Sleep Science Academy founder and your guide to better sleep, Devin Burke, defines mindfulness and explains how to use mindfulness to solve insomnia.
What Is Mindfulness?
There are a lot of definitions for mindfulness, and depending on who is speaking of mindfulness, they may be talking about something else because mindfulness is present-moment awareness. It’s the art of paying attention to what is important, the present moment, which is all we have at any point in our lives.
It is essential to define mindfulness clearly. The past is gone, the future is yet to be, and we are in the present. You are watching this video, and hopefully, you are present.
We can practice mindfulness in many different ways. We can be mindful of the thoughts in our head. We can focus on our breath and be aware of it. And we could be mindful of our feelings, emotions, and body.
You can be mindful of anything. You can be mindful of your feet and your surroundings. Again, mindfulness is the art of bringing yourself into the present moment. Yet, we are trained not to be present, to always think about the future or what happened in the past.
Practicing mindfulness takes practice because, unfortunately, it does not come naturally.
Where Do You Start?
You can begin the practice of mindfulness by noticing your thoughts, sounds, and sensations in your body.
For some, noticing their thoughts can be easier than the other sensations, depending on if you are an auditory person. All that matters is that you pick and stick with one of these things.
I’m an auditory person, so I can connect with the sounds around me to practice mindfulness. But maybe you are a visual person and connect with your environment visually. Or perhaps you are more of the intellectual type and are more conscious of your thoughts.
You can be mindful of anything at any point in time.
Insomnia and Mindfulness
Why is mindfulness necessary for solving insomnia?
In many cases, when I speak of insomnia, I’m talking about learned insomnia, which is actually anxiety about insomnia. It is stress and anxiety that is trapped in the body.
In order to release our stress, anxiety, fear of the future, fear of sleeping or not sleeping, or what might happen if we don’t sleep, we need to practice mindfulness to become aware of our thoughts, sensations, and actions.
Unfortunately, being present is not natural for us because there is a survival mechanism trying to protect you at all times, which is instinctual. Just like learning to play an instrument such as the piano, it takes practice to cultivate a higher sense of awareness and mindfulness.
Mindfulness Takes Practice
So, how can you practice?
Take mindful moments. I recommend taking one to five minutes multiple times throughout the day. You can set an alarm, or some fantastic apps are available, like Headspace, Sam Harris’ waking up app and mindfulness.com. There are many available resources.
Or, you can keep it simple and set an alarm. Having an alarm is helpful because getting caught up in our day-to-day efforts is so easy. We get caught in the river of the day and forget to be mindful until we feel tension and stress, which we then take into our night, where we experience restless sleep. So, setting a timer can be really helpful.
I like for our clients to begin practicing belly breath, not barry breath, but belly breathing. When you see a baby sleeping in a crib, they breathe from their belly. They do so because they connect with the parasympathetic or the rest and digest system. As we go through life, we have traumas with big Ts and others with little Ts, and we start becoming chest breathers or shallow breathers.
This shift puts us in a semi-state of stress with a sympathetic nervous system response. Reconnecting to the diaphragm by breathing into it helps retrain your body to get present; it’s a fantastic practice.
Before going to bed, breathe ten times into your stomach, inflating the diaphragm while being conscious of the air coming in through your nose all the way down to the deep, lower levels of your lungs and into your stomach area. This technique is a fantastic beginner’s process for practicing mindfulness.
Another highly effective technique I love comes from a legend in integrative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil, an amazing guy with a simple technique called the 4-7-8 breath technique.
Essentially, this technique brings you into presence. You merely inhale for four, hold for seven, and then exhale for a count of eight. You want to do this several times.
It’s an outstanding practice for cultivating mindfulness, relieving stress, and helping your day. The less stress you have in the day, the less you’ll have at night. Because we often bring our days into our nights.
That is why mindfulness is a fantastic practice to help us solve insomnia.
Dealing with anxiety and stress is essential for managing and eliminating insomnia. Mindfulness practices can be beneficial and successful in these efforts. We must be present in the moment and aware of our thoughts to manage these elements.
Learning to be present and in the moment can be extremely difficult in today’s society, which is continuously focusing on the future or looking back to the past. Achieving these gains by yourself can be more than problematic. Finding the proper support can make all the difference and alleviate the stress of going solo.
Sleep Science Academy’s proven record of success rests in our science-based, multifaceted program of Dynamic Sleep Recalibration (DSR), which incorporates Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) with numerous other disciplines and techniques like mindfulness, NLP, and more.
Each client works directly with their certified holistic health/sleep coach, who crafts an individual treatment plan specifically for their situation. With the support of their coach and the vast resources of Sleep Science Academy, our clients benefit significantly from the Sleep Science Academy Difference.
If managing your anxiety and conquering insomnia seem impossible but sound incredible, contact us today and schedule your complimentary sleep consultation with one of our professional sleep coaches.
And, with our 100% cash-back guarantee of success, you have nothing to lose but sleepless nights.