Insomnia or sleep problems are known to affect one in every six people worldwide. Every human being experiences insomnia sometime or the other in their life, either because of a nagging problem, a challenge they have to respond to - Excitement over a massive change in life, travel that has disrupted their bodies rhythms, ill health or hormonal imbalance. Sleep is a mystery. We know that the brain utilizes sleep for detoxification through the lymphatic system in the brain. This special cleaning mechanism is only operational in the brain. However, the why and how of sleep are still being researched by science.
But this insomnia is temporary and soon fades. But for some people, insomnia is chronic. It does not end. And the inability to sleep in itself causes further anxiety, depression, and health problems in these people. There is no sound science yet discovered to discover why the human body needs to sleep or what happens during sleep? We know it is a shutdown of certain neurological activities while so many other brain activities are still on. Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Sri Preethaji, Spiritual Leader, Co-creator - Ekam & Author - The Four Sacred Secrets, to know how meditation improves sleep cycle and a meditation guide for beginners.
How does meditation improve sleep cycle?
The ancient sages in India perceived sleep this way. They said when the five senses shut down and drop into the mind. And when the mind shuts down and drops into the breath, and when breath drops into pure consciousness, that is whole and complete sleep. Among the numerous people we see coming to Ekam from all over the world, insomnia is common among those who cannot shut down their mind's planning and processing. And here is where meditation can help.
Three types of meditation can help an individual move to sleep. The first meditation practice - at the end of the day, move into a cold temperature space, the absolute absence of light, and focus on the breath; instead of being worried about sleep, simply stay focused on your breath. Slow and deep breaths, to keep observing 62 breaths at a time. It's a beautiful way to move the body into sleep and restfulness.
The second meditation practice is:
To recognize the divine presence in your own heart regardless of what name you choose to give that divine, offer whatever is worrying you, whatever is bothering you at the feet of the divine. To speak to your divine in your heart with the realization that the divine is in the driver's seat while you are in the passenger seat, and you will relax through life.
Having offered this worry, tell yourself that you are willing to slide into sleep now that you have given your concerns & fears to the divine. Chant the favorite name of your divine peacefully, and you will slide into sleep.
Yoga Nidra is a total and complete relaxation methodology that detoxifies the brain. When people practice Yoga Nidra, they experience a magnificent quality of sleep and restfulness when they wake up. They are fresh, energized vibrant to experience the day. So these are the three meditations we suggest for people with three different mindsets; whichever suits you, you must adopt. However, please remember that one of the critical glands in your body that is responsible for sleep is your penal gland. To generate melatonin, the sleep agent in your brain, you need to shut it down. So progressively, in the evening, move into spaces of lesser light. Sleep without any light at night; you would have rested your body completely.
Even the smallest of light is known to hamper the amount of melatonin generated by the brain. Keep your room dark and cool. And the quality of sleep is very good for those whose bodies are tired. Walk long, and your body will get to the right kind of exhaustion that will give you peaceful sleep; stick to these practices. And you will see that your sleep problem has disappeared. Do not be desperate thousands have overcome it, and you too will.
How beginners can meditate?
Here are some simple steps for beginners to meditate easily at home:
- To start meditation, you have to calmly sit or lie down. You can even use a chair or pillow to meditate
- Keep your eyes closed
- However, do not try to control your breath but try to breathe naturally instead
- Focus on your breath and on how your body is reacting along with each and every inhalation, exhalation
- Observe the movement of your body while breathing
- Just give attention to your breath. If your mind gets diverted, try to restore the attention back on your breath
- Keep practicing this meditation for atleast 2-3 minutes as a beginner and then move on to doing it for longer periods