Something I have learned through working with many people over many years is that the same kind of confusion affects different areas of life. Confusion doesn’t really capture what I mean, so I’ll explain.
I’ve chosen sleep and time because they are both things which seem to slip away or are beyond the grasp of many people. There’s never enough time, they say, and a third of us complain of insufficient sleep.
Deficits in both time and sleep drive mini-industries providing advice and guidance on time management, and overcoming insomnia. For the most part the information they dish out is fairly basic common sense, valuable nevertheless as far as it goes, but missing one essential point: the solution lies in our relationship with the the problem area. Neither sleep nor time are physical entities that can be ‘managed’.
If you would like to get more time then the standard advice is fine as far as it goes, but you also have to change your beliefs about time, for these govern how you experience and react to it.
The same is true of sleep. It is not an elusive commodity that can be quantified in hours alone. Whether you call it a skill or a habit, the ability to sleep well must be developed and maintained. Your beliefs also have a powerful impact of how you experience sleep, particularly when you think you aren’t getting enough.
The confusion I opened the post with is that we are taught to believe that aspects of our lives – of which sleep and time are examples – can be objectified and treated like physical entities. They can’t.
Our relationship with the thing in question has to be considered before we can effectively make the most of what we have.