Four o'clock in the morning, or thereabouts, when I often have to get up and tend a child, is a dangerous time for my discipline of mind. I get back into bed, and generally, having had enough sleep not to fall back to sleep immediately, start thinking. Thinking about what I should have done yesterday, what I have to do today or this week, what so and so said yesterday and what I should have said in response, etc. And it is easy for these thoughts to chain themselves to other events or thoughts, and before I know it I am agitated or worried, with no possibility of getting back to sleep. And worse still, I enter the new day with those thoughts and feelings in the background. This is not uncommon, and can happen to people during the day or night. There is a traditional spiritual practice that provides an antidote. Pray! At 4AM, once I realise that my mind is spiralling out of control, I say to myself, "I surrender", over and over. The trick is to stop thinking about anything else and saying the word without thinking about anything else at all. Don't concentrate on the word too much because the idea is that the word reflects a confidence in God, to whom you are surrendering. When I do this I am asleep within minutes.
It is the clue for the day as well. Experiencing a rise in aggravation of any kind? Thoughts, feelings building a momentum of negativity? Then say the surrender prayer above, or better still, during the day, try this prayer from Charles de Foucauld.
I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to you
with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father. Amen.