Author Topic: Success stories, anxiety or insomnia  (Read 1091 times)

oscarabeo

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Success stories, anxiety or insomnia
« on: January 16, 2018, 08:30:50 PM »
Hi all,

are there any of you who happen to have overcome anxiety or insomnia with meditation alone? Would you be willing to share your stories here?

Or, if the technique did not help, that is something good to know too.

My story is just beginning, but I would like to share, to get the ball rolling.

I am struggling with both insomnia and anxiety (and recently, as a result of a cold, I developed some pulsating tinnitus and hearing loss in one ear). Since about a year ago, I haven't been able to sleep through the night. I have palpitations throughout the day, and they occasionally wake me up at night. I'm in my late twenties and I never had a problem like this before. My job is extremely high-stress and my boss is also a stressful person to be around. This seems likely to be the cause.

I am finding relief in samatha/vipassana meditation. The technique helps me concentrate my mind, find calmness, and even makes the palpitations go away, for a time. But the stress of work often brings them back. It's an ongoing battle, and sometimes feels like two steps forward, one step back, but I am optimistic.

My first 10-day retreat ended three weeks ago, and I'm still meditating two hours a day. I'm sure results vary, and I don't think that a problem that developed over the course of years is going to go away easily. I will of course update the forum if things change, for better or for worse.

oscarabeo

Patrice

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Re: Success stories, anxiety or insomnia
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2018, 02:08:28 AM »
I never had insomnia problem so I can say much about it. As for anxiety, I believe it is helping me. Meditation helps me relax so that's a start. Other than that, it gives me time to reflect on those things that makes me anxious when they pop in my mind as I meditate. I reflect on the fact it won't last and on it's cause. It helps me realize it's not the end of the world and that I can actually solve the problem from it source. It can be the simple realization that my financial trouble is caused by this and that habit I have. It was obvious but I never took time to think about it. Now I can start solving it. Once that's solved, there is one less thing that makes me anxious in my life. It's just an example. Anyway, reflecting on the thing that makes me anxious helps me solve them.
I'm also quite interested in the noble eightfold path and to try to follow it better. In my opinion, keeping it in mind in my day to day life can only help staying on the right track and avoid putting myself in bad situations that would add stress in my life... reasons to be anxious.

That being said, I'm going back to do the tax report I failed to fill years ago. I came to realize the reason I'm stock piling all my money without never using it comes from a fear that one day, Canada Revenue Agency will knock at my door and tell me I owe them an arm and a leg. Once that will be solved, maybe it will have cost me an arm and a leg but it won't make me unhappy and stressed anymore. I'll be able to go forward. That, is one of the way meditation helps me.  It helps me see the shitty stuff in my life, how to solve it and realizing this isn't a huge monster that's gonna drive me mad helps me find the courage to take action and do it. It helped me do a lot of little things like that over the last couple of years.


stillpointdancer

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Re: Success stories, anxiety or insomnia
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2018, 10:53:09 AM »
Jon Kabat-Zinn's work on mindfulness and stress is useful for people suffering anxiety and insomnia. Try googling him and MBSR, mindfulness-based stress reduction.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Matthew

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Re: Success stories, anxiety or insomnia
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2018, 10:17:48 PM »
Insomnia is often a sign that you do not drink enough water and/or do not have a good bedtime routine.

Drinking 4-6 pints of water a day solves >50% of insomnia problems. 90% of the remaining problems are dealt with by a good "sleep hygiene routine": go to bed early 9 or 10pm, no later, no screens for an hour before bed. Bedroom is for sleep not other activities. Write a list of your worries and troubles on paper and leave it in your living space away from where you sleep - you literally do not take your worries to bed, yet know they are there to face up to after a good night's rest.

Try these things perhaps. Meditation in parallel will definitely make a big difference.

