This is part of a post on my blog a few days ago answering someone's query regarding mindfulness ... I'm a lifer in the insomnia department and this section is about addressing sleep issues! This system works for re-training your brain/sleep patterns; it won't help today, but will help your tomorrows!
"Acceptance - when I was in Barbados I attended 5 x 2 hour sessions with Dr Guy Meadows of The Sleep School - in fact, that's why I went, although the winter sun was certainly a wonderful bonus! Very briefly he teaches ACT (acceptance commitment therapy) techniques - it is mindfulness. I have found accepting what is, as it is, rather than wishing for it to be something different (which is actually impossible when you think about it), creates a big mind shift and actually frees you to move to where you want to be. You are not trying to change anything that is but simply moving to another place.
This is how ACT works ... (and incidentally why yogis and other long-term meditators have scientifically measurable, lower stress markers and can literally 'quiet the mind').
The amygdala (a part of our brain responsible for the unconscious mechanisms like breathing, heart pumping, danger-alert system etc) is monitoring 24/7 to trigger action within us to keep us alive - it's the watchman. It has evolved over millions of years from our earliest ancestors during times of actual threat. And it still functions the same way. Fast forward to modern times and we have many fight or flight signals around us (which are not life-threatening), and more importantly many are internally-generated, that do not require the kind of response the amygdala has evolved to deliver, and in the long term such continual triggering of stress hormones is actually counter-productive to our well being. An entire other blog post!
ACT works to re-programme this area of the brain indirectly, as we have no direct control, through being present and learning to 'sit with' our emotions. The more we practice observing without reacting and allowing (accepting) all that we feel the less our system responds with stress chemicals which alert the amygdala into readiness that is not required.
Guy works with insomnia, but the technique works for anything, but here is a sleep example.
You wake in the night and panic that you won't get back to sleep and you won't be able to function the next day, you get up, you make tea, do the ironing, watch the TV, catch up on emails (anything to avoid lying in bed but not being asleep - kind of funny really when you think about it) ... these processes stimulate the brain and generate stress hormones at a time in the circadian rhythm when it should be calm which alerts the amygdala that there is a crisis. It remains on high alert, pumps out further action hormones. The next time you wake in the night the amygdala recognizes this previously caused a response to it starts pumping out the alertness hormones in anticipation . . . You of course feel even more awake and less likely to sleep and so the process goes on reinforcing itself.
ACT - is learning to sit for about 10 minutes each day (ideally 3 x 3 - 4 minutes) where you simply notice what's going on. Firstly notice what you can hear, what you can smell, what you can see, and then turn inwards, what you can feel. In this way you begin the process of detaching yourself from your reactions and responses, which are not you. Whatever you can observe isn't who you are, because you are the observer. When an uncomfortable emotion or feeling arises, notice it, be curious, let it be, see what happens, does it move, intensify, change, does it have a colour, does a name come into your head - welcome all aspects of it. And watch it fade away. For insomnia whenever you find yourself awake in the night you put into practice the 'noticing' strategy rather than jumping out of bed or going through all the mental tortures of what you won't be able to achieve if you don't fall asleep again, you gradually re-programme your responses.
With practice this technique works, without a doubt. The more in tune you become with what arises within, the more you can simply accept it and move forward. Once you accept, your amygdala begins to 'stand down', and over time will not be triggered into unhelpful actions which self-sabotage our best intentions."
Last edited by Kelda; 04-15-2013 at 03:09 PM.
Seeking the natural way in a modern world ...