Breathing for Sleep
Breathing for Sleep is adapted information found in Nurturing Wellness through Radical Self-Care.
REB posture is an energy psychology and autonomic nervous system balance that calms
and soothes, creating rapid positive change in your body.
The breathing exercise below encourages you to try the REB posture while breathing for sleep. The REB posture diagram
The best tip I have about awakening during the night is to accept that you have awakened. Don’t allow the sleeplessness to anger and frustrate you. The frustration,tossing, and turning only delay sleep and exhaust you. When you wake up in the middle of the night, Radiant Energies Balance (REB) will help you get back to sleep.
I recommend that you find the easiest way to hold the posture comfortably while in bed I usually turn on my side, because the bed helps support the posture. If no other health problems exist, once your relaxation response is locked in, sleep will be less of an issue or no issue at all.
We are going to use a technique call Gap Breathing for this exercise. Inhale. Pause two or three counts. Exhale. Pause for two or three counts. During the pause, notice how quiet your mind is. There is complete silence in the natural gap between your in-breath and your out-breath. This is a great breathing technique for anyone who has trouble with a chattering mind, especially at night.
• Use the Gap Breathing mentioned above. Begin by taking a nice, normal deep breath, hold it for a second and then drop the breath into your lower
abdomen. Begin to breathe from your abdomen. Normal, deep breathing is calming.
• Breathe from your abdomen; inhale, continuing to use gap breathing.
• Begin to use the REB posture. Use bilateral squeezing if it is comforting to you. Bring the issue you are worrying about to mind and notice your body
as you breathe. Notice the areas of bodily tension and focus on them as you breathe. You can imagine that you are breathing into the stressed areas. Continue focusing and breathing until the tension reduces or disappears. Notice the next area of tension and repeat the instructions. Notice your thoughts, especially worry and fear thoughts.
• Allow yourself to relax around each troubling thought until the emotional impact is gone.
• Focus on your breath. Notice yourself inhaling. Notice the quietness in the gap at the top of your inhale. Exhale, and notice the gap at the end of the exhale. Notice your body as you let go of stress with each exhale. Notice how it feels to inhale, hold the gap, exhale, hold the gap. If you feel your mind begin to wonder, bring your focus back to the breath. Continue to breathe this w ay until you drift into sleep.
• If you haven’t drifted off to sleep after a reasonable time, notice how relaxed your body has become. Continue to focus on your breath and your breathing. Resting quietly is much more preferable than tossing and turning or getting up and watching TV. Quiet rest is very deep and very restorative. Accept your situation and rest quietly.
• Occasionally I’ll add paired words (peaceful–rest or soft–comforting) to my in breath and out breath in just the same way I add them during walking meditation. This causes a deep ANS response because you are getting the relaxation of the breath paired with the relaxing frequency of the verbal message.
Our guest blogger:
Janet Nestor, a positivity mentor, has published two uplifting books. Her newest book, Nurturing Wellness through Radical Self-Care: A Living in Balance Guide and Workbook offers a Mindfulness Based Recovery and Rejuvenation program. Pathways to Wholeness (2010), has inspired readers to live an aware, mindful life since 2010 utilizing walking meditation and mindful breathing,
Specializing in stress reduction, Janet is a licensed professional counselor, Diplomate in Comprehensive Energy Psychology, Diagnostic Prescriptive Educator, Soul Detective, and natural intuitive. She works with individuals and groups, primarily by phone and Skype and enjoys guesting
on radio shows, teleclasses, and as a writer whenever possible.
I usually fall asleep pretty easily initially. I can, however, count on getting woken up at least once in the middle of the night due to my bladder, husband, cat, or a dream…
I find three things usually work to get me back to sleep as quick as possible.
1. Be as still as possible. Once I start fidgeting and tossing and turning it’s all over… (and I am awake)!
2. If I was in the middle of a dream before I woke up, I try to immerse myself back in the dream (providing the dream was not too scary or disturbing). This dream remembrance technique gets us back into that dreamy sleep state fast.
3. The third thing I like to do is a conscious breathing technique. It is very simple. When I inhale I think of a one syllable word and when I exhale I think of a one syllable word or sound.
inhale: “so”, exhale “hum”
inhale: “God’s”, exhale “love”
inhale: “peace”, exhale “peace”.
This keeps my mind focused on something neutral and prevents it from beginning to wander and churn about events of the day, my to do list, work, financial worries, etc.
I wish you a peaceful and restful night (all the way through the night)!
Ideally, we have sufficiently exercised during the day,
not had too much caffeine or eaten too close to bedtime,
and not have subjected ourselves to violent or overly stimulating movies, news broadcasts, or video games after 6:00 pm…
When it is bedtime we want to think of things that calm us.
It helps to take a hot bath, then slip on something very comfortable.
I love my sleepwear! I have satiny pjs and night gowns, flannel pjs for the cooler nights, and my beloved plush green fleece bathrobe…
When the lights go out, I have several things that I like to think of (depending on my mood).
