Did you know that your body and brain heal, recover, restore cellular growth and connection while you sleep? Amazing things happen and through all of my spiritual awakening/personal growth journey I’ve discovered that restful, restorative sleep is your most solid foundation on which you build to build a life you love living.
Here are your Four Steps for Soulful Sleep, that when practiced consistently over time will help you fall asleep faster, go back to sleep quicker and stay asleep longer~
- a solid breathing practice
Each of these are mindful, embodiment practices to help you disconnect from the utter chaos of everyday life.
- Your central nervous system calms and regulates.
- You learn to quiet your mind, still your body and drop from your head into your heart.
- You practice becoming present with yourself in the moment, without judgement.
By itself, each practice has been shown to greatly improve sleep, reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic illness. Choosing to practice just one or two will make a difference~bundle the 4 together for 5-10 minutes each and you’ll practically be bionic!
There are no downsides to any of them and when practiced daily over a period of time the cumulative benefits add up~as your sleep quality improves you’ll feel lighter, happier, more creative and productive.
Sleep will be your friend again.
Step 1: Breathing is by far your handiest, least expensive tool in the tool box! You always have it. It’s always workin for you and when you become aware and start mindfully practicing it, you get the keys to the Kingdom. Your central nervous system will start to calm and stress hormones decrease helping you to relax, unwind and with intention~become sleepy.
Start with simply being aware that you’re breathing in through your nose and out of your mouth.
After you’ve gotten good at breath awareness, work up to practicing the 4-7-8 breath:
- Drop your jaw and inhale for 8
Step 2. Journaling Is an EXCELLENT way to declutter your brain and create space for those glial cells to get busy!
The power of journaling has been proven~writing helps remove mental blocks, provides clarity, relieves stress, and even makes you happier in your day-to-day life. When you write, pen to paper style, there’s an energetic transfer of thoughts, ideas and feelings from your brain on to the paper. There’s a literal letting go of stuff you don’t need to be carrying around anymore.
Set your timer for 10 minutes or go till ya can’t write anymore!
Here are a few prompts:
- Take what’s rolling around up in your brain and dump it onto paper. No editing, just let ‘er rip!
- What are things you can celebrate about yourself and the way you are living your life? What went well today? What can you find to be grateful for?
- Stroll back through your day. Learn anything? Aha’s, Discoveries, cool synchronicity….
- Record your dreams(s) in as much detail as possible. Be curious and look for meaning/signs/significance in your life
No one is going to grade you on your journal entries, they are your own. Words don’t have to be spelled right, writing doesn’t have to be grammatically correct or even make sense! Once you’ve written what’s in your brain onto paper you can let go of it for the night and then hop on your yoga mat…
Step 3. Yoga literally means join. Joining breath and movement. No flexibility or experience required. If you can breathe you can do this!!!!!!
- Yoga helps with sleep problems by loosening tight muscles, releasing tension, and putting you into a deep state of relaxation
- It’s a type of relaxation that requires fixed attention to work well, slow down your racing thoughts and pull you into the present moment
- Practicing yoga helps stem the flow of stress hormones that your body produces when you are under stress~when your body, mind, and spirit are connected and relaxed, you sleep better and are more resilient to stress
Here’s a simple starter practice that can be done while sitting:
- Sit in easy seated position with your legs crossed
- Move through 2 sets of side bends, right side/left side (Inhaling while raising arms, exhaling while bending)
- Side twists, right side/left side
- Arch your back slightly and fold forward bends
- Hip opener (try pigeon) to release stuck emotions, a heart opener (cobra) to fill up the love bucket
- A few cat/cows and savasana
Helpful tip: Keep your mat unrolled at the foot of your bed as a visual reminder, knowing that your future self will thank you ON SO MANY LEVELS for the gift of a simple, gentle 7-10 minute practice before bed each night.
Step 4. Meditation is the practice, of moving beyond conscious thought, into a greater state of relaxation.
Guess what happens during a successful meditation? You clean waste accumulated during the awakened period! Hello Glial cells!!!!
Here’s a mind bender: Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School developed an effective sleep therapy that incorporated meditation as an integral component. In a non-controlled study of 102 insomniacs, 58% reported significant improvements and 91% of those using medication either reduced their dose or eliminated its use completely. Six months later 60% of respondents said the benefits had been maintained.
Thoughts and emotions will come and go, be aware without attaching to them and allow them to drift in and out.
The very second you become aware that you’ve attached to thoughts or feelings is the very second you become present and you can return to awareness of breath.
Perhaps you can agree with the venerable Dalai Lama that sleep is indeed the highest form of meditation.
A simple way to start ~
- Find a comfy place to sit or lie down,
- Say hello to your mind monkeys (all those thoughts, fears and worries chattering around your brain),
- Tell them they have a very important job and that job is to count your breaths.
- Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth following only your breath. When your attention wanders gently remember to count breaths.
- Each time you practice this try and count a little higher.
- Remember this is a practice that you are starting and it will take time and effort for it to become a habit.
Sweet dreams, my love!