Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sleeping Wrong & Other Things I Just Can't Get Right

Today I woke up with a pinch in my neck.  Ouch!  Every time I turn my head to the right - ouch!  People ask me what happened.

"I slept wrong."

They nod in understanding.  Humanity gets sleeping wrong.  We've all done it.

But saying "I slept wrong" sounds odd to me.  I mean, sleeping is as natural as breathing.  We all know how to do that.  Which makes me think: "If I can't get sleeping right, what the hell else am I doing wrong?"  And that line of thinking is a sure-fire downward spiral in to self doubt and criticism.  I mean if I can't even sleep "right" then how can I trust myself to do anything? 

OK, OK calm down.  Not you, me.  Ouch.

The thing is, there are habits and patterns we engage in every moment of every day that we don't even notice.  We don't even question these habits and patterns because we've done them so much, over and over again and there is a comfort, sometimes, simply in doing them.  "Yeah, I know this.  This is familiar."  The comfort signals to us we're in familiar territory and that we must be OK, that we're doing it "right", that we've maintained the illusion of some ground in our life.

And so I keep sleeping wrong.

This can't be comfortable.

When I start to drift off at night and am just at the edge of sleep, I turn over on to my right side.  I curl my knees up slightly toward my chest.  Aaaaah.  I've been doing this since I was a child.  I relax more deeply.  My head gets heavy.  And soon, in no time, I slip in to the velvety expanse of sleep and then - ouch!  I wake up in the morning with a stiff neck that plagues me all day.  Clearly the short term comfort of rolling over on to my side at night can't be worth the price of suffering all the next day.  As well as the questions I get every time I grimace.

"What happened?"

"I slept wrong."

"Yeah." They nod.

There is often a better way.  But we don't want to give up our comforts, the comforts of habit.  However, if we truly want change, want growth, want freer, happier lives, we have to give up our comforts and learn new ways.  What's on the other side of that is so much juicier!

Having a daily meditation practice continues off the cushion and in to our "daily lives".  Since our awareness has been developing, we begin to see more clearly what does not serve us.  There's no beating ourselves up over what we see, because we've cultivated a soft and warm heart toward ourselves and others.  Nice.  This loving awareness gives us the place from which we take action.  We've gotten pretty good at tapping our determination.  And because we've now cultivated a strong mind by bringing ourselves back to our meditation over and over again, we're able to implement change as well as the ability to follow it through.  And voila!  We've developed a new habit, a healthier habit.  And this gives us confidence to tackle bigger and bigger stuff in our lives.  No longer a slave to simply what is comfortable and what is known.  Willing to see what is and to also see things differently.  And brave enough to make necessary changes that take us out of our comfort zone.

"Relax.  I do this all the time."

And so I offer this to you: what are you doing that leads to pain and suffering that you wish you could stop?  Are you willing to get out of your comfort zone and do something about it? 

I am.  I'm sleeping on my back from now on.  This is a new practice.  In time it will become a new habit that feels "right".  And soon I won't even miss the comfort of rolling on to my side at night.  Or the pain in the morning.  But until then...is there a chiropractor in the house?  Ouch!


  1. Great post!! Gotta build the good habits, no matter what. So true.

  2. Funny, I've been dealing with a mild case of vertigo and have been trying to implement new sleeping patterns. Thanks for the great reminders as I join you sleeping on my back for a time.. :)