Author Topic: Dealing with anxiety and sleeping problems  (Read 3774 times)

TheMichelle

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Dealing with anxiety and sleeping problems
« on: November 13, 2014, 01:27:04 PM »
Hi everyone,

I started meditation 3 weeks ago and I feel much better now, not so anxious all the time. The thing is that, now that I'm getting better, I feel like I don't focus so much on my meditation. Before, I used to sit for 20 minutes in the morning and at night, now I always stop after like 10/15 minutes. Plus, before I started feeling anxious I used to sleep 10 hours a day and feel fine, and when I took naps I woke up feeling I had more energy. Now I always sleep 7 hours per night and I wake up always like 10 minutes before the alarm and I can't take naps. I try to take a nap and I "sleep" but when I "wake up" after like 2 hours I have that feeling that I haven't slept at all and I feel tired all the time.

Does anyone have any advice on this, like how to make meditation help me rest and have better sleep at night?

Thank you

Matthew

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Re: Dealing with anxiety and sleeping problems
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2014, 02:29:10 PM »
If you are stopping after 10 - 15 minutes this is usually down to too much concentration or too little relaxation. Meditation is about giving time to get to know your own being "from the inside out" - as opposed to our normal way of knowing ourselves which is much more about our relationship to the outside world and other people.

Maybe you have some expectations of meditation? Maybe you are trying too hard and your ego is resisting change that you already started to feel? Just try and relax and stick to that 20 minutes. I don't recommend doing this too near to bedtime: it's good if you have a bit of space between meditation and sleep for the meditation to sink in.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

betty

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Re: Dealing with anxiety and sleeping problems
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2014, 07:09:45 PM »
Does anyone have any advice on this, like how to make meditation help me rest and have better sleep at night?

As Matthew said, it's important to be wary of having expectations of meditation.  When we meditate in order to achieve a certain outcome we run the danger of not really developing any equanimity at all.  When we only meditate because we are feeling bad, we set up meditation as a "fix it" tool, instead of a practice that we know will have long term benefits for us.

Generally if people suddenly start having anxiety and sleeping issues, it's an indication that something has happened in their life that was difficult for them to process.  We can't expect a few weeks of meditation to resolve this, and sometimes we need some support to deal with what is happening in our life alongside of developing more mindfulness through meditation.  It could be worth considering seeing if you can find a therapist who teaches mindfulness to help you with more tools to deal with the anxiety, if that idea resonates with you. 

I've personally found it best to decide ahead on how long I'm going to sit for and stick to it, and treat any urge to stop my sitting practice early as something to sit with.  As soon as you start letting thought pull you off the cushion you are no longer simply observing what is happening, which is an important component of meditation.  It can also suggest an outcome focused approach - because you are feeling better at a certain point in the meditation you stop, reinforcing the idea again that meditation is a fix it tool, rather than a way to really get to know yourself, as Mathew wrote, from the inside out.  However it's important to remember to be gentle with yourself and not judge the desire to reduce your meditation, instead simply be curious and watch the thought that would have you stop your session early.

You've had wonderful feedback in the last three weeks that meditation is doing some good things for you, with feeling better and less anxious, so hopefully you will be able to draw on that to inspire you to make meditation a regular practice in your life, no matter how you are feeling.  :)

clayton

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Re: Dealing with anxiety and sleeping problems
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2014, 01:47:37 AM »
I agree with everything that has been said. Meditation is like a muscle.. you can strengthen your mind but if you don't maintain your practice then don't be surprised if or when your anxiety returns. While I would like to encourage you to continue, I say make your own choice and choose what works for you.
Follow your nose

TheMichelle

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Re: Dealing with anxiety and sleeping problems
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2014, 09:31:35 AM »
Thank you all for your answers, you're right.. I can't use meditation as a "fix it" tool just when I feel anxious or sad.

I've been finding it hard to meditate in the morning now, I used to set my alarm 30 minutes earlier in order to meditate for 20 minutes when I wake up. But now I find it hard cause I always feel sleepy and often snooze the alarm many times. Does anyone have any suggestion on this? Maybe I should start meditating some other time of the day, or keep trying to meditate in the morning?

Dharmic Tui

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Re: Dealing with anxiety and sleeping problems
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2014, 09:51:34 AM »
Make sure you go to bed early enough and stop using the snooze function.

Matthew

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Re: Dealing with anxiety and sleeping problems
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2014, 06:46:23 PM »
This is the routine that works for me:

Evening: No TV or other distractions for an hour before bed, bed by 11pm (usually earlier but I'm old!)

