Psalm 31

Into Your hand I entrust my spirit; You redeem me, Adonai, faithful God. (31:6)

The final stanza of the well known hymn Adon Olam is based on this verse, “Into God’s hand I entrust my spirit; when I sleep, I shall not fear.”

Fortunately, I sleep well most of the time. I don’t sleep enough, but that is because I stay up later than I should. Most of the time when I settle in with my head on the pillow ready to sleep, I am asleep within 5-10 minutes. I am thankful that I don’t have trouble falling asleep, because when I do have trouble, or when I wake up in the middle of the night and am unable to sleep, I am filled with anxiety. I worry that I am going to be too tired to function the next morning if I don’t get enough sleep, and the worry causes me not to be able to sleep. I begin thinking about the various things I have to do the next day, and either I am eager to get started (and thus cannot sleep) or I worry that I’ll forget something on the list before the next morning (and thus cannot sleep).

When this happens to me, I turn to techniques of meditation. I focus on my breath, and try to imagine my thoughts as puffs of vapor that arise and disappear, arise and disappear. I try not to allow myself to be seduced by a thought – to chase it around, to follow it as it leads me down the pathways and through the meadows of my mind towards other thoughts. I think about this verse, imagining that I am handing over all of my thoughts, plans, and items on my to-do list to God. I entrust not only my spirit but also my thoughts and memories to the repository of the Holy Blessed One, trusting that I will get them back safely the next morning.

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