Mindfulness and Insomnia
Over the past year, I’ve found great help in practicing mindfulness. To be totally honest, I always thought mindfulness was a load of nonsense. But oh, how I was wrong!
What is mindfulness?
Jon Kabat-Zinn describes mindfulness as ‘deliberately paying attention to your experience as it unfolds, without judging it.’ Jon Kabat-Zinn is the founder of mindfulness-based stress reduction. This type of mindfulness is used in many pain management clinics around the world. This is why I started practicing mindfulness – to help me live a better life with my chronic pain.
I had never practiced mindfulness before this year. I have now bought a book called ‘Mindfulness on the Go,’ and downloaded the ‘Calm’ app, which is a mindfulness app. I practice mindfulness every day.
During the first few weeks, I found that it was very important to establish a real sense of mindfulness in the body. In the beginning, I found this very difficult as my mind was wandering, and I found I couldn’t focus on my body. After some research, I realized that this was normal. So, if this is you, then do not worry!
How to practice mindfulness
I began practicing mindfulness to help me live a better life with my ankylosing spondylitis.
Start with short day sessions
I started with short 2-minute sessions during the day, and I have worked my way up to 15-minute sessions, which only feels like I am practicing mindfulness for a couple of minutes. Now, when my mind wanders to thoughts about the past and present, I can bring my mind back to the present.
Next, try adding night mindfulness
Then, I realized that I could put this practice to try and help with my insomnia.
I get into bed every night at 10:00 PM and put on my Calm app. Usually, I begin with a 2-minute breathing exercise, then a full-body scan, at this point I am feeling very relaxed. Then I type in ‘sleep’.
Listen to a sleep story or calm voice
If I think; I could fall asleep soon then I listen to a sleep story. If not, I listen to a calming voice telling me where to bring my focus to and to think presently at the moment. I think about what I can feel and hear.
Be conscious of breathing
I become conscious of my breath and my surroundings. I notice how it feels to breathe, and it always feels so relaxing.
I am grateful for mindfulness as often I fall asleep before the mindfulness exercise or sleep story is over. Of course, this doesn’t happen every night, but anything is better than nothing!
How mindfulness helps my perspective
From practicing mindfulness, I have changed my perspective on it. Before I began practicing mindfulness, I didn’t think much about it. I thought; this can't be helpful. I was wrong.
I now perceive mindfulness as something helpful. I think that when we practice mindfulness, we use attention like a flashlight, shining it onto our feelings. Mindfulness allows me to understand what I am really feeling and allows me to control these feelings. Which in turn, allows me to be less stressed and tense.
Finally, mindfulness helps insomnia
Mindfulness has helped me control my pain, to an extent. Sometimes there's no controlling it, but I am delighted to have found something that helps a little! And in turn, it has helped me drift off to sleep better!
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