I have a few markers of where I am with my health; restful sleep is at the top of the list. We all experience stress and suffering, whether it be our own or in the space of empathy for others. The brain and nervous system are built for protection, but there is a limit to the atrocities they can process. How well and how fast we recover is what we term resilience. Creating resilience around everyday stressors is different than processing spiritual distress.
In the decades of “getting to know myself”, I have come to value the importance of doing my practices in peaceful times to reinforce resilience when destruction unfolds. With constant vigilance, I can typically digest and eliminate stress by remembering who I am (a Divine being) through spiritual practices. The success of daily renewal shows in quality sleep and feeling rested when I wake. It is not the quantity of sleep. Five to six hours in a deep sleep state can be more healing than aimlessly rolling around in bed with thoughts in my head for 9 hours. Lately, any sleep has been a challenge.
Depending on what you are choosing to allow yourself to see and know through news media and social platforms, the brain is being asked to process horrific information on a global scale that it is not designed for. Additionally, your “in the now” may be a personal space of pain as mine is. This is the double whammy. The brain and nervous system process situations we experience personally. They also react to events outside of our tangible environment with uniquely human emotions: anxiety, guilt, anger, fear, sadness etc. As an example, if you are afraid of snakes, even seeing a photo of a snake, or being next to a snake safely contained in a zoo cage can cause the nervous system to have a fear response.
Sleep is the brain’s built in waste management program. Neurologically, the toxic waste of the day’s stressors is removed. Healthy sleep also regulates emotions and increases neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to continually adapt and rewire itself). What maybe obvious is the importance of sleep and memory. A recent study (see link below) even showed the link between lack of slow wave or deep sleep and a 27% increase in the risk of dementia. But not only does sleep help the synapses in your neurones to lay down memory, adequate sleep also give the brain time to eliminate unwanted memories by restructuring these synapses. Sleep is also a place where we can transform dreams into spiritual awakening. Instead of viewing the horrors of the world on a phone before bed, or letting the mind replay the days difficulty, sleep is where we can input intention for the next day. Just like the rise in taking hallucinogenics for healing and spiritual development, sleep is a natural spiritual realm healer.
The Difference Between Stress and Spiritual Distress
When I don’t sleep well for days, it is a sign that my inner struggles are at the soul level. This is the vein of spiritual pain – loss of hope, lack of meaning, relationship distress and detachment from my own Divine Feminine. The lack of processing can be a result of denying the “now” in the moment; stuffing down the suffering as a form of safety. The brain conveniently blocks it. Or it could be the opposite; I am living in the pain body. Denial or full embodiment are both a double-edged sword; the trials of the day are too much, and fitful sleep restricts the mind’s natural inclination to heal.
Despite our amazingly resilient brain, spiritual pain has to be processed in the heart. Marma meditation done at the end of the day clears the mind BEFORE going to bed. When the mind is clear, the heart accepts all. We can CHOOSE to invite heartfelt intention and affirmation to go to bed with us. Then we awaken to BE the healing we brought to our own hearts in the sacred space of sleep.
Peace and Light, Megan