Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Sometimes even the best laid plans don’t work out the way we want them to. There are moments in our lives where we all have to accept that we can’t control everything to happen in the way that we want. What I’ve learned over the years about myself is that when things don’t go my way, it is easy for me to start a story that runs through my head and just keeps looping around and around. The story could be anything from “I didn’t do enough, I didn’t try hard enough, I’m angry that they won’t do I what I want them do, I’ll never do such and such again for the rest of my life because it is too hard” etc. etc. And these stories, if I leave them unchecked can run wild and cause me to contract and withdraw from all the good things. In a way it is like my heart shuts down. These stories cause stress for me, and they may not even be true and certainly are not useful. If I allow these stories to keep playing in my head, they keep me up at night. I have a hard time falling asleep, or if I fall asleep I often wake up and the stories are still there. This is part of the human experience that yogi’s have been interested in for thousands of years. Human beings have invented IPODs, computers, airplanes etc. and yet the struggling of the human mind has been consistent for thousands of years. The yogi’s knew a long time ago that everyone needs tools to calm the mind that is agitated or stressed. Otherwise people loose sleep or can’t function optimally in their day to day life. The yogi’s discovered that the breath is always a reflection of how a person is feeling. If a person is anxious, fearful, nervous or angry they will hear it and feel it in their breath. That is why yoga for people with insomnia always starts with a strong focus on the breathing. The idea in an evening practice, for anyone who wants to prepare for a good night’s sleep, is to do some focused breathing that will take the vibrations and busyness of the brain and ground that energy deep into the body so that the person feels heavy, earthy, grounded and ready to sleep. Other tips for helping the body prepare for sleep include either doing some yoga or meditation and keeping the eyes very still (not shifting around). Quiet eyes stimulate the nervous system to relax. Postures that ground the thighs back and down (inversions) open up the belly which all allow the breath to travel deeply into the body which stimulate the relaxation response. The other tip is to work with a mantra like “Oh my mind, be kind to me. Oh my mind, please be kind to me.” A mantra is a blessing that a person repeats over and over to themselves and over time can become a habit or a way of being that informs the cells in the body. I love this mantra, because it is often my unkind mind that creates stress for me and keeps me awake at night. “Oh my mind, be kind to me”.