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Sleeping Scared

By Christina Gerdes

MON APR 12, 2021

This is a Ghost Story

What is it with the hours of 2am-6am? I don’t know about you, and maybe it is my age, but this is the time when all my fears seem to creep in. I wake moaning, or crying, or with a sharp inhale, like I wasn’t breathing. I am sweating, my heart is racing, teeth grinding, and my legs and glutes are often clenched so tight, it feels like I am cutting the blood supply off to my toes.

I tend to be an optimist. Glass is definitely half full to this woman and it may even be filling over at times. I am an optimist to a fault sometimes because I can paint anything so rosy, I fail to see some of what is real. I have been known to spin anything into a positive lesson. Because of this, I have a hard time seeing, feeling, showing and or even recognizing my fears in the bright light of day. So, they show themselves in my dreams or those waking dreams, where I am even wondering if I am really sleeping or if all my worst fears are just bubbling up in my mind, but my eyes are closed. Pretending to sleep.

What am I afraid of you ask?

Well, I would guess a lot of the same shit everyone is afraid of and then random weird made-up stuff that has never happened. Ever. To anyone. Except when you are dealing with Poltergeists.

My biggest fears seem to be around losing the ones I love. My family. The worst ones are about losing my son. These are also the nightmares that seem SO unreal. Like the one where just out of nowhere, for no reason at all, a butcher knife just flies through the air and lands on him while he is in the kitchen. I used to have this one A LOT when he was a toddler.

I have repeating fear dreams of tornados and crashing in an airplane. I have had nightmares about money, career, and even recently just filming myself teach yoga. I have more personal nightmares about how I was TOO authentic and vulnerable that day with someone. I talked too much. I said too much. I was just TOO MUCH.

Processing Nightmares with Yoga

Over the years, and I would say because of my Yoga Practice, I have learned to use these nightmares to process some deeper Truths. I look at them like my Ghosts, my Demons coming for their pound of flesh. So, I can let them take me and lay in bed shivering and crying and asking my husband to hug me. Or I can look them straight in the eye and get to the bottom of this bullshit. Like, ok, let’s do this. You woke me for a reason so let’s talk.

I use that time to process my fears. Sure, I am afraid to lose my Family. I love them so much that they often feel like an extension of myself. What I can only imagine might be the feelings of a phantom limb. But it is my heart. I am probably more afraid to lose them than I am to die myself. Like, I have made peace with the inevitability of my own death but losing them is unimaginable. This is that all encompassing Fear of Death dream. I still haven’t made peace with this one.

The seemingly superficial nightmares have also shared a bit about me. My mom once said, it isn’t always important what happened in the dream, the details, but how you were feeling. SO, I take a long breath, allow my muscles to relax and unclench and start to dissect how I was feeling. Sure, I am clearly afraid. But, of what? I just allow myself to dig through the fear. Like a dirt hole that is filling with water and the edges keep sliding in and so it doesn’t appear like I am getting anywhere. I start asking myself questions: till I get to the Truth of the Fear. Like, what will happen if you were vulnerable with those people? Why are you worried you talk too much and if you do, why do you?

As I am digging down the muddy fear hole, I notice when my body clenches again or if my breath changes or my chest feels tight because I want to cry more. This witnessing and questioning IS part of my Real Life Yoga Practice, it just happens in the middle of the night after a nightmare. Not on a mat. Not on a cushion. Not in fancy yoga clothes.

This is not always a pleasant mental dialogue. In fact, it has been known to be scarier than the nightmare itself. Because now I must deal with the real shit in my life and not the imaginary knife flying through the air by the hand of a poltergeist. Personally, I have found that between the hours of 2-6am I am also the least likely to put up walls and barriers around the Truth. I suspect it is because I am so damned tired.

But all this started on the mat and on the cushion and sometimes, I’ll admit, in fancy yoga clothes. I noticed my body in a yoga pose. I noticed the relationship between action and inaction, and conscious and unconscious action and inaction. I noticed my breath and when it changed and where it was and how it moved. I noticed my feelings and where they were in my body and what came up when and where was my mind and thoughts when that was happening.

My Real Life Yoga Practice started on the mat, but it is part of my relationship with Living and so can be found everywhere. Even when I am sleeping scared.

I would love to share with you how to Have a Relationship with Life, Embody Yoga Everyday and even at Night, Throughout Your Whole Life. 💜

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