Nov
12

How I Calm My Mind So That I Can Sleep

I’ve never been a good sleeper. As a child it was a chore for my parents to calm me, the wild toddler terrorizing their house. I didn’t have time to sleep. There was a couch to jump off of, a pot to bang or some dirt to inspect. I still struggle with sleep.

The holidays are upon us and God knows we’ll need our sleep more than ever. How else will we be able to overlook Uncle Bubba’s constant belching or ignore Aunt Bertha’s critique of our dry turkey without backhanding her? We’ll need to be rested and sharp as we prepare for battle, I mean, dinner.

I thought I’d do a couple of posts on sleep. I’ve read a lot on the subject and have posted about it in the past and unfortunately, there’s nothing much new under the sun (or moon). But I do have an exercise that has helped me in the past as well as a spiritual application (and practice) that I’ll share in my next blog.

Oh no! I’ve passed this down to my daughter…

blog photo - calming mindA while back my daughter was having trouble sleeping and wouldn’t you know, it was on a night my body and mind were craving sleep. I noticed a light on so I got up and found her sitting on the couch, trying to read herself to sleep.

We talked about what occupied her mind and she shared a minor quirk that happened between her and a friend that day. As we sat there, she began to share more issues that were stressing her out and I asked her if she had prayed about it.

“Yes, but it’s not working! I keep praying but I can’t stop worrying about it.”

To be honest, I was tired and a huge part of me wanted to tell her, “Get over it! This is so minor. Go back to bed!” But I felt a nudge, as if God was telling me this was a teaching moment. God, if you want me to teach at 1:00 in the morning, You’re going to have to do it. My mind is not here.

I told her how God wants us to bring our burdens to Him and then shared the illustration yoke and oxen in the Bible. (Matthew 11:28-30).

Crickets…

She had no idea what I was talking about – “Oxen??? What’s a yoke?!” How could I put this in a modern day analogy that she would understand?

Here it goes…

We all go through life wearing backpacks. The purpose of a backpack is to carry things that we need for our day. The problem is that we, or others, put things in our backpack that we don’t need or aren’t meant to carry and it begins to wear us down. It fatigues us physically, mentally and emotionally.

God too is wearing a backpack. However, He wants to carry the excess for us and purge anything that is not from Him. (God is obviously not a hoarder.) He will only give us what we need to carry in our backpack. Everything else we are to hand over to Him to haul, or purge, for us.

Here’s the practice I learned from this that helps me nightly.

Each night I visualize what is in my backpack. What am I carrying with me to bed? Is it part of my “to do” list. Is it an issue with a child? Does it have to do with work, etc.

If it’s something that I can do now and needs to be done, like talking to my child or husband, then I do it.

If not, I close my eyes and visualize myself taking each thought, issue, worry out of my backpack and pray:

“Lord, I can’t carry this to bed with me. I’m giving this to You to carry for me. If I am to carry this tomorrow, I trust that You will give it back to me. If not, thank You for carrying or purging this for me. Please help me not to steal this back from You.”

Word of warning…this is not a magical fix-all prayer. It is a practice, and it takes practice. I haven’t perfected it but it has helped me to fall asleep or fall back to sleep at 3:00 in the morning when I wake up worrying.

I hope this will be of help to you. If any of you have any other tips or practices to getting good sleep and not worrying, PLEASE share. I need all the help I can get!

Here’s to good sleep!

Comments

  1. SO look forward to trying this. As a fellow sleep deprived mamma, I need all the help I can get.

    • Laurie Russell says:

      Hope it helps Sara! All us sleep deprived mamas have to stick together and help each other out. 🙂 Here’s to a good night’s sleep! Thanks so much for reading and sharing!

      Laurie

  2. What a perfect analogy! This is one to share with my own worry at night daughter. You asked for other helps. I sometimes go ahead and get up and spend time with God. Its the only time my house is quiet. Its the Rossi g and worrying that drives me crazy. I guess you can say I unload my backpackover a bowl of cereal and hot tea. Then I sneak back to bed for another final of sleep. That’s my favorite hourof sleep!

  3. What a perfect analogy! This is one to share with my own worry at night daughter. You asked for other helps. I sometimes go ahead and get up and spend time with God. Its the only time my house is quiet. Its the tossings and worrying that drives me crazy. I guess you can say I unload my backpack over a bowl of cereal and hot tea. Then I sneak back to bed for another final of sleep. That’s my favorite hourof sleep!

    • Laurie Russell says:

      Thanks Beth! I do same with getting up (see the part 2 blog on sleep 🙂 I’m with you – it’s usually my best hour of sleep and my best quiet times with God!

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