“In my age, as in my youth, night brings me many a deep remorse. I realize that from the cradle up I have been like the rest of the race-never quite sane in the night”, Mark Twain
My father died at 93 last week. My mother, also 93, is in a state of extreme shock and needing a great deal of attention. A very good friend has been diagnosed with lung cancer. My night terrors have reared their ugly head. I remember the bad times of my childhood. It would be easy for me to sink down into despair and these times then bring on those periods of flareups of fibromyalgia and fearful sleep that has plagued me all my life.
The stress levels and anxiety that we all live through ebb and wane constantly. Sadness and joy can come in equal amounts of our lives, but it seems that we often forget the good and allow the bad to overcome us, especially when we are in pain. Some times there are periods of individual peace, but lately with the state of the world: wars, the economy, the environment, it seems as though these times are far and few between. This leads those of us with sleep disturbances to dread nighttime when all can seem hopeless.
We cannot succumb to this fear of night, yet many write me about how difficult it is especially now that daylight is shorter and more darkness descends upon us. There are solutions to our lack of sunlight in the north-east and the Pacific west coast with the rainfall and cloud. Sun lamps have been known to help and require only a short period of time per day. But, more to the point, mindfulness meditation is a discipline we cannot afford to neglect. This does not mean only that we sit quietly for 20 minutes per day, rather that each waking moment we become aware of our thoughts, concentrate on our breathing, and hopefully circumvent the demons that plague us into the night, the time we require restful sleeping. Daytime traumas blend into night time traumas and into our sleep. We awake un-refreshed, fatigued and in pain.
I am meditating every day. I try to circumvent the feelings of hopelesness. I notice my breathing as often as I can remember to do so. It isn’t easy and requires discipline. In this beautiful weather, no longer the heavy heat of the summer, walking for a few minutes several times a day can be uplifting. I wish us all a joyful autumn. To my friends in New Zealand and Australia, happy spring.
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