Kindly,

Matthew
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Marshmallow

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Re: Success stories, anxiety or insomnia
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2018, 10:25:36 PM »
I really like Jon Kabat-Zinn's book Full Catastrophe Living. Whenever someone asks me about meditation I always recommend it. Plus he does have a lot of videos on YouTube, I believe he has one where he teaches the body-scan.

I think it's great that you already noticed that it's your job that causes the stress, you can either work on changing the way you perceive what you find stressful or find a less stressful job. I know finding a new job is not easy but  what do you think matters most, your health or your job? Being successful or being happy? To me it's obvious that health and happiness is more important. But your ego might tell you otherwise.

If you can't find yourself a new job, you need to look at what it is specifically that causes the stress. Often it's due to unhealthy perceptions. You can train yourself to look at things in a healthier way (compassion, understanding and acceptance helps). Look up the ABC method, it's a cognitive-behavioral technique and it's been incredibly useful to me. Try becoming more aware of your thoughts and feelings and I would also suggest writing them down. Try to remove the emotions from the situation and start to look at things more objectively. Talking to someone else can be very helpful, either a therapist or you can use 7cups.com. Which I often use and find helpful. There's something about talking about your feelings that can help you see things in a different light, you can also get someone else's perspective. If you're talking to someone you know in real life you might not feel as free to express everything you really feel, by fear of affecting the relationship negatively. Also not everyone is capable of having an open, free conversation and to hear about your deepest, most personal fears.

And I used to have chronic anxiety and depression and I don't anymore. I also had insomnia at some point in my life and now it rarely happens. So yes, meditation is very useful for all those problems. But you do have to be committed to your practice (without being obsessive). It becomes a habit overtime and like a best friend that's always there for you. :)  I would also recommend healthy habits like eating a whole food diet, or letting go of alcohol and caffeine. Caffeine especially can be enough to cause insomnia in some people (and I'm one of them).

When it comes to solving problems, I think the more honest you are with yourself, the more able you are to find solutions. But people tend to be in denial and find it difficult to get in touch with reality. Unfortunately that's what's usually needed to figure things out.

oscarabeo

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Re: Success stories, anxiety or insomnia
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2018, 06:27:54 PM »
Insomnia is often a sign that you do not drink enough water and/or do not have a good bedtime routine.

Drinking 4-6 pints of water a day solves >50% of insomnia problems. 90% of the remaining problems are dealt with by a good "sleep hygiene routine": go to bed early 9 or 10pm, no later, no screens for an hour before bed. Bedroom is for sleep not other activities. Write a list of your worries and troubles on paper and leave it in your living space away from where you sleep - you literally do not take your worries to bed, yet know they are there to face up to after a good night's rest.

Try these things perhaps. Meditation in parallel will definitely make a big difference.

Kindly,

Matthew

Matthew,

perhaps drinking water and having good sleep hygiene solved your sleep problem, but it is not the case with me. Insomnia comes in a number of flavors. Sleep hygiene may help someone with sleep-onset insomnia, but not with sleep-maintenance insomnia, which is what I struggle with.

While I am in a better place now than I used to be, there is something you should know, in case this arises in the future. People with insomnia can be sensitive to others who suggest their problem has a simple, easy solution. Usually they have already seen a number of doctors and tried all of the simple and easy things.

oscarabeo

oscarabeo

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Re: Success stories, anxiety or insomnia
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2018, 06:46:18 PM »
Marshmallow,

thank you for the kind message. Indeed I have read Full Catastrophe Living, I have a copy of it in view of me now. It is an inspiring book, but it seemed to promise a lot from just 45 minutes a day of practice for six weeks, if I recall right. I did follow the program from home, but without much improvement in sleep. It did help me accept the sleepiness, though.

When you mention the choice between my career and my happiness, I do think that choice is being forced on me. I see a lot of people around me are stressed and anxious, and if I make the same choices, I suspect I will end up the same. In science, there is a lot of pressure to publish, so much thinking about the future, about what job you will have next, whether your competition will publish before you, etc. In my case there is also "when are you finally going to finish your dissertation?" I think with so much focus on working for the future, I forget that I spend my entire life in the present.

