Thursday, September 16, 2010
Tips for resting fully
By: Marissa Anteby
There is a difference between rest and sleep. Deep rest is more beneficial than sleeping. Typically, if you have a lot on your mind that keeps you from drifting off to a dream state, or muscular tension that holds you physically aware of certain aches or pains, you don't sleep well. On the flip side, when your body and mind are completely relaxed, even if you are not sleeping, true rest can occur.
This restful zone between your waking life and sleep, is known as the hypnagogic state. It's a transient period between full awareness of your surroundings and dreaming. Your consciousness teeters on the boundary between wakefulness and sleep. The hypnagogic state precedes sleep, and you can teach yourself to stretch your time spent there by practicing sensory awareness while simultaneously allowing your mind to float towards your dreams. The more you alternate your consciousness between what's going on around you and what's going on inside of you, the more you can access a higher state of being that's profoundly more relaxing than conventional sleep.
By becoming acutely introverted and interested in your own breathing, heartbeat, blood flow, etc., you can isolate brain patterns in order to observe how you relate to yourself. By stretching your attention to stay with these simple bodily functions, you will train yourself to become more attuned to your unique mental, emotional, and psychological wiring. Thereby furthering your understanding of how to unravel your web of thoughts and surrender them in order to relax.
You can start by laying down on your bed. Close your eyes and visualize the air moving in through your nostrils. Imagine that the air travels in at a very slow methodical rate. It slides up along the median septum, straight up through the middle of your nostrils. The air fills your body slowly, then glides out of your nostrils through the lateral walls of your nose. Don't strain to pull the breath in or to push it out. Let the air come and go slowly, easily, as gently as possible. Continue watching your breathing, observing how your nostrils narrow with each inhale and expand with each exhale.
Rotate your awareness through the different major body parts, inviting each area to relax and let go; your head, arms, legs, torso, and trunk. Become aware of all the meeting points between your body and your bed. Sink in to all of these meeting points. Feel the support of the mattress beneath you, like it's rising up to hold your body.
Keep redirecting your attention back to your natural breathing. Manifest the sensation of lightness in your body, like your body can levitate an inch or two above the bed. What would it feel like to float and be weightless? Feel yourself floating, drifting towards the ceiling. Now ask yourself, "What am I thinking?" Try to spontaneously 'feel' the answer without really 'thinking' it. The more you practice this, the more of a 'witness' you will become to your own thoughts.
There are several different techniques you can employ to gain better rest. They all involve your conscious effort to remain at ease and do so as effortlessly as possible. It sounds almost impossible, but it is doable if you go slow and have patience.