I read the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle while on vacation in Las Vegas. That time spent in 'Sin City' remains one of my most revelatory experiences because of that diamond-mind book. And to know that so many others have read it around the world continues to give me hope and faith in our collective future.
Among so many explorations in The Power of Now, Eckart explains how thoughts trigger emotions and emotions introduce tension patterns in the body. Depending on the intensity and quality of the thoughts, this tension can solidify into blockages and pain in the body over time. I can see this in myself every day as my mind hungrily consumes endless information through excessive screen time, the blessing AND plague of our age. The mind often seems insatiable, and even though exhausted, it can't seem to settle down and stop consuming long enough to let go and rest.
Awake at 3:00 in the morning last night, I was able to get just enough space to watch my mind, emotions and body. My main fascination in this lifetime is endlessly researching natural health practices and cures. As I indulged to satisfy that craving, my thoughts stimulated emotions, emotions elicited tense holding patterns in the body, rinse and repeat in an addictive cycle.
As I listened to a video online about miraculous healings, (and of course grave illness is the other side of that same coin), my heart bled for each person's story of dis-ease, then a hit of exhilaration came as the person began to heal (or not). My mind and body, in an arc of intense emotion, internalized the person's healing journey with great curiosity. Nothing wrong with that, I'm learning a lot, but it is 3:00am in the damn morning and I have to work the next day!
By 4:00am, My body had reacted to the thought and emotion cycle again and again. The muscles and tendons of my belly were contracted in fear, joy and either exaltation or plummeting dejection, depending on the outcome of each story. After several hours of this, my body was in knots and I wondered if I would ever fall back asleep again before the alarm started to ring. I knew I should just stop, sit up tall and meditate, clear my mind and give myself a chance to sleep, but I couldn't seem to tear myself away. Meditation is good medication because it is a true antidote. But my churning mind, like a child up way past her bedtime, just wouldn't stop its endless addictive cycle and continued to fend off what the older, greater and wiser self knew was best.
'You ARE wearing blue blocker glassses' My mind says! 'And the next healing story you watch could be the knowledge you need to help someone', she says. The mind rationalized endlessly. while my deeper self recognized the addiction with compassion.
The mind is to be respected for all it does for us; without it, we couldn't be here. The mind comes with the computer-like brain that integrates with our soul's purpose and all the other elaborate components and facilities we come into this reality with - all brilliant and necessary parts of this experience on Earth. So disrespectfully calling my mind 'Monkey Mind' is not helpful either.
I was finally able to override the addictive and insistent cycle, sit up straight in my bed, play some spiritual music, and urge my mind to quiet down. Like a very stern parent, I knew that was just the way it had to be. My mind kept trying to move curiously from story to story, but I just kept drawing it back to the quietude again and again. 'Looking' at my restless mind as if it were a younger part of myself, even if just a psychological device, is always very helpful.
The restless, childlike mind was finally able to start letting go of its obsessions. Once the mind started to settle down, my whole being felt a blissful relief sweep over as I entered the formless field. Once my mind tasted the bliss, it wondered for the millionth time why it always fights so hard against it. As I slipped deeper and deeper into the expansive awareness, the tireless seeking and movement of the mind finally ceased.
'I' could finally look out through the eyes of my soul, 'I' was no longer drowned out by the endless thoughts. My whole unified being reveled in breathing the familiar and nurturing air of freedom; the atmosphere of my true home; beyond change and suffering, beyond thought and emotion, beyond even birth and death. The body also progressively let go of its contractive knots and after a long luxurious bath in the stillness, the sleep train finally came to carry me away.
If you sleep well and arise refreshed, then you don't need this routine or this blog. If you struggle with falling asleep, getting quality sleep, staying asleep, or feeling rested when you wake up in the morning, then try it. It works! You really can access deep restorative sleep.
The routine consists of a 15 minute meditation, a quick body scan, and a trick for beginning to fall asleep.
If I lost you at "15 minute meditation" because you don't like to "be with your thoughts," please know that in this meditation you are NOT with your thoughts. You are with mantra and a breath pattern. You don't give your thoughts the microphone. You give mantra the mic and the thoughts recede like muzak at the grocery store.
Will you give this a try? If you have any questions, please leave a comment below and I will respond as soon as possible. I'd also LOVE to have you come back and leave a comment when you're experiencing the results... because you will.