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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Searching for Calm

There are those nights now and again
         the ones where sleep just won't come      I've heard
    that it comes with this stage of life, for women especially.
Last night was one of those nights.  So, now as this day winds down and I operate on 2.5 hours sleep.  I force myself to stay awake in hopes that tonight will be filled with sound sleep and happy dreams.
     But last night...oh last night my body lay quietly in anticipation of slumber that never came.  I tried all of the usual tricks.  Focus on deep breathing...in ... out - slower and deeper
                              relax...breathe...reeeelaaaaxxx
           this did not work.
Keeping my mind from worries did not help.  Worry drifts into my thoughts -BAM change the subject!  Intentionality...focusing on the positive.
Trying to forget about art ideas or      a huge 'things to do' list or       things I Want to do   or what I should do First in all of these things to do.
  Problem-solved the feather in process, planned two more.
                                     "These are the things I need to do tomorrow1...2...3...4..." - BAM refocus...              instead think of things I want to do, places I want to go...make a mental plan.       BAM & STOP myself...too much thinking!!!
          Breathe...focus on a calming, pretty place
Visualize the book Clam... it's soothing photographs (reflect on some of my own soothing photographs).  Reflect on the handful or so of thoughtful quotes.  This does not work either.
I move to the living room couch, book in hand.

I got this little gem in Coronado many years ago at a most lovely independent bookstore, Bay Books and have looked through it on many occasions.  It's pages hold a favorite quote of mine:
"Everybody should have his personal sounds to listen to listen for---sounds that will make him exhilarated and alive or quiet and calm."
-Andre Kostelanetz


I remember the first time I read this quote, I had a flash of realization that yes I do have my own personal sounds.  One of them is the sound of a train whistling through the late night air.  Even with the knowledge that this sound is an age-old favorite of many, at the same time, this sound is buried deep within me.  Ever since I was 13, not including the 5 years I lived in Nevada, I have heard the late night sounds of the trains whistling in and rumbling through the towns I have lived in.  I find that I await this nightly ritual with the eager anticipation of the comforting feel that will roll down the tracks and into my heart.


Finally, with dawn on the horizon, I fall asleep on the couch lulled to sleep 
by meaningless television.
Sunrise-Sunset, boundaries are blurred when sleep evades

Do you have tricks on the nights when sleep won't come?
What are you 'personal sounds'? 
Photos by NAE @pomegranatetrail ©2011

14 comments:

deanna7trees said...

when i learn something new, i always practice in my head first, with my eyes closed. a sleepless night is great for practicing in my head. i don't toss and turn, just keep practicing in my head until i fall asleep.
i love the sounds of silence.
wishing you a peaceful sleep tonight.

Ms. ∆×∆p×≥h/4π said...

When i can't sleep from either restless mind or body, I take a hot bath, spray lavender, light a candle, read, listen to the radio over my headphones next to the bed, eat oatmeal with raisins, walnuts & maple syrup, and take some herbs or homeopathic sleep aids (quietude), or think of dreams I want to have, constructing them in my head like a guided meditation, anticipating the pleasure and surprise of them.

handstories said...

so sorry sleep didn't come to you last night. there was a time when i knew a lot of poetry by heart & would recite it, nothing so lovely these days, as i've forgotten most of it...now i recite the states alphabetically, or songs with lots of verses, old folk songs...ghost rider, one tin soldier... sweet dreams.

Nancy said...

Deanna- OK what shall I practice? Haha! I was not tossing and turning, I just kept expecting to fall asleep!

Michelle- I shall make a list on paper so I remember everyone's good ideas :)

Cindy- We are two of a kind with the songs! Old folk songs, camp songs like Rise and Shine! And One Tin Soldier...I still have my 45! We're you a Billy Jack fan too?

Anonymous said...

From time to time I cannot sleep again when I wake up between 3 and 4. Then it depends on my mood, when I have a lot of sad ideas or sorrows big as dark clouds I learned it is better to get up drink some hot milk with honey and read or hear music.
I have learned that it leads to nothing to stay with bad thoughts in the middle of the night. It just confuses me.

