The other day I mentioned something that has been helping me get back to sleep in the middle of the night. It’s a lot like counting sheep, but seems to be working much better. While many suggest meditation, we all know during the night it is even harder to quiet all the chatter in our brains. There is a back story to what I have been doing. Always interested in the possibility of having past lives, years ago I read all the Brian Weiss books…Many Lives Many Master and the ones that followed. Dr. Weiss would take people through “regression” therapy, allowing them to become present in their own past. One technique he would use was to suggest his patient was walking in a a field and upon finding a door, they would enter and become in touch with their own selves in a previous life. While I did try this many times on my own, it never worked.
Fast forward to a week or two ago when I found myself watching an episode of the Twilight Zone (not the original series, but an updated one, from the 1980s). A therapist who was successful regressing her patients, was frustrated she couldn’t regress herself and though none of what happens in the episode matters, I found myself thinking about it, as well as an interview Oprah had done with Melissa Ethridge, post breast cancer. Melissa said the one thing that got her through the worst of times was meditating herself into a black hole. That stuck with me and I have used that black hole meditation during a couple of vertigo attacks and it worked to get my mind so far into the hole that the spinning stopped and I managed to sleep through the attacks.
In bed last week, I combined all this into a meditation where I am facing a black hole and each time I go through, I try to think of a big (but never sad) event from the first the current decade, (I cut off all my hair) than the past decade, (I got a tattoo) and continuing going back in time with the goal that I may trick my brain right into remembering a past life. The outcome…sleep. Every single time. Even though I use the same events each time I do this, keeping it very simple and focusing on traveling through the small black hole, I have NEVER made it to my childhood. Sleeps takes over and next thing I know, I am awake.
Because I am so interested in regression, I am drawn to this meditation nightly and have had some of my best sleep since before menopause! If I wake up, I am actually anxious to try again, blocking out all other thoughts, with ease. Since sleep is such an important part of our overall well being, and our weight and stress management, and I know so many people are struggling with getting enough, I thought I would share what is working for me. Of course, if you wanted to try something like this, you need to find something that YOU are very interested in and tweak this “exercise” so it works for you. I suggest keeping it simple so that your thoughts don’t drift too far from the black hole. Somehow that dark spot keeps me focused and I can almost feel myself slipping into it.
Perhaps the 4-7-8 breathing that I have been doing once a day is helping, too. Thanks Dr. Weil for sharing that one. My students and I are definitely practicing that one!
I have to take a moment to look upward and say thanks to my brother, Mike, who left this earth several years ago, but ironically evoked my interest in the Twilight Zone after he used to scare the life out of me, making me watch it as a child. Just another case of everything happening for a reason. What once kept me awake at night is now what has inspired a great sleeping “pill”. No wonder the mango tree we planted in his memory is finally blooming like crazy.
What alternatives to medication do you use to help you sleep at night? Many of us need all the suggestions we can get!
Have a happy Vegan Feast Thursday. My dinner menu theme this week is “if it’s not in the house already, it’s not gonna be on the table.” Creativity is calling in the kitchen, but first, one bigreddog and some sunshine are beckoning me outdoors and I am there.
Pretty good post. I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts.
!I agree wholeheartedly with you we could be doing more in scolohs. Just stopping and focusing on breathing can help to connect with our bodies and then perhaps our emotions. I have found many men and adolescent boys feel emotionally disconnected when they present to counselling, their significant relationships are often on the verge of collapse! It seems they need to get back to themselves and inside their bodies first and then they can connect in awesome ways with their partners. I sometimes wonder if the use of substances have replaced simple relaxation, breathing and meditation techniques? Whenever I work with anyone giving up substances we explore what will be taken up, mindfulness’ is the perfect thing it’s free, easy and once someone gets over the fear of something new, can be very helpful.
Great blog!It would be great if mindfulness and medatition were taught in schools. As a father of teens, I know that many kids (my own and their friends) opt out of religious studies as they aren’t of a Christian belief. What do they do? They sit in the library or do their homework. Non-denominational mindfulness and medatition seems a perfect alternative. It’s a productive way for kids to spend their time learning about themselves and tolerance of others. Isn’t that what religious studies is all about?