When Counting Sheep Doesn't Work

Have you ever lain awake at night, wanting and needing desperately to sleep, but your thoughts keep going a mile a minute? Of course you have, we all have, and it just makes it worse when we try to stop it by arguing with ourselves, getting up and down, tossing and turning, and thinking about how fast the morning will come.

I have an exercise in my book, Addict America: The Lost Connection, called Thought Stopping. It is a way to stop our minds from racing and those obsessive thoughts that keep us up at night.

By reciting a well-memorized poem, prayer, or even song and really thinking about the meaning, you can break the cycle and calm your brain. You really need to consider the meaning, though, not just mindlessly repeat the phrases. After a couple of repetitions, you will be relaxed and at peace.

I use "The Lord's Prayer," which I learned by heart as a child and so have down cold. I give it a broader meaning, however, than what is viewed as the traditional Christian one. I find it helps me personally and helps others who struggle with Connection to a Higher Power. This is my process:

Our Father, who art in Heaven - Rather than looking at Father/God as an old bearded man, I think of "Father" in the sense of something greater than myself who can take care of me. It is the acknowledgement of a "Higher Power." Heaven is what I see as a state of Connection with all living beings. We are part of the life force, which is also the Higher Power, so we are part of God and we are in Heaven when we feel that Connection.

Hallowed be Thy Name: This is the recognition of the Higher Power, of which we are part.

Thy Kingdom come: This is saying that we recognize this state as what we wish to attain and live with always.

Thy will be done: When I am focused only on my own ego and want only my own way, I will probably not be happy. I am probably acting addictively and disconnecting. "Thy will" refers to the Higher Power of which I am a part, so the paradox here is that when I give up personal control and say "Thy will be done," I am actually allowing my own will to mingle with that of all other living beings and so of course what I do will be for my recovery, health, and ultimate best interest and also will put that good energy out into the Universe to benefit all living beings.

On earth as it is in Heaven: These are not two different places. We can live on earth and be in Heaven as long as we feel our Connection to all life.

Give us this day our daily bread: When we are not in the moment because we are worried about the future, we are in an addictive state. When we can live by the Serenity Prayer - accept what we cannot control and change what we can - then we can be present and Connected with what is happening now.

Forgive us our debts/trespasses as we forgive our debtors/those who trespass against us: Not forgiving keeps us disconnected. It creates a power difference with others that can feel rewarding but is really addictive. When we forgive, we Connect.

Lead us not into temptation: I have a problem with this line. Why do we need to ask God not to lead us into temptation? I change it to: Let us not be led into temptation. Someone told me once that this is actually closer to the original text.

But deliver us from evil: Evil is anything that disconnects us. Evil is a denial of our universal Connection. I cannot hurt you if I can feel your pain. Those who inflict pain, especially deliberately, are truly in Hell.

For thine is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory forever

Amen and Sweet Dreams

Be In Light