REFER TO THE EXPLANATION CONCERNING HOW TO USE THIS INFORMATION IN
HS01 THE BASIS OF SELF THERAPY
HS16 HOW TO USE THESE SUGGESTIONS
HS17 DESCRIPTION OF YOGA EXERCISES
The inability to sleep is one of the most unpleasant problem producing human dilemmas. Sleep is the source of rejuvenation of the body, mind and soul. One who lacks sufficient high quality sleep for an extended period of time, gradually becomes subject to a wide variety of physical and mental problems. Often these problems then engage into a vicious circle with the insomnia and one increases the other in a downward spiral of illness and unhappiness. Many then resort to tranquilizers or alcohol which simply worsens the situation by further weakening their nervous system and self image.
SOME CAUSES OF INSOMNIA
Let us briefly look at some of the causes of insomnia.
1. LACK OF PROPER VITAMINS AND MINERALS may prevent the proper functioning of the endocrine and nervous systems. When the nervous system does not have the proper balance of nutrients it begins to malfunction in various ways. The inability to relax or sleep is one symptom of that state. Specifically needed in such cases are vitamins B1,B6,b12,C,E,Zinc and Calcium.
2. EATING TOO MUCH OR WRONG KINDS OF FOOD LATE AT NIGHT causes over activity in the digestive system which then reflects onto the nervous system and the mind while we are trying to sleep. A small amount of food in the evening may help some people to sleep more easily. However, large amounts, and especially when they are heavy foods or combined in such a way that they are difficult to digest, then create a very restless, superficial type of sleep with many dreams and often nightmares.
3. LACK OF SUFFICIENT ACTIVITY and fresh air, and sunlight create a stagnant frustrated mental state which can prevent the individual from being able to sleep. The body and mind need a certain amount of activity each day to release tensions, to express feelings and to bring about a balance of energies through contact with the elements of Nature. When an individual sits all day long in a home or at an office and has no activity or contact with Nature, then this may disturb his mental and hormonal balance and thus his sleep.
4. A WEAK OR IRRITATED NERVOUS SYSTEM often cannot relax enough in order to surrender to sleep. Such a state may result from various emotional and physical factors. One may have passed through some long term stress or worry such as a divorce, the death of a loved one, the failure of a business or extreme over work. Or on the other hand it may be the result of self destructive habits which weaken and irritate the nervous system, such as too much alcohol, cigarettes, narcotics, sex, lack of sufficient rest or in general an overactive life. Thirdly one may loose one’s balance after some type of shock, such as a robbery, assault, loss of a fortune or of a loved one. Although sleep is exactly what the body and mind need in such circumstances, often the system is too agitated to relax and this creates a very unpleasant vicious circle which ends in serious illness and various psychological problems. The nervous system must be relaxed and rejuvenated as will be described further on.
5. EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENTS can occupy our minds so intensely that we are unable to disengage our thoughts from their preoccupation with that particular subject so as to relax and sleep. Such emotional attachments could have to do with our family, relationships, work, illness, or any other factor which affects our sense of physical and emotional security.
6. LACK OF CONTENTMENT WITH OUR LIVES can also be an obstacle to a deep and restful sleep. If a person’s lifestyle and activities conflict with his conscience or do not fulfill his expectations of himself, then he may not be able to relax enough to sleep. If one sits doing nothing all day long, or acts in a way which he himself does not approve, then, he may not be able to sleep well.
7. LACK OF ROUTINE may also disturb one’s sleep. The body and mind function best when there is a rhythmic pattern in the daily activities such as eating, washing, work, recreation, rest and sleep. If there is no pattern in one’s life, and one sleeps different hours each night and eats at different times each day, the body and mind are thrown out of their harmonious cycle and sleep may become a problem.
8. THE FEAR OF NOT BEING ABLE TO SLEEP often prevents us from sleeping. Some people who may have lost their sleep a few times for other reasons, may start to fear that they will not be able to sleep. This fear then creates a nervous restlessness which prevents sleep and thus their fears become a reality.
