Thrive in Life: Sleep and Meditation

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I am taking Arianna Huffington’s Thrive class through Oprah and we are in week one of six. I thought I’d share some highlights from this week’s learning for you. Sharing is caring! Each lesson in this course is accompanied by suggested reading from the #1 New York Times bestseller Thrive by Arianna Huffington.

Arianna emphasizes that getting adequate sleep and having a consistent meditation practice are absolutely critical to thrive in life. Success is one thing but our goal should be to thrive! In this article, I’m sharing information about sleep research, strategies for getting solid sleep and meditation resources and tips for you.

This week is about getting enough rest aka sleep and meditation. Transformation happens with lots of little changes. Arianna believes:

1. We all have within us a centered place of wisdom, joy, and love.
2. We aren’t there all the time.

We think that all the exhaustion is the price of success – this is bull crap!

A study conducted at Harvard Medical School found that people who got more sleep than the bare minimum they needed increased the volume of gray matter in their brains, which is linked to improved psychological health.
There are two small steps this week that is recommended to help shift from success to truly thriving in life:

1. Get 30 additional minutes of sleep daily.
2. Spend 5 minutes meditating daily.

Dr. Michael Roizen, chief wellness officer of the Cleveland Clinic, put it, “Sleep is the most underrated health habit.”

Identify two to three sleep routines that will help you reach your goal, and practice them – starting tonight if you can!

Here are some of Arianna’s bedtime routines:

Set an alarm before your bedtime every night to warn you to start winding down.
Set a bedtime routine and stick to it.
Gradually dim all the lights in your house up to an hour or two before bedtime.
Banish all screens from your bedroom.
Do not check your phone for at least a half-hour before bedtime.
Have a nice hot bath with Epsom salts.
Put on PJs rather than going to bed in gym clothes.
Avoid caffeine after 2 p.m.

Some other routines to get more sleep include:

1. Take a nap! Researchers have found that even short naps can help. There are lots of famous nappers through history including: Thomas Edison, Eleanor Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and more.

2. Count backwards from 100 or 300. Counting backwards from 300 by threes can work wonders.

3. If you have a traditional alarm clock in your room, cover the lights so you don’t have any lighting in your room and you aren’t tempted to see what time it is and think about what you have to do.

4. Let your contacts, followers, friends, and family know your commitment to get more sleep. With others looking out for you and ensuring you aren’t on social media at midnight,  it’s another way you can be accountable to yourself.

5. Avoid alcohol right before bedtime to give the body time to metabolize it.

6. Get a new pillow and a new pillowcase.

7. Keep your bedroom cool.

8. Practice deep breathing before bed.

9. Exercise or at least walk every day.

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SLEEP RESEARCH

Huffington Post Sleep – Huff Post journalists are at the forefront of sleep news with coverage on the latest studies, interviews with sleep experts, and tips on how meditation, diet, and exercise all affect our sleep.

National Sleep Foundation

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THE CASE FOR MEDITATION

All over the world, new practices are being introduced to include meditation including:

1. Companies, such as the Huffington Post, have nap and meditation rooms for employees. More companies are doing something similar.

2. The U.S. Olympic Committee upgraded the rooms at its Colorado Springs Training Center. They had better mattresses, blackout curtains, and encourage athletes to sleep 8-9 hours a night.

3. The Dallas Mavericks partnered with Fatigue Science from Vancouver to monitor players’ sleep and compare it with their on-court performance. They can prove that sleeping eight hours will help them perform better than when they sleep six hours.

4. Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant ensures he gets enough sleep and he practices meditation; a practice his former coach, Phil Jackson, taught.

5. Michael Jordan worked with George Mumford when he worked for the Chicago Bulls. Mumford said, “When we are in the moment and absorbed with the activity, we play our best.” This happens when we learn how to be more mindful.

6. There was a video of four-time NBA MVP LeBron James meditating during a timeout that became a hit on YouTube.

7. A study funded by the National Institutes of Health showed a 23% decrease in mortality in people who meditated versus those who didn’t, a 30% decrease in death due to cardiovascular problems, and a significant decrease in cancer mortality.  Another study found that meditation increased levels of antibodies to the flu vaccine, and the practice was also found to decrease the length of colds.

There are countless other examples. I love Carrie Bradshaw’s Sex and the City comment: After all, computers crash, people die, relationships fall apart. The best we can do is breathe and reboot. Love it!

 

 There are countless other examples. I love Carrie Bradshaw’s Sex and the City comment: After all, computers crash, people die, relationships fall apart. The best we can do is breathe and reboot. Love it!

MEDITATION RESOURCES

HEADSPACE

Former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe founded Headspace as a way to make mindfulness meditation easily available. Headspace’s “Take 10” starter program— 10 days’ worth of 10- minute meditations— is a simple, straightforward introduction to starting a meditation practice. Through short animated videos, the app breaks down the basic principles of meditation and mindfulness, and the recordings take beginners through brief mindfulness practices and guided meditations each day. There is now even a Headspace channel available for passengers on board Virgin Atlantic flights.

Available for free download for iPhone and Android at getsomeheadspace.com.

Mark Williams’s Mindfulness Meditation Recordings

Mark Williams, professor of clinical psychology, director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, and author of Mindfulness, offers a range of free audio meditations for new and experienced meditators and includes instructions for a number of variations on the practice, including a three-minute minibreak, a meditation for depression, silent meditations with bells, and a fun “chocolate meditation.”

Available for free at franticworld.com.