Perhaps it will help to do as you and Matt say. Try to identify some of my anxieties as they bubble up, and try writing them down. Thank you.

oscarabeo

Marshmallow

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Re: Success stories, anxiety or insomnia
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2018, 07:23:04 PM »
Did you try the body-scan when going to bed? This practice usually helps me fall asleep.

But I think you're right, what it comes down to is improving your mental health, which means becoming stronger emotionally, more resilient, developing a more peaceful way of looking at life and becoming less emotionally reactive. All this comes with time when you practice meditation.

Improving my mental health was a lot of work but well worth the effort. I started practicing the ABC method as a result of my meditation practice, even though I was not aware that it was an actual technique used by therapists. I think besides meditation, this is the most useful technique. In a way it is very similar to meditation (or a natural extension of it), it's all about becoming more aware of your beliefs and perceptions, feelings, etc. And replacing your unhealthy mental habits with healthier ones. Since meditation clears up your mind, it becomes easier to identify those and then find solutions to your problems. What it requires is work and practice, but it was very fulfilling work.

If you would like to try it, I'd be happy to assist you, just let me know.

Monica

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Re: Success stories, anxiety or insomnia
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2018, 09:58:22 PM »
Anxiety is my problem. I too have a stressful job, and a lot of expectations to fulfill, so I can relate. I can relate with the insomnia, the anxiety, the palpitations, the whole thing. Although the insomnia has not been as severe as it appears to be happening to you, oscarabeo.

I can say that meditation has helped me manage the anxiety greatly. Not to the point of eliminating it, however. I wish I could say it's all under control and gone, but that would be an overstatement. By observing my body and feelings during meditation I have learned to stop identifying with the feelings. Somehow, the feelings are not me anymore, but something that is happening and that eventually goes away. Initially I could get there only while I was on the cushion, but by practicing, I have learned to respond to the rising anxiety even in normal times of my life. Just this morning, I took my dogs for a walk in a nature trail and felt it, very clearly and I was able to stop myself and think "oh, there it is, the anxiety is here", then I was able to scan the parts of my body that normally manifest the anxiety and see it all there.  This has been a huge discovery for me, as before I would just sink in it and let it take over.

Another thing that has been very helpful for me when I go through periods of great stress is exercising. In my younger years I never did any exercising, which I regret. Later in life I started running and that was also a game changer. Moving the body is very relaxing, so that helps too. Also, while running long distance, there is something that happens with the mind that resembles my experience during meditation so I get kind of a double dose of a meditation session. So, I will add that to my recipe for anxiety management. Meditation and exercise.

I hope my experience help you find what is right for you, oscarabeo. Peace.

dharma bum

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Re: Success stories, anxiety or insomnia
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2018, 05:48:59 PM »
i will also share my experience with sleeping patterns. this is what helps me:
1. going to bed every night at the right time, even if you're not sleepy. if not sleepy, meditate (anapana helps me) or read something light.
2. reduce internet time. internet causes chatter in the mind.
3. some exercise outdoors in the evening. a walk is very good.
4. strictly no alcohol. contrary to popular opinion, i find that drinking tea makes me sleep better.

as for anxiety, i've found that meditation has helped me a lot in general. the goenka style didn't help me as much as a few other sources including pema chodron's book. the other thing is time. i noted that it was about 9-10 years since i started to meditate that i began to have some sort of handle over anxiety.
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Marshmallow

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Re: Success stories, anxiety or insomnia
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2018, 06:32:01 PM »
It also took me about 10 years of regular practice to start seeing a significant difference. But after over a decade I can see how much it has changed me, and in such a good way. Having faith in your practice and not giving up is important.

