Stopping and not sleeping

I had a hard time getting to sleep last night. A bunch of tension and anxiety.

Even though I knew exactly what was going on and how my mind was convincing me of an imaginary conversations. It gave me the perfect opportunity to practice what I’ve learned from my reading in Breakfast with Seneca. That certainly doesn’t mean it was easy.

I was able to see how I was letting myself stress out over an imaginary future and that brought back an amazing calm. Maintaining it was another thing. I too often found my mind returning to the conversations.

I started by speaking a few things out loud, get them out while Bella listened. Okay, since Bella was with me and purring at my side, even coming around me to lie on the other side when I rolled over, that means I must have been stressed out enough for her to want to come and soothe me. Either that, or she was just wanting attention. It might actually be a toss-up in this situation.

Once I realized that Bella’s purring wasn’t going to put me to sleep, I sat up and did some meditating. It was hard to leave conversations behind, but at least it slowed the thoughts and got me to settle down a bit. Once here, I could question the conversation, asking the stray thoughts if they had actually happened or if I was just anticipating the future and how I wanted to respond. While I’d been able to begin to bring calm to myself while I was trying to get to sleep, doing this while meditating broke up these thoughts even more. When I no longer had this constant stream running through my head, I did some sketching and some reading. This was able to distract me until I was relaxed enough to try to sleep again.

Of course, the thoughts tried to rev back up. I just had to ask if these were real and that they had happened, or if it was imaginary. That sent the thoughts squirreling off. They tried a few more times, but once you see that it’s your brain projecting a worst-case scenario of the future, it’s easy to say, “Nope, not real.” I can only have regrets over something I really did do in the past. More importantly, I can realize that I wasn’t as virtuous (having excellence in character) as I wanted to be in that moment. And then I can say to myself, “I forgive you. Don’t do that again.” Since I read that statement in Breakfast with Seneca, I feel a lot more comfortable with myself.

Oh yes, I’ve made some stupid decisions. Who hasn’t? But it only counts if you learn from it and don’t do it again. At least now I have a way of letting go of past failures as well as fears of the future.

And yes, this is one of those blogs I need to file under the category of “Lessons to remember.” Hopefully someone else out there will find some help in this.