The Insomniacs Club
You’re tired, you’ve had a long and difficult day. All you want to do is sleep. After your usual nighttime ablutions, you are finally ready to climb into bed and get some much needed rest. Nestled into the pillows and covers, lights off, dark and quiet surrounds you. Deep breath. You snuggle in, close your eyes, and… wait. Sleep is just around the corner. Right? Yes, you’re sure. You just need to relax and be patient. You’ll be asleep in no time.
Thirty minutes go by. Then sixty. No sleep.
And now you’re beginning to become anxious. You watch the clock. As the minutes tick by you are concerned you won’t get enough rest, tomorrow is a full day, you need your sleep. You now are able to hear every tick, creak, crack, and pop in your house. What was that?! They all suddenly seems like cannons going off.
Why can’t you sleep? You’re so tired. Maybe if you just try to calm down. Or read. Or watch television. Or put on some music. Anything to make yourself go to sleep!
Does any of this sound familiar? Have you ever experienced it? Does it happen regularly?
For many of us, the issue of sleep becomes critical as we begin middle age, and often just doesn’t get better with time. We become resigned to the fact that restful nights are a thing of the past and that we just have to live with insomnia. Some nights are worse than others… but it is always with us to some degree.
In the dark of the night, devoid of any other input, we thrash ourselves like an over-zealous medieval monk bent on suffering to prove his devotion.
It begins to be a discussion topic, often amongst perimenopausal women. We joke about it, express frustration, try hormones, doctors, OTC meds… and still sleep alludes us. We become the Club of Insomniacs, a membership we really don’t want.
Oh, how we wish we could sleep like we did in our teens. No cares or worries, just hours of oblivion. “Dead to the world,” we say. The sleep of babes.
But you see, we just hit upon something: No cares or worries. When you have difficulty sleeping, chances are it’s, what I like to call, “brain chatter.” A never-ending cacophony of thoughts, criticisms, new ideas, rehashings. It never stops – because we continue to give it a rapt audience. In the dark of the night, devoid of any other input, we thrash ourselves like an over-zealous medieval monk bent on suffering to prove his devotion.
Everything we said or did in the day just finished, everything we might do or say in the hours ahead, everything anybody said to us, our list of chores, the kids’ schedule, doctor’s appointments, deadlines at work. You name it, it keeps you awake at night. Or… wakes you from a sound sleep at 3am. You lay there wide awake wondering what woke you and you’ve had just enough sleep now that the brain chatter starts in relentlessly.
It’s exhausting and…
It’s not useful.
Instead, we must get hold of ourselves, and learn a way to self-soothe in order that we get the restful sleep we all very much need.
This meditation was taught to me by my Mide’ when I was having trouble with sleep… bad dreams were making me reluctant to fall asleep at night. It helped me tremendously as I hope will help you.
The Self-Guided Meditation
Get yourself comfortable in your preferred place and position of sleep. It doesn’t matter how you lay, so long as you are comfortable and as relaxed as possible.
Begin some deep breathing – in through the nose, out through the mouth. Slow your breathing, deepen it, until you begin to feel yourself relaxing. Focus solely on your task of breathing in and breathing out… it will help begin to stop the brain chatter because you are concentrating on something else.
These are fiercely loving Guardians who will not allow anything or anyone near you while you sleep. You are safe with them.
Now picture your favorite Elder, it could be a grandmother, someone from your community with whom you are close, or simply your ideal image of how a grandmother “should” look. Picture her clearly, walking up to you, standing over you, and smiling. She lays a hand on your shoulder, and you feel safe. Protected.
As you relax further, you see more female Elders walking up to you. As you watch, they form a circle around you, shoulder to shoulder, backs to you, watching out to protect you from any unpleasant thing that may try to reach you. These are fiercely loving Guardians who will not allow anything or anyone near you while you sleep. You are safe with them.
You feel yourself drifting now, floating towards sleep. But just before you fall into the depths of sound sleep, you see more figures approaching the Grandmothers. As they come closer you see they are warriors. Male, strong, armed. They are here to protect the Grandmothers while they protect you. Strong, tall, capable.
You are now protected by two circles of Watchers. Nothing bad can happen to you. No disturbances, no bad dreams, for they are watching and keeping away all that might disrupt your sleep.
Allow yourself to fall deeply asleep now, knowing you are completely safe until morning.
Adean. It is done.
Listen to the Ancestors
Use this meditation as often as it feels right for you to do so. Picture the Grandmothers and Warriors in as much detail as you can. Add to that detail every night until you feel you know them completely. Their hairstyles, complexion, eye color, the clothes they are wearing. The weapons the warriors are holding.
Pay attention also. Do they ever speak to you? If so, what do they say? These experiences may very well be your Ancestors bringing you guidance to help you with the things causing your brain chatter.
On the edge between wakefulness and sleep… connect to Those Who Have Gone Before.
On the edge between wakefulness and sleep, we are sometimes able to reach beyond the veil and connect to Those Who Have Gone Before. It is a magical thing, and often we dismiss it as simply hypnogogic activity. You will absolutely know the difference between an Ancestor visit and hypnogogic thoughts, when it happens to you. How will you know…? <smile> You’ll just know. Trust this.
Use the information you receive always for good, for you and for others. These are precious gifts to be honored and held closely to your heart. You are never alone. Let them help you. Let them guard you. Honor them by recognizing them and keeping them alive in your memories.
If they are silent during their nighttime vigil with you, allow that also. It is enough that they have come to protect you. Sleep deeply, knowing they are there.
Sweet dreams… may the Ancestors be with you always.