In no particular order, I like to focus on:
1. The color blue. It is my favorite color and it is very soothing…blue ocean waves, blue flowers, blue sky….
2. My husband John and how much I love him
3. God. When I focus on God I feel safe, loved, and very secure.
4. Focus on my breath and the comfort of my bed, blankets, pillow, and sweet husband next to me.
5. A favorite memory
7. The colors of the rainbow
8. A favorite view from nature (from on top of a a mountain, ocean, in the forest..)
9. This sounds silly but sometimes I drift off to sleep very quickly if I think of something technical such as how to change something on a website.
10. My many blessings
11. A trip or vacation that I am looking forward to.
I like to drift off to sleep with a smile on my face and in my heart knowing that I am loved, safe, and have a great life!
Moonlight is sculpture. ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne
Last night was Hollywood’s night for the stars. Tonight is the night for the moon.
This beautiful evening I offer you a meditation for this full moon night.
In a quiet space, get comfortable. If you can do this meditation outside or in the house with a view of the moon, I highly recommend it.
If you have a good view of the moon, have all other lights out. Bask in the moonlight.
A meditation and moonlight bath begins with you:
Breathing fully in and out.
Again, breathe fully in and then out slowly.
Let the air fill your belly.
Gently let it out.
Sit upright and imagine the top of your head reaching the moon high up in the sky.
You are going to (for a spell), tune into that powerful energy that our full moon has on this beautiful night.
After breathing in and out fully at least five times, sit and be silent.
Just sit. And breathe. Sit as upright as you can.
The gentle warm light of the moon is reaching you and you are are connecting with it.
In your mind, dance with the moonlight a bit.
Think of all the love that went into making you, and
all the love that you emit everyday.
You are pure love.
The moon’s light is softly touching every part of you.
The healing energy knows where you are tired, and where you are hurt.
If there is a particular part of your body that aches, focus in your mind the moon light to that place.
If your are sad or angry, invite the light to come into your heart.
Soft warm glowing love is now healing every part of you that needs healing.
If you wish, you may now open your eyes and click on this link for some beautiful full moon mediation music as you continue to breathe and bask in the gentle loving light of the moon…
Or you may choose to remain silent.
As you bask in this moonlight bath,
consider the tremendous blessing that you are to the world.
The moon recognizes it, and it is shining it’s light on YOU.
You are whole,
as whole as the moon is full tonight…
Have a blessed night!
In my childhood home, Hawaii, we would use the term “talk story” to mean anytime we chatted with one another, shared something with each other, or made small talk with strangers.
What stories are we telling people? What are we sharing about ourselves and our lives?
I have caught myself lately while talking with my husband, daughter, and close friends… some of my “stories” are not really want I want to affirm for myself. In this past year, for example, I’ve started to talk about my 46 year old body in terms of “getting softer”. When my 15 year old daughter wants or needs something, I am in the habit of telling her how I can’t afford these things because I am on a teacher’s salary…
Are these the kinds of stories I want to put out for myself and my life? I think not! I greatly prefer talking about how strong my body is getting from regular workouts at our gorgeous new gym and how I am working towards providing a life that can afford many wonderful things for my daughter, my husband, myself, and our community…
What stories are you in the habit of telling? Some of these tales may be very old , with their beginnings sowed back in early childhood. Are they still what you want to identify with and affirm for your present life? If not, The good news is that we can change our stories anytime we want.
This day, New Years Day, I invite you to consider the story of your life. How do you want to think of yourself, your work, your marriage, your aspirations? If you have some good old stories rattling around that are still serving you well, then that is great. You also may choose to edit and tweak some stories, or perhaps write a new draft all together….
Today during my journal writing time I am going to write down my story for 2013 and beyond. In so many ways, this is a fresh new start.
Each time we focus, we create a new beginning.
I just can’t wait in the coming days, weeks, and months of this new year to get together with folks, and “talk story“!
To all the wonderful storytellers out there, the stories that need to be told, and the ones who care enough to listen…
Worrying is a major cause of losing sleep at night. One of the main reasons why this site is called The Warm Milk Journal is that I highly recommend writing in your journal when you are feeling worried and anxious.
2. Writing is taking action and you will feel like you are doing something rather than hopelessly worrying.
3. Writing allows you to get some perspective. Your troubles may not seem so bad once you get them on paper.
4. Once on paper, you can give yourself permission to release them.
5. Writing enables you to turn a negative thought and recreate it into something more positive and constructive.
6. You can write your worst case scenario down, visualize it happening, and then picture yourself getting on with your life. From that lowest of low points there will be no place to go but up!
7. You may write to God and ask for guidance.
8. You may get creative and write some poetry which can be quite soothing to a tired and anxious mind.
9. Ask questions in your journal. Asking the right questions may give you insights and ideas you may never have previously thought of. If you turn out your light shortly after writing the question(s) down, your sub-conscious mind will go to work on it as you sleep.
10. Write down affirmations that center you. I really like: “I Am safe”, “I Am loved”, or simply “Peace”.
11. A little drawing and doodling can be quite relaxing. I enjoy drawing organic and geometrical shapes and then shading or coloring them in.
