I’m out of my mind!

I’m out of my mind!

You should be too.

It’s 3:37 am and I’m jolted awake by some random, alarming thought or dream. Suddenly I’m spiraling with apprehension moving from regret to worry to anxiety about things that have or have not yet happened. Every feeling is enormous, uncontrollable and all consuming at that hour. There’s nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. Deep breathing becomes a desperate prayer with the hope that eventually shear exhaustion will mercifully takeover and slip me into oblivion.

That’s how it is … middle aged in the middle of the night.

I have a number of friends who’ve experienced similar situations that have chosen to take mild, prescription sleeping aids. No. Judgment. At. All. But to date, I’ve decided not to go that route, for a variety of reasons, but there have been times in the midst of a head-spinning episode that I second-guess my rationale.

For years I thought I was the only person on the planet cursed with this negative inner voice ~ that feeds your self-doubt, cripples your composure and sabotages precious sleep. These thoughts are often in vast contrast with my sense of self, creating an inner tug of war that can at times be maddening. Through much heart-wrenching research and honest conversations I’ve discovered how common and prevalent it is but that many suffer in silence.

This is not a case where misery loves company.

yoga on the beach

A few years ago, I took an evening yoga class with a teacher who led an incredibly, physically challenging practice by candlelight. During the course of the class she invited us to close our eyes as we transitioned from posture to posture, encouraging us to get out of our heads and into our bodies. It was an introduction to meditative movement and a game-changer for me about the power of the mat.

I’ve since discovered that emotion is energy in motion and how we process and direct our emotions affect our overall sense of wellbeing. Getting on your mat is an invitation to get out of your head. To be attuned to the mental, physical and spiritual energy within our bodies. Through practice, we identify and connect to our vulnerabilities and slow down long enough to re-energize.

The issue, of course, is how we continue to center our minds and thoughts off the mat and into our daily lives. That’s my “Holy Grail.”

When you can’t get to a yoga class, or perhaps that’s not a your thing anyway, there are strategies to redirect the brain and promote healing.

Childs pose has become my asana of choice to begin and end the day. Not only does it loosen the hips, it elongates the back, opening up the ribs like an accordion, allowing fresh oxygen to fill every crevice. After a night of sleeping or a day sitting at a desk, it really works the kinks out. Rest your forehead (third eye) on the floor (the earth) to ground yourself. It’s also a wonderful way to pray.

get out of your head Pinterest

Try focusing on the chakras ~ or points of energy in the body ~ working from your root chakra {at the base of your spine} through your crown has an amazing calming and healing effect. Directing your energy upward is a way to pay homage to the divine.

Deep breathing is a go-to tactic at any time. Use a mantra. One simple statement that gives your mind the activity it craves while limiting expansive thinking. It can be as simple as “Let go and let it be.” I find that particularly effective when confronting discomfort.

Focus your gaze on a single unmoving object ~ known in Sanskrit as drishti ~ minimizing distraction and overstimulation. The balancing series within a yoga practice is meant to reinforce this concept.

While I can’t personally vouch for this, a good friend of mine writes in her gratitude journal every single night. It ends her day on a positive note, breaks down her feelings in a productive way and wipes her mind clean of worries before falling asleep.

For the smart phone addict, there are some helpful meditation apps. One of my personal favorites is Calm.

Learning to center and still our minds is a constant work in progress. I’m convinced there’s no quick fix or pill. If there was, I wouldn’t continue to experience restless insomnia. So we must do the work. Take the break to break through.

“Out of my mind” for me has become a quirky little motto. It sort of underscores my neurotic, crazy nature.

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