Article by Edwin Mah
You had a long and stressful day at work and now you are ready to relax and prepare yourself for bed. But somehow, your mind just wouldn’t switch off. You’re still thinking of the events that happened at work today, or are worried about the important meeting you’re going to have tomorrow. You can almost hear the mechanism in your brain still actively whirring – it just wouldn’t wind down. You really need that quality sleep so that you can be refreshed for work tomorrow. But sleep isn’t coming. You toss and turn in frustration, trying to force yourself to sleep – but somehow you know that’s not going to happen, and you’re likely to step into the office the next day feeling like a zombie as usual.
The above scenario may sound familiar to you. It happens to many people. Most of us experience some form of insomnia at some stage of our lives. Factors like work stress, a newborn child, or illness can add physical and emotional anxiety to our lives, robbing us of the quality sleep that we badly need in order to function properly. We need some form of help to clear our minds of all thoughts and worries so that we’re in a better state to sleep peacefully.
Instead of resorting to sleep medication, which does nothing more but harm our body in the long term, a very effective method to calm our minds is through meditation.
Meditation is a state in which the body is consciously relaxed and the mind is calm and focused. It is a form of alternative therapy to de-stress and put away all thoughts and concerns of everyday life.
There are many types of meditation, and different people do it for different reasons. Some use it to ease symptoms of certain medical conditions, like heart disease, depression, or even to quit smoking. Most people however, use it with the desire to relieve stress, restore inner peace and to promote a healthier state. Meditation is especially helpful if you want to fall asleep. As the mind calms and thoughts are pushed away, it is quite easy to doze off.
There are many ways to meditate. Some people do it alone, some in groups. Some, who are new, engage the help of a professional guide or therapist to lead the meditation session. Generally, to prepare yourself for meditation, you would want to sit in a quiet location free from distraction, dim the lights, put your feet firmly on the floor, wear loose clothing that would not restrict your breathing, and close your eyes. Soft background music would also be useful. A meditation session normally lasts about 10 to 20 minutes.
If you’re new to all of this, try using some form of guided meditation. Guided meditation is available with the help of a personal guide or by using a tape or CD.
The advantage of having a guide is that he/she can teach you the basics of meditation, help you stay focused and meditate more deeply. A personal guide may be able to pinpoint the source of your problems, and to find a solution to it. If you prefer, you can also go for group guided meditations, where a group of people come together to meditate under a guide or therapist. Group guided meditations normally have some specific area to achieve, for example, to quit smoking, stop binge eating, or to enhance spiritual growth. So if you’re interested in group meditation, you should look for one that has the same specific problem that you’re trying to solve – sleeping.
Do note, however, that meditation is just one of the many options you can choose from to alleviate your sleeping problems. It may work for some but not for others. It is not the be all and end all to your problems. Most sleep disorders stem from some form of anxiety or depression, and to solve the sleeping problem, the root cause has to be addressed first. Meditation, or even medication, is only a temporary relief and may not be a long term solution.
Well, temporary or not, meditation will still be useful if it can just give us those extra few hours of sleep and make the quality of our lives slightly better. Try it to see if it works for you.