Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment.
It may seem ironic, but the better you become at being truly awake, the better you will be able to deeply sleep.
Mindfulness improves emotional and physical health, reduces stress, and improves sleep.
Daytime mindfulness activities can improve overall health and contribute to a healthy, deep rest. To be mindful, you must be in the present moment. This means that you cannot be worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. When less time is spent worrying, and focus is to the present, a path is opened for improved health and sleep.
Mindfulness meditation can be defined as focusing awareness on each moment, including the environment, as well as physical and emotional sensations. Mindfulness can assist with managing social relationships, financial concerns, and decision-making, as well as improving mental state.
Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience.
It is being open to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.
I know what you are thinking, easier said than done, right? Yes, and no.
Mindfulness certainly takes practice, but it is actually easier than the alternative. It is easier to accept than to resist. Going with the flow, rolling with the punches, letting go – are all illustrations of how much easier it is to be mindful.
It is way easier to go with the flow, than against the flow. If you have ever been in a fight, you will know that it is much easier (and less painful) to roll with a punch than to resist it, and of course it is much easier to let something go than to hold on to it.
The key is practice. This takes effort, it takes time, and it takes consistency, however the return on investment is phenomenal.
In clinical studies, practicing mindfulness and/or mindfulness meditation before bed has led to benefits including:
- Reduced insomnia
- Deeper sleep
- Fewer episodes of wakefulness during the night
- Improved mood and resilience
- Greater daytime energy
- Less anxiety
How to Get Started
Mindfulness meditation often uses either slow, intentional breathing or imagery to help to focus the thoughts.
Find a quiet place where you can relax. Sit, stand, or lie down comfortably.
Pay attention to the environment, listening to the sounds, smelling what is around you, and feeling the temperature of the room.
Focus inward. Take several deep breaths, paying attention to how your body feels as you breathe. Let your eyes close as you become more relaxed.
Scan your body and assess how you feel. Focus your awareness on the parts of your body that are tense or in pain. Breathe deeply and acknowledge the feeling, without judging it.
If desired, you can imagine your body becoming heavier, more anchored to the earth.
You can also visualize a location that makes you particularly happy. That could be a natural setting, a vacation spot you have pleasant memories from, or a place where something good happened in your life.
Let the thoughts flow. If you have anxious or worried thoughts, let each occurrence be an opportunity to observe the thought and let it go. Rather than fighting the thoughts, imagine standing still and letting the thoughts flow around you. Bring your attention back to your breath.
Practice mindfulness meditation before you get ready for bed. Perhaps meditate before you brush your teeth, or after shutting off your phone or computer, or as you lie in bed ready to fall asleep.
Making mindfulness meditation part of your routine can be a simple way to upgrade your sleep and optimize your health.