There may be many other causes of insomnia. You may want to think deeply as to which might be the causes of your problem. Remember that insomnia is a symptom of some other problem. After analyzing the source of your problem, then make a program out of the following solutions so as to overcome it and be able to sleep deeply again.
SOME NATURAL SOLUTIONS TO INSOMNIA
A basic part of overcoming insomnia is to strengthen and relax our nervous system and bring about a balance to the endocrine system. This can be done through the techniques mentioned below.
1. SUPPLEMENTARY VITAMINS AND MINERALS may help to restore the strength of the nervous system. One may take natural vitamin and mineral supplements of vitamins B1,B6,B12,C and E as well as a multimineral food supplement (with Calcium and Zinc). In extreme cases one may want to ask one’s doctor if he advises taking stronger doses of Vitamin B such as «Neurobion». These vitamins (preferably natural ones) will help increase the endurance of the nervous system.
2. EATING THE EVENING MEAL AT LEAST 3 HOURS BEFORE GOING TO BED will avoid disturbances from the digestive system. One would also do well to follow the various guidelines for healthy eating and proper food combining.
3. EXERCISES AND DEEP RELAXATION can release much nervous tension and bring about a peace and balance to the nervous and endocrine systems. Especially useful is the abdominal breathing lying on one’s back while falling asleep. The slow rhythmic abdominal breathing reduces the brain activity and brings peace to the body and mind. Deep full breathing practiced in the morning can release tensions and prepare one for a more active and pleasant day, which in turn will make sleep more easily available. Exercises for relief from insomnia will be described at the end of the article.
4. LEARNING TO RELAX THROUGH DEEP RELAXATION, mind control or meditation techniques is an essential step for anyone who has difficulties calming down his mind. Relaxation is a process of letting go, or surrendering our conscious control and allowing ourselves to fall naturally into a state of deep rest. This can be learned through practice and trust. We must learn to trust the world and ourselves enough to let go and enjoy the states of deeper relaxation and awareness. Various Centers have classes and seminars on such techniques. There are also cassettes of deep relaxation available for those who need help in the beginning. For help in relaxing call our office at 6818220.
5. GET PLENTY OF ACTIVITY, FRESH AIR AND CONTACT WITH THE SUN AND NATURE. This will release your physical and emotional tensions and create a balanced natural flow of energy in your body and mind. Sleep will then come naturally.
6. DEVELOP A ROUTINE in which you eat and sleep approximately the same hours each day so that your body can prepare itself hormonally for each of its activities. In this way, the body and mind will prepare themselves for each meal, for sleeping and for waking and all of these natural functions will occur harmoniously and efficiently.
7. HEAT IN VARIOUS FORMS such as hot baths, or a hot water bottle or hot beverages have a way of relaxing the system allowing sleep to come more naturally. Many who have difficulty in sleeping, have found that a hot bath just before going to bed can relax their muscles and nerves enough to allow them to sleep well. The water should not be too hot. It should be comfortable. Others have found that placing a hot water bottle under the neck and shoulders while lying on their backs just before sleep opens up the flow of blood in the neck relaxing the nerves and muscles there and facilitates sleep. A hot herb tea like chamomile or linden teas has the tendency to bring relaxation and sleep.
8. OVERCOMING NEGATIVE EMOTIONS is an essential step in curing oneself of insomnia. As long as we are controlled by attachments, aversions, desires and various negative emotional states, our mind will not be able to let go and relax. We can free ourselves from the control of these mental states through SELF-ANALYSIS, POSITIVE THINKING, and RE-EVALUATION of our value system and thinking habits. It is entirely possible to change the way we perceive ourselves and the world around us in this way, so that we can face the same difficulties in life without worrying so much, and without losing our sleep. In this way, we become much more effective at solving our problem and overcoming our difficulties.