But I still experience some anxiety, although these days I have all these tricks on how to handle it, such as breathing techniques, yoga, meditation, also mindhabits.com. :D  It's a game that you play that helps with managing anxiety. It often calms me down within just a few minutes and it's much easier than practicing meditation. :)

brexit

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Re: Success stories, anxiety or insomnia
« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2018, 01:31:14 PM »
Many have trouble sleeping when stressed by work or family or health problems. And I`m not an exception. But I`ve overcome it step by step. I gave myself a break and realized I couldnt resolve these things by fretting about them while lying awake all night.
I`ve tried a mental exercise to clear my mind of the pesky worries of the day, such as methodically walking through a house (not your own house! - all i’ll see is chores to be done!), or even better, a fantasy place such as a palace or a castle. Envision every room in as much detail as I could. I`ve imagined the colors, the furnishing, the textures and the fixtures in every room. Looked out the windows - what do i see? Picked up the knick-nacks and study them. For this purpose I even bought a new mattress (here is a review https://sleepissimple.co.uk/) Believe me, the right mattress is numer one step that can significantly improve the quality of your sleep—as well as your wellbeing while you’re awake
It takes practice, but it helped push away the obsessive worries that were haunting me :).
all is well

Marshmallow

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Re: Success stories, anxiety or insomnia
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2018, 05:50:29 PM »
I have this bed and pillow and it's the most comfortable mattress and pillow I've ever bought: http://www.swissdreambeds.com/

It's also eco-friendly and toxin-free.  :)

Suited4Battle

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Re: Success stories, anxiety or insomnia
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2018, 08:51:57 PM »
meditation has def helped me with anxiety and to a lesser extent with insomnia,
some days I wake up with a lot of swirling energy and an anxious feeling, my heart will often be palpitating, i then either exercise(mainly yoga) and then meditate, or just mediate
the diff between the feeling i wake up with and how i feel 2 hours later is amazing,,i was just teling my friend yest(which was a day i woke up feeling really bad) that I'm so grateful that I have these practices to help me feel better..
i meditate for 20 min before going to sleep and that helps to get calm and seems to help me sleep better but i also smoke weed before sleep and that really helps with insomnia

Marshmallow

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Re: Success stories, anxiety or insomnia
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2018, 03:51:49 PM »
I also often wake up in a bad mood, then I get up and start moving around and I'm happy again.  ::)

For me yoga seems to help much more than just meditation, it's like my whole body comes back to life, like pressing a reset button.

Suited4Battle - according to Buddhism and yoga, drugs are to be avoided and I don't think they're a solution. But I completely understand why people use them, meditation can be hard work and disease can be scary. But I think drugs have a cumulative effect and cause serious damage in the long-term.

oscarabeo

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Re: Success stories, anxiety or insomnia
« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2018, 10:11:37 PM »
Suited4Battle - according to Buddhism and yoga, drugs are to be avoided and I don't think they're a solution. But I completely understand why people use them, meditation can be hard work and disease can be scary. But I think drugs have a cumulative effect and cause serious damage in the long-term.

Marshmallow,

another point of view is that using drugs (in this way) treats the symptoms as opposed to the underlying problems.

Sometimes, I'm in the mindset that if only my symptoms were to go away then I'd be cured. But to me that mindset is counterproductive and tends to lead me to habituation instead of seeking a remedy.

I am beginning to see that my problem with insomnia started a long time ago, and that anxiety and stress have been major players in my life since as far back as I can remember. There were bullies, broken bones, jealousy of friends, poor grades, self-doubt, and more. It's no wonder I have trouble sleeping.

