So, I was doing a body scan meditation the other day by following a CD by Jon Kabat-Zinn, who is a renowned psychologist who has been doing work in mindfulness for many years. I do my own version with clients sometimes and most people find it quite relaxing and helpful. Basically, while keeping relaxed breathing, you turn your awareness to different parts of the body starting with the toes and working upward (I suppose you could go from head to toe as well, but I’ve always done from toe to head).
Why this is so effective is that you notice sensations…and the “aliveness” in the different parts of your body…when you turn your conscious awareness toward them. You can only notice these sensations when you are in the present moment. These sensations don’t take place in the past or the future – only the present moment. When you are in the present moment, you are completed liberated from the voice in the head that chatters almost incessantly about regrets from the past, worries about the future, negative thoughts about the self or others, the never-ending “to do” list, etc.
At any rate, the Jon Kabat-Zinn body scan mediation-which was 45 minutes long and after lunch-was so relaxing that I started “zoning out” during the meditation. My consciousness was slipping away from me as I was drifting off to La-La Land. We’ve all been there before. Occasionally this happens to my clients when we go through guided meditations in session. Although this can happen under normal conditions, it is much more likely when we are sleep deprived. It is a sign. If we cannot do some meditation without nodding off, then we are not getting enough sleep. It’s that simple.
For me, it’s been difficult at times because I have two young boys – one is an 18-month old who doesn’t like to sleep. I’m sure we all have good reasons for missing out on sleep, but the fact remains that we still need more than we usually get. So, I’m heading right to bed to ensure that I’m get caught up. I plan on adding podcasts to my website soon, and I will offer some guided meditations as part of this. If you find yourself nodding off in them, chances are you are not getting enough sleep…or I’ve made them too boring, but rule out the former first!