things i do when i can’t sleep

I have been anxious and sad about someone I love who has been completely consumed by addiction. It has been a great experience in growth for me, because I have learned how to hold feelings of sadness and fear (about this person I love) as well as feelings of joy and excitement (about everything else in my life) at the same time.

Just because there are parts of my life that are shining and wonderful, does not mean I am not allowed to be sad and scared. And just because I am sad and scared, that does not mean I am not allowed to be happy.

For the first time in a few months, I was assured an opportunity to talk to this person who I love so much. And I was not surprised when it did not happen, but I still had to deal with those feelings of loss and continuing fear. I was supposed to talk to this person yesterday.

Naturally, I woke up in the middle of the night last night and could not get back to sleep. And I want to share with you what I did, because it hit me last night what a wonderful gift my life is today.

I woke up and I tried for about twenty minutes to get to sleep. I put on my meditation music and my eye mask, but it just wasn’t going to happen. So, I went to the kitchen and cleaned the counters so that I could release some pent up anxiety, and then I made a cup of tea. I took my cup of tea and I sat in my meditation corner for about 45 minutes, drinking it slowly, and allowing myself to just sit with my feelings.

My teacher often tells me about how the buddha looks at feelings, both positive and negative, and says, “come sit with me, have tea.” So that’s what I tried to do last night. And I did not like it very much, I was feeling some unpleasant feelings. I identified anger, fear, sadness, guilt, shame, the feeling of being totally out of control. I would identify a feeling and just sort of look at it for a moment, and say to it, “I acknowledge you, and you are allowed to be here.” My feelings did not go away, that was not the goal. But I just needed to let them be there for a moment, instead of trying to push them away.

And that is when the flood of gratitude came in. The way I used to handle sleepless nights was very different. Allowing feelings to be present was never my goal. In fact, I thought it was a bad thing to have negative feelings. Now, even labeling the feelings as “negative” seems unfair. I am sad, and I am feeling helpless in a situation where all I want to do is step in and do something, and it is absolutely okay that I feel that way.

I’m just so grateful for my life today, and how I handle feelings today. Last night was a really good example of a positive way I have grown, and I want to acknowledge that and be grateful.

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