I once met a man who had been a police officer. His law enforcement career ended one rainy night on the side of an interstate highway in Connecticut after he pulled over a drunk driver. Despite having the lights of his squad car on and following the rest of the safety protocols he was hit by another drunk driver, thrown 40 feet onto the roadside.
He had chronic pain and many sleepless nights after the accident.
My mom was widowed at 42. She had worries, despair, and loss.
Our next-door neighbor also went through similar experiences after she was widowed.
All three of these people were comforted by praying the rosary, Catholic prayer beads. The practice helps one see their personal struggles as a “cross.”
If you’re open to the idea, it makes absolute sense to try prayer beads too if you’re having trouble falling asleep. You, too, have problems of your own. You, too, have your own thoughts. One thought after another keeps the mind whirling.
Praying the rosary isn’t just for Catholics. Some Protestants have their own way and techniques of doing it too. Some involve petitioning the Virgin Mary, some don’t.
The concept of prayer beads is common throughout many belief systems. Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists also use prayer beads as a tool for reflection. There are different methods, too many to go into here.
For many Catholics, the good thing about praying the rosary, which focuses on thinking about Jesus’s life, is that it provides a way of mentally and emotionally dealing with your problems. Some other solutions like counting sheep and doing math problems in your head don’t.
The sorrowful mysteries, which highlight episodes of struggle in Jesus’s life, are prayed on Tuesday and Saturday. The joyful mysteries, which highlight happy times in Jesus’s life, are prayed on Mondays and Saturday.
The luminous mysteries emphasize episodes of light in Jesus’s life. They’re prayed on Thursday.
The glorious mysteries involve glory and triumph. They’re prayed on Wednesday and Sundays.
Life isn’t all misery and suffering. Neither is it one happy moment after another. Contemplating events in this way allows a sense of balance.
There are numerous techniques and numerous styles of prayer beads. There are even prayer beads for atheists to contemplate life. Covering the various techniques and styles are beyond the scope of this article.
However, like dream journaling, it’s better to go low tech when it comes to prayer beads. There are apps available for smartphones that help one track and count the meditations and prayers. Under certain circumstances, they can be a help. However, when it comes to trying to fall asleep, they’re disruptive. The light from the device can bother the person trying to fall asleep. It’s also preferable to manipulate the bead tangibly rather than depress one part or another of a device’s screen.
For many people, this form of active form of meditation is preferable to clearing the mind and trying to focus on keeping it blank. They’re doing something. They’re applying some energy and effort to fix whatever is bothering them. They don’t want to imagine themselves on the shore of a lake sleeping. They don’t want to imagine themselves in a hammock with the cool mountain wind blowing by. They’re suffering in their own way. They’re struggling to think of the good times they’ve had. The rosary, or prayer beads, are tools to guide and they use that tool night after night.
The key is to get your thoughts and concerns off your mind. You’re not going to solve them while you’re mentally and physically recharging. Tomorrow is another day. You’ll deal with what you can then.
Sleeplessness touches on matters of religion and faith at times. It’s impossible to separate them, though there’s not a lot of writing and blogging on it. Trying to forgive or a lack of forgiveness is something that keeps people up from time. Trying to affect matters beyond their control is another.
Faith is a big antidote to anxiety. That’s a truism if there ever is one.