In the 50’s and 60’s, cigarette smoking sure looked cool on on TV. Happy, attractive men and women with perfect smiles—who wouldn’t want to feel like them? It didn’t matter what the setting was, they were so chill…so relaxed. Hanging out by a waterfall or river—chill. Riding the range—still chill, but also macho, sexy, and strong. Perfect archetypal happiness. Clearly, to achieve that all you had to do was light up a Salem, Viceroy, Camel, Winston, Marlboro, or Lucky Strike. Magic! How lucky could you get?
Fifty years later, I still remember how happy and relaxed those actors were. I’m not about to pick up smoking, but I still like feeling happy and relaxed. So I ask myself, what was the essence of all that? I know now it certainly wasn’t the cigs—so what was it? How can I capture that feeling without the smoke?
It seems to me that it’s mostly about doing nothing. Doing nothing doesn’t mean that you don’t actually do anything, but it means feeling as though you aren’t. Our lives are so full of plans that we allow ourselves almost no time to do nothing. Even relaxing or practicing yoga can become “something else to do.” Meditating can be something else to do. Fishing or golfing can be something to plan or do. Sometimes we keep that frantic attitude rolling until our nightly sleep—that essential, life-giving restoration for mind and body—becomes just another thing to DO.
People are so busy that many will try whatever they can to see how little sleep they can handle. If I can get by on seven hours sleep, how about six and a half? If that works, six should be okay, right? Many of us take sleep for granted in order to cram our waking hours with even more activity. It may work for a short period, but it always backfires. What an unnatural attitude to something so completely natural—if we allow it to happen.
The best orientation for natural, refreshing sleep is to plan to do nothing just before going to bed. Prioritize it! Doing nothing before bed. Then, surprise yourself with the compassionate choices you make to help yourself fall asleep and stay asleep long enough to feel truly rested the next morning. A fulfilling life—the appearance of which filled those old cigarette commercials—doesn’t start with sleep, but it simply can’t happen without it.
Sometime when you’re awake? You can make some good choices about your sleep environment—such as choosing a comfortable natural mattress with organic bedding. Then while you’re peacefully awaiting sleep, doing absolutely nothing, those choices will support you too. Nothing to do but let it all go…and sleep.