I’ve been meaning to start a regular mindfulness meditation practice — but — I can’t even figure out how to take my daily vitamin D.
However, these past few months I’ve been motivated to get on-board with mindfulness out of necessity.
Here’s how it happened.
When I’m sick, I like to have emergency medical stuff on hand – I rarely take it but it’s comforting to know it’s there. That said, being sleep deprived doesn’t normally qualify as being sick except all the symptoms point to sickness: throbbing headache, inability to focus and a feeling of being out of it. I guess that’s why people take medicine for sleeping – so they don’t get sick. It’s preventative.
Well inadvertently I found something that is a preventative antidote to sleep deprivation and it’s aftermath of sickly exhaustion.
Here’s what happened. I loaded up on Ambien at my annual Doctor’s visit “just in case”. I had two big trips planned over the next 6 months so I wanted to have my “just in case” sleeping stuff around for all the new time zones I was jetting to.
Facing 15 hour flights and time changes on 2 separate trips — 8 hours (Africa) and 13 hours (Hong Kong) — I was anxious about how I would ever be able to sleep during the flights and on arrival so I could function during the days.
I’m thinking you can relate as sleep issue are a big issue for most 50-somethings.
To my surprise, I figured out how to master the sleep quandary thanks to a trusty little App. I’m not kidding –an Iphone App. My friend Cassie told me about this little gem a year before I actually started using it.
“You’ve got to download an amazing de-stress tool from the App store that’s both relaxing and mind expanding at the same time — it’s called Head Space”
“Thanks Cassie, I’m not a Head Case.”
“Ha, ha … cute…. It’s called Head Space – it’s a tutorial with guided mediations.”
I dismissed the suggestion with attitude.
As a yoga teacher for 10 years, I have practiced and studied meditation quite a bit. I’ve even led guided sessions for teenagers and was pretty comfortable with my “technique.” I just needed to “do it” and didn’t need some “remedial beginners App” to get me going. I needed a reason to do it and discipline.
The truth is I go through periods of meditating for 10 to 20 minutes in the mornings, sitting up in my bed, before I start my day. I never regret giving myself that time but I’ve yet to create a consistent practice.
Thanks I said, “I know how to meditate.”
“Fine, Felice, but I love it and it’s been great for me in all my travels.”
With Cassie’s voice in my personal Headspace – as I prepared for my first trip I decided to give the App a try as I hadn’t been meditating in awhile.
I downloaded it to my iPhone. The rest is dreamy.
I had an arsenal of Ambien, Melatonin and Tylenol pm in my carry-on – but I’m happy to say — they remained untouched for both 15 hour plane trips
Flying direct to Africa we boarded the plane at 11 am and I barely slept because it was daytime for me so just a little nap was about all I got.
That first night in my hotel room in Africa with no roommate — there was no way I was going to sleep. I didn’t want to take an “Ambien” because I didn’t want to become an “Ambien statistic.” You know, “Woman found peeing in the hallway thinking it was the bathroom because her Ambien hadn’t worn off and she was confused”.
I turned to my Iphone and put on my headphones. Andy Puddicombe, founder of Headspace became my ticket to relaxation and sleep from that time on.
Andy is an ordained Buddhist Monk and a Circus Arts major (less you think he’s too serious). He’s amazing and so is his App.
In just 10 minutes I was calm and clear and rested quietly in bed feeling the wonderful effects of the meditation. Eventually I drifted off to sleep – worry free – mind clear and body relaxed.
Every night in Africa and on my next trip to Hong Kong where jet lag and exhaustion threatened to interfere – I used this App.
I have decided to commit to my App regularly since I’ve been home but I don’t always use it at the same time.
The other night I was wide awake at 4 am a conversation burning through my thoughts. I was concerned about one of my sisters. – I was concerned about my Mom. PS they’re fine but I was not that evening. And of course as all middle of the night worries go – my mind started spiraling onto a whole host of other worries.
So, I propped myself up in bed and put in the earphones. In 10 minutes my breathing slowed, my body relaxed and I stayed with the feeling.
I awoke refreshed in the morning.
So, if you are finding that you suffer from middle of the night worries that are keeping you awake or just can’t seem to get a full nights sleep I would definitely give this a go.
By the way – there’s specific meditation practices just for stress, or anxiety, or creativity.
Love to hear your thoughts on this.
Here’s a Free guided meditation you can start with:
If you want to hear Andy talk about how he got into this, listen to this just released “Linked –In” interview. Here’s some take-aways from this: