Quieting the Monkey Mind
Now that you’ve made a few lifestyle changes and transformed your bedroom into a restorative oasis, it’s time to move beyond the obvious and into what’s going on just below the surface. That’s right. You guessed it. We’re going to talk about your emotions.
As owner of the Alternative Pain Clinic, I have come to know that the resistance held against the acknowledgment of any sort of relationship between feelings and physical events, is quite significant. However, when we are willing to acknowledge this connection, we process through things much more quickly and are able to resolve our issues - rather than prolong them.
When it comes to our emotions and our sleep, worry is one of the most impactful. Worry about what happened today or worry about what will or won’t happen tomorrow. Worry that we’re not good enough, worthy enough, or that others will be able to see through us. Worry that we’re insignificant or incapable. Are you starting to get the drift? Feel free to add in any that I’ve missed.
Worry keeps us counting sheep instead of catching ZZZZZ’s. It keeps our stress levels elevated and stops the part of our nervous systems in charge of resting and repair from doing its job. It causes what the Buddhist’s termed the monkey mind, meaning unsettled, restless, confused, indecisive, or uncontrollable. It is the result of a lack of faith, trust, or hope in a divine order. All things are as they should be - a concept easy to consider, much more difficult to integrate. Especially in situations of monetary distress, marital problems, or extreme sickness. And yet, the divine order does exist. It’s much more beneficial to trust it then lay awake at night worrying about it. Again, easier said than done.
Now, what to do about it? Create a nighttime routine, complete it nightly, and send a consistent signal to your brain that it’s time to be quiet and prepare for rest. That way, when bedtime rolls around you’ll easily drift into deep and peaceful sleep. I suggest beginning your routine about 30 minutes before you would like to be asleep and directly after brushing your teeth and washing your face. Let this routine be the last thing you do before closing your eyes. Here are some things to get you started:
There is something very cathartic when it comes to getting your thoughts out of your head and onto paper. Invest in an aesthetically pleasing journal and keep it on your nightstand. In it, review your day. Start with things that went well and make a note of any blessings or gifts you received. Jot down any “ah-ha” moments you had that shifted your perspective around a conflict or trouble area. Bring your journal entry to a close by noting anything you are struggling with, worrying about, or having a difficult time understanding. Sign your journal with a positive affirmation. Perhaps one of these will resonate with you or inspire your creativity: I am so grateful for the deep and restorative sleep I am about to enjoy. Tomorrow is going to be a great day. I embrace all of the many blessings that are coming my way. I choose to joyfully live from my heart. Close your journal with a smile. Allow yourself 10-15 minutes to complete this aspect of your nighttime routine.
Meditate for a few moments before bed to further clear your mind and release your day. Meditation doesn’t have to a lengthy practice in order for you to reap the benefits from it. There are many types of meditation to choose from, find the one that works the best for you. Set your intention to clear your mind - knowing that thoughts will come into awareness and choosing not to hold onto them.
Here are a few simple recommendations to get you started. Start with 5 to 7 breaths and increase the time from there, as you feel comfortable. 1. Focus your awareness on the flame of a candle, either real or imaginary. Use the flame to “burn through” any thoughts that may arise. 2. As your thoughts come to awareness, wrap each in a bubble and blow the bubble away. Or, place each thought on a raft and send it down a river. Wait for the next thought to come to you and repeat. With practice more and more time will pass in between your thoughts. 3. Place one hand on your heart and one hand below your belly button. Breathe deeply and allow yourself to become peaceful.
Begin a gratitude practice. Focusing your attention on what you are grateful for will bring more things into your life for which to be grateful. Some days, this will be an easy practice and you will delight in completing your list. I’m grateful for a raise, a wonderful partner, that all the lights were green on my way to work, and that my Mom’s test results come back and she’s going to be OK. Other times will be more difficult. I’m grateful for hot water, a bed to sleep on, food to eat, and clothes to wear. Most days will fall somewhere in between. Make a note of all the things you can think of and you will start to see a positive shift in your life, as it is filled with more and more things to be grateful.
Develop a Nighttime Routine
Pick 3-5 activities to do each night before going to sleep. Keep it consistent, but allow it to evolve over time. Meaning, give each activity at least two weeks, before deciding to exchange it for something else. Use the activities listed above to get you started. Add in things like reading a chapter from a light-hearted book (stay away from the heavy/scary stuff before bed), listening to a few minutes of relaxation music, enjoying a warm bath, or being more present with your partner. Choose things that make you feel good after you do them, even though you may resist them in the beginning. Finally, close your eyes and drift into dream land.
Up Next: Part 4 – Sleeping Better with the One You Love
Dr. Kate is an intuitive and creative visionary with the ability to break patterns of dis-ease down into their component parts so that the flow of health may be restored. She fills in the gaps that other techniques and approaches have missed and discerns the best course of action.
Dr. Kate is a chiropractor, intuitive healer, and teacher. She is the creator of Activating Ascension, a platform for living, healing, and creating from the heart and founder of the Alternative Pain Clinic where she works with her patients to resolve the emotional components of their physical and emotional pain, complicated grief, and patterns of addiction.
Dr. Kate believes in the responsibility of empowering those seeking care so that they may ultimately see that true healing comes from within. She is happily married and helping to raise three wonderful children. Dr. Kate resides in Knoxville, Tennessee with her husband and their dog, Phoebe.