Morning: Wake, stretch (in bed - before body is fighting gravity!), get up and stretch again, shower, sit, get on with the day. The shower wakes me up for sitting and the stretching helps the body.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

TheMichelle

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Re: Dealing with anxiety and sleeping problems
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2014, 07:29:29 PM »
Thank you Matthew. The hardest part would be turning on the TV and the computer one hur before bed. But I'll try at least a half an hour.

Matthew

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    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Dealing with anxiety and sleeping problems
« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2014, 07:59:35 PM »
Thank you Matthew. The hardest part would be turning on the TV and the computer one hur before bed. But I'll try at least a half an hour.

You will find within a week that even half an hour makes a great difference: these things stimulate the mind a great deal, allowing the mind to calm before going to bed will improve the depth and quality of your sleep and you will wake feeling more refreshed.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

betty

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Re: Dealing with anxiety and sleeping problems
« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2014, 08:02:08 PM »
Thank you Matthew. The hardest part would be turning on the TV and the computer one hur before bed. But I'll try at least a half an hour.

One way to approach it is to give yourself a certain length of time that you commit to doing it and see what happens (like a two week period for example).  Some people find that reduced TV and computer leads to increased relaxation and alertness so it becomes easy to switch the TV off earlier and earlier.  You might be surprised to find how you feel with less TV.  :)

gasteria

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Re: Dealing with anxiety and sleeping problems
« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2014, 02:24:36 AM »
this is in response to TheMichelle that has trouble meditating in the morning. Let me share my own experience.

I must have very strong motivation to meditate because I wake myself up an hour earlier (at 6:00 am) in spite of the fact that I don't like to be up early morning, and I am on the meditation mat within 15 min. I think this is because I like it. I don't think I would be able to do this without having enjoyment with meditation. Also I used to fall asleep during meditation. Ever since I don't sit on the chair with my back supported, but sit kneeling with a pillow between my legs I cannot fall asleep. As soon as my head is drooping I am awaken because I loose the balance. 

I believe that the best time of the day is in the morning. I have more energy than any other time of the day, the surroundings are more quiet, I am less distracted, and I don't have to rush if I get up early enough. I meditate for an hour and 5 min using Mr. Goenka's Vipassana recordings.

My meditation has the highest priority in my life and except activities that sustain my life nothing comes close to importance of it. I hope I didn't become meditation junkie but that is what matters in my life most, at this point.

I would recommend to TheMichelle to give it much more time before you decide that meditation is not working for you. It might take months before you feel any change. Maybe your posture is not conducive to stay awake for longer time, maybe you don't really believe that meditation is helping you. I would also recommend to read some books that are suggested on this forum.

And good luck. Don't give up. What else it there worth doing?

TheMichelle

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Re: Dealing with anxiety and sleeping problems
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2014, 09:01:10 PM »
Hi Gasteria. I'm sorry I only saw your answer now. Thanks a lot.

I have been meditating again, everyday in the morning for 20 minutes. I enjoy the practice, I'm really new in meditation.. it's only been like 3 weeks since I started and I have many doubts. Maybe those doubts are holding me back in meditation. I have a lot "what if's" in my head, and then I get scared of not being able to do the things I want to do and follow my dreams and achieve my goals. Those are my biggest fears, I start thinking "what if I don't get better to do those things?". But now I feel better than before, I feel that I can control these fears better, and they don't last long in my mind. I'm happy for that. I still have many doubts about meditation practise and how it will help me, I think a lot about the "not craving, not desiring" things that I've read about meditation and it confuses me because I have hopes and dreams and I want to achieve them. And I see meditation, for now, as a way of relaxing (that works) but at the same time I have doubts. I think not desiring anything as a bad thing, I like to want things. I know these are typically the doubts of a person who is beginning, but I can't help having these questions.

But I'm happy with my meditation practise until now, I will keep doing it.
Btw, where can I find those Goenka's recordings? I would like to try them.

Thank you :)

gasteria

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Re: Dealing with anxiety and sleeping problems
« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2014, 02:11:30 AM »
Hi TheMichelle,

I hope I was not patronizing you with my own experience.

I also have doubts and sometimes my meditation does not go too well. Sometimes I am so distracted that I am hardly focusing on anything. I did my own post about how long I need to wait to see the results because I thought after two months I should be in nirvana. Somebody responded that it took him 9 months before he could see any difference. that cooled me off a little bit. http://www.vipassanaforum.net/forum/index.php/topic,2613.msg26940.html#msg26940

As for difficulties during meditation in one of the books recommended by this forum "Beyond the Breath: Extraordinary Mindfulness Through Whole-Body Vipassana Meditation", by Marshall Glickman, he says that even bad meditation is not wasted. It accumulates experience and information in our mind and body and eventually it gives results. As long as we don't berate ourselves for having problems, but only acknowledge the reality of it.

