Something about Stillness 

When my nails are wet I struggle to find the patience to sit still long enough for them to dry.  Suddenly things involving my hands are very important, like adjusting the waist band of my pants to hold in my fupa, or rearranging the contents of the refrigerator so I don’t forget to eat something before it goes bad the next day.  There is always one finger that I have to paint over and over again, despite my greatest efforts to only grab things with the palms of my hands, fingers stretched out straight.  I just can’t sit still.

When I lie in bed at night, I wriggle and fidget and scratch.  Some nights are worse than others, and I am overcome by an all over itch.  It pricks me in one spot, and then another.  Scratching to satisfy the itch only sends it somewhere else. Lower legs, middle back, left eyebrow, back of the head.  It’s as if my brain is playing Simon with my body, lighting up the spots for me to get to next.  Some nights are worse than others, and I know I am in for a long battle before sleep finally comes.

What is this restlessness?  Is it possible that my mind cannot find stillness and my body therefore suffers?  Lately I have started using an app on my phone to guide me into sleep.  I’ve never really spent much time meditating before, and the silly feeling creeps in that I might be doing something wrong.  Growing up I had the same question about prayer.  How did people know what to do?  What to say?  It was not a thing I was taught to do, or that was expected of me, and so I never developed it as a habit or a practice.

But practice is what they call it when you meditate.  I am practicing the quieting of my mind.  I am practicing the strengthening of the link between my mind and body.  “Shut up” I say.  I know that’s not the greatest mantra, but it’s all I can think of, and like with prayer, I never learned how to do this.  I know when I practice yoga, I feel it.  With movement and breath I feel it.  But something about stillness prevents me from finding peace. My mind becomes defiant, battling the quiet with obsessive and circular thoughts; my brain sends signals to my body that cause me to tear at my own skin with my nails until it hurts.  To the point where I find myself at 9 pm, 10 pm, 11 pm looking for something else to do to avoid the painful struggle that is falling asleep.

Maybe I should work out more.  Physical exhaustion to slow down the mind.  Maybe I need to get back on the wagon of eating clean again.  Maybe I should cool it with the self help and career advice books that do more harm than good.  I am constantly stressed that I’m not happy enough, I’m not hustling enough, I’m not picky enough about how I use my time.  Depending on where I look, I can find a reason why I am not enough, and it is wearing me down to the point where I can’t stop thinking about it and can’t sleep.  I need to figure out how to rid myself of the tendency to overthink literally everything.  But maybe I won’t try too too hard to figure it out.  Maybe that’s the ticket.

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17 thoughts on “Something about Stillness ”

  1. I can relate to your struggle! I’ve started to listening to podcasts on low volume to drown out the noise in my head and help me sleep. I hate having to rely on something like that, but lately I haven’t been able to drift off peacefully…

  2. You’re not alone dear. My husband has to watch Family Guy every single night on his tablet in bed. He said it’s the only mind numbing show that will keep other thoughts at bay so he isn’t overthinking everything.

  3. I never had an itch problem, but I used to have so much trouble falling asleep! My mind just went like a hamster wheel. So I researched mediation and relaxation techniques and just tried many. Meditation does take a lot of practice, what I learned is with that you clear your mind completely. That’s a tough one. But I’ve done it a few times (not to fall asleep, but to actually sort of just “reboot” my brain when I’m all stressed out.) But to fall asleep I found visualizations to be helpful. Imagine,….somewhere. I sometimes used flying (like my body flying, not a plane), sitting on the beach, and climbing a pyramid. The key with those is focusing on all the details. Every single detail. The wind, the smells, the sounds, how your body would feel with the sun on it, muscle fatigue if you are climbing, etc…. somehow, focusing on those details derails your brain and I have never made it back down from the pyramid. Now I have a sound app that helps me listen to whatever I’m imagining. I have a machine, but I love the app because you can take it with you when you travel!!! Its call Relax Melodies. You can mix and match sounds and create your own. Pretty cool.

    Sorry for this novella! LOL

    1. Thanks for the insight! I definitely need to get in a better habit of practice, I will have to try your technique. Some of the guided meditations use visualization, and they work pretty well!

  4. Is this app called Headspace? Because I too try to meditate to help me fall asleep and it works wonders for me. My mind constantly races at night especially about thoughts of my future.

  5. I have to say I laughed when I was reading about your finger nail polish, and needing to do things with your hands in general. I definitely know the struggle! And on a more serious note I can relate to the struggle with restlessness. I wonder sometimes if we’re so conditioned these days to be busy. Our smart phones, ipads, cable TV, etc. Everything is so widely available and fast that it’s hard to be still. I’m definitely guilty of having a TV show on while Facebooking or scanning Pinterest.

    I saw a “meme” or whatever you would call it the other day that made me laugh. It simply said, “I saw a guy sitting in a chair at Starbucks. No phone, no ipad, no book. He just sat there with his coffee…….like an absolute psychopath.” ha! I think there is beauty to be recognized in the quiet and the still but it takes work to be comfortable with it! Even for introverts.

      1. It is really hard! Sometimes when my daughter is down for a nap I will just sit and enjoy the silence for a few minutes. It’s really nice actually! haha.

  6. I can relate as a fellow over thinker. I don’t have experience with meditating, but I did find a sleep podcast that is hilariously so boring that it works wonders in making you fall asleep. If you let your mind focus on what he’s saying it stops your own thoughts and then it’s just boring enough that you fall asleep. I don’t know if it works for everyone, but it couldn’t hurt to try!

    1. I’ll have to check it out – what is it called? I’ve actually been doing better lately with a regimented schedule and waking up earlier. But there are always nights when I can’t relax, so its nice to have some tricks up my sleeve 🙂

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