Finding Inner Calm and Deeper Wisdom

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Posts Tagged ‘restful sleep

Can’t Sleep?

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NINE PEOPLE I know have told me in the last month they can’t sleep. During my haircut Saturday, my hairdresser Rae-Lynn was yawning so badly I worried she might accidentally stab me with her scissors. I asked why she couldn’t sleep, as I often do with yawning people. She had the same answer as the others: “My mind was racing and wouldn’t let me sleep.” What a shame.

I should do something about that problem. Because, if there’s anything I’m a master of, it’s sleeping. I can snooooze like you wouldn’t believe—I’m fortunate to have deep and restful sleep.

Sure, I had sleep problems caused by stress when I was in the military. Which was understandable, because back then I was certain that people were trying to kill me. But, an old Tibetan monk taught me how to calm down and go to sleep even when I was scared out of my wits.

Now, I can go to sleep under extraordinary pressure. So, I should teach my insomniac friends how I do it. I imagine that if I put some effort into it, I could do damage to the sleeping pill industry.

The trick is mind control: Learning to stop the thinking machine. Another word for that is meditation. I’ve been doing it so long that I can’t remember not being able to do it. It’s so easy.

Not long ago, I sat down and wrote everything I know about Zen meditation in a book. It’s called Original Zen and can be found on amazon.com in paperback. It is also an ebook you can download to your device. If there is anything in the book that doesn’t make sense, send me an email. I will do my best to explain it.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

January 24, 2019 at 12:24 pm

How I Go To Sleep

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SleepingGirl

So many people have difficulty getting good sleep. I’m astounded at the huge industry of sleeping pills and other aids. I’ve never used sleeping pills in my entire life. You might think I’m just lucky. But there’s a little more to it than that.

Typically, when I go to bed at night or take an afternoon nap, I fall asleep in about ten or fifteen seconds. People have asked me how I do that. So for the last few nights, I “watched” myself during the process just so I could describe it.

Oh by the way, a short answer to that question is: Many decades of regular meditation practice and training my mind. But a thorough answer takes a few more words.

When I’m headed for bed, I usually start my mental “falling asleep” process well before I actually hit the sheets. I might be brushing my teeth or taking my clothes off, but I’m winding down the thinking machine. I’m telling myself, “Okay, now is not the time to be worrying about things. Let’s slow the mind down. Just quit thinking.”

That is the first part of my secret: actually preparing the mind for sleep well before bedtime. Maybe it’s the decades of self-training kicking in, but as I slow the mind down, I can sense the heavy feelings of tiredness, fatigue, and low energy flowing downward into my whole body. Thus, with my thinking mind very near to stopping and the body already aching for rest, I’m close to falling asleep by the time I slip into the sheets.

Settling into bed, I’m letting my body find the most comfortable position for sleep. For me, this is already a well-practiced position that minimizes pain and suffering from my old body and a few old injuries. Everybody needs to know his own body and how it can best be positioned to minimize aches and pains. So, unless I’m dealing with  unusual bodily stress, getting myself positioned for dropping off to sleep takes me only a couple of seconds.

And now, it’s time for my “mini-meditation” that I use for going to sleep. Once again, this is where the many years of meditation practice pay off. My mind does a relaxation scan in one or two seconds, and I can feel my body going limp from top to bottom. At this point, the world around me is beginning to disappear. Sleep is near.

Now I focus my remaining consciousness on watching my breath and my heartbeat. The breath is already slow and relaxed, and now it is gradually slowing even more. I can feel my heart beating in my chest, and I also notice it in my fingertips and my temples. The heart rate is also slowing, and I can detect a lower blood pressures. And that is usually the last thing I’m aware of. I am asleep. It is a deep dreamless sleep.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

September 14, 2017 at 11:31 am