|I found Stephanie because she designs BEAUTIFUL fabric for Moda. Please check out her website! I get these beautiful and inspiring meditations, called Small Sweet Steps, e-mailed to me daily.|
This is so true. Sometimes we have so much on our mind, that one more thing may be too much to handle and we feel like we might explode. The nights we lay in bed before we submit to sleep, quickly reviewing our to-do lists and time schedule, along with our family's schedules for tomorrow and the rest of the week, debating whether we will have enough milk for breakfast the next day or enough bread for lunch, what we need to pick up from the store and whether it can wait one more day, and finally, if we are forgetting anything. Then we start playing over this list one more time, partly to memorize it and partly to check if we are forgetting something. Suddenly we aren't so tired, although we're exhausted because we don't get enough sleep. We rub our eyes wearily, and turn our head slightly to the right with our eyes closed, and think "Please! Please! Please!" before we peek open an eye to reveal the time. It goes one of two ways. The best scenario is when a giant smile allows a satisfied sigh escape as we turn over knowing we will get at least six hours of sleep tonight. Or it could go the other way. An exasperated groan of disgust for that stupid clock, as we turn over with our back to the clock and we count how many minutes of sleep we could get if we fell asleep immediately, but knowing it's not going to happen that way.
Sometimes other thoughts will haunt us at night as our bodies start to relax and prepare for slumber. There are buried secrets, hopes and dreams, along with reality's bills, problems, strained relationships to think about. Last Monday many of us went to sleep, terrified what tomorrow will bring, or if we will even wake up in the morning. Our definition of safe is constantly growing smaller, while the terrorists are stealing it away in bigger plans with no regard for innocent human life what-so-ever. We go to sleep understanding that it didn't change anything the terrorists hoped to accomplish. We go to bed with tears trickling down our face, thinking about a father who lost his 9 year old son, his daughter's leg, and possibly the personality and normal functioning of his life partner. Not to mention all the others who were hurt physically and psychologically forever from this event. Tomorrow we have to watch our children get on the bus, and it's so painful to think that something could happen to them, we gasp for breath and the tears are streaming down our face now. We know our children will grow up and go out in the world. And we are terrified what the world is going to be in ten years, if this could happen in the world right now.
And while everyone probably does this a lot, and that's ok, but it's also ok to cut off the thoughts, by just relaxing by breathing. The best way to prepare for tomorrow, is by writing a quick list before you go to bed, and try to cut those thoughts off and turn your mind over so you can sleep. I know I used to waste a lot of valuable Sleep Time worrying about what I had to do for tomorrow. If you just breathe, and allow your mind to slow down, it becomes easier to think about, because the stress is removed from your body. When you are stressing about something, you begin to breathe faster and that doesn't allow oxygen to get down into the bottom of your lungs where most of the oxygen exchange happens. You start to breathe a lot of recycled carbon dioxide, which makes you breathe faster. It's hard to relax because your body needs more oxygen, and you don't even realize it, because your body is already compensating for it. If you take 3 deep breathes, it allows your lungs to become fully filled with oxygen, and your brain recognizes it, and hormones are released so you will start to relax. If you don't believe me, then try it next time you are worked up. You will be able to focus clearly on the problem.
The correct way to deep breath is to breathe through your nose, while counting silently in your head up to 5. Then you hold your breath for 5 counts. Then you slowly let that breath out of your mouth, just like you were blowing out a candle. for 5 counts. If you can do 5 counts, then do 4. ***The important thing about this exercise is that you do all three with the same number of beats*** The most difficult is slowly releasing your breath out of your mouth. You will want to release your breath as if you were sighing very fast, but the correct way to do it, is to slowly release it. The method is used for anxiety. And if you practice it enough, it will help.
The next time you are about to triple-check your mental list, try doing a few deep breaths instead. It will clear your mind, and the dark room will make it known your brain that it's ready for sleep. You will get enough sleep for the next day, and you will stop hating your alarm clock so much. This also helps when you are at the bank or grocery store, when someone is trying to stand on the back of your heels. JUST BREATHE! It helps when you are driving in the rain, or when you are having a heated discussion, and you want to reconsider what you are about to say before you blurt it out. JUST BREATHE! I promise this tool is life saving! And it always reminds me of the song "2 am" by Anna Nalick. Check it out on YouTube if you have never heard it. It's a powerful and moving song.