During the years I have spent giving seminars on inner growth, I have encountered many people with insomnia. People who have not been able to sleep for decades, people at their wits end.
Insomnia is caused often by our inability to switch off. We spend so much time focusing outwards in the distractions of the world, that it becomes impossible for us to stop. You have surely noticed this when on vacations: you can be on a paradise beach, or witnessing a breathtaking panoramic view from a mountain peak, surrounded by such beauty, such perfection, and yet… the mind continues. It is impossible for us to switch off, to just be, to fully savor life as it is right now; we have become so accustomed to planning, worrying, organizing, controlling, that we have forgotten how to stop. So when we go to bed at night, we find that the mind continues. The body wants to rest, but the intellect is out of control, racing ahead of itself, lost in a permanent state of distraction and concern.
Just as we have developed the habit of constant distraction, we can develop a new habit: the habit of being present, of focusing on the beauty of this moment. At first, it seems difficult, but this is only because we have spent so long doing the opposite. If we start to make a habit of bringing our awareness into this moment, the results soon begin to show.
It has been phenomenal to see how quickly people heal insomnia through the practice of the ‘facets’ I teach. They are designed to anchor our awareness in the present moment, and make a habit out of it, instead of just something we remember to do every now and then. I call this the stabilization of consciousness: when our awareness is anchored permanently in the peace and stability that lies within, irrespective of what might be occurring in our surroundings.
When we start to base our security and wellbeing on our inner state, our reliance on the shifting sands of the external begins to diminish. This is true freedom, for if we depend upon that which we cannot control and which constantly changes (the external), then how can we ever feel free? We are slaves of the things and people around us, as long as our stability depends on them. Yet if we learn to cultivate inner fulfillment, we can enjoy the world we live in without the fear of loss or the need to control it. This allows us to finally let go of our constant need to worry and plan, and instead focus on planning when necessary, and when not – like when we lie down in bed at night – we can dedicate our energy to fully savoring that moment of rest, content within the joy of being.
It is also important to not get attached to the idea of sleeping. If we become obsessed with the thought that we need to sleep, this can make us agitated, and keep sleep further from us. The idea that things should be a certain way, different to how they are, is what stops us from relaxing into this moment, embracing the situation. And if we cannot do that, we surely will not be able to surrender to the arms of sleep.
Sleep is a time when we are alone with ourselves. Letís learn to savor our company, instead of avoiding looking inwards at all costs. This will make sleep more enjoyable, and certainly more easy to attain.