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I think it takes more than a lifetime to explore everything Buddhism has to offer. I don't like when Christians (or anyone else ) tell me I'm doing my life wrong and have to do it their way to get the full benefit out of it. So I try to avoid doing the same to them.
The only time I ever tell anyone that they're doing their lives wrong is when they tell someone else they're doing their lives wrong. Then logic dictates I must tell myself I'm doing my life wrong, and so I say nothing. Human beings are deeply uncomfortable with uncertainty. Consciousness is, at its heart, a terrifying and bewildering experience, and every spiritual path ever conceived is a response to a vast chasm of existential dread pushed beneath the top layers of consciousness. The more uncomfortable we are with the uncertainties of existence, the more liable we are to prescribe our "truths" to others. If only we can "correct" others, then maybe we'll feel more confident in our own beliefs.
I challenge anyone, anywhere to cough up sound statistical data indicating measurably higher rates of crime in atheists while controlling for confounding factors such as socioeconomic status, educational attainment, and mental illness.
For we are concerned ultimately with acts, are we not?
No such evidence exists: turns out that atheists are about as "moral" as anyone else. The perception of atheists as inherently immoral is based on cultural norms, not objective truth. In societies where people grow up in conditions where they equate morality to religious belief, they develop cognitive biases wherein they incorrectly conflate religiosity and morality.
Human morality is founded on the one ability that -- barring brain damage or mental illness -- we all possess: empathy.
it wouldn't have been terrible writing labor to say "in my experience many mentally ill are not empathic". You didn't do anything wrong or say anything wrong I just posted to share my thoughts and experience.
Fair enough. Judging by your response, I think my tone may have come across as defensive. This was not intentional. I have been sitting in somewhat adversarial meetings for much of the day, and this is likely coloring my communication style. I didn't intend to jump on you.
I will just say mental illness and empathy are not mutually exclusive. And I've spent time in a psych ward as a patient.
I have also spent time in a psych ward. I was not indicating that mental illness and empathy are mutually exclusive. Keep in mind that "mental illness" is an umbrella term that encompasses many different kinds of problems spanning from obsessive compulsive disorder to sociopathy. It is easier to assume that the reader is intelligent and understands the distinction than to be needlessly specific.
Empathy has its roots in the brain, relying amongst other functions on the working of "mirror neurons." This capacity is physical and can be damaged or lost.
I would look at the sleeping pills as a short term solution allowing you to jump start your way into a long term, sustainable solution. You don't go into much detail about what's keeping you up at night, so I'll dump some general advice. For starters, sleep hygiene is critically important. Do you use any screens in bed? A phone, tablet, or laptop?
If so, you might try cutting that out. The bed should be kept as a place for refuge, sex (if you're so lucky!) and sleep. Your goal should be to train the body and the mind to expect sleep when you get into bed. If you're looking at your phone or a laptop, you're training your mind to be active and engaged when you're in bed, which is the last thing you want.
In some ways, we are exactly like programmable computers. Our bodies and minds respond eagerly to routines, schedules, and rhythms. So, keeping a consistent bed time and consistent wake time is crucial to establishing healthy sleep. You might be tempted to sleep in late on weekends to make up for lost sleep, but in the long run, it can be counterproductive.
You should stop eating at least three hours before bed. Avoid drinking too much fluid during this time so as to avoid being awoken by a full bladder later in the night.
On the subject of supplements and minerals, all the ones mentioned here are useful. I would emphasize magnesium; most Westerners are deficient, and obtaining adequate amounts from the diet can be hard (likely true in other regions as well, but I lack data). Glycine helps a lot of people; I've found it pairs well with taurine (the two work together in electrolyte regulation). A 5,000 IU Vitamin D supplement in the morning can help regulate the circadian rhythm, especially if you're not getting bright light in the mornings. Vitamin A is also involved in circadian rhythm regulation, so you'll want to make sure you're eating your veggies and fruits. I do not recommend Vitamin A supplements for most people.
Melatonin is safe. There is no evidence that the body develops a tolerance to it or downregulates its own melatonin production. However, as little as 0.25mg is effective; there is no need to overdo it. Cherries, by the way, contain natural melatonin, so they can make a great after-dinner snack.
Part of the way melatonin works is by regulating the body's core temperature; when it drops, that signals to the body that it's time to sleep. For this reason, taking a hot shower in the evening a couple of hours before bed can be helpful.
Exercise uniformly enhances sleep quality. It can take time, but working some regular exercise into your day, even if it's just a thirty minute walk, can go a long way toward enhancing your sleep quality and your overall health.
Finally, a tricky thing to avoid is the anxiety about sleep that makes it hard to sleep. When you have insomnia, you might fixate on whether or not you're going to be able to sleep, and this fixation makes it all but impossible. It's a thought spiral difficult to disrupt. Meditation can help, obviously, but it's not a cure-all. You could try listening to this podcast at night. It's a silly little podcast by and for self-labeled insomniacs. It's the most boring podcast ever. It's also comforting and silly. It might be kind of weird the first time, but if you're lying in bed tossing and turning, you could give it a shot.
Hope some of this was helpful. I've had my own issues with sleep and these are the things that worked for me.