You say that you have so many plans and hopes. I don't think it is contrary to meditation. I believe meditation is not to stop  from being hopeful and to deprive ourselves from our dreams. I think the purpose of it is to live in NOW and see the truth about reality of our life. that might help you to achieve your dreams because if you see things as they really are you are not constrained by your fears (aversions) that hold you back and by your cravings that distract you from what you really want.
Doubts are part of the process and they come and go all the time. Vipassana that I practice should only liberate me from my emotional pain not to stop me from doing what I want to do. I might change my dreams as I acquire better understanding of reality and after I know myself better. 

Goenka's recording can only be ordered after attending 10 days Vipassana retreat. They have a web site where what they call "Old students" can order different videos, audios and books. Vipassana retreat is free of charge and it has its centers all over the world including Portugal where I believe you reside. Vipassana is just one of many ways to meditate. I am sure there are different techniques and methods to achieve similar state of conscience. Vipassana is just my personal way to do it.

 I remember from the old calendar one saying of Chinese philosopher (Maybe Confucius) "It does not matter how slow you go as long you don't stop". I always remember this when I feel bad about my progress in anything.   

You are doing great and don't give up, ever.

betty

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Re: Dealing with anxiety and sleeping problems
« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2014, 05:23:58 AM »
I think a lot about the "not craving, not desiring" things that I've read about meditation and it confuses me because I have hopes and dreams and I want to achieve them.

This is an area many people new to these ideas get confused by.  It can help to take it back to what the Buddha taught.  He was teaching how to stop suffering, so that people could find genuine happiness.  He wasn't saying don't want anything, but rather learn to see whether your attachment to what you want really leads to genuine happiness.  Don't worry that it confuses you, it confuses all of us in the beginning!  This stuff becomes clear as we spend time meditating and start seeing more clearly in our own life over time what causes suffering and what leads to genuine happiness.

betty

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Re: Dealing with anxiety and sleeping problems
« Reply #14 on: November 22, 2014, 05:26:38 AM »
Vipassana is just one of many ways to meditate. I am sure there are different techniques and methods to achieve similar state of conscience. Vipassana is just my personal way to do it.

If I'm misinterpreting what you are saying here, my apologies.  There seems to be quite a common misunderstanding in Goenka students, who often seem to be of the understanding that Goenka's method is "the" vipassana.  Vipassana means insight meditation and is practiced throughout the different Buddhist schools.  Goenka's method is just one of many methods of practising vipassana. 

TheMichelle

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Re: Dealing with anxiety and sleeping problems
« Reply #15 on: November 23, 2014, 03:29:46 PM »
Once again, thank you for the answers Betty and Gasteria.

I'm feeling better now, this week I'll stop taking the pills for the anxiety and I'm ok with it.
Another doubt I have is about the types of meditation. I read somewhere here in the forum that at the beginning we should not read too much about meditation, just keep practising. And that's what I've been doing but this week I watched some videos about transcendental meditation and I liked it. But I don't really know the difference between the types of meditation. Should I just keep doing what I'm doing (which is basically what I read here on the forum on the instructions thread) or try to realize what kind of meditation I "prefer" and stick with it?

Thank you all

betty

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Re: Dealing with anxiety and sleeping problems
« Reply #16 on: November 23, 2014, 06:55:16 PM »
Should I just keep doing what I'm doing (which is basically what I read here on the forum on the instructions thread) or try to realize what kind of meditation I "prefer" and stick with it?

You are the only one who can decide this for yourself, we can just share what we've experienced with it in case that helps you find what you need.  For me I tried lots of different things and it became a way to avoid committing to one technique.  What you are doing is all you really need, you don't need anything else, but for some of us the seeking is part of the path and we seem to have to do it until we've done it so much it stops! 

My advice would be that if what you are doing is working (and from what I've read from your posts it seems to have had a positive effect on you), then I would stick with what you are doing.  Really the only time when it's skilful to try another technique is if we've given the one we are doing a good go and it doesn't seem to resonate for us.  But as I said before, this is something you need to decide for yourself.

I think it's wonderful that you are hanging in there through the doubts. :0)

TheMichelle

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Re: Dealing with anxiety and sleeping problems
« Reply #17 on: November 23, 2014, 11:48:45 PM »
Once again, thanks a lot betty. I will keep doing what I am doing and one day try to find what type of practice fits better for me.

Thank you

Matthew

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Re: Dealing with anxiety and sleeping problems
« Reply #18 on: November 25, 2014, 04:14:03 PM »
If you start with the breath, getting to know it, you need no teacher, no books, no retreats, no bells and no whistles.

From the breath you can follow your instincts.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

 

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