A beautiful insight (and method) by Madhuri, worth sharing!
I’d always slept wonderfully well; dream-filled, unenlightened, refreshing sleep. At the Ranch I could go under in minutes at 7 p.m. and be up at 3:00 to run down to the little Ranch house and make donuts. After guarding all night in a hut, eating cinnamon rolls, I’d run ten miles and then sleep like a hibernating woods-creature.
Until menopause. Then nature got out a new bag of tricks…sweating, restlessness, wide-awake-at-2:30-a.m. blues. I didn’t recognize myself. I felt affronted. I, who used to run from Socrates to that guard-hut halfway up the mountain in a snowstorm, and only sweat in a quarter-size area under the arms? (Brag, brag!) Having now to use a towel under my knees, then mop my chest and face with it? Gross! Icky! Meaningless! What is Nature thinking?
So I did yoga, or worried, or wrote poetry in the dark (which gave interesting Ancient-Egyptian decipherings to my mornings.)
Worrying was easy to do. Thought-forms strayed in from anywhere, recognized a sucker, and stayed to torment me to near-panic: That mole on my arm is darker, I swear it is! I’ve got skin cancer! I’m going to die! That is going to be such a hassle! And so saaaad! Or, “Hmmmm…My knee has been having a hard time on the stairs. Sooner or later I’ll probably have to get a knee replacement. How awful! Then there will be metal and plastic inside my body! No!
Three things helped, eventually: A Human Design friend told me that I’m particularly susceptible to these flying thought-forms, but that they aren’t really me. That was a big relief, and really helped me to stand at a distance from the siren whisper of freak-out mantras. I could sometimes even dismiss the invaders altogether.
Second, I finally realized I could Sit and Meditate! Like the great majority of my wise revelations, this came quite belatedly; but it did come. Sometimes I’d stand and shake for a while before I sat, since I felt so twitchy. This silent-hour meditating was quite wonderful, and made me feel very good (and even virtuous.) Then I’d usually fall asleep, since meditating at that time was somehow both delightful and boring.
This dark-of-night succouring, this turning inwards and receiving the Mystery, felt like a secret sacrament all my own.
Third, the hottest hot-flash years passed, as they tend to do, and sleep returned to something more like its original self: deep and dreamful; particularly deep if I’d walked a lot that day, or gone to 5Rhythms. But I was still apt to wake at some strange hour for a while…and my mind would, if I allowed it, begin to fuss and fulminate and make gloomy predictions.
By this time my Self-Healing method [read more in Self-Healing: a Neat, Deep, and Miraculous Technique] had come to grace my life, and I could do it quite well in the middle of the night. I’d often fall into sleep partway through, and then complete the session in the morning…emerging happy and well-worked-on, things having been seen and dissolved in the never-ending miracle of that technique.
Not long ago someone sent me a Youtube vid where a young Indian man rapped about gratefulness, interspersed with footage of all sorts of people singing and dancing their joy at being alive.
Somehow it was the right moment for me to see it. I’ve never liked New-Agey gratefulness manifestos – they seem to me to be escaping the gritty, gnarly inner and outer city streets of life – and my experience is, I need the dark as mulch and loam and fodder; I need the dark too as beauty, as love, as sensibility, as courage, as wholeness. I embrace it, as best I can, and without rancor – as best I can. What else is Dynamic for? Dark and light are not to be segregated; I like the lake I swim in to be deep.
But there are habits of mind – like my midnight one – to complain and doubt and worry. And it was the right moment for me to try something else, on the nights when I woke and felt to do something other than Self-Healing; something shorter and more immediately soothing.
So I’d lie between the sheets, under the lovely cozy weighty covers, and say to myself,
I’m grateful that I’ve got green juice already in the fridge for the morning! I’m grateful I cleaned the floors in three rooms today! I’m grateful I found that teal cardigan in the charity shop! I’m grateful I gave them a pile of clothes and two books and thus got rid of that stuff! I’m grateful the bathroom is just across the hall and I don’t have to go up or down stairs! I’m grateful for my wonderful bed! I’m sooo grateful for this house! I’m grateful I went food shopping today! I’m grateful for Chris, my ex – even though we’re not together. I’m grateful for Nisarg in my life! I’m sooo grateful I got that !@#$%^&* plane ticket booked today! I’m grateful there’s a movie on Sunday that looks good! I’m grateful I wrote a poem today, that was fun! I’m so grateful I have so much space alone! I’m grateful for the silence around right now! I’m grateful for my comfy warm boots!”
Sometimes I’d add a codicil:
I’m grateful for my comfy warm boots even if they are muddy and the zipper is gone on one so I have to tie them up with twine!”
The qualification seemed not to take away from the thankfulness – just pinpointed its accuracy.
And I found that each homely item I noted, and acknowledged, brought a sort of sigh of let-go and relaxation; as if these mundane, or not-so-mundane blessings had been waiting for me to make them aware and, now noticed, they could expand into something even simpler – a happy outbreath. Surprising to observe just how glad I am about so many things! Really!
It’s really just that – a noticing of what is already the case. And that doesn’t feel so New-Agey – more, it’s a private observingness in the dark as I lie in the spacious arms of my room. It doesn’t belong to anybody else, New-Age or Zen or whatever.
And then it’s morning – because I get so relaxed I’m asleep at some point, and haven’t realized.
Text and illustration by Madhuri