Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Mindful visualisation, switching off and settling down, ready for sleep

I haven't posted on my blog for a while, but this is one that I have thought of writing several times, as I know many people who experience difficulties with sleep.

Mindful visualisation
Switching off and settling down, ready for sleep
This visualisation can be used to help you fall asleep at the beginning of the night or to return to sleep after waking during the night.

It is worth reading this a few times and then trying it out, this will enable you to practice before using this strategy to induce sleep. Each person’s visualisation is different, you may consciously think about a restful place but when you allow your eyes to close, you might find that your mind discovers a place that you hadn't consciously considered, the place may also change each time you practice. Just go with it, there is no correct way to do this, the important thing is to free your mind from the day to day stresses to find a calm and restful state, perfect for falling asleep.

Stage 1: Comfort 
Get yourself in a comfortable position, begin to focus on your breath, taking an occasional and deliberate deeper breath. Allow your eyes to close as you focus on your breath and mentally scan your body from the top of your head to the tips of your toes, make sure each part of your body feels comfortable and in a good position. Do this a few times if you don't quite feel comfortable the first time you do it.

Stage 2: Colours down to a restful place
Visualise the colours of the chakras which go from the top of your head to the base of your spine. Don't worry if you don't know anything about the chakras, the process of visualising a series of colours and imagining the colours from the top of your head down your body gives you a focus and a structure to this stage of the visualisation. You may not be able to visualise the actual colour, so it is fine to imagine the word of the colour or visualise the word written in your minds eye.

Start with the colour violet or a light purple. Visualise this colour at the top of your head,  visualise a swirl of colour, or the word or if this is difficult, just say the word ‘violet’ to your self whilst focusing on the top of your head. 

Continue to do this through all of the colours, spending a few moments on each colour and moving your attention within your body down to the next colour of chakra.

The colours are:

Violet - top of the head
Indigo - the space between your eyebrows
Turquoise - the throat
Green - the heart
Yellow - area around the navel
Orange - below the navel and above the pubic bone
Red - the base of the spine

As you leave the colour red behind in your imagination, you move on to the next stage.

Stage 3: A restful place
Imagine yourself stepping down into a restful place, this may be a place at home or somewhere else indoors, or it may be a place outside in nature. It might be a place you actually know or it may be a place you create and imagine. Settle down in this place for a few moments - imagine how your body feels rested, notice within your imagination the temperature or the movement of a gentle breeze or just the stillness. Notice any sounds in your restful place, notice how you are dressed, what you can see, you may even notice the smell of this place.
Stay here for as long as you like and then when you are ready, move on to the next stage.

Stage 4: Peace and calm
As you move away from this restful place you can see in front of you some steps. Imagine yourself standing at the top of the steps, again use all of your senses to truly visualise yourself. Then begin to step down, counting the steps from 10, slowly and deliberately taking these steps down …..9……8……7……. until you reach the bottom. At the bottom you find yourself in your own peaceful place, a quiet place, no one else is around, you walk slowly, taking in the different aspects of this place, you find yourself watching, listening, feeling the air, the ground under your feet. If you stay here a while you might just find yourself enjoying the peace and the calm.

You may fall asleep at any stage throughout this process. If in stage 4 you are still awake you can continue to focus on the peace and the calm or you might decide to leave this place and you can do this by walking back up the steps counting from 1-10, maybe stopping off briefly in the restful place and then going in reverse order through the chakras. As you end at violet, take a deep breath and feel yourself in a better state for sleep than you were before.

You can adjust this visualisation to suit yourself and with your own creative imagination but aim to keep the 4 stages of the process. The first few times you practice you might want to just practice with one of the stages and then add the other stages as the process becomes more familiar to you.

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