When I feel fine just my head seemes to be illumiated with a hundred of bulbs I take a walk through good memories, remember places where I like to be .. sometimes it´s a long walk. But as after every long walk suddenly I´m tired and ready to sleep.
Doris

jude said...

didn't sleep last night

grace Forrest~Maestas said...

so many thoughts about this post,
i have already thought of a million things, but...what has worked for me in this last period of time is to just
STOP
and look at it. look at myself.
and reduce it down to exactly it's
bare bones.
Oh, look! i can't sleep!
Oh, look! i am afraid.

none of the details really count,
just the most bare thing....
and then i just keep sitting there
with whatever it is. a fear, the
fact that it's only 2:30 am. and if i don't "feed" it with all kinds of definition, emotion, urge to fix,
it simple dissolves like the figment it truly is.
so what, that i' woke up.
so what, that i am afraid. it sounds kinda crude but the so what
takes the energy away from it. ??

woman with wings said...

I tell myself that it's OK if I don't sleep. And then I tell myself it's OK if I don't sleep. About 100-200 times. And then I fall asleep when and if I believe it's OK if I don't sleep. Ha. Lavender or valerian tincture, too.

It's sort of a cycle for me, happens once or twice a year where I think I'm resetting my circadian rhythm somehow, lasts sometimes for a week or two. Sleep deprivation enhances psychic awareness so there's something good about it! Sweet dreams.....

bwilliams said...

Haven't been sleeping too well myself...chamomile tea with a bit of honey helps...or some red wine...but my best antidote is to open my window a bit and concentrate on the sounds of the night critters and the stream outside my bedroom...sweet dreams

grace Forrest~Maestas said...

have been walking around thinking
that i didn't want you to take that
"so what" wrong.
actually, a lama back in the
Jewel Heart buddhist days taught
that teaching...
he would ask...what does your fear,
your confusion, your whatever give
you? what does it give the world
around you? and your answer usually is, nothing. and if we take away our addiction to our emotions, what it seems we have left is a kind of very soft pervasive feeling of compassion.
not toward this or toward that, but
just compassion that can just look upon individual fears and discomforts. every human being has them. the compassion then grows larger and larger and larger.
loving kindness fills the spaces like water.

Cheryl Razmus said...

When I went through menopause, I stopped sleeping through the night and it made me mad because I knew it was more than just a state of mind and tricking myself to relax. Hormones changed everything. So now when I'm a wake it's usually for thinking about too many things, and I just tell myself how lucky I am to have an interesting life, that having thought through all the projects and problems I have, it's time to put everything aside cause I'm done now and nothing more needs to be done. No one is waiting on me to finish anything, and if they are, too bad. Giving myself permission to let things go usually stops the tape from looping again.
Failing that, one Tylenol PM works wonders!

Nancy said...

Wow! So many helpful tips here! Thanks!!! It's funny to me that no one shared a 'personal sound'. I so love the quote as it has given me much to ponder and I was thinking about it a lot as I kept hearing trains each hour and I do love that sound!
I slept much better last night.

Anonymous- Usually it is the light bulbs that keep me awake. So many ideas!

Jude- I had to laugh as I remembered my mom using the phrase 'misery loves company'...I even had a childhood book based on that!

Peggy- I did tell myself it was OK!! HAha

bwilliams- sadly the sounds of the night are what have made these moments worse (see Found post! And oh yes there was the RAT in the house for 5 days terrorizing me!) Ahhh...

Grace- I took your so what as 'bottom line' and I bottom line things a lot...ya know bottom line does such & such really matter in the great scheme of things...that kind of thinking. I did not take it as so what -with a tongue sticking out at me!!! HA

Cheryl- Sometimes writing the creative idea down helps. I have to say the mindless TV has been my best trick so far!

Thanks gals! Glad we're all in this together :)

grace Forrest~Maestas said...

i am ready to go to sleep, go to
that Place where i dream

but, just now, a train
called.

not far away, they are and each has it's own particular Call. there are i think 4 crossings that i can hear. they are crossings without the gate things
so the horn sound is IMPORTANT

listening to them, over time, i know that they are all individual.
each engineer has his/her own sound.
one of them is so beautyfull
i wish i could stand at the tracks
with a light in the night and
respond

Nancy said...

It's so different to hear them in the night :)