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Discussion in 'Events & Challenges' started by Force Majeure, Jul 28, 2018.
I hope I'll soon be falling asleep easier. Last night I was still not asleep after 2am, I think.
What do you think is the reason?
Something that sometimes helps my wife and I fall asleep is Jon Kabat-Zinn's guided body scan meditation (the 45-minute version--it's on YouTube). She also likes these guided sleep things by Michael Sealey (on YouTube).
I haven't had trouble falling asleep in years. However, I often wake up between 2-4 in the morning, immediately start thinking about stressful things going on in my life, and can't get back to sleep. When that happens, I might try to meditate for a little while and see if things calm down. If that doesn't feel like it's helping, what's best for me is to try to accept that I'm awake and try to focus my attention away from worrying about sleep. I'll read a book or, if I'm particularly sure I won't get back to sleep, I'll do some work, and just let the anxiety pass.
Well, my rhythm has been pretty awful the last three weeks or so. I've been too careless with my screen time, and I've also been sleeping very late in the morning. Last weeks have been pretty tough in general. Maybe there's some lack of sleep for a longer time.
Are you doing this regularly? The meditation approach is probably correct for me as well because what's usually keeping me awake are excessive thoughts going on and on in my head. A few days ago I decided to start writing every evening and doing a little mindfulness exercise to take a little distance to all these thoughts. It has already been very useful to write very honestly on paper about things that have been bothering me.
It often comes to my mind that I should try getting up and do something else for a while if it's particularly difficult to fall asleep. But I rarely do it.
I meditate every day I can. I did Jon Kabat-Zinn's eight-week MBSR meditation program. It's laid out in his book, Full Catastrophe Living. I'll do another post laying out that program. The guided meditations are on YouTube and I think the books are fairly important too. It's worked very well for me (changed my life, actually), though it's the kind of thing one shouldn't over-promote. You don't want to feel like you're supposed to do it and then strain and push to force yourself (though it does require effort).
Same here, though I've gotten a little better at it.
MBSR Eight Week Program
Weeks 1 and 2
· 45-minute guided body scan
· 10-minute sitting meditation
· Informal practice of your choice
Weeks 3 and 4
· Alternate 45-minute guided body scan with guided hatha yoga daily
· 15-20 minute guided sitting meditation
· Focus awareness on one pleasant activity as it happens and keep a journal describing how it felt (Week 3)
· Focus awareness on one unpleasant or stressful activity as it happens and keep a journal describing how it felt (Week 4)
Weeks 5 and 6
· Alternate daily between longer (up to 45 minutes) guided sitting meditation (Exercises 1-5 of Ch. 4) and yoga
· Walking meditation
· Begin crafting personal meditation practice
· If you’re ready: chosen forty-five-minute combination of unguided sitting, yoga, and body scanning; if you’re unready, guided versions thereof
· Chosen combination of guided sitting, yoga, and body scanning
· See suggestions for bringing mindfulness to daily life in Chs. 8, 9, 20, 21, 24-32, 33-36 of Full Catastrophe Living
Weeks 1 and 2
For the first two weeks of your formal practice, we recommend that you do the body scan as described in Chapter 5 (tape 1, side 1). Do it every day, whether you feel like it or not, for approximately forty-five minutes. As we have seen, you will have to experiment with what the best time of day is for you to practice, but remember, the idea is to "fall awake," not to fall asleep. If you have a lot of trouble with sleepiness, do it with your eyes open. In addition to the body scan, practice mindfulness of breathing while sitting for ten minutes at some other time during the day.
To cultivate mindfulness in your daily life-what we have been calling “informal practice”—you might try bringing moment-to-moment awareness to routine activities such as waking up in the morning, brushing your teeth, showering, drying your body, getting dressed, eating, driving, taking out the garbage, shopping. The list is endless, but the point is simply to zero in on knowing what you are doing as you are actually doing it and on what you are thinking and feeling from moment to moment as well. I f this seems too overwhelming, just pick out one routine activity each week, such as taking a shower, and see if you can remember to just be fully there when you take your shower, every time. And you might try to eat at least one meal a week mindfully as well.
Weeks 3 and 4
After practicing in this way for two weeks, start alternating the body scan one day with the first sequence of hatha yoga postures (tape 1, side 2) the next, and keep this up during weeks 3 and 4. Follow the recommendations for the yoga as described in chapter 6. Remember only to do what you feel your body is capable of and always to err on the side of being conservative, listening carefully to your body's messages as you practice. Remember also to check with your doctor or physical therapist if you have chronic pain or some kind of musculoskeletal problem, or lung or heart disease. Continue to practice mindfulness of breathing in the sitting posture, now for fifteen to twenty minutes per day.
For informal practice in week 3, try to be aware of one pleasant event per day in your life as it is happening. Keep a calendar for the week, jotting down what the experience was, whether you were actually aware of it at the time it was happening (that's the assignment but it doesn't always work out that way), how your body felt at the time, what thoughts and feelings were present, and what it means to you at the time you write it down. A sample calendar is provided in the appendix. In week 4, do the same thing for one unpleasant or stressful event per day, again bringing awareness to it as it is happening
Weeks 5 and 6
In weeks 5 and 6 we recommend that you stop doing the body scan for a while and replace it with longer sittings (up to forty-five minutes at a time) (tape 2, side 1). Practice the sitting meditation as described in the exercises at the end of Chapter 4. You can sit the whole time just focusing on your breathing (exercise 1) or you can gradually expand the field of your awareness to include other objects such as bodily sensations (exercise 2), sounds (exercise 3), thoughts and feelings (exercise 4) or no particular object (exercise 5). Remember to let your breathing serve as the anchor for your attention in all of these practices.
