That Beep, Beep, Beeping Sound
A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I were in Kansas City, Missouri visiting family. We had been up late Friday night and were sleeping soundly, enjoying the quiet of our hotel room on Saturday morning. Suddenly, at 6 a.m., an alarm clock sounded: beep, beep, beep, beep. I was pretty certain it wasn't the alarm next to me, because the beeping wasn't that loud and jarring. But I checked to make sure it was turned off. Then we looked around the room to see if there was another clock or some other electronic gizmo that might be sounding. But finally we realized that it must be the alarm clock in the room next to ours, and that the room must be empty. The beep, beep, beep continued and continued and continued.
Once I realized that there was nothing to do to change the situation, that it was totally out of my control, it simply became another opportunity to practice. I lay in the bed, awake earlier than I wanted to be, and listened to the beep, beep, beep. My practice was attending both to the sound and to the way the mind and body were relating to the sound, especially noticing when there was resistance to it. Resistance when the body was not relaxed but was tight and contracted. Resistance when the mind would get agitated at the sound. And then, when there was awareness of resistance, either in body or mind, letting it go. Letting go of the resistance to what was and letting the sound just be.
As I let go of the resistance again and again, mind and body relaxed. And sleep returned.
It wasn't my intention to relax so that I could fall back to sleep. It was simply the paradox that being awake, being present to the beeping sound, brought sleep.