What is true for you right now? Not ten years ago, yesterday, or even this morning but right here, right now:
What is true for you?
It is mid-winter and my toes are tingling with coldness as I write this.
It has been so dark for so, so long.
I continue to expect too much of myself at a time of year when I just want to wrap myself up in a thick, fluffy blanket and sit by the warm fire.
And so what is true for me right now is that I need rest.
And what I know is that rest takes time and that deep sleep is the ultimate rest.
So let’s examine an analogy that may help both of us get better sleep at night, a reminder for me, a new image for you perhaps.
Come with me on a journey for a moment.
Do you know those big skyscrapers in the city? The ones when you’re standing on the street looking up, you can’t even see the top?
Imagine the elevator in that skyscraper. (If you’re afraid of elevators, bear with me for a moment here!)
The elevator is on the ground floor.
Then, as you go about your day, encountering stressors, the elevator begins to rise: Child sluggish to get out of bed, 5th floor. Slippery roads on the commute, 10th floor. A difficult work phone call, 25th floor. A high carb, high fat lunch, 35th floor. Working too long without giving your body and mind a break, 50th floor.
Do you see where I’m going here? The elevator is your physiology.
Stress sends it higher, turning on calm brings it lower.
And calm, peaceful, drifting to sleep physiology is on the ground floor.
The trouble is, we often crawl into bed at night and ask our minds and bodies to go from the 50th floor to the ground floor immediately.
But our systems don’t work like that. If we go to bed when our physiology is still on the 50th floor, chances are we will toss and turn…and toss and turn…
So what we needs are two things.
Firstly, we need to nourish our physiology with calm. Because life is stressful.
We need to turn on calm throughout our day. We need to ride the elevator down the floors by turning on calm not just at night before we go to bed but a little and often throughout our day.
A small meditation at lunch, a short walk after work, deep breaths on a break, snuggling with the cat, laughing with a friend, listening to relaxing music, hitting the gym or arriving to your yoga mat, pausing for a moment when fatigued.
There are innumerable ways to turn calm on throughout your day.
And if you do, it is easier for your system to go to sleep at night. You’re not starting at the 50th floor.
Secondly, to ride the elevator to rest, we also need to train ourselves for sleep.
Sometimes when sleep is elusive, we think it’s a thing that magically happens to other people. But sleep is a habit. Sleep is not an event that we can make happen, we can just create the right conditions for it.
We train our physiology to be ready for sleep, to be “receptive to” sleep.
We prepare our environment. We turn off our phones, make the room cooler and darker, and we develop a routine. Bath, read, listen to a podcast.
Whatever the nourishing routine is, we make it the same every night. And each step of our nightly routine allows our physiology to ride the elevator down. It’s familiar, it’s comforting, it’s a sign we’re going to rest. We use the routine to turn on calm.
So, two things: turn on calm through the day, train ourselves to be ready for sleep at night.
Two things to allow us to get more of the most magical elixir of rest possible: deep, deep sleep.
In honour of seeping into my truth that I need rest, I will remember to turn on my calm today.
I will run a warm bath and settle into stillness. I will take a short afternoon nap. I will turn my phone off for several hours. I will rest by playing with friends while absorbing the replenishing power of nature. I will hit my yoga mat and take many deep breaths.
Do you think you could rest too?
Just for today?
Because my suspicion is that you need it also. And it’s ok to give yourself permission to rest.
It’s ok to take the time to ride the the elevator down and keep it on the lower floors. Your body, mind, spirit will thank you.
While you’re resting, leave me a comment and share with me: What is true for you RIGHT NOW? Is it about sleep and rest – or something else entirely?
TURN ON CALM – A LITTLE AND OFTEN
A reflection on the shifting nature of truth:
“Thoroughly unprepared, we take the step into the afternoon of life; worse still, we take this step with the false presupposition that our truths and ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the programme of life’s morning – for what was great in the morning will be little at evening, and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie.”
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I love this analogy! It’s ironic, my kids have a great bedtime routine that started when they were infants to help form “good” sleep habits, but I don’t treat sleep the same for myself. I have to start working on a good routine for myself and work on bringing the calm in throughout the day.
I love this analogy. It reminds me that it is an ongoing practice – to check in with my nervous system and see what it needs throughout the day so that when I start to settle in the evening, I am already half way there.
After reading the blog I realized I stopped doing yoga at “nap time”, and I am mindlessly scrolling through my phone to pass the time till bed. My intention will be to get back on the mat during nap time to centre myself. I also love reading, and will begin to read before bed again to calm myself.
I also realized that we set routines for our littles, we start at infancy and continue into childhood so they know what to expect next. We very much need the same so our minds know what is coming next.