Last night we all went to bed as normal. Noah was happy with Edmund the elephant…
Martyn and I had quite an early night too so that we were ready for the week ahead. I love getting an early night. Climbing into the comfy sheets feels like such treat.
But the great unbroken nights seep was not to be!
Martyn, my husband, woke me at 1.30am to tell me that his eye was really painful. It was so unlike him to ask for help so I knew it must be serious. He had gone downstairs, taken painkillers, put eye drops,tried to put up with it but then come to the conclusion that it was too bad to ignore. It was so swollen and closed that he could hardly see so he needed my help.
I woke with that really alert state of mind, absolutely committed to doing anything I could to sort him out. I got on the internet and looked up the eye casualty and although they weren’t open until this morning we both realised it was bad enough to need to get to Accident And Emergency ASAP.
I had a couple of glasses of wine last night and didn’t feel I should drive. I called my parents and my Dad was really happy to help. I was so grateful when he arrived minutes later ready to take Martyn, so much quicker than an ambulance!
When they had gone I felt empty and worried and as though I should have been the one taking him. Noah was in bed and I knew it was best to leave him there rather than disturbing his night too. So as I got back into bed my mind was distracted by worry about Martyn and how he was going to be. Would he be able to see well enough to get sorted when he got there? Would it be anything serious? Would he be ok?
So I could have stayed awake for hours distracted by my anxious thoughts, they would have escalated in my mind turning into absolute catastrophes. But instead I had the mindful tools to deal with it far more effectively.
I knew logically that worrying would not change anything and that it was much more important that I got some sleep so that I could sort Noah out in the morning and look after Martyn if he needed me too. Also I had the prospect of a busy day at work.
I got back into bed and turned the lights off, took a few deep breaths and then I set about doing a body scan. This is a great exercise that works in so many situations. I have used it before a running race, before delivering training at work, before giving a presentation, and in so many more situations that create a feeling of anxiety for me. It connects the body and mind and creates a feeling of still calm which is perfect for creating the right conditions for sleep.
So try this when ever you need to calm things down…
1) Get into a comfortable position. If your aim is to get to sleep do it lying on your back with your hands on your thighs. If you are facing a daytime situation then reflect your desire for alert but calm focus by sitting upright with a straight back.
2) Close your eyes. This gives you the best chance of keeping your mind on the exercise as it eliminates visual distraction.
3) Take your attention to the very top of your head. Notice any sensations and whether they are comfortable or not. With each out breath feel that area of your body relax.
4) Move down slowly scanning down through your forehead, eyes, cheeks, jaw, neck, shoulders, arms, torso, upper back, lower back, pelvic region, upper legs, lower legs and feet. On each area place your attention whilst you observe how that part of your body feels, feel your body relax with the out breath and then move on to the next area.
5) Then hold the whole of your body in your attention. Imagine that your whole body can breathe. With each out breath any tension is released. Stay with this feeling. Each time your mind wanders simply bring your attention back to the breath and the sensations in your body.
6) If you discover an area of discomfort then allow your attention to remain on that area for as long as you can. When your mind wanders then bring your attention back to the scan and the focus on your breath.
So last night I didn’t make it further than my shoulders and I was asleep again. The great thing is that if it doesn’t work that quickly for you you can simply repeat the exercise again and again until you drift off.
One really key point is not to get frustrated by your mind wandering. You aren’t doing anything wrong, the whole point of the exercise is that you are training your brain to focus where you want it to be. Each time you redirect your attention when you notice your mind has wandered you will be improving your ability to direct your thinking.
The more often you do this exercise in the day the more familiar you will become with it and the better your body and mind will become at entering into a state of rest. So do it daily and you will see a difference in your ability to switch off really quite soon.
And all was well in the end. Martyn spent a lot of time in the waiting room but eventually arrived home today with the treatment he needed. Worn out but sorted out. There really was no need to worry.
Come on a Revitalise Day and you will lean other great techniques for connecting your body and mind. When you have a few mindful techniques up your sleeve the world can seem a much easier place.