awakened af : how to

the first draft of a new book

open book and coffee

I recently finished the first draft of a new book project.

The working title is Let That Sh*t Go – A Brief Practice Guide to Calming Your Monkey-Mind Before Bed and Getting the Rest You Crave.

It’s a project that grew out of my own experiences with anxiety and my inability to fall asleep due to an overactive mind.

However, being a long-time student and practitioner of meditation and mindfulness, I knew the answers to a better quality of rest and relaxation could be found within.

Influencing me in this writing project were the teachings of the Buddha, those from a few Zen Masters, and Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now, a particularly mind-blowing book that I urge you to read or re-read. It’s a truly transformative work.

Let That Sht Go is a brief book, and I’ll probably list it on Amazon for under $5. It’s currently divided into two parts, Part I: Identifying the Issues, and Part II: How To Let That Sht Go.

Here’s a brief excerpt from Part I of the draft:

IDENTIFYING THE ISSUES

We all have shit that keeps us at night because we can’t seem to shut down our mind’s chief function – to generate thoughts at the speed of light. Most researchers postulate that the average human mind generates between 30,000 and 50,000 individual thoughts per day.

That’s exhausting even to consider. It’s like waking in the morning and counting to 50,000 throughout the day, every-day-of-your-life.

Nothing makes me want to toss my low-carb cookies more than the thought of having to do that. Yet, our minds do this every day…often without us even noticing.

It’s no wonder that we experience difficulty shutting it down before bed. The mind is neither good nor bad, it simply is what it is – a non-stop thinking machine. But before we bash our raging minds altogether and lump them into the category Things We’d Like to Kill, let’s consider for a moment that it’s our most valuable survival tool and its evolutionary development has ensured the survival of our species.

So while our knee-jerk reaction might be to say, “Fuck off, monkey mind” like I did at the opening of this book, we need our minds to survive. Let that sink in for a moment.

We depend on our minds for survival and yet it buggers the crap out of us (OK, weird analogy) at the most inconvenient times. Since this book is about encouraging the mind to calm before bed, we’re going to focus on the most common issues that come up when our heads hit the pillow.

THE MOST COMMON ISSUES THAT KEEP US UP AT NIGHT

This part of the book will examine some of the most common issues that tend to keep us up preventing us from getting the rest we crave. It’s likely that you will think of other issues that are unique to your experience, and it’s important to note those in your journal or notebook as well for later reflection and journaling.

Reliving Your Entire Day

As we’ve already established, it’s natural for our minds to generate thoughts. After all, it’s what millions of years of evolution have shaped it to do. It helps us maintain our immediate access to the fight-or-flight mechanisms that we depended on in times if high stress.

However, listening to the play-by-play nature of our thoughts about the day we just experienced, while a natural occurrence, can also have a detrimental effect on our ability fall asleep.

Unfortunately, the same stress hormones that are dumped into the bloodstream when we encounter a threat to our survival (an angry confrontation while driving, a heated discussion with our boss, etc.) can also be triggered by replaying these past moments in our minds.

Just when we want to let that shit go, we find ourselves replaying it over and over again.

Here’s an example that leads down a path you might find familiar that also involves our next type of issue, re-enacting our daily drama:

We start by reviewing what we accomplished during the day. That’s seems OK at first, but then it triggers another thought, maybe this time it’s about the events at the office or at school. Soon, we’re hurtling down that imaginary road at full speed.

We follow little trails of thought that lead to more well-worn neural paths that, in turn, lead to more memories and past events. Soon we’re reliving old drama, holding imaginary conversations in our head with people who aren’t present (and who are most likely sleeping soundly).

After a while, we sound like Vin Scully or Joe Buck calling the play-by-play of our daily experiences for nine straight innings.

Meanwhile, it’s 3:30am and we’re wide awake.

Stay tuned for more information when the book is released on Amazon.