Put yourself to bed kindly, lovingly, as you would put to bed a beloved child.
Would you put a child to bed hissing in their ear about what’s wrong with their face, how scary the world is, why they won’t amount to much? Just a guess, but you might instead go with a lullaby, maybe a good story, sweet murmurs of love—anything kind, gentle, and comforting. I invite you to put yourself to bed that way too. As someone who used to struggle with insomnia and take all my woes to bed with me, I’ve loved coaching others in making bedtime truly kind and likely to promote the rest we all deserve. Five easy steps follow, including in step 2 the ABC’s of addressing what needs addressing so you can put it all down for the night!
1. Sleep is the best reset button: make conscious, intentional use of its power.
Take sleep very seriously as the most fabulous (and free!) reset button at hand. Part of what sleep does is pause your current sense of identity and your preoccupations with your life’s conditions to date. If you let it, it can clear the slate every day, allowing you to come back to the truth of who you are—which has nothing to do with these current conditions. By not taking today’s batch of woes, fears, critiques to sleep with you, you allow a new opening each new day, upon waking, to the truth of who you are, and all that this can translate to in the realities of everyday life.
Go to bed with the intention to release, rest, and rejuvenate—intention is powerful. So don’t stumble to bed in a cloud of whatever’s-on-your-mind when you’re ready to drop. Be conscious about what you put down and let go, and what you take to bed with you.
2. Do not admit worries or to-do lists into the bedroom: Easy as ABC.
It’s typical to lie in bed reviewing the worst of today and fretting over tomorrow. Maybe throw in a slo-mo replay of that awkward misstep at the dog park, flash to your favorite childhood humiliation, then take another spin around the globe as bleakly highlighted by the news industry. Ready for something kinder? Make it a rule (or a grand experiment) to take none of that to bed—not admitted.
Here come the ABC’s for minding before bedtime what actually needs your attention. Ideally, consciously give these your time earlier in the evening, then let what occupies you for an hour or two before bed be what you enjoy, what nourishes you, what you love to do and think about. However, if five minutes at the tail-end of the day is all you’ve got sometimes, take five before bedtime grooming. Just sit with paper and perhaps a calming beverage to give a nod to today’s completion and jot down a few notes for tomorrow.
Address practical matters.
If it serves you, glance at tomorrow and write down to-do lists and priorities. Put the thing thrice remembered and forgotten on the calendar so you trust you’ll get to it. (Now forget about that oil change or IRS call in good conscience.) Dash off the text that’s really not so hard to write—but does crack the ice that keeps you stuck. In other words, if you can do one quick thing to begin or complete a task (rather than make a note about it), do that. Now you’ve done what you’ve done for this day: it’s enough, and it’s all good enough.
Be with emotional stuff.
If something emotional from the day needs processing, journal it, talk it out, or take it to a bubble bath. Set up future bolstering by sending the scheduling email to the right support professional or making a date with a friend. Since you’re (absolutely) not going to take it to bed with you, do make it worth your while in the evening (your heart is worth your own time and attention). Set yourself up to let tender matters go during sleep hours by letting yourself know they’re being tended to.
Consciously be done with today and open to tomorrow’s total potentiality.
Go to bed with nothing in tow about today or tomorrow: you’re done. You can reinforce this on the physical level by moving slowly and deliberately as you groom and change for bed. When thoughts of this day or the next offer themselves (and you know thoughts—they will), don’t engage. Just say, “I release you” or “Done!” or “Shop is closed.” There’s nothing more to do, fix, or figure out. Things in flux? Feeling like a work in progress? Of course. That’s how a human life goes. Your day is still complete; your mind has no more job to do beyond aligning with rest.
I like to start watching my breath as I head bed-ward so I’m already cultivating a meditative mindset. This, too, supports treating sleep as a full reset, entered into consciously. As you step into your bedroom, make it a ritual by saying out loud, “This day is complete. Tomorrow, all things new, all things possible.” As you say this (or your own phrase that sings to you), believe it as much as you can. Feel it, as much as you can. (It’s enough.)
3. Only good thoughts allowed in bed, and only briefly.
Lying in bed, if you must think at all, only review what you love about your life, what feels good, what went right in your day. (Remember, you’re putting yourself to bed as you would a beloved child.) Flash to moments of loving the beauty and brilliance of people, plants, and critters in your daily world—your own bright, shiny moments included. Honor your completions and notice what was satisfying or glorious. Review hugs and hilarity, easy connections. Whatever nice things you pull out to polish mentally, please keep even this kind of thought to a minimum. Some people love a good gratitude list, so reel off a few gems, if you will, but get in and get out.
