Doorway to sleep: create your own lullaby
Did you have a lullaby to fall asleep? My kids did, we sang them “Tender Shepherd” or “Dream a Little Dream of Me.”
It might serve you to have one as a grown-up, too. Especially if you’re like my client Kela. Going to bed for her can be like being in the middle of a pinball machine with 20 balls in constant motion.
When your mind, body, attention, and stress are all over the board, it’s so tempting to bring out your phone as a distraction… but you know once you put the phone down you’ll be in the same exact place.
Instead, create your own path to move into a restful place. You can hum a tune (great for activating different and relaxing parts of your brain). Or try these steps I use for myself and my clients:
- Appreciate what you did during the day. It’s easy to focus on what’s not done on a to-do list (really, it is never complete). Instead notice that you did — take a shower, remember your medicines, answer some emails, pet your dog, and make the first draft of your project.
- Feel gratitude for something in your life: the roof over your head, being loved, the fresh pineapple snack. Let it wash through your body and heart, to create new openings in your being.
Then go through the 7 Pathways to Rest. [Note: I’ve moved the “mind” pathway to last, to help everything else settle first.]
- Notice if you’re focused on chasing sleep. For now, choose rest.
- Check in on your environment. Is it soothing enough, or is there anything to make it more so?
- Become aware of your body, what it’s touching or hearing. Let some tension release in your neck, jaw, and shoulders.
- Are you being driven by emotions? If so, rock yourself slightly, to release some of the energy.
- Connect with your bigger picture — remember that family, nature, God, or the flow of life is there for you, even when you forget.
- Notice your purpose, how you want to serve your life tomorrow, but even more gently, how you want to serve yourself right now.
- Redirect your mind. Imagine a soothing place you’ve been to or envision. Then play a little game, listing all the birds, trees, or objects you might see there in alphabetical order (an abalone, bridge, calliope?!, dolphin, etc.)
Let these steps be your lullaby. You’ll find moments or feelings of rest arise, fade, and arise again. If you get stuck in wakefulness like Kela, simply start again from step one, or whatever is calling to you.