When we lose awareness of the present moment, our minds get stuck in maladaptive ways of thinking. For example, you might be trying to go to sleep but your mind gets lost thinking about all the groceries you need to buy. Deep, relaxed breathing is forgotten. And once you realize sleep isn’t happening, your muscles tense and your thought process quickly shifts to “I’m not falling asleep! I have XYZ to do this week and I won’t be able to function tomorrow.” The body seizes up, breathing and heart rate can both quicken, and falling sleep becomes more difficult.
Newer models of insomnia treatment are beginning to incorporate mindfulness. Here’s a grounding exercise to help you get some quality shut-eye, written by sleep psychologist Shelby Freedman Harris and narrated by Jamie Proctor, a longtime supporter of Mindful.