Updated: Nov 11, 2020
“Everyone takes a shower every day, and we don’t complain about it. We do it out of discipline. There will always be an excuse not to meditate.” — Hugh Jackman.
Meditation is probably the last thing many of us turn to when we think about improving our health. Yet it's another tool we have, which is with us all the time, requiring no equipment or money to access. The ability to take control of your mind and to calm it, is central to your well being. It is particularly useful to people who have Insomnia and trouble with Anxiety and Stress.
Treating Rising Mental Issues
Anxiety and Depression are increasing at alarming rates in today's society. Meditation is probably the best tool we have to address these issues and unlike other treatments, it has none of the serious side effects. It is a life skill that everyone should have.
On a recent Podcast Hugh Jackman discussed his long running relationship with meditation. I was surprised to learn that the man we all know as an Award Winning Hollywood Superstar, in Huge Blockbuster movies, actively Meditates Twice a Day. In talking of his relationship with meditation, it is obvious that its a very important part of his daily routine and in his life.
But, it does make sense. The crazier and busier you get, the more important it is to centre yourself and not be whisked away into the fast flowing river of chaos. Its important to calm your "monkey mind", find your place and after re-centering, resume your day.
Do you have Anxiety?
This is the first barrier many will face and is a particularly dangerous one, Not recognising you have Anxiety. Unfortunately, it will stop you Addressing and Managing it. You may need to stop and think about how you or your body reacts in certain situations or under stress. If you can stop and think that what you are feeling is Anxiety you are half way there. It seems easy but it is hard to come to terms with this, as many think Anxiety is a weakness and you just have to fight thru everything. There is lots of help available to those experiencing this.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.
Symptoms of Anxiety include:
Physical: panic attacks, hot and cold flushes, racing heart, tightening of the chest, quick breathing, restlessness, or feeling tense, wound up and edgy
Psychological: excessive fear, worry, catastrophizing, or obsessive thinking
Behavioural: avoidance of situations that make you feel anxious which can impact on study, work or social life
Meditation Can Take Many Forms
Meditation takes many forms, but it can be as simple as concentrating on your breathing to get it started. Most meditation forms, use breathing as a foundational tool. I have always used breathing exercises, taught to me in my childhood, to try and fall asleep. But, I never realised I can use these same breathing exercises as a base to build my meditation on.
Many of us who Swim or Run are basically practising a "Moving Meditation". By putting your breathing pattern into a rhythm, regularly, you may find it much easier to calm your "monkey mind" as you are practising this behaviour unconsciously. So those that do this regularly, should find it much easier to meditate.
Your relationship with Meditation and Centering yourself is your own. Its an amazing tool which you can develop though out your life, and is key to having a healthy life. When you consider that many people suffer medical conditions as a direct result of stress and anxiety, you really can see the importance of meditation to overcome this.
Using Meditation to treat Insomnia
Many patients I have seen with Insomnia , have difficulty switching off. This may be due to Anxiety , situational stresses or their bad habits of thinking and letting their mind race when they should be resting and getting sleep.
Meditation is a fantastic tool to help in these situations. Whenever you are having difficulty sleeping, stop and think, is my mind racing, what are my thoughts in this moment right now. To the untrained mind, this in itself will be a challenge. But if you can practise this simple behaviour of recognising that your mind is racing, you will be able to stop it, with increasing success.
Ok now once you have identified the issue, its time to manage it.
Beginning with finding a comfortable position and controlling your breathing pattern is a great start. Using these three simple steps is a way to develop a habit to controlling the "racing Mind"'.
As you concentrate on your breathing just try to remain in this place, in your mind. As soon as you have a racing thought, stop and recenter back to your breathing. You are creating your own space in your mind to rest and relax.
You are teaching yourself, to control your mind and to rest, rather than think. When you think and worry, you have an increasing chance to not fall asleep. This might seem so simple, but this is the core of Meditation and controlling the chaos of the Mind.
So next time you can not sleep, relax and go through your 3 simple steps. With repeated Practice of engaging this behaviour, you will develop more confidence in managing your Insomnia and racing mind.
I recommend looking at Sam Harris' Meditation App called Waking Up, if you want to seek further information. He is a fantastic resource for Meditation and Mindfulness.
The App is a great way to make Meditation a regular and key part of your life and the lessons are fantastic.
Additionally, if you would like to hear Hugh Jackman discussing meditation with Tim Ferris, the podcast link is here: tim.blog/2020/06/26/hugh-jackman.
If you are having issues with Anxiety please discuss with your Doctor and use one of many online resources such as : Beyond Blue. There are a lot of great professionals and treatments that can help you.