How do you sleep at night? Well I hope. I’m a hit and miss kind of sleeper, some nights my head hits the pillow and I’m figuratively away with the fairies, other nights I toss and turn, wake up, get up, wander around and start all over again.
The hardest part is getting to sleep in the first place, winding down from the day and quietening my whirring brain to find relief in those zzzz’s. Like many I’ve tried all sorts to get to sleep including the classic counting sheep. I’ve counted dozens of the buggers, small ones, big ones, white ones, brown and black ones but it doesn’t seem to work. Sheep jumping over a wall, a ditch or a hedge. Quiet ones, noisy ones, errant ones I’ve tried them all. I’ve nothing against the sheep let’s face it lambs are cute plus there’s nothing better than new season lamb served with some fresh homemade mint sauce, its just that sheep in all their forms don’t induce sleep.
The idea behind counting sheep is meditative, you focus on one thing to relax your mind to gently lull yourself to sheep – sorry that should read sleep! The trick is to think of something relaxing to create a scene in your minds eye; researchers and professionals suggest waterfalls, a blue sky, a beach or a woodland glade. Undoubtedly all are idyllic but unless I’m practicing a guided meditation where the instructor talks you through a scene and you fill in the gaps these scenes don’t bring on slumber.
Left to my own devices, my mind wanders back to the present or I start constructing a story as to why I’m on a beach, then what kind of beach is it – a Caribbean all white sand underfoot and aquamarine sea or is the beach on the English Channel with a bracing wind the sea all churned grey-brown and pebbles underfoot. A woodland scene – is it spring or winter, am I hot or cold or just dressed inappropriately. I end up creating a full blown story, wondering why I’m there in the first place – where is this waterfall and why am I the only person there? You can see it can’t you – my mind races away and I’m still WIDE awake.
As I don’t take a meditation practitioner to bed with me I have to resort to my own resources…… You know I garden? You know I love my allotment? You know that these two things give me great pleasure and help me relax and unwind…..
FESS UP TIME!
………for a while now I’ve found that thinking about my allotment can help send me to sleep – not the planning what goes where, making mental lists of jobs to do or ooops I forgot to water the beans kind of thinking but imagining that I’m digging my allotment. Stay with me here folks this is my digging “counting sheep” equivalent to get to sleep –
I stand at one end of the plot, usually the top nearest the main path, I’m alone, its day time, a standard day nothing out of the ordinary – not too cold, not especially sunny or warm or wet – OK the not too wet is out of the ordinary but a girl can dream?! Garden fork in hand, the prongs touching the ground, my right foot on the steel pressing down into the soil, pulling back slightly and lifting up the soil and turning it over. I move across or backwards, it doesn’t matter which way I go along the allotment and I repeat the same motion in my mind, plunging the fork into the ground, placing my booted foot onto the edge of the fork, pushing down, digging and lifting and repeating…..
There are as many ways to garden as there are to go to sleep and I’ve come to realise that the ‘no-dig garden policy’ wouldn’t work for me – there I am lying in bed, tucked up under the duvet imagining I’m on the allotment and I start placing cardboard over the ground, covering that with manure, laying sheets of paper to top off with grass cuttings; somehow I can’t see the ‘No-Dig’ method of gardening sending me to sleep any time soon!
How about you and what sends you to sleep? I’m wondering if there are bakers out there who run over in their mind things like icing a 100 cup cakes, kneading the dough for a dozen rolls, painters washing their board and setting up their easel, or maybe cooks repeatedly chop herbs, sprinkle sea salt or drizzle oil but maybe that gets a bit messy in bed 😉