In the long run you might benefit most from the sitting meditation, especially if you are not using the sitting tape for guidance, if you stay with the breath as the primary object of attention for weeks, even months. In the early stages of the sitting practice it is possible to be uncertain as to where to focus your attention when, and to worry inordinately about whether you are doing it “right.” For the record, if your energy is continually going into patient self-observation from moment to moment, whether your attention is on the breathing or on other objects, and you are bringing it back each time it wanders without giving yourself a hard time, then you are doing it right. If you are looking for a special feeling to occur, whether it be relaxation or calmness or concentration, or insight, then you are trying to get somewhere else other than where you already are and you need to remind yourself to just be with the breath in the present. Paradoxically, as we have seen, this is the most effective way to “get somewhere” and to nurture relaxation, calmness, concentration, and insight. They will come by them- selves in time if you keep up the daily discipline and practice according to these guidelines.
In weeks 5 and 6 the people in the stress clinic alternate a forty-five-minute sitting one day with the yoga practice the next. If you aren't doing the yoga, then you might like to alternate the sitting with the body scan during these weeks or to just sit every day. This is also a good time to start practicing some walking meditation as described in Chapter 7.
By this time you will probably want to be making the decisions about when and what to practice and for how long for yourself. After four or five weeks many people feel ready to start crafting and personalizing their own meditation practice more and more, using our guidelines merely as suggestions. By the end of the eight weeks our goal is for you to have made the practice your own by adapting it to suit your schedule, your body's needs and capabilities, and your personality in terms of which combination of formal and informal techniques you find most effective.
To encourage self-directed practice, week 7 in the stress clinic is dedicated to practicing without the tapes if at all possible. People devote a total of forty-five minutes per day to a combination of sitting, yoga, and body scanning, but they have to decide on the mix themselves. They are encouraged to experiment, perhaps by using two or even three of the techniques together on the same day, say thirty minutes of yoga followed by fifteen minutes of sitting, or twenty minutes of sitting followed by yoga either right after it or at another time of day entirely.
Some people find they do not feel ready for practicing in this way at this point. They prefer to continue using the tapes. They find the guidance comforting and reassuring and don't get the same degree of relaxation on their own when it is up to them to decide what to do next, particularly in the body scan and the yoga. From our point of view this is not a problem. Our hope is that, with time, people will internalize the practice and be comfortable practicing on their own, without tapes or books for guidance. However, the development of this kind of confidence and faith in your own capacity to guide the meditation does take time, and it varies from one individual to another. Many of our patients can meditate quite well on their own but still prefer to use their tapes even years after they complete the program.
In week 8 in the stress clinic we come back to the tapes. Leaving them and coming back to them in this way can be quite revealing. You are likely to hear things on the tape you never heard before and to perceive the deeper structure of the meditation practice in a new way. In this week you are encouraged to practice with the tapes even if you prefer doing it without them. By this point you are deciding what technique or techniques you wish to use. You may just be practicing the sitting meditation or the yoga or the body scan, depending on your situation, or you may be combining two or three in various ways.
Whether you realize it or not, it is important that you now have some familiarity with all three formal techniques. You are likely to find this knowledge beneficial in very practical ways. For instance, you may find yourself drawn from time to time to practice yoga or the body scan even if your daily practice is mainly sitting. The body scan can be particularly useful when you are sick in bed, or in acute pain, or unable to sleep, even if it is not your regular practice. Likewise, a little yoga can be particularly helpful at certain times, such as when you are very tired and need to revitalize yourself, or when there is stiffness in particular regions of your body.
The eighth week, being the end of our formal recommendations for practice, is also the first week of practicing on your own. We tell our patients that the eighth week lasts the rest of their lives. We see it as a beginning much more than an ending. The practice doesn't end just because we have stopped telling you what to do. By this point you will be firmly in the driver's seat yourself and, one would hope, if you have been practicing in a regular, disciplined way, you will have enough skill and experience to keep up the momentum you have developed to guide your own mindfulness practice. At the end of the book you will find more suggestions for how to keep up the momentum of mindfulness practice and deepen it over the years. This includes not only a review of the formal practice but more suggestions for bringing mindfulness into daily life and using it to help you to cope with the situations you might be facing. But in all likelihood, by the time you get there, you will probably have invented better ones for yourself.
That book title sounds familiar. I've heard well about it.
I introduced myself to meditation 3-4 years ago when I was trying to recover from a kind of burnout. I made good progress I think, but later I got too lazy with it. I've never really fancied guided meditations, to be honest. I prefer just watching thoughts as they come and go.
It was still past 2am when I fell asleep. One obvious reason for why I've lately been awake so late is simply that I've gone in bed so late. Last night it was 23:30, which is already better than during the last weeks.
I started writing at 21 and did it for about an hour. I started to feel tired by then. After that, I did a ten minute meditation and felt very relaxed. Then I started reading for quite a while. Yet I did a little breathing exercise just before going in bed. I was happy with my evening, yet I got frustrated in bed. I read a couple of short chapters from a book around 1 o'clock.
I had many resets and I lost the counting. Recently every reset was because I was on this forum in the nights ... shows me how good it would be to get some distance - without hurting my recovery process of course.
It was good I did this Challenge for a while. Now the 9:30 pm sleeping time has become a rule to me.
I leave now. Much success to everyone else here! See ya!
Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!
12/30, unfortunately I had a very hard time to sleep yesterday, so very tired.
I've noticed that it's hard for my sleeping rhythm to change naturally. Therefore, I've been trying to set a bit earlier alarm. But today I slept for three extra hours!