Any of these eleven journal writing strategies will get you back to sleep soon!
Many of our fears are tissue-paper-thin, and a single courageous step would carry us clear through them. ~Brendan Francis
Does fear keep you awake at night? Some of my worst nights have been ones full of scared anxious thoughts about: health, my children, money, the economy, world affairs, getting older, my parents, feeling fat, etc. You name it, I have probably feared or worried about it.
These days I have far fewer angst filled sleepless nights. There are tools we can develop that really do work.
You block your dream when you allow your fear to grow bigger than your faith. ~Mary Manin Morrissey
If fearful thoughts are robbing you of a good night sleep, here are some ideas to help:
1. Meditate. Take some time to be still and quiet. You don’t need any special equipment or mantras or anything. Just close your eyes and breathe. Try to become the observer of your own thoughts. If they come, let them pass, and breathe….
2. Condition your mind with the use of affirmations. You can write these down on sticky notes, cards, or in your journal. You may include them in your prayers and use them when you meditate if you find it useful for your mind to have something to focus on.
I have used several affirmations over the years. A few that I am currently using that are working well for me are:
I expect success
I Am safe
Life supports me
3. Limit your media exposure. I still get the morning newspaper but I am very selective about what I read in it. It is no longer the first thing I look at when pouring my first cup of coffee. Instead, I write in my journal, read something spiritual and uplifting, or write a morning prayer for The Warm Milk Journal. I have never watched the news on television. I am very picky about what I read on the internet too.
Our experience is what we believe it is. The “bad news” out there that is constantly being reported (because it sells papers and advertising) does not have to be our focus or personal experience.
4. Limit your exposure to negative people. We are who we spend time with.
5. If you are overwhelmed with worry write your concerns down in your journal. Then let them go before bedtime.
6. Get plenty of exercise during the day. A well exercised body makes for a more calm and centered mind.
7. Focus on the things you love. Love and fear are opposites. Which do you want to steer you?
8. Focus on gratitude and the good that is all around you.
9. Look for and see beauty.
10. Let things go.
11. Be present.
Fear is a darkroom where negatives develop. ~Usman B. Asif
12. Light will always overcome the darkness. In the morning, things will not seem anywhere near as bad as they do in the middle of the night.
When you are ready to go to sleep or if you have been woken up in the middle of the night, the last thing you want is for your mind to start thinking about the events of the day or worries, etc.
A simple technique that I use is color meditation. It is easy and quite effective. When you are wanting to go to sleep, think of a color that is soothing for you.
I always use blue because it is my favorite color and I find it to be very pleasing and soothing. Enjoy images of anything of that particular color that come into your mind. I think of all things blue. If I notice my mind wandering a bit, I will even think to myself, the word “blue”.
I am asleep in no time. Try it. It really works!
P.S. If you find the color blue soothing like I do, you may check out my Pinterest board, “A study in blue” for some blue inspiration
If you are lying there awake and can’t get to sleep, try this:
1. Lie there in your bed and relax: get comfortable, breathe, be still.
2. Clear your mind. Just be.
3. Now use your internal voice to silently describe anything that you are aware of.
4. Keep your “voice” in your head as monotone and calm as possible.
5. Then begin describing things that come to mind. This is a bit of a free association exercise. It is okay if the things you think of are completely random or even bizarre. Don’t judge. Just do.
For example, if I were doing this exercise it would be somewhat like this (now granted I am not lying in my bed right now in my dark bedroom. I am sitting outside in my back patio, but the technique is the same…)
Breathe…deep Buddha belly breathing…
I close my eyes for a moment and just listen. I smell. I feel. I am still.
Now, I am currently aware of:
1. the sound of crickets.
2. the gentle breeze blowing on my skin.
3. the quality of the light on the neighbor’s palm tree as the sun continues to go down.
4. the neighbor’s cat sitting looking at me from a distance
5. I’m not hungry for dinner yet although I know my husband is ready to eat..
6. that breeze has now stopped
7. I hear a child playing in our community swimming pool.
8. the hum of a nearby air conditioning unit just came on.
9. A jogger just went by on our street saying hello to the child in the pool
10. I hear some cars in the distance..
You get the idea. This is not only very relaxing but it really puts you in the NOW. It is quite an amazing exercise. I will do this again later when I am in bed.
Try this anytime you just want to meditate or want to fall asleep fast.
Source: I Can Make you Sleep by Paul McKenna
Are you dreamy? Do you drift? Do you ever want something more or different for your life?
How can we live the life of our dreams if we are not sure what we want?
To get clear on what you want I offer you this morning these five ideas:
1. In your journal or on a piece of paper, write down 100 things that you want to be, 100 things that you want to have, and 100 things that you want to do.
2. Imagine that you only had a few months left to life. What would be most important to you then?
3. Read about and talk to people who are doing what you want.
4. Express your desires to the people closest to you. Ask for their support (there is also the element of accountability when you share your dreams and goals with others).
5. Keep trying new things and be persistent. It is easy to give up quickly. If you believe in something, stick with it.
If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.
Have a blessed day,