Meditation is helping me face these parts of myself that I've been burying for a long time. I hope that when the "impurities" are "uprooted" (to use the lingo) that the some of my psychosomatic problems will go away. Or maybe they won't. I suppose I will see.

oscarafone

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Re: Success stories, anxiety or insomnia
« Reply #16 on: February 21, 2018, 04:11:05 AM »
since people are recommending mattresses, i'd like to recommend cotton mattresses as the best. i grew up sleeping on somewhat thinner versions of this. i'm not in any way connected with the retailer or the manufacturer.

https://www.wayfair.ca/Gold-Bond-6-Cotton-Futon-Mattress-060500-0115-L50-K~GO1140.html?refid=GX185547186437-GO1140&device=c&ptid=267001409715&network=g&targetid=pla-267001409715&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIhZvM8JC22QIVyLXACh3Vxwo1EAQYASABEgI0R_D_BwE
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oscarabeo

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Re: Success stories, anxiety or insomnia
« Reply #17 on: February 21, 2018, 04:39:01 PM »
Hello all,

I'd like to keep this on topic: treatment of insomnia or anxiety with mindfulness meditation.

So, I kindly ask that we move on from mattress recommendations.

oscarabeo

stillpointdancer

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Re: Success stories, anxiety or insomnia
« Reply #18 on: February 22, 2018, 10:28:21 AM »
Hello all,

I'd like to keep this on topic: treatment of insomnia or anxiety with mindfulness meditation.

So, I kindly ask that we move on from mattress recommendations.

oscarabeo
Unfortunately mindfulness meditation is not medicine in that sense. You can't 'treat' insomnia or anxiety with mindfulness meditation. You can take aspects and incorporate them into something like Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, but this is not what mindfulness meditation in the Buddhist sense is about. There are meditations which help relaxation, and I try one of these if I have trouble sleeping. The body-check ones work best for me, where I scan my body, deliberately relaxing muscles and any tenseness I find. I usually then turn over and go straight to sleep.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Laurent

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Re: Success stories, anxiety or insomnia
« Reply #19 on: February 22, 2018, 11:06:39 AM »
"Cardiac coherence" is a meditation technique with the purpose of improving anxiety disorder, emotional unbalance and others.
It is recommanded by some doctors and psychiatrists.


Ottercreek

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Re: Success stories, anxiety or insomnia
« Reply #20 on: February 22, 2018, 01:44:31 PM »
Oscarabeo, you mention your first 10-days retreat, was that Goenka's organization? How was it with the anxiety then? Many studies suggest that mindfulness meditation help with anxiety, and for me there is no doubt about that, but, in the beginning, I found I really needed support in my practice. On my first Goenka course it went very well, but then I was on my own and went to other groups near my place for support (I shopped around a bit). Maybe coming on this forum does the job, or maybe regularly sitting with a group might help you, too. And be aware that for some people, Goenka's approach is fine, but otherwise there are alternatives (and in my opinion being buddhist is optional, sorry stillpointdancer! :))

oscarabeo

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Re: Success stories, anxiety or insomnia
« Reply #21 on: February 23, 2018, 03:16:35 AM »
Oscarabeo, you mention your first 10-days retreat, was that Goenka's organization? How was it with the anxiety then? Many studies suggest that mindfulness meditation help with anxiety, and for me there is no doubt about that, but, in the beginning, I found I really needed support in my practice. On my first Goenka course it went very well, but then I was on my own and went to other groups near my place for support (I shopped around a bit). Maybe coming on this forum does the job, or maybe regularly sitting with a group might help you, too. And be aware that for some people, Goenka's approach is fine, but otherwise there are alternatives (and in my opinion being buddhist is optional, sorry stillpointdancer! :))

Ottercreek,

thanks for the encouragement and the perspective. Sometimes, this alone is helpful. It was in fact a Goenka retreat. I had a wonderful time there.

I would like a partner to practice with here, and I’m in the process of finding a group, sampling some little groups here and there. There are also one-day retreats here occasionally that I plan to go to. I don't know if you have experience with those, but I'd like to know your opinion if you do.

I’m not longer practicing Vipassana at home — I’m instead doing simple breath meditation. I suppose Goenka would call it “anapana.” But I seem to be progressing consistency enough, using the book “The Mind Illuminated” as a way of gauging my progress.

"Cardiac coherence" is a meditation technique with the purpose of improving anxiety disorder, emotional unbalance and others.
It is recommanded by some doctors and psychiatrists.