4. Drop into love, and let love drop you into sleep.
For whatever conscious time you’ve got left (whether seconds or hours, depending on your tendencies or the day), give your full weight to the mattress and to gravity, releasing every muscle to all that supports you. You are held. Give yourself to love.
Think in terms of lying in the arms of love. You are a child of the Universe: see yourself as Source sees you as you drop into the unconscious realm. Call on whatever you know of love right now and let everything else go. Love is ever-available, as it’s the essence of who you are. (If this trips you up on a bad day or through a hard era, create spaciousness here by looking away from being loved or receiving love—hard pass on a life review of love, please. Just hold the feeling of love in the easiest, most innocent way—even your love for an animal, if that creates no resistance, or for your favorite painting, tattoo, or tree—and allow that to be enough.)
5. Use the breath to support your intentional letting go.
Make a lying-down meditation of your last conscious moments by watching the breath. Follow the breath all the way in and all the way out. I call the breath the only balm you can apply from within: feel it as a healing salve moving through you, easing you into sleep, or simply supporting your rest. (Don’t worry about how much or what kind of sleep you’ll get—breathe into full rest.) Following the breath will help you keep out of your head, too. Remember that the mind does what it does, so it’s not about staying with the breath or staying out of thoughts—just come back to breath right now, one more time, now, and now, and now. It’s working if you’re willing to find the breath one more time in this moment, as many times as it takes.
Sometimes if there’s something compelling or tricky in my world and I catch myself thinking about it in bed, I just remind myself it’s not time to think: it’s time to lie in the arms of love; it’s time to follow the breath and appreciate how it calmly ushers me into rest and sleep. I often then notice that I haven’t even felt the mattress yet, so I tune in to the physical sensations of giving myself to gravity, and this allows my return to these reliable and nurturing bedtime tactics.
Rest well, dear one.
Love & blessings, Jaya
Invitation not to let bad sensations accrue, not to allow untended thoughts to take you down the rabbit hole! Prioritize feeling good: this will connect you to your guidance system and let in the inspiration of the moment to keep moving toward love.
1. Take a breath. Take several conscious breaths. Watch the breath go in and out. Get absorbed by the breath.
2. Go outside and breathe there. Look into the sky. Experience what's out there with all the senses you can engage.
3. Exercise. Stretch. Run up & down the stairs. Go around the block. Do anything to move your body and focus your attention off the mind and on your marvelous capacity to feel, move, inhabit a human body. Find someone on YouTube to guide you through some qigong or yoga or whatever. (Here's my favorite simple qigong sequence with Mimi Kuo-Deemer.)
4. Stay away from work, even mentally. Leave it alone and see what seeds sprout later. You've already given it great attention. Celebrate that. Let it go.
5. Feasting for the holidays? Chew more, taste more, give yourself full permission to eat whatever you choose to eat. Take long breaks between times of food intake—not to be righteous, but to enjoy the contrast and to be hungry again when you eat more.
6. Do the unexpected, have an adventure, go somewhere you've never been, do something appealing that scares you or goes against how you see yourself.
7. Meditate, even for 5 minutes. You could even exit (physically or mentally) during a conversation you don't want to take part in and just watch your breath go all the way in, watch it go all the way out, and keep coming back to the breath when you stray.
8. Call someone you almost never talk to, or haven't talked to in a very long time, or even the one you've believed is too far from the last contact to justify any lasting connection: you connect if you're drawn to. (Follow the inspired impulse, not the thoughts about it.)
9. Having a hard time? Tell yourself or another or write down all the reasons why this hard thing you're going through is perfect, the best training ground for what you know you need to develop in yourself. This is a moment to keep applying your own belief system, to take further whatever you've been experimenting with to live more consciously and be healthier and truer to yourself.
10. Unplug for a day (or days) from any computer activity, phone apps, social media. Include news in the exclusion. Walk away from political conversations if that feels better.
11. Sleep. Nap (30 minutes or less to stay out of deep sleep, 90 minutes for a whole sleep cycle). For naps and nighttime rest, be sure you go to sleep with a consciousness of RESET, of all things new/all things possible when you wake up.
Want a bonus? Mind your feeling states! Bored? Irritated? Stung? Get more interested in how you feel than in the thing that made you feel that way (the apparent cause). Just take care of yourself, and move toward feeling better.
Love & blessings, Jaya
Sometimes, in the realm of the political, insanity seems to pour freely, brim over the top, spew from all quarters in all directions.Then how do you hold to the spiritual, to love, to trusting that your vote for goodness, tolerance, and peace actually counts, that enough people are out there stirring up that brand of consciousness that we could override fear and actually turn the tables?
