Insomnia Prescriptions

Dear Friends,

I sleep with ease most nights. A young one who wakes exuberant for play with the early light, plenty of good work to accomplish at day, the quiet of night is a balm now; the supine posture calls and I come with delight to the thought of sleep beside my beloveds. But last night I was awake, with thoughts and worries, that when placed on the great scale of being, amount to very little. I woke to swallow a few aspirin, checked my phone, and then retreated back to bed, this time, with meditation on the horizon.

Some schools discourage meditation in bed, because it teaches the mind that falling asleep mid-meditation is appropriate. Meditation should teach wakefulness. But we take another approach. Meditation can also teach stillness, and if stillness leads to sleep, so be it. Half an hour later, just before falling asleep, I found myself stiller than I’d been in weeks -- I was night. Here’s the assignment, give it a shot tonight.

1) Lay supine (face up). Uncross all legs arms fingers and toes. Lay your hands over your heart, left hand first, right hand over it. Close your eyes.

2) Breathe gently. Don’t force the breath in any which way. Allow each breath aspect to complete itself fully. Inhale as much as the lungs wish. Small pause. Exhale fully. Small pause. Let the breath cycle finds its rhythm, no forcing. Already, the pause after the exhalations should bring peace.

3) Now work the mind train. Know that all is well -- just as it should be. Even if things are not well, still -- this is what is. Cede to what is. Let go of fixing. Nothing you can think right now will change your troubles. Night is not the hour of conscious activity. Rather, what you need, what your body needs, and what your mind needs, is your release.

Just like a day we are made of two, light and darkness, consciousness and unconscious. If we allow it, night is the hour of repair, of dream, of healing, of rejuvenation -- and those activities are best accomplished without our input. Continue breathing, don’t continue any thought train that places you in the territory of work and toil, just let go. Let night work you.

4) Ten minutes in, you should feel much better. If you end up asleep, good, if not, the state you bring yourself to, may be more restorative than sleep! Keep at it. Don’t trade out for your phone, or your daylight mind. God likes you in the night-time, quiet, still, nothing but the north-wind blowing on your heart strings, music for the melody makers weaving another day out of the song of night.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom my friends,

Rabbi Zach


The New ShulComment