Pathways to Sleep ID. From Health to Sleep The Mindfulness Pathways
Mindfulness, on the other hand, is about these higher-order things. This pathway is not just about reducing a state of anxiety or stress—though this might be one of the outcomes. Ideally, when mindfulness and the many ways it is practiced (such as through meditation) are consistently engaged, there will be less anxiety and less stress in the life of the practitioner; however, mindfulness is ultimately in the business of overall body/mind/spirit improvement (an important concept to which we shall turn shortly).
Drawing this all-too-simplistic distinction between mindfulness and stress-reduction to a close, we will turn to a brief analysis of how the mindfulness pathways leads specifically to high quality sleep. There are obviously many different mindfulness practices and a long, historical foundation laid in Eastern and some Western philosophical and spiritual traditions for specific practices. Probably the simplest description of mindfulness is that it is a practice that involves controlled breathing, using engaged with the practitioner assuming a specific pose (such as sitting in a straight-back position). Various forms of body scan are often engaged (with the practitioner focusing systematically on various bodily functions) and particular attention is paid to sounds in the environment as well as the practitioner’s own feelings and images. We will not attempt to portray any of these foundational principles. We will instead focus on ways that mindfulness facilitates high quality sleep.
Sleep and the Mind-Body-Spirit Connection
As we begin this brief examination of the role played by mindfulness in bringing about high-quality sleep, it is important to note the intimate connection between studies of sleep and studies of the mind, our bodies –and ultimately the human spirit. As has been and will continue to be a refrain in this series of essays on sleep, everything is connected to everything else. High quality sleep requires the alignment of and cooperation between multiple pathways. A great bed doesn’t do it nor does a dose of some sleep aide. A lot has to occur at the same time.