by Ben Parry, Bexhill, Australia

For a while now I’ve been waking up in the ‘middle of the night’ at around 2am. I do go to sleep fairly early, but that is still only five hours sleep, so waking up then is just something I’ve been writing off as an annoyance, and I’d just go back to sleep for another few hours. Why would I wake up at 2am if I’m going to be wrecked at work by midday? I need my 7-8 hours sleep or I won’t be able to function. In fact, some days I know that even with 7-8 hours sleep I still hardly get through the day, so waking up even earlier is the last thing I would want to do.

Well, I was getting pretty annoyed that it kept happening, so one morning I decided I would teach myself a lesson and just not go back to bed. That way, I figured, I would be so exhausted by the evening that I would drag myself to bed and would probably get ten hours of solid sleep the next night. So I stayed up, but what to do with myself? I live in a house with other people so I couldn’t do anything noisy. Plus, I felt like I should only do something gentle, like I didn’t have the energy to get started running in a frenzy preparing for the day or anything strenuous like that – so I didn’t.  I did a bit of meditation, some reading; I even went for a fairly long walk because it turns out that three hours is a lot of time that early in the morning.

When it came time to get ready for work, I still felt this quiet steadiness. It is difficult to describe exactly; it wasn’t a tiredness, just a feeling that if I did anything physically hard on myself, it could really affect me and it wouldn’t feel good. I definitely didn’t need to reach for the sugar or anything to get myself ready to get into the day, because I had been really careful with myself that morning and it felt like all that extra time had been allowing me to prepare already for the rest of the day.

Well, I was at work, and I was still feeling like I really had to be careful and gentle with how I was going about my day: it wasn’t about making sure I didn’t run out of energy to get through the day anymore  or avoiding the pain of being too hard with myself. Now I was beginning to notice that I actually was more comfortable with the ‘steadiness’ I was feeling and I didn’t want to upset that feeling – it was becoming like a surety I could rely on throughout the day.

Normally through my day there would be the morning period where after waking up I would still feel sleepy, and it would be a chore to drag myself around to get ready for work. For the morning at work I would be fine… for a few hours at least, before I began to feel the tiredness kicking in – it would come like waves in peaks and troughs. Then by the afternoon on some days I would almost be falling asleep at my desk.

In the steadiness I was feeling, I didn’t see the same variations in my energy level throughout the day; it was just always the same steady feeling. So long as I remained being careful with how I was doing things, it didn’t seem to change, but I was still getting as much done at work as normal… maybe even more because I didn’t start to slow down in the afternoon. I got home that night and did everything else I normally do – walk the dogs, make dinner, shower and then by 8pm I was feeling in my body that I couldn’t go on any longer doing things. I was tired and a little sore, but it definitely wasn’t the exhaustion I was expecting. It was more a rewarding tiredness that meant laying down in bed felt really beautiful. I was sure I would get a full night’s sleep. Then I woke up again at 2am, only five hours later.

As I kept on with the same routine over the next few days, it began to feel more and more natural. For so long I had always believed that ‘you need eight hours of sleep a day’ like I’d always been told, but I really felt more consistent when I just got up when I woke up, rather than trying to hit that magic number. The ‘steadiness’ that I felt became more and more familiar and more and more beautiful, because it was always there with me.

I began to realise that the way I was feeling normally when I would go back to bed was already my body under stress and a general feeling of anxiety about the day. I would be forcing myself to jump out of bed, rush to the shower, get dressed, shove breakfast down my throat without pausing and prepare for the rest of the day in only a short amount of time, and that pressure was the feeling I would wake up to: that was the feeling I would be comparing the rest of my day to. I only had that stress as a reference point for how I was feeling so I was trying to get back to that feeling, with sugar, caffeine and working under tight deadlines, because that was the way I thought I was supposed to feel.

The only reason I’m writing this is because I wanted to share the possibility that what we’re told by everyone while we’re growing up, what we all hear the doctors, scientists, nutritionists etc. saying we need to do to stay healthy and well (which is always changing so fast it’s hard to keep up with the latest research and findings), may not always be right for us. Just because something is generally accepted by the majority, doesn’t mean there isn’t something else better than the current way. Why shouldn’t we be open to really feeling what our choices are doing to us rather than just accepting what we’re told? Of course, there is a greater responsibility, because we can’t just pick and choose what we WANT to be right for us ‘(I love bacon, so the Atkins diet is going to be true for me!!)’; we actually have to rely on our own feeling of what a choice is doing to us… and who can know us better than ourselves when we are truly honest?

It is only this that I have ever seen presented at the Universal Medicine courses and presentations that I’ve been to: Serge and Universal Medicine have never told anyone what to do. It has always been understood that it is my responsibility to make my own choices based on the way these choices affect my life and my body. Serge presents what he has found to be true for him in his experience, and then it has only ever been up to me to try it (or not if I don’t feel to), to see for myself if it might be true for me as well. Whenever I’ve put to the test what has been presented for myself, it’s always made me feel better in my body than what I have felt trying to follow the ever-changing rules that are always being presented in the media from the latest studies and research. When the world is in the state of illness and turmoil that is prevalent, wouldn’t it make sense to be open to finding the answers through a different way of life?

304 thoughts on “Sleep

  1. It’s one of my favourite reads, thank you Ben. “Why shouldn’t we be open to really feeling what our choices are doing to us rather than just accepting what we’re told?” You make a great point that we have more health information than ever before yet we are so unwell statistically. We have ignored the most obvious expert – our own body! It’s a bit like being our own scientist in the sense that we experiment with things as you did by staying awake from 2am and being gentle with yourself, yet feeling that lovely steadiness all day. We try things out and see what the end result is, and in your case it was very different to health recommendations. I suspect that life is very different when we are super gentle and caring for our bodies, and may not need more sleep as there are not so many of our own choices to recover from.

  2. It’s such a beautiful moment when we can recognise the body’s wisdom beyond reasons and we come to embrace it as the true authority.

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