Mindfulness has been shown to help in a range of conditions

MindfulnessMindfulness programs have been shown to improve overall quality of life, in both men and women. People with chronic disorders, such as fibromyalgia, chronic pain, mental health illnesses, have seen improvements in their overall quality of life after starting a mindfulness meditation program. The positive results seen in quality of life are related to people’s ability to cope with the distress and disability of their chromic illness.

I use mindfulness practices to manage my day to day stress levels. We live in an age where life seems to bring with it so much pressure which can lead to excessive stress. If this stress is not managed well it can lead to the development of chronic stress, called an allostatic load. Allostatic load can harms one’s health in a myriad of different ways, but in particular our sleep patterns. Mindfulness meditation provides a safe, effective approach to reducing stress or stress related symptoms. Increasing mindfulness, will not only improve stress related symptoms but it will also improves one’s overall wellbeing.

If you begin a mindfulness based meditation and regularly practice the principles you will see how over time it will help you to cultivate a deep sense of peace in your every day life and relieve symptoms of stress. The methods are not hard to learn, are not stressful in themselves and a not costly. So mindfulness is easy for anyone of us incorporate into our daily lives. You can get CD’s, download guided meditations or attend classes to gain confidence in then being able to practice mindfulness as part of your daily routine.

What are the key principles of mindfulness?

Mindfulness is not just about meditation, but changing our thinking style to a more present focussed observation. In addition to meditation practice, it’s important to keep in mind the core principles of mindfulness which can be mapped to sleep:

Beginner’s mind: Remember that each night is a new night. Be open and try something different. What you have been doing to this point is probably not working well.

Non-Striving: Sleep is a process that cannot be forced but instead, should be allowed to unfold. Putting more effort into sleeping longer or better is counterproductive.

Trust: Trust your sleep system and let it work for you. Trust that your mind and body can self regulate and self correct for sleep loss. Knowing that short consolidated sleep often feels more satisfying than longer fragmented sleep can help you develop trust in your sleep system. Also, sleep debt can promote good sleep as long as it is not associated with increased effort to sleep.

Patience: Be patient. It is unlikely that both the quality and quantity of your sleep will be optimal right away.

Letting go: Attachment to sleep or your ideal sleep needs usually leads to worry about the consequences of sleeplessness. This is counterproductive and inconsistent with the natural process of letting go of the day to allow sleep to come.

Acceptance: Recognising and accepting your current state is an important first step in choosing how to respond. If you can accept that you are not in a state of sleepiness and sleep is not likely to come soon, why not get out of bed? Many people who have trouble sleeping avoid getting out of bed. Unfortunately, spending long periods of time awake in bed might condition you to being awake in bed.

Non-judgment: It is easy to automatically judge the state of being awake as negative and aversive, especially if you do not sleep well for several nights. However, this negative energy can interfere with the process of sleep.

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