Here’s a simple, but quite effective, method for dealing with insomnia: focus on your breathing. What does this involve? Focus on your breath — as you inhale, as you exhale, and any pauses in between. Simple.
Why does breath focus help with insomnia?
Insomnia is often caused by thinking, and negative thinking in particular. When I refer to negative thinking I’m talking about thinking that leads to feelings of worry and other types of upset. For instance, we may lie in bed and think of financial lack or personal disputes that we’re involved in. The result of this can be emotional experiences of fear, anger, disappointment, or whatever else, and the energy of these experiences prevents us from getting into sleep.
Focusing on the breath removes our active attention from negative thought, or any other internal noise that is serving to stimulate us away from sleep. In time, and it typically takes only a short while, breath focus quiets internal noise and connections to disturbing emotional responses are broken. Then a peaceful serenity, which is actually our natural state, comes into full awareness.
Serene peace is a terrific backdrop for inducing sleep, particularly at the end of the day when our bodies seek rejuvenating rest.
Do not include resistance of internal noise with breath focus. In other words, as we are focusing on our breath we are not making an attempt to quiet any internal noise that we may be aware of. Trying to force internal quiet does not work and induces anxiety to boot, the result of us telling ourselves that we shouldn’t be having this internal noise. It’s much better to let the noise be: we know that it’s there, but there’s nothing we need to do about it.
Let it say whatever it wants. Interestingly enough allowing internal chatter to be in this way will eventually lead to internal silence, where attempting to force internal quiet never works.
It would be a healthful habit indeed to practice breath focus beyond just those times when we have bouts of insomnia. Breath focus can be practiced daily, for an hour and even longer. This in fact is how meditation is sometimes practiced — through focusing on the breath for a regular period — and the positive benefits from meditation are recognized even by so-called mainstream sources.
Regular breath focus can eventually quiet the mind to such an extent that insomnia stops occurring altogether.
Breath focus is a simple but extremely useful tool for an overall improved state of being. Use it in combination with allowing internal noise to be, and you are putting it to powerful use.