So many people in this day and age experience some sort of insomnia or difficulty getting to sleep. Very often it goes hand in hand with depression or anxiety. Now hypnotherapy has a wonderful toolbox for dealing with these issues, but here’s a quick and easy technique that might help which I give to most of my clients and often use myself:
This technique is a variation on other bilateral stimulation techniques such as EMT (Eye Movement Technique) and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) which are often used for processing traumatic memories. In theory, the crucial word is ‘bilateral’ meaning that it involves activating both hemispheres of the brain in order to better integrate them which helps process any rogue feelings, thoughts, memories etc. However aside from that, I believe this particular technique aids sleep in a mindfulness or hypnotic type way by focussing and occupying the mind so completely that there’s simply no room for the sort of thoughts or feelings that normally keep you awake. It’s not a long term cure all for chronic issues, but for most people it’s a really useful trick that helps much of the time.
Obviously you can do this laying in bed, but you could also do it sitting if you just want to relax or calm yourself during the day.
1) Start in a mindful way making sure you’re in a comfortable position with your hands resting on the tops of your thighs
2) Take three slow deep breaths, on the third breath holding it for the mental count of three. As you let go of that breath allow your whole body to relax. Allow your breathing to return to normal
3) Then take about 20 seconds to notice the weight of your body pressing down on the bed or chair. Pay attention to all the physical points of contact between your body and its support
4) Next start tapping your hands on your thighs or knees. Make sure you can feel the taps and that they are alternating equally between left and right sides. I find a couple of taps a second to be ideal, so you can think of it as a tick tock rhythm, left tick, right tock. Just carry on doing that for about 20 seconds before going onto the next bit
5) Now, while continuing with the tapping, and without changing your breathing, allow your attention rest on your breaths. Notice which parts of your body rise and fall with each. With a sense of detached curiosity observe the points at which the breath changes direction from in-breath to out-breath and vice versa. Noticing the difference from breath to breath. Carry on for about 20 seconds.
6) Finally, while continuing with the tapping and observing the breaths, we need to add just one more simultaneous action for you to coordinate. In your mind, repeatedly say the word ‘relax’ in time with your breathing so that the in-breath goes with REEEEEEEEEEEE and the out-breath with LAAAAAAAAAAAX
And that’s it.
Now I know that might sound quite busy. But if you approach it with the right mindset, after just a few minutes, you’ll find that your mind goes very still and quiet and you’ll start to tune out and eventually forget what you’re doing. When you notice that you’ve stopped tapping your hands for example, simply start doing that again and carry on. At some point soon you’ll either find you are too tired (or can’t be bothered) to carry on and can easily stop and soon sleep, or you that don’t remember stopping but just wake up in the morning knowing that you must have.
One very important point – DO NOT approach this process in an earnest way because that will stop it working. Go in lightly with a sense of detached curiosity. As if it really doesn’t matter whether it works or not, or whether you sleep or not. What have you got to lose. Sweet dreams!