Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586)
How well do you sleep at night? Recent studies say that, since the invention of the light bulb, people sleep much less. It used to be that the sun went down and most people would go to bed. Your alternative was to sit pretty much in the dark or walk around and bump into things. Today, we have lots of light, so we can stay up late doing many useful things like cleaning or paying bills. Or we can relax watching stories of crime and hospital emergency rooms on TV. If we stay up to watch the late night shows that seem designed to lull us with humor and lack of significance, we are probably not going to get enough sleep.
We need to sleep. Our bodies engage important processes while we sleep to keep us healthy. Our minds need to rest, and to dream. Sleep deprived people are more prone to depression, and extended sleep deprivation will make even a healthy person show symptoms of psychosis. You can be pretty sure that the grouchy person didn’t get enough sleep last night.
There are many theories about why we dream, but there is little doubt that it is important. Some people don’t remember their dreams, but others experience a rich life there. Where else can you seek lost treasures, challenge mysterious forces, meet the long dead, or fly like a bird? Dreams can be the source of creative ideas and problem solving. They can help us dispose of useless thoughts and worries. They can be a source of guidance as we seek meaning in our waking life. When we lie down to sleep and dream, we aren’t entering a period of useless activity as much as shifting to another level of living.
As we grow more attuned to our inner world, the time of slumber grows in significance. When we are distressed by our outer life, the time of dreams becomes more necessary. It is wise to be mindful of your sleep habits. It is helpful to take care in preparing for sleep.
The following verses may help you prepare for the gift of sleep.My day sets quietly like the westerly sun.
I breathe in peace.
I breathe out the cares of the day.
As the sun has set, so have my attachments to thinking and doing.
I release my worries. I prepare to sleep.
I give up the work of the day and welcome the work of the soul.
Dreams come to complete unfinished thought.
Dreams come to prepare me for tomorrow.
Let them bring me peace.
Let them lead me to a clear mind and pure heart.
I breathe in peace. I lie down with gentleness and grace.
Sleep comes to me bringing rest, bringing healing, bringing peace of mind.
Shalom. Salaam. Shanti. Peace.
© 2002 Tom Barrett