Thank you Laurent. I briefly looked into this because of your comment. It seems very interesting and the idea seems compatible with the metta technique I learned on retreat. I will definitely be trying to incorporate this more into my practice.

Unfortunately mindfulness meditation is not medicine in that sense. You can't 'treat' insomnia or anxiety with mindfulness meditation. You can take aspects and incorporate them into something like Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, but this is not what mindfulness meditation in the Buddhist sense is about. There are meditations which help relaxation, and I try one of these if I have trouble sleeping. The body-check ones work best for me, where I scan my body, deliberately relaxing muscles and any tenseness I find. I usually then turn over and go straight to sleep.

stillpointdancer,

I want to know more about this point of view. It does seem to me like many folks (Goenka among them) do see mindfulness meditation as a form of therapy. Or, at least, it’s a way of “getting you out of your misery.” Goenka did claim after all that he tried it as a way of getting rid of his migraines, and it worked.

At the risk of going on a tangent: I realize that having expectations about meditation is antithetical to the practice. It’s something of a paradox — because who would spend so much time meditating without any expectations about the result? My current point of view — which maybe you can help me with — is that it is okay to meditate with the knowledge that meditation brings benefits, but without the expectation of any one benefit at any particular time.

In my experience, the meditation really does alleviate a number of physical symptoms of anxiety and, to an extent, insomnia. I don’t know why it works. But I find that my blood pressure and heart rate are both lower throughout the day — or at least it feels that way.

Thanks everyone.

oscarabeo

stillpointdancer

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Re: Success stories, anxiety or insomnia
« Reply #22 on: February 23, 2018, 12:11:32 PM »
Hi Oscarabeo
One of the great 'selling points' of meditation in general is the health aspect. You can expect lower blood pressure, less anxiety, and, perhaps, a longer life if you meditate. I think everyone would benefit from undertaking some kind of practice, either with a Buddhist group or in a secular setting. In fact, these improvements will come whether you expect them or not, in measurable terms.

In my response I was more concerned with specific problems which may need more specialist help. If the monks are trained for that, then fine. Otherwise it might be a good idea to supplement a meditation practice with some cognitive behavioral therapy from someone trained in that particular problem. The two together, I think, may be more effective than a general meditation practice alone.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Ottercreek

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Re: Success stories, anxiety or insomnia
« Reply #23 on: February 23, 2018, 01:32:46 PM »
About 1-day retreats, I have no experience with them, I would attend if I wasn't on their "blacklist"  :) Some friends of mine do attend them and like them. Have a good day... Metta!

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Re: Success stories, anxiety or insomnia
« Reply #24 on: March 18, 2018, 02:43:41 PM »
I started having palpitations and intense anxiety as well as insomnia when I was 19. By the time I was 22 and did my first retreat it helped me on a grand scale. I haven't had much trouble sleeping since and I'm 28 now, although this past winter it came back because of cannabis and coffee intake as well as some booze, I realized quickly that this was one of the main causes this time round so have cut those things out of my life. It's was so refreshing to catch up on my sleep after the first retreat, it's only when I have the odd bad nights sleep I realize how lucky I am to be able to get a solid 8 or 9 hours. When I have a lot of insomnia I realized it was because I wasn't present during the day, when I woke up in the morning I was already afraid of the night, being awake and wondering what was wrong with me, meditation helped me slip in to the moment and let go of even trying to get to sleep, it happens of itself, I guess.

I have faith that my anxiety will decrease in time through meditative practice. Vipassana or insight works on the body and this is where anxiety lies so naturally observing with equanimity it should lessen. Some anxiety is good of course, it can tell us what situations we actually should avoid, so in a way I think anxiety works hand in hand with our intuition. I don't think meditation alone will help us with anxiety, however, for example, if we're socially anxious, going in to social interactions and situations and learning that it's actually okay is the best remedy. Sometimes the only cure for anxiety is letting it do it's thing while you do the thing it's trying to stop you from doing.