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Reflection: Ruminations of a Recovering Insomniac

May 14, 2015

When I woke, I felt irritated sweatiness, frustrated sleeplessness, and over-heated exhaustion.

Two cups of crappy coffee and a couple of hours of shitty musak in the hotel lobby so I didn’t disturb my travel buddy, and I dragged myself into the shower to wash away the ick of a sleepless night.

Karla McLaren’s questions for working with anger came to me. What must be protected, McLaren asks. Well, calm, peace, and space, for starters.

And her follow-up question, what must be restored? I heard the same answer. Calm, peace, and space.

Calm. Peace. Space. Waking up after a sleepless night in a hotel, I didn’t feel calm. Or, peaceful. Or, like there was space around me. Things felt close, as in claustrophobic. I felt sweaty and frustrated, and all that other stuff.

I felt the intensity of the unease and unrest inside me, a feeling of desperation and with it a sense of time zipping past me. Wasted time. Time to which I couldn’t lay claim. Time without quality, tormenting me, the connoisseur of quality in all her forms.

Not only that, it was if I didn’t knowing myself inside the unease and unrest. In those unrest moments I was out of touch with my home, with me, and with any sense there was a boundary around me.

So, I did what I’ve been learning, I used the anger to claim my boundary. I paused, and focused my anger, flooding it into the space inside my boundary.

That day, my anger was blue, all shades of blue that mixed and blended and became a royal blue light, less than royal blue, darker than cerulean.

Surrounded by blue, washed gently in blue, the blues of my voice, the blue of my emotions. Blue of my sadness, a sigh, part of a voice, part of sadness, all together there in the release of the tension of not getting what I want.

IMG_0604 - Version 2Wait, was that it? In the dark of the night when the television next door blared and the room was hot and there was a tossing and turning and fretting over minutes and hours unslept, I wasn’t getting what I wanted?

Hmmm, did something in there feel like losing, like a competition lost, or a challenge as in game on? Was it a, who slept most? Who slept best? Did you get enough sleep? Were you cheated?

And what does sleep give that awake withholds? Is it true, sleep is better than no sleep?  Where and when are we most ourselves?

And, if I didn’t sleep, am I a good person? If I slept poorly or shittily, will I survive? Could I sleep less than the eight-hour prescription and keep my open heart? If I didn’t sleep by choice, is that any better than not sleeping because of distractions, frustrations, or invasions?

In fact, life is not a competition, it’s an exhibition (I got that from my husband).

Hmmm, an exhibition. Then can I use the material gained in my reaction to a sleepless night and work with it to fuel my boundary, ala McLaren? Can I let go of my supposed-to reaction to a sleepless night, can I bypass the outrage and dismay and move into whatever is in front of me when I get up?

Can I continue letting go of dismay and outrage after two sleepless nights? And, then again after five, or even ten, nights of interrupted sleep? Will there be a day I’ll stop worrying about losing sleep? Maybe even a day I’ll fall asleep amid chaos and distraction because I get bored with the non-sleeping me?

Who will, and can, I become? This sometimes sleepless me.

. . . 

Note: Feldenkrais class at 10:45am Friday, the Subud, 3185 NE Regents Drive, Portland

  1. Yehudah permalink

    Wow! Lots of questions from just one night of lost sleep. Could keep you going (and awake) for quite awhile…if you felt you had to answer them…if you thought there were answers to any of them.
    As my Yiddishe Grandma used to say, “Schlaf gut” (sleep well). Guess we get to define and redefine that as often as we like. We may not like the answers we come up with and certainly won’t accept the answers of others. Paradox? Conundrum? or just more Life?

  2. Yehudah, unsure whether you’re sharing a commiseration or advice. Either way, thanks for taking the time to comment. It was interesting to do this writing exercise, to really not censor what goes on inside a mind in the midst of the regret and loss of a sleepless night. I used myself as an example, as I often do, because it’s the only one I have access to at this level of intimacy.

    As with so many of my reflection pieces, this one is meant to highlight the seemingly hidden thoughts and feelings that go through a person’s mind when they are stuck. You’ve heard me say in class, we’re after an easy transition between our thinking, sensing, feeling, and doing. In order to balance out the many other posts that lean more toward the sensing and doing, I wanted to focus on the thinking and feeling. Any situation could be substituted for the sleepless night. Hopefully readers will understand that and use this process of asking questions to understand the disruption they are working with. I’ll be sure to share another example of that soon enough, just to make it more clear.

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