Thursday, August 2, 2012

things I'm thinking about + sleep hygiene

"...that is what learning is.
You suddenly understand 
something you've understood all your life, 
but in a new way."
- Doris Lessing

The words above are from the book Transitions: Prayers and Declarations for a Changing Life by Julia Cameron.

Things I'm thinking about as I try to gain clarity on my future direction:

Our necessary path becomes clear.
Such breakthroughs into clarity can be shocking, even painful. 
What I now see is an uncomfortable truth.
I must change to accommodate my unsparing vision. 
- Julia Cameron, Transitions 

I felt goosebumps reading that. I think I'm still at a phase where I'm feeling - and resisting - that discomfort.

Meanwhile I'm trying to work on my insomnia. Those of you who experience this know how challenging it is. It's to the point where even breathing techniques have been frustrating, but then I realized that because of my frustration, I'm actually trying too hard to sleep, rather than letting myself fall asleep. And that's why it's been stressful.

One of the things I've started to commit to doing is improving my sleep hygiene. I've never heard it called that way up until recently, but it makes perfect sense.

One of the aspects of my sleep hygiene is to turn off or set aside electronics and anything with screens an hour before bedtime.

For many years I used to have light reading on my bedside table - usually books of meditations or reflections. Then for a long time I was in transition and many of my things (including non-academic books) were in storage. Over the past year or so I've finally felt more settled, but somehow I lost the habit of reading something light and positive before bed (instead of news and such on the iPad... yup, those dang screens...). Then I realized how much I miss books - actual books on paper - and how much they have helped me in the past.

So, along with my other "stuff" (much to the amusement of my husband), including aromatherapy spray and lotion (both made in Cleveland by a yoga instructor), as well as my Bedtime Hug, I took out my stack of favorite books.

From top:

Transitions: Prayers and Declarations for a Changing Life by Julia Cameron
Blessings: Prayers and Declarations for a Heartful Life by Julia Cameron
The Secret Power of Yoga by Nischala Joy Devi
365 Yoga: Daily Meditations by Julie Rappaport
(plus a notebook to write on)

In a couple of yoga classes I've attended, I got to try small sandbags over my body for relaxation. I know it sounds strange, but they are pretty amazing stuff. The additional ten pounds over me just eases me into a grounded, relaxed state, especially for someone like me who has difficulty "turning off" and needs a lot of grounding. I considered trying out these weighted sandbags for sleep, but then I wonder if perhaps I might develop a dependence or even a "tolerance" for all my props until such time that they no longer make that much of an impact. I think meditative books will always be a safe thing though, because it gives my mind something else (positive) to focus on and end the day with - at least until I can learn to let go of my thoughts. Because in the end, it's really all about the mind.

What do you do for your sleep hygiene?

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