How to deal with unresolved feelings or troubling thoughts that come up in the night?

You awake at night, the fog of sleep lifts and straightaway unresolved feelings or troubling thoughts rise to the surface of your awareness.  You feel uneasy, restless. Your first reaction, understandably, is to push whatever it is away: “I don’t want to think of this now; I have to sleep” or if it is too uncomfortable, then the pull of a distraction like watching TV, reading or looking at your phone seem  irresistible.

In this first moment of awareness, choice also arises. I recommend that instead of reacting on autopilot and doing whatever you usually do (trying not to feel, moving straight to distraction or simply beating yourself up for not knowing how to sleep properly or for what you should have or shouldn’t have done, or what might or might not happen; instead of lurching thoughtlessly, blindly to the comfort of your habitual “autopilot” reaction… you pause, with open curiosity and notice your breathing and with kindness you ask yourself, “What is happening right now?” “How is this unease revealing itself in my body and mind?”

As you draw closer to your unease, you may notice that the desire for distraction returns, a bit stronger, a bit more urgent, but instead of following it, simply notice the desire to react whilst staying with the feeling and use your breath to come fully to the present.

As you watch with open curiosity and kindness you will recognize the source of your disquiet; perhaps it is anger, fear or sadness. Whatever it is….breathe with it, with whatever is happening. This creates space for it to arise, exist and dissipate within the infinite space of your consciousness, your observing mind. When all has passed you, the observer, remain.

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