On the Importance of Sleepenings
are the spring of all things. Awakenings breathe out rebirth and entire fields
are covered with flowers. Awakenings can
be sudden, like lightning cleaving a tree.
They can be gradual, like an iceberg melting slowly over decades into a
When we have
them we sometimes cheer, laugh, weep for joy, or melt into an embrace. We are unloosened and free to move.
however, things need to rest. We need to put things to bed. We need to rest our minds, bodies, and even
hearts and souls.
Let us call
these rests: Sleepenings.
When we are
tangled in a skein of fear and doubt, let us try not to fight them. Be still, rest. Have a sleepening. When we do, our breath slows, we relax, and
so when we do eventually awaken, the fear and doubt will be at our feet and we can
walk unencumbered. In fact, we can pick
up the muddle and wind it into a ball and then weave hope and wisdom out of
those fears and doubts.
towards our dreams, fairly obsessed with the joy and excitement of the torrent
of creativity or the steady stream of ideas and inspirations, if we do not take
moments to pause, then that self-same torrent will slow to a trickle, the
stream will dry.
We need a
sleepening. Literally and
figuratively. A rest for our bodies and our
minds. Let the torrent naturally slow;
let the stream flow without us always splashing in it and muddying it up. When we awaken, the torrent will be waiting,
and somehow refreshed with clear water.
The stream will be there, a crystal blue ribbon guiding us through the
forest of possibilities. We needn’t view
the sleepening as if it’s something wrong.
Winter isn’t wrong. It gives
spring its juice.
some old fear to bed. If you try to
fight it, it will grow. Let it
rest. Give it some time alone. Give it some space. Turn your attention to
something else. Consciously move your
gaze, your hands, your inner and outer attention towards something that gives you
strength and courage. Consciously
breathe yourself into calm. And not just for two minutes. Sometimes the sleepening needs to last for
days or weeks. Sometimes it needs to
last forever. However long it lasts, if
you can turn your heart towards hope, towards big and little steps in another
direction, then when the awakening happens, when the fear eventually rises from
its cold, dusty bed, it will be changed into courage, faith, a being of
light. And if it still looks like fear, you
will be able to see through it, like a ghost, and keep moving.
need to be put to bed in your life? An
old idea that no longer makes sense? An
old, limited belief (or a new one?) holding you back from sharing a talent,
interest, or wild idea? What worries or fears need a good wintering? What shames tucked away in the dark folds of
your memories need to be laid to rest once and for all? Try having a sleepening for each of
them. Honor them with sleep. Give them the grace of hibernation. When they awaken, they will be transformed
into gifts for yourself and others. They
will be winged things or stories, songs, dances of healing and light, paintings
full of vibrant color, hymns dripping with gratitude. Whatever they become, they will no longer own or
terrorize you. They will be harvests of
grace meant to be shared.
And in the
same way that we do all sorts of wonderful, ritualistic things to help us have
awakenings, let us discover creative and healthy ways to have sleepenings. We can sing our shame lullabies of
affirmations, rock our fears in the steady arms of faith, hand our worries over
to someone else, let them rock them to sleep while we find a place to curl up
and dream. Light a candle in honor of a
long held limited belief, say a prayer that it find its way home and when it
arrives, pray that it is a new creature in God. Let your grief cry itself to
sleep in your arms. Bear witness to its
pain. Tell your doubts a story of
hope. Prepare a room for your financial
stress with the open windows of amends and restitutions and with the clean
sheets of thoughts of giving, sharing, and of abundance. Take some old unhelpful
idea about your body or sexuality and make a bed for it–a grand, welcoming bed
of satin and silk, dappled with roses and candle light. Ravish that old idea with the kisses of
acknowledgement, awareness, and conscious presence, and then let it fall back exhausted,
changed, breathing the deep breaths of blissful acceptance. Not the acceptance of surrendering to it. Let the old idea surrender to you, to the
touch of your passion and desire, and tender openness to exploring new ways of
being alive. Let it awaken in your
hands, and blossom before you as a new possibility shoot through and through
with warm, luxurious amazement.
ways we can learn how and when to put something to bed, to let things have
their sleepenings, the more our awakenings can be full of light and gratitude,
creativity, and clear, fresh energy. And
often we need other people to help us know when we need to put something to
bed. So often we are like children so
frazzled with the activity of the moment that we forget what exactly we are
doing and how to stop. I’ve been
there. Many times. And were it not for mentors saying: “Put it
to bed, slow down,” I would not be here today.
The paths of
sleep and of awakening were not meant to be traveled alone.
Of course, I
am not talking about procrastination, avoidance, delusion or denial. I am talking about releasing the tight grip
we sometimes have on things that are actually unhealthy or unhelpful. When we loosen our hold, allow ourselves to
be held in the hands of another—a mentor, for example, we can put those old
things to bed so other things can wake up and smell the roses.
sleepenings are really reawakenings and all awakenings are really
resleepenings. With every awakening
something is laid to rest. With every
sleepening something is woken within in us that says: “Breathe.”
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Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog