Sleep deprived?……….Try meditation

A friend recently shared her concern of a great anxiety she was experiencing and how it was impacting her ability sleep leaving her regularly relying on sleeping tablets.  Sleep did not come partly because of what many refer to as the ‘monkey mind’ working overtime.

You’ve heard the yoga teacher refer to the monkey mind – the mind that darts all over the place from one thought to another as you lay in bed desperately trying to sleep, or you lay on the yoga mat in savasana (corpse pose).  Thinking about the past, worrying about the future, but never being present is a common problem for many, particularly if you are experiencing unwanted stress (distress) and anxiety.

There are a number of natural therapies that can be used for sleep and anxiety problems, that don’t involve the use of pharmaceuticals.  A hot bath with some calming and sedative type essential oils (lavender, bergamot, chamomile); a cup of chamomile tea; or journaling about 3 things in your day for which you are grateful (a successful positive psychology strategy).

But for a more long term effect regular meditation or guided imagery is bound to have a positive outcome.  Meditation practice is a way calming and slowing down, allowing the mind and body to rest, physically, mentally and emotionally.

A review of mindfulness meditation research in 2009 by Jeffrey Greeson suggests that the practice is beneficial in reshaping thought patterns leading to improved emotional wellbeing.  There is increasing evidence that mediation and mindfulness practice improves quality of life and wellbeing for people with chronic illness whilst reducing stress and anxiety levels. Research is also showing an increasing trend in physicians prescribing mind-body interventions such as meditation or guided imagery as therapies or treatments for stress, sleep and concentration issues.  A study conducted in Australia found 80% of general practitioners recommended meditation practice to their patients.

But a word from the wise….meditation is not easy.  It requires work and commitment, but if it helps you get a good night’s sleep and there are positives outcomes from just that, it’s worth the commitment.  My light bulb moment came, largely thanks to The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, when I realized that meditation is being mindfully present in the now!  (Lisa I will be eternally grateful for the introduction).  Whether meditating on breath, to a mantra, or listening to some guided form of meditation it is all about being in the present and being mindful.  Being mindfully present for those few minutes a day allows us, over time, to take that mindfulness into everything else we do throughout the day thereby reducing anxiety and stress.

Are you having trouble sleeping but are uncertain of how to start meditating?  Try this guided imagery to start off with courtesy of Kaiser PermanenteHealthy Sleep Guided Imagery

Be well