Buddhify

Touted as the “urban meditation app,” Buddhify offers a fun, game-ified approach to creating a meditation practice. Buddhify uses bright graphics and simple language (no Sanskrit or mention of chakras), and is designed to be used on the go. The app has different settings, like home, traveling, walking, and gym, offering audio and video meditations suited to wherever you are. Buddhify “actually changes one’s life in big- little ways,” wrote one user. “It’s the Google Maps of the interior world.”

Available for download for iPhone and Android.

Finding the Space to Lead / Meditations and Reflections

Janice Marturano, who brought meditation to General Mills and went on to found the Institute for Mindful Leadership, offers guidance on working and leading with presence and compassion, and audio meditations and reflections to help you tap into the mindful leader within. The recordings include a kindness meditation, desk-chair meditation, reflection on leadership principles, and more.

Meditations available here

Kelly Howell’s BrainSync Meditations

BRAINSYNC meditation CDs and guided imagery techniques are proven to significantly improve mental performance. In two decades, nearly 3 million Brain Sync users have experienced the powerful benefits of deep meditation to accelerate healing, learning, recovery and personal growth. Brain Sync brainwave technology blends advanced meditation techniques with harmonically layered binaural beat frequencies. Try this free guided meditation online. It features theta waves, soothing guided meditation music and Kelly Howell, who Body Mind Spirit magazine called “The best voice in guided meditation.”

Check out Kelly’s amazing meditations here

Another meditation option from Nestmaven 

The folks at Nestmaven recently compiled a list of the best meditation videos available. Check out this rich resource here: https://www.nestmaven.com/sleep/aids/best-guided-sleep-meditation/

Here’s How to Develop a Meditation Practice/Routine

Arianna’s Routine:

1. Choose a reasonably quiet place to begin your practice, and select a time when you will not be interrupted.2. Relax your body. If you would like to close your eyes, do so. Allow yourself to take deep, calming breaths, gently noticing the rhythm of your inhalation and exhalation.3. Let breaths come fully and slowly, bring your attention to the air coming in your nostrils, filling up your abdomen and then releasing. Gently and without effort, observe your breath flowing in and out.4. When thoughts come in, simply observe them and gently nudge your attention back to the breath. Meditation is not about stopping thoughts, but recognizing that we are more than our thoughts and our feelings. You can imagine the thoughts as clouds passing through the sky. If you find yourself judging your thoughts or feelings, simply bring yourself back to the awareness of the breath.5. Try reciting a sacred word or phrase (sometimes called a “mantra”) to help bring your awareness back to the breath. Examples include “om,” “hu,” “peace,” “thank you,” “grace,” “love,” and “calm.” You can think of that word each time you inhale, or use it as your reminder word if your mind starts to wander. You can also use an image or visualization to bring you back to your center. This could be waves on a beach, a still pool, or images of clouds floating by.

6. It is really important not to make your meditation practice one more thing you stress about. In fact, reducing stress is one of the major benefits of meditation together with increased intuition, creativity, compassion and peace.

Basil Pennington, a Trappist monk, developed a practice called the ‘centering prayer.’ It includes these steps:

1. Sit comfortably with your eyes closed, relax, and quiet yourself. Be in love and faith to God.
2. Choose a sacred word that best supports your sincere intention to be in the Lord’s presence and open to His divine action within you (for example, “Jesus,” “Lord,” “God,” “Savior,” “Abba,” “Divine,” “Shalom,” “Spirit,” “Love”).
3. Let that word be gently present as your symbol of your sincere intention to be in the Lord’s presence and open to His divine action within you.
4. Whenever you become aware of anything (thoughts, feelings, perceptions, images, associations), simply return to your sacred word, your anchor.

 

How about you? Are you up for the challenge? Think about this… we observe everything around us; taking selfies, having our phones out waiting for the perfect picture to capture a moment that we let slip by. When we are in this place, we aren’t truly enjoying each moment. Will you work to add 30 minutes of sleep a night? How about meditation? If you don’t meditate today, are you going to start…even just 5 minutes a day?   I’d love to hear your thoughts!
7 replies
  1. Emily Porter
    Emily Porter says:

    This is really so…enlightening! I like how you banked on meditation so much! And even more because you even placed the steps on how to meditate in different ways. I would certainly love to try these out. It seems really fit for a busybody like me as it only takes 5 minutes. I mean, we can always hit two birds with one stone, right? Meditation and break from all the stresses in the world. Thank you so much for posting this here!

    Reply
  2. Michele Christensen
    Michele Christensen says:

    Sleep is so important! I’m super-sensitive to sleep lack and so I can’t dip much below what I need before I feel it. I also need a lot of sleep, and I used to be very resentful of having to spend more time sleeping. I’m gradually learning to accept that need though, and coming to realize that there is nothing I can do that has more value than getting adequate sleep. Whatever I’m doing in that extra few hours won’t be fun if I’m cranky and not feeling well.
    Michele Christensen recently posted…Learning new stuff is way more fun than working!My Profile

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] are many ways to meditate. Find one that resonates with you and practice even 5 minutes a day. Here’s another article I wrote about […]

  2. […] You may have heard the term ”If praying is talking to God then meditation is listening to God’s answer.” I think prayer and meditation are powerful ways to connect with God, ourselves and create what we want. Here’s the deal though, you’ve got to focus on the WHAT and leave the HOW to God/Source/Universe; whatever is true for you. Have you ever manifested something in your life and you got it in a way that was completely different than how you thought it would happen? That’s because while you were focused on the “what”, God was focused on the BEST way to bring it forth into your life. There have been numerous studies showing meditation increases happiness. There are many forms of meditation. There’s guided, music, mantra, walking, releasing/quieting the mind types of meditation. Find one that works for you and see what a difference this makes in your life. I wrote an article about various meditation resources you can read here. […]

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