Sleep never comes very easily for me, but some nights are just worse than others. I find that if I can keep my mind clear of stories (“What am I going to do? I can’t do this anymore! How will I function tomorrow? I’m never going to get any sleep…”) I do much better. Letting go of the pressure I put on myself, I often just fall asleep. And then there are nights like last night, where the normal inability to sleep is compounded by an upcoming event that is causing me to be anxious. Left unchecked, I can create the most miserable of nights!
This morning, after a cup of coffee and some moments of quiet, I have had time to think back on the drama of my sleep…or the lack thereof. In my daily reading, author Mark Nepo talked about the causes of why we hurt ourselves and those around us. There are obviously many causes, but this quote resonated deeply within me,
“For it is out of fear that we feel the need to isolate ourselves or to control others, and it is often in the act of elevating ourselves that we hurt one another, not to mention ourselves. When not afraid, when in a moment of peace, we feel quite a different need. We feel a sudden requirement to connect and belong to other living things, and it is then in an act of true embrace that we love one another.”
Last night, during the hours in which I should have been sleeping, I spent a lot of time in fear. Fear that created feelings of inadequacy, fear that created the desire to control certain situations in my life, fear that made my heart race and left me in the constant hum of panic. Fear that created an environment impossible for sleep and eventually gave me a very painful headache.
I can tell you, that in this picture, I was in a complete moment of peace. Nature does this to me. Whether I am standing in the ocean, walking in the forest or sitting at the edge of a field – I DO feel the sudden requirement to connect and belong, and this connection always creates intense moments of love for the world around me and all those in it.
What I fail to recognize in the moments when my mind is left unchecked is that those opportunities for peace are available to me EVEN within the darkest of nights. Even in those moments of restlessness and pain. Even when events are beyond my control! This morning, after reading the quote, I was finally able to let go of my fear. And in that letting go, I no longer feel inadequate; I no longer need to control the upcoming circumstances…I no longer feel threatened. Those that seemed against me now are the recipients of my desire to connect and to love.
How much better this feels! How much relief is mine in the letting go! How much better it is to love than to fear!!
Success will not always be mine. I’m sure that in the zone of half asleep and half awake, I will succumb to the craziness of my fears yet again. But it’s not about perfection, is it? It’s about learning from our mistakes, forgiving and loving. And this we can do at any moment we choose, in any space we find ourselves and with anyone.
Blessed moments of peace be yours.