|“Care keeps his watch in every old man's eye,
And where care lodges, sleep will never lie;
But where unbruised youth with unstuff'd rain
Doth couch his limbs, there golden sleep doth reign.”
|– Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet.|
We have all tossed and turned with our ‘cares’, with our active inner voice stuck on a loop – the ‘I said’ and ‘he said’ loop replaying time and time again in your mind can make you crazy! It feels like a white mouse running around a wheel in your head and you just can’t stop it. Lack of sleep is linked to psychotic episodes, premature ageing, depression, weight gain, diabetes, deteriorating social relationships – and a lot more!
So lets learn how to stop the crazy white mouse on the wheel.
Meditation is a wonderful solution for troubled minds, and this particular technique borrows from yoga nidra and meditation as well as Friedberg’s Eye Movement Technique. If I can emphasise that your mind is a powerful tool, and that with training and discipline you really can stop the crazy mouse running on the wheel in your mind. When you master this exercise – you will have better sleep, better dreams – and feel more refreshed on waking.
I believe that the precursor to good sleep is a good workout – a long vigorous walk, a big weights session, or your own yoga practise. Alcohol and drugs are no solution. Get your heart rate up and then bring it back down with exercise prior to sleeping. Before you get into bed – turn off everything electronic around you – no winking lights, no buzzing phones, no radio, television, music. A comfy, warm place is great. A hot water bottle on the feet or chest is great. Being hungry or cold makes it difficult to sleep. Try a warm milk drink (no caffeine, no tea) prior to sleeping– or some protein rich food. No sweeties. If you are in a fairly light room, cover your eyes with a silk scarf, meditation lavender eye bag or eye mask.
Close your eyes. Now, notice your inner voice. It is very busy, rattling on, talking to itself, making great plans, making nasty threats, blaming, cursing, replaying situations. One definition of meditation is the pause between one thought and the next. In other words – silence. The inner voice is very resistant to being controlled. So you need to say ‘stop it – be quiet’. You will hear ‘but’ from your inner voice – just cut it off.
Now I want you to release your jaw and mouth – you will find it cracks with tension when you let it drop and move it around – move your head and neck. Now I want you to release the tension you have around your eyes – with your eyes closed move your eyes from left to right, back and forth until you feel the muscles around your eyes relaxing. Breathe deeply, slowly in and slowly out. Shallow quick breaths will raise your heart rate. Now here is the most important step – stop the voice and start looking for the images that lie in your minds eye. It could be starburst of bright light, faces, a galaxy of stars, complete images or moving patterns like lava lamps. Don’t let the voice speak. Keep on task. Keep looking inside your minds eye for these wonderful lights and images.
Remember practise will make this quicker and easier each time.