If sleep itself is a spiritual path, then make your bedroom a healing retreat.
Many of us have lost our relationship to night. What's worse is that we're losing sleep over it. Could it be that we're afraid of the dark?
"We suffer today from serious complications of psychospiritual night blindness," declares Dr. Rubin Naiman, in Healing Night. "Innundated by the day and blinded by the light, we have lost our regard for the natural rhythms of dusk, dawn, and the darkness of night."
"Like a frightened child, the planet sleeps with its lights on."
Almost everywhere on our planet is excessive artificial illumination. In cities and towns that circle the globe, it's light at every hour of the day and night.
Culturally, our lifestyles are being affected. We're overly-driven, hyperactive, and our relentless drive to do more and more — and sleep less and less — is becoming fashionable, gaining in epidemic proportions. Even without sleep disorders running rampant, overstimulating activities such as eating late and drinking too much fuels our evening wakefulness.
It's no wonder that our lack of sleep is compromising our health. Research shows that premature aging is a symptom of sleep deprivation and the long-term impact of chronically poor sleep creates hundreds of sleep disorders that afflict our nights.
We can't keep depriving our bodies and minds (and souls) of the nightly nourishment we desperately need. It's critical that we find a way to quiet ourselves and make darkness a refuge and home.
Sleep is Good Medicine
Step outside at dusk on a mountainside. Notice how life is in rhythm with the natural rotation of the earth. Sense the basic pulse of day turning into night. Feel it slowing, cooling, and quieting. Feel the silence as night quietly and gradually descends.
Sleep experts say that night itself is the best sleep medicine. Finding a way to embrace the dark, our sleep becomes a ritual, and our bedroom, a healing retreat.
A Good Night Ritual
Over the years, I've experimented with personal rituals to support the transition into night and sleep. Here's a night ritual that lets you gradually move your attention inside by linking your awareness to your movement and breath. It's a powerful but subtle way to relax your body and mind and prepares you for a restful night's sleep.
PS - It also helps to unplug — by turning off the TV and walking away from your computer's bright light. Try dimming the lights an hour before bedtime. And in your bedroom, make it dark. Really dark.
For more help falling asleep, here's a 12-minute video that helps you relax your body and mind and prepare you for rest.