During the week, my husband’s alarm goes off at 6am. Mine doesn’t ding until 6:50. 50% of the time I have NO problem enjoying that extra almost-hour. Other mornings I’m more awake than he is when his bell goes off. Call it nerves, anticipation, or just plain ole’ monkey mind, but my brain is off like lightning some mornings!
That’s not a very healthy way to start the day, is it – hopped up on to-do lists and “what to wear”s? Of course the more I try to fall back asleep, the more I think about random stuff. But then last week, it hit me… stay in bed.
Instead of taking my brain on a quick tour of the house, the computer, or the places I haven’t been or want to go or will go next week; I created an imaginary bubble over my bed. Anything that is outside of this space is not allowed in until I get up. This includes thoughts and plans.
I allow myself to have quick little thoughts about how cozy and warm the blankets are or how I would be much more comfortable if I just switched leg positions (and then do so), but when I hear Noah rustle or have that “I’ve got to change my Facebook profile picture today”-type thoughts, I ignore them. I’ll get to y’all later, but for now it’s just about me and this bed.
This is a more advanced meditation exercise than I expected. Some days (I suspect the days I am really tired), it works and I fall back asleep immediately. Others, it just seems to make it more difficult to concentrate because now I’m decorating the imaginary bubble and wondering how nothing can get in without me suffocating on thoughts that can’t get out. On those days, I force myself to get out of bed and go be productive. If sleep isn’t going to happen, I might as well get the day started. (Pro tip – this threat sometimes works on its own! If I tell myself I have five minutes to fall back asleep or I have to get out of the cozy bed, my body typically will fall asleep immediately.)
I challenge you to try this exercise the next time you can’t fall asleep or wake up in the middle of the night. It also applies when you find yourself at your cubicle, but can’t stop thinking about the disagreement you had with your wife this morning. Let it go or call her and be done with it. Try it when you are at the party, but really wish you were home on the couch. If you focus on your live friends vs. trying to quietly update your Netflix cue on your phone you may realize you are all more fascinating than you originally thought.
In short, keep it simple. Keep it productive. Keep it in the present.