation will pop up that needs more attention, but usually the stuff I am worried about, or that is on my mind, are things that will be taken care of when the present moment has the energy and inclination to deal with it.
Once those thoughts that keep you up at night are weeded out of your mind, you can sleep.
The looping happens because you are habitually thinking about things that you most likely have no control over in the middle of the night, and they just need to be pulled out and briefly examined.
I often find that the answers to my looping thoughts will quickly come up to the surface once I give them a little life on the page.
I believe it has something to do with acknowledging them…like a little kid that is constantly trying to get your attention. Once you acknowledge the thoughts…they quieten down and stop aggravating you to tend to them.
Over the years, with this practice, I have noticed a profound peace as it pertains to the chatter in my mind. By pulling out the weedy thoughts, I have developed a sense of trust that the answers to my questions will be answered when the time is right.
Now I trust I will know what to do when the situation that I am worried about actually shows up in my physical experience.
This also helps you cultivate within yourself a deep sense of patience. With patience, trust in the natural flow of life happens naturally and your mind relaxes and stops provoking you to pay attention to it.
When I first started experiencing long periods of time where the voice in my head was quiet, it was startling. It happened rather spontaneously about 5 years ago.
I remember calling my brother wondering whether or not I was beginning to experience dementia. The chatter in my head was silent!
When I was living in Chattanooga, I was first introduced to this practice of writing down what you hear in your head and leaving it on the page.
After doing it for a while, I noticed that my sense of worry about the future diminished greatly, and I was able to focus on what was immediately in front of me instead of projecting thoughts into the future.
By remaining present, and focusing on what is immediately in front of me, my future has taken care of itself, and I find that I am for the most part, happy and content with a sense of deep fulfillment. I laugh a lot, and feel much more grounded.
If you are plagued with a mind that likes to poke you while you try and sleep, I hope that this little exercise helps you get your sleep back…stay with it and watch what happens!