9. LIVE YOUR LIVE ACTIVELY IN HARMONY WITH YOU VALUES. When we live an active life working for what we believe in, then by the end of the day our conscience is satisfied and we feel content with ourselves. This sense of inner contentment which comes from a congruency between our beliefs, values, thoughts, words and actions is a basic prerequisite for the health and harmony of any individual. That is why these two qualities are so rare in our society, because very few people manage to harmonize all these aspects of their being. We all need to examine our lifestyles and our values and see what we can do to bring them more into alignment.
EXERCISES FOR RELAXATION OF THE NERVOUS SYSTEM
The following exercises will help to relax the nervous system and are useful for most psychosomatic illnesses. Some of you may be able to do them without further instruction. Others may want to seek out the help of a competent instructor for guidance in doing them properly. Most of these exercises have been described in previous issues and you can refer there for details in how to do each exercise. These exercises should be done daily, at any time which is convenient, but the most effective time would be on an empty stomach just before the evening meal.
1. THE TORSION (see issue of Jan. 87), relaxes all the nerves along the spinal column which brings about a corresponding relaxation in the brain and the mind.
2. THE WIND RELIEVING EXERCISE (see issue of Jan. 87), removes the tension stored in the abdominal area and solar plexus, which facilitates a relaxation of the whole system.
3. CONTRACTIONS OF THE ABDOMINAL MUSCLES. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet near your buttocks. Take a deep exhalation and hold the lungs empty. With the lungs empty contract the abdominal muscles inward and then push them outwards. Do this a number of times and then relax and inhale. This may be done three times, resting in-between each series of contractions. This exercise may also be done with the lungs full. Take a deep inhalation and with the lungs full of air, contract the abdominal muscles in and then push them out a number of times and then rest and exhale. You may choose which way is more comfortable for you. Usually doing it with the lungs full is more beneficial for insomnia.
This exercise releases emotional tensions and relaxes the overactive mind.
4. THE HALF SHOULDER STAND OR THE FULL SHOULDER STAND. Those who have not had training from an instructor in these exercises should do the half shoulder stand rather than the full shoulder stand. The half shoulder stand is described in issue of January 1987. The full shoulder stand can be learned from a teacher.
5. THE PLOUGH is a further development of the shoulder stand which should also be learned under the guidance of a teacher. Both the shoulder stand and plough serve to being blood to the head so as to relax the brain and mind. In addition the plough stretches and releases the tension from all the nerves along the spine and neck thus releasing much mental tension. These are well worth learning (as long as you do not have serious problems with your spine) for they are wonderful tools for toning up the nervous and endocrine systems. They also improve the memory and the efficient and clear functioning of the mind.
6. THE FISH (see issue of Jan. 87). Removes the tension in the neck which is associated with mental tension and too much thinking.
7. THE FORWARD STRETCH (see issue of Jan. 87). Relaxes the nerves along the spine, neck, buttocks and legs, as well as the abdomen. Brings blood to the heart, lungs and head.
8. THE COBRA (see issue of Jan. 87). Tonifies the nerves of the spine and the adrenal glands and liver.
9. PRAYER POSITION (see issue of Jan. 87). Relaxes all the nerves of the body and brings blood and oxygen to the brain, while releasing nervous tension from the abdomen.
10. SLOW RHYTHMIC DEEP BREATHING for ten minutes in the morning and evening help to relax and strengthen all the nerves of the body. It also brings peace and clarity of mind.
Explanation: Lie on your back or stand up straight in a relaxed manner. Close your eyes and begin to relax and focus on your breath. Create a rhythm so that you are breathing in for the same amount of time that you are breathing out. You can do this with a count. As you breathe in, count to five, and count to five again as you breathe out. Do this about five times at first. Then slowly over the weeks increase the count to six, seven and eventually up to fifteen if you can. Also increase the number of repetitions from five to perhaps ten.
DO THIS VERY SLOWLYØΖΖ DO NOT HYPERVENTILATE Ζ this is not a race, but a harmonious adjustment of your body to a healthier state.