Last night, I woke up in the middle of the night when I heard my daughter crying. She was back asleep in minutes; I was not.
I “tried” to go back to sleep. I squeezed shut my eyes and attempted to push away thoughts which seemed stressful like mapping out my day’s schedule. Yet I could not will myself asleep. I noticed that by “trying” to go to sleep, I was tightening around my eyes, my jaw, and pulling my shoulders in. (This is what happens when we fixate on any one thing. Try it: notice what your body is doing right now as you read this? What muscles are tensing for you, right now?)
Anyway, back to 5 AM – it was when I gave up trying that my situation became more fluid. When I accepted that I was awake, thought about allowing my head and torso to rest on the mattress and to allow my breathing to be full and on constricted, I began to relax. Thoughts of the day ahead came and went. From my meditation training, I could acknowledge those thoughts without necessarily empowering them with a life or death quality (is the level of anticipation I have about the day a little unnecessary?).
Shortly, my joints, circulation and breathing freed up. With my mind not fixated and resisting, sleep reentered me and it wasn’t too long before I woke to sunlight in the windows.