Have you ever said the words, ‘my mind just won’t stop’ or ‘I can’t switch off my mind?’
I used this phrase a lot to explain why I have difficulty falling asleep. I’ve never been one of those people who can fall asleep within minutes. I like to be super comfortable, freshly showered, the right temperature, no light, no noise. But even when I have those conditions, the thing that most keeps me awake are my never ending thoughts. How can people just stop thinking and fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow?
About a year ago, I started paying more attention to the meditation trend and began to read more about it; how to do it, when and where to do it and the benefits of doing it. The more I learnt, particularly from renowned speakers and wellness professionals, the more convinced I was of its magic. I’ve been doing it on and off since and one benefit I was really hoping to see was an improvement in my ability to fall asleep. I definitely believe in the power of meditation; however, not surprisingly I’ve learnt that doing it ‘on and off’ will not bring about the power in its full glory.
Consistency is the challenge for me. I’ve probably meditated up to 5 days in a row maximum, then I skip a few days or fall out of the routine completely. So for the most part, I can’t say that I have experienced any improvement with falling asleep. But a blog I recently read described something that really has seemed to help.
It’s the simple fact that it’s impossible to switch off our minds.
‘Isn’t switching off the mind what meditation is all about?’ you might ask. Actually, no it isn’t. It’s about being aware of your thoughts as they emerge and observing them without getting involved in them, until each one floats away like a fluffy cloud passing through the sky. Being the conscious awareness behind your thoughts (and feelings) allows you to redirect your attention to the present moment, the best focal point being your breath. Each time you find yourself engaging in a thought, you gently redirect your focus back to your breath. This is meditation.
The reason we can’t switch off our minds is because thinking is what the mind is designed to do, just as our eyes are designed for seeing and our ears are designed for hearing. We will always have thoughts for as long we live. It’s natural, healthy and human.
By surrendering to this fact as I lie in bed, I find that any remaining resistance I have towards thinking melts away. Physically, my body relaxes to another level and mentally, I experience stillness. The rest is history… until some noise outside wakes me up again!;)
More On Meditation
Meditation is an act of self care and love. But as I know myself, it can be hard to integrate it into your daily life. It requires commitment and must be prioritised. I find it helpful to do it at the same time during weekdays (weekend timings may change). The more consistently you meditate, the quicker you will be at redirecting your attention and the longer you will be able to do it. It’s just like a muscle that gets stronger the more you flex it. But the key is never to criticise your practice. As long as you’re going through the process I describe, you’re doing it right.
The benefits won’t be immediate or obvious. They will be subtle yet they will show up in all areas of your life. At the core of it is a heightened awareness of your reactions. Instead of reacting to situations from an unconscious ego driven perspective, you will observe, feel, explore and reflect from a place of non judgement. This is your Higher Self; your Spiritual Self; your True Self; all of which represent infinite love, joy and peace.
Do you meditate or have any tips for falling asleep? I’d love to hear about it!