How I Integrated Insomnia and Adrenal Fatigue into a Spiritual Path

This blog should really have been called “A thousand hopeless days and thousand hopeless nights.”

Any serious insomniac will attest – not being able to sleep, walking around half dead the next day, counting minutes to get to bed but dreading you won’t be able to causes an immense amount of frustration, anger, and sadness. Lying there awake, starring at the ceiling when everyone else around is snoring deeply, you realize that another day from hell is coming and this is where hopelessness sets in, this is where you wonder whether you will ever survive this.

It is so easy to see how some people just give up and and jump off the bridge. There is no sense any more, the body feels totally spent and your mind is broken.

Sometimes I wonder that if I didn’t have my spiritual direction before all this mess started I don’t know whether I’d be alive or what sort of narcotic drugs I’d have to be living on.

I am a Buddhist, have been for over ten years. Buddha’s teachings are the only thing that make total and real sense in my life.

From the teachings called Seven Points on Mind Training comes the most profound advice: “When the world is filled with negativity, transform adverse conditions into the path of awakening.”

Carl Jung, psychiatrist and founder of the school of analytical psychology, seems to have discovered this universal truth as well: “There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.

So here’s a routine that I’ve developed over the years.

  • I modified my Qi Gong routine with Bodhicitta elements – making wishes to heal and then help others. I wished that whatever painful karma I’m purifying with this practice my I also purify it from other beings. This made me feel part of a bigger journey. A journey where I’m not alone but thousands of people like you go through.
  • I always have a Buddhist mala (beeds) in bed which I spin and say mantras when I’m not able to sleep. This way instead of fretting it or worrying about it I place my mind on what I feel can be most beneficial activity in this desperate moment.
  • I learned that Buddha is not a God that you can ask for healing, he never was or wanted to be. When I make wishes I ask for wisdom to find the answers for healing, thus directing attention inward to my mind’s inherent qualities and towards personal responsibility. I believe our bodies have an ability heal if we provide the right circumstances; our body will find the balance and come to its natural equilibrium, aka wellness.
  • I do all I can not to talk about my insomnia woes with others. Most of my friends and colleagues are strong as bulls and hence, totally ignorant about this issue. They often say “It’s in your head, deal with it,” and dispense the routine that has worked over the years – drink a bottle of wine, have sex, wake up eight hours later.  Talking to them about insomnia and adrenal fatigue only makes me feel worse and perpetuates the negative relationship I have with this disorder. So I joke to myself that I’ll learn to suffer now and have a joyful old age, where most of my friends will be in total shock when they eventually get hit with illness and old age.
  • There are more and more days where I am consciously grateful to have gone through this disorder. I didn’t drink a lot of cocktails late at night, I did not munch on hamburgers, french fries and indigestible calamari, and I probably didn’t say a lot of offensive stuff at work because I wouldn’t have had the strength to deal with the conflict. Instead, I developed a discipline and healthy routine, I read a lot, learned a lot and made myself much more useful to others by helping them with their health.
  • Realize that our health is very related to our emotions, which are related to our inner organs. TCM reminds us that often those with gallbladder or liver distress are likely to be feeling anger, frustration, and resentment.  So before we can heal out body we must give ourselves the opportunity to heal emotionally.

Only at the end of our lives will we have the true wisdom in retrospect to see what events brought us most good and we’ll be surprised. I have a feeling that looking back, we’ll say “Insomnia was a tough nut but it made my heart softer, my mind more nimble and our characters more humble which led to many wonderful things.” This is my strongest wish for you too.

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