Mindfulness – a new sleeping pill

A couple of weeks ago I was in a hotel in Melbourne for work. I was busy all day and had a lot of projects and things to do. I like being busy and working on meaningful things, but one night I woke up at 3 am and my mind naturally tried to get to the bottom of every single thing on my mind. This is not unusual to most people I’m sure, and the way I usually counter it is to take Melatonin, which in Australia is a homeopathic supplement (as opposed to what is sold as Melatonin in USA). It’s quite harmless and certainly nowhere near Stilnox in terms of its potency. Unfortunately I didn’t have any and therefore had to deal with my mind fruitlessly trying to solve every issue I had in my mind for almost two hours. My mind raced from one problem to the next, back and forth, causing a level of anxiety that was almost catatonic. Ironically I really didn’t have much that was at all that would warrant the anxiety – no critical issues at all. I tossed and turned, tried to count (that sometimes work) but to no avail. Then the thought occurred, why don’t I meditate? I opened up Sam Harris’s Mindfulness Meditation (the 9 minute version) which is what I start my day as my morning ritual after exercising. I fell right to sleep after doing it.

The thought occurred to me in the morning – what if I had not discovered Mindfulness Meditation? I would have certainly been up all night and functioning poorly the next day (if I don’t sleep properly I don’t work properly). So what are the the benefits to Mindfulness as I see it?

1. Perspective

Mindfulness gives perspective to your thoughts, allowing you to distance yourself from all your thoughts and emotions, and observe them from a distance.

2. Self Governance

Without your thoughts running you, you can run your thoughts. The method prescribed by Mindfulness is to observe the thought you are having before returning to the breath, or raw sensations in the present moment.

3. Enjoying the present

All anxiety and worry does is stress you about the past and the future. Mindfulness allows you to enjoy and appreciate all that is around you now.

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