How do you maintain and cultivate sanity in times like these—by which I mean, NOW?
Tell the truth as best you understand it.
Talk. Speak what matters. Write, blog, tweet what matters. This week, I read about Donald Trump tweeting these words: “26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military—only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?” Don Omar tweeted his simple, searing response: “For men not to rape women. Maybe that.”
Discuss. Invite intelligent people to talk with you and in groups.
Talk and keep talking. Say smart things, notice the smart things other people say. Where idiocy seems to sometimes reign, keep voting for intelligent, thoughtful discourse.
Admit what you don't know.
Intelligence does not and cannot require absolute knowing. Acknowledge the gray areas. Concede that news sources, studies, and facts may be unreliable at best. That doesn't mean no clarity is possible anywhere. Expand the discussion and locate the nuances, even when no clear answers or solutions result. Fascist, fundamentalist, and any flavor of us-them rhetoric tends to be black-and-white.
Cultivate a consciousness of good news amidst the craziness.
Consider and discuss how huge it is, actually, that someone as radical-left as Bernie got as far as he did, and how, culturally, we progress as a whole society when a prominent radical is taken seriously at the national level of politics. (This is what's happening with Trump, too, on the other polarity, and that may be why Bernie's being phased out of the presidential running could portend the same for the Orange Blob.) Consider and discuss how far Hilary's gotten, a point no woman reached until 2016. And acknowledge that it makes sense she's the witch of the hour, but we can't simply allow the press and certain interest groups to cast such a shadow on her that the malevolence-meets-incompetence force that is Trump would be considered a better candidate while she's actually truly qualified for the job.)
Act. Do small things. Do large things.
Brainstorm with others about what can be done. Join groups doing things. Register people to vote and drive them to the polls when November rolls around. Volunteer with Moveon.org or some other organization you like that organizes such things.
I once heard someone ask Byron Katie if loving what is means you shouldn't get involved when something bad seems to be happening. Her response was that love takes action, and that the clearer you are (her inquiry process is about questioning thoughts that keep you from peace, hence from your clarity), the more action you're likely to take. I've found this to be true, as I used to be frozen with depression and horror over the state of the world, and I now don't believe it should be otherwise—this is what is, what we've got as far as we've gotten to so far—but I understand something else is possible, and wherever I can vote (with speech, actions, and literal voting) for what looks like closer-to-love to me, I'm casting my vote.
Read good reads.
Get your news from sources that aren't overly conventional or depressing, that encourage thought, that flip things around. I especially appreciate DailyKos.com, which compiles daily digests of good leftist stuff that goes beyond all-bad-news to include incisive thinking, humor (um, not necessarily love-based, but it's so good to laugh—and laughter's a good antidote to fear), and some reports of brilliant activism and people of all walks of life leading the way to change.
Don't get news at bedtime.
Just don't. Bad idea. Go to sleep thinking good thoughts, using sleep as the great reset button that it is. Tell yourself, and dare to believe it, Tomorrow all things new, all things possible.
Face your fear but don't focus on it, don't expand it, and don't make it the point of departure for or endpoint of your discussions; don't make fear the motivation for your actions.
Don't focus your discussions on what's scary and predict terrible outcomes. When fear grabs you, breathe into it, and stay with it awhile instead of shoving it down. But don't just run off at the mouth about how valid it is to be in full-blown terror. (You'll find plenty who'll agree with you, and that will be no comfort.) Vote for what you want before election time by aiming discussion (and thought) toward what's possible, what could work, what could foster and maintain our good relations with other countries, what could benefit more of the people who inhabit this nation across a very real spectrum of diversity.
Spend time visualizing positive occurrences and outcomes for the nation and the world. New-Age bullshit? Nope. You're going to be less clear, less active, less inspired to speak and act if you're drenched in fear and negativity and cultivate a bleak vision for how it'll all come out. Even if you're not sure it's valid, just experiment with soothing yourself and imagining the best of happenings and outcomes. If it makes you feel better on any level, it's a worthy experiment.
Remember when you didn't think the nation was ready for a Black president? Remember when it seemed impossible to keep Obama in office for two terms? We've basically had a decade of something seriously radical for our country, and it was a long time coming. Did you get jaded and forget that? Did you get too focused on very real problems we still have and lose sight of the wonder? For the first decade in history, Black children have a very high ceiling for what they can aspire to, a very different sense of what's possible for them personally and as a people. Not only have they had Black role models in the highest place, but so have my white kids—and I'm in awe of this fact, and so appreciative of this reality. So what else is possible? Dare to imagine into that, and vote for it, not only at official voting time in the fall, but through your thoughts, language, choices, and actions, small and large.
Love & blessings, Jaya