Waking up from insomnia

THE nightly routine was becoming uncomfortably familiar--deep sleep for a couple of hours, then sudden waking only to toss and twist between restless periods of dozing until morning. I yearned for a good night's sleep. Yet when the healing came, it was not through sleep but through prayerful awaking to the powerful peace of God's presence. Everyone, regardless of age or circumstance, has a right to expect a normal balance of rest and useful activity. But what of those nights when sleep is more tiring than refreshing, more frustrating than restful? Chronic inability to rest peacefully is not our normal status and need not be accepted as something to endure. There is a healing answer to insomnia, and it is not in mere drowsiness or in loss of mental control, such as might result from a sleeping pill. Christlike prayer brings a quietness th at nothing else can achieve, and with it comes the calmness of thought that allows refreshing rest. ``The thought of Thee is mightier far / Than sin and pain and sorrow are.'' 1 These lines from a hymn beam healing light on the problem of insomnia. As we bring our thought into harmony with God and His nature through prayer, worries about the cares of the day, or fearful anticipation of tomorrow, cannot demand our attention with tiresome repetition. Willingness to spend wakeful night hours with God does not lead us to ignore daily responsibilities; it supplies the courage and intelligence to meet them successfully. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, gives a thought-promoting definition of God in the Christian Science textbook: ``God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love.'' 2 These are Biblically based terms revealing God's nature, and they provide a rich and unending variety of beautiful insights through which God may be known. Exploring any one of these synonymous terms with an open, receptive thought can bring some wonderful disco veries of God's ever-available presence. Such prayer can be lively! It never leaves us in a sleepy fog but invigorates, refreshes. If it seems that thought just cannot be pulled away from daily duties, discord, or discomfort, we might remember that simply affirming God's presence can be a powerful prayer, and we can quietly insist on our right to govern our own thinking. Fear can be halted by acknowledging God's loving might; regret challenged by contemplating the Father's tender care for us and all that concerns us. Each recurring memory of evil can be cleansed with the purifying consciousness of holy spiritual being. With the men tal discipline of Christly persistence, every wakeful worry can be replaced with an encouraging realization of God and His infinite goodness. Referring to God, Mrs. Eddy writes, ``The consciousness of Truth rests us more than hours of repose in unconsciousness.'' 3 During the time in my life when sleeplessness was becoming chronic, I learned the great necessity of awaking from the mental muddle that left me too restless to sleep and too tired to get up and accomplish something. I began to pray, filling my thought with a consciousness of God's presence. It wasn't easy at first, but a sparkle of hope came when I realized what a pleasure it would be to spend the hours in constructive prayer rather than in useless striving to fall asleep. Meekly I settled down to a ni ght of quiet communion with God. The more I prayed, the more responsive I became. No longer dull and sleepy, I began to feel alert. Suddenly it was morning! I became joyfully aware that such vigorous, deliberate affirming of God's presence had allowed me to enjoy several hours of natural, restful sleep. The day's requirements were met with full strength and vigor. For three successive nights the battle raged between anxious sleeplessness and lively, invigorating prayer. Each night a humble acknowledgment that I needed a sense of God's nearness more than I needed sleep resulted in hours of effortless rest. Insomnia fled, completely and permanently. The presence of God is as near as prayer. The Bible tells us that ``The Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.'' 4 We, too, can rest assured that God is a powerful friend to whom we may trustingly turn. When He speaks, He quiets the tumult, eases the unrest, stills the mental storm, and wakens us to His loving and gentle presence. Then the comforting, healing message comes through the darkness, ``My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.'' 5 1 Christian Science Hymnal, No. 134. 2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 465. 3 Ibid., p. 218. 4 Exodus 33:11. 5 Exodus 33:14.

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