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)!
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!
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.
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
Stress is one of the leading causes of losing sleep at night. We aim for a restful night of sleep here at The Warm Milk Journal. It is time to put Stress to rest!
Three main sources of stress:
In your journal this evening (or morning), write down anything that is causing you stress right now. There is a very good chance that it will be one of the three sources listed above: job, family, and health.
Once you pinpoint some areas in your life that are causing you stress, put down your journal and close your eyes and breathe.
Continue to breath, be still, quiet… just be with yourself a while.
Now, open your eyes and your journal and write down anything that comes to mind.
Some questions I ask myself when I do this exercise that are helpful are:
1. Is this something that will really matter tomorrow, next week, next year, or five years from now?
2. What if I were to remind myself of the fact that “this too shall pass”? All things good or bad will pass. This will too in due time.
3. What action steps can I take now to deal with ______ ?
4. When dealing with family issues, what is more important: to be right or to make love be my guiding principle and have peace and harmony in my home?
5. When dealing with something very large, sometimes I just have to ask myself: “Have I done everything I can do?”. If yes, then I truly may just have to focus on my faith and “let go and let God”
Other things that really help with stress?
Take a walk/bike ride/ jog around the block a few times (I have a great music playlist on my Ipod shuffle for this purpose)
Watch a funny movie with loved ones.
Be in the now and appreciate what you have all around you NOW.
You have an active full life. You have many things to do, people whom you are responsible to, duties as a spouse, parent, employee, and business owner…
You have dreams and aspirations. You are ambitious and working hard to create the life of your dreams…
CONGRATULATIONS! You have an incredibly rich and full life!
Does this rich and full life leave you feeling overwhelmed at times?
Do you ever feel like you can’t possibly get it all done?
Do you feel pressure? (from others, society, and especially from yourself)?
I am going to ask something of you right now: TURN IT OFF
Yes, turn the shoulds, and must dos, and everything on you never ending list and inbox on off.
Unplug for a few minutes, please…..
now…. soften or darken the room a bit if this is night time for you. Light a few candles. Even if it is daylight, just close your eyes for a minute and breathe. If the weather is nice sit outside. Be still.
Keep focusing on your breathing.
Don’t think about anything. If your mind wants to start thinking about something, stare into the candle flame or close your eyes and imagine fluffy white clouds in the sky gently floating by. Those are your thoughts. They come. They go. Let them sail on by. That’s right… goodbye thoughts.
When you have been still for a while you may open your eyes.
I will close this post with a few parting ideas:
1. You are magnificent. If you were not, you would not have such a rich life.
2. Life will not stop happening if you don’t get everything done today. Lighten up a bit. Yes, you are doing and creating important things for yourself and the fortunate people around you… it’s all about the pacing though… you won’t be much good to anybody (especially to yourself) if you are exhausted and burned out. Let up a bit. Be at your ease…. things will happen and be accomplished at your ease.. (the alternative is at your dis-ease and you or nobody around you needs or wants that!).
3. The universe abhors a vacuum. If you let up a bit you will create space for great things to come to you.
4. Give your body and mind and spirit a chance to recharge and renew: take that walk, take that bath, turn the computer off, the work you brought home from the office? Bless it and go about your business of life.
I truly believe that whatever our jobs are: whether we are business owners, teachers, corporate employees, homemakers and stay at home parents…. we will do our jobs better if we permit ourselves to HAVE A LIFE. yes, that is right: have a life!
I encourage you to not fall into that trap of feeling like you have to work all the time. That kind of workaholism ethic will only deplete and drain you.
- the candle
- the music that wants you to turn it on
-the bath that beckons
-the spouse or lover that awaits you with tender arms
-that juicy novel that has been sitting patiently near your bedside while you are checking your emails…
In other words, your LIFE is waiting for you.
Take no prisoner attitude-
You are enough. Believe it. Own it.
I truly believe that believing in ourselves and loving ourselves is the best cure and medicine for anxiety.
Tonight, I invite you during your meditation and journal writing time to focus on your strengths and your power.
Close your eyes and get silent. Breathe. It is a full moon time so harness that energy. Think of the moon light shining on you. Breathe.
Be in that special space for as long as you wish. Don’t think. Empty your cup and bask in that wondrous moonlight.
When you are ready to, open your eyes.
Here are a few journal prompts for your journal writing…
1. What are your strengths?
2. What makes you feel strong?
3. When people compliment you what do they compliment you about?
4. What thoughts put spring in your step?
5. Are there any times when you feel like you are giving your power away? (to circumstance or other people for instance)?
A blessed evening to you,
Five years ago, I was really working on getting a handle on my anxiety. I learned about meditation which helped me tremendously. Meditation is a wonderful tool to train, focus, and calm your mind.
There are many meditation techniques out there. This morning I would like to share with you one that is very simple to do and has worked very well for me.
I discovered indigo when I began to meditate on the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet….
I always sensed a greater concentration when I focused on indigo. Perhaps it is because blue has always been my favorite color and indigo is a very rich shade of blue. Some say indigo is a very spiritual and powerful color. At the end of this post I will share some links to sites about indigo if you would like to learn more about it.
My meditation technique is this: Letting Go With Indigo
I will close my eyes and simply visualize the inner deep indigo layer of a fire flame. That is it.
If I am taking a bath I will burn a candle and focus on the flame. In our living room we enjoy lighting candles or using our fireplace too.
Even if you are not near an actual burning flame, this technique works very well.
Recently when I had an uncomfortable medical procedure done, I had the nurse hold my hand and I closed my eyes , breathed, and concentrated on the indigo in a candle flame the entire time. I was surprised when my doctor told me it was over. The dreaded procedure went by much quicker and painless than I had imagined.
The power of indigo! Try this meditation when:
1. You are feeling afraid
2. You are feeling anxious
3. Your mind is overly active
4. You feel disconnected
5. You wish to develop your intuition or need an answer to a question
6. Anytime you want to be calm, focused, and in touch with the divine and your own power.
I find you can reap the benefits by doing this for only a minute or two. It is truly amazing.
Some resources if you want to learn more about indigo:
Sometimes we can do all the right things: not drink caffeine, worked and played hard all day, be tired and ready for sleep and yet we still don’t sleep because our monkey minds still want to be active. I usually don’t have a hard time going to sleep initially. My biggest challenge is getting woken up in the middle of the night (my bladder, a cat, my snoring husband, etc.). When I return to bed I’m still very sleepy and I think I won’t have any problem going back to sleep. Fortunately that is the case some of the time. Some nights, however, my mind little by little wakes up and begins its monkey running on a treadmill thing… you know, I start thinking about a post I want to write for The Warm Milk Journal (how ironic is that?) or I am thinking about my job or what I want to cook for dinner the next day…
The way to get back to sleep as soon as possible when this middle of the night insomnia occurs is to get your mind to stop thinking and yourself centered. Here are some good ways to do this:
1. Get up and write in your journal for a few minutes until you feel sleepy again.
2. Get up and read a book.
3. Try recalling what you were dreaming about when you were previously asleep. Focus on that dreamland and it may just take you back.
4. Do a breathing excercise. Two of my favorites are breathe in “So”, breathe out “Hum” and also breathe in to the count of 5, hold breath for count of 3, and then exhale to count of 4. Repeat.
5. Sex (making love with your partner or masturbating will turn your mind off and relax you back into sleep)
6. Visualize the colors of the rainbow slowly. Red, orange, yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, violet….
Try not to worry about not sleeping. That will just provide bananas (fuel) to the monkey mind.