My Red Light District

red light Allow me to share a recent experience with you.

I was at my business intensive and had a very long day. I dragged myself upstairs to the lovely hotel room, ready to tuck myself into the plush bed so I would be well rested for another full day.

As I got into bed and turned off the light, I looked up and I noticed a tiny flashing red light, flashing rather slowly. The sensible action would have been to simply shut my eyes and go off to sleep, but my mind began to focus on this disturbance (you would think it was a strobe light.) I would have called maintenance, but it was after 11 pm. I decided to take matters into my own hands. I hopped up on the bed to reach it and see if I could turn it off.

I could not turn it off without the possibility of electrocution, so I thought about other options (the option of just go to sleep was not on my list.) After some consideration I decided to cover the light to decrease the already mild blinking. I had no tape, so I fit a piece of an index card around the light, which did not do much except make me think about the absurdity of my actions. I was obsessing!

Yes it was my mind, not the light that was the culprit of my actions. You will find that is true in all instances where you find something annoying.

In this case, my focus was totally on the light– nothing else mattered. My obsessing took me out of the present moment. I finally decided to let it go, get back into bed and close my eyes.

The question is: How did I go from allowing my mind to take charge to quieting my thoughts? It is not about pretending the light was not there, but taking my focus and bringing it back to the moment. Here is what I did:

  • At that moment, I was in bed and I needed to get my mind in bed with me, rather than thinking about the light.
  • I began to draw my awareness back to my body.
  • I noticed the sensation of my body on the soft sheets.
  • I noticed my head on the pillow.
  • I noticed my breath and began to follow the breath- inhale-pause, exhale-pause.
  • Each time I had the thought to peek up at the ceiling (and I did), I noticed my thoughts and came back to the awareness of my breath and body.
  • I did drift off to sleep after this because my mind became still.

When you find you are obsessing, especially when you are trying to sleep or concentrate, your awareness is like tunnel vision- it is all you can focus on. It is the mind taking you out of the present moment. The good news is there are many ways to draw your awareness back to the moment, which will help quiet your mind. The simple technique I used is a great beginning.

Give it a try and let me know how it went. Pleasant dreams!



Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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