Home Personal Psychology Sleeping/Dreaming Pathways to Sleep I (d)–From Health to Sleep: The Mindfulness Pathways

Pathways to Sleep I (d)–From Health to Sleep: The Mindfulness Pathways

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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.

In recent years, a substantial shifting of attention has occurred regarding what is often called: “the Mind Body Spirit Connection.” This involves the crossing of significant boundaries between psychology, biology and spirituality. It also involves a crossing of the Pacific Ocean. West is meeting East. Buddhism dances with Judaism. Psychotherapy interweaves with the practices of Yoga. Stress reduction strategies are infused with the practices of meditation. The holistic health perspectives of Vedanta India complement the healthy lifestyle perspectives that drive the formulation of integrative medical practices in North America. At the heart of the new alliances are four closely related practices: mindfulness, meditation, guided imagery and visualization. Each of these practices can serve as a valuable pathway to high quality sleep.

Attention and Sleep

 There is something more that occurs with mindfulness—something that goes beyond the impact found with physical activity. The connection between our minds and our bodies is something we can instinctively feel. But how much attention do we pay to our bodily sensations from moment to moment? To truly understand our own emotional lives and those of the people around us, we need a high level of awareness. This awareness is achieved through the practice of mindfulness and the development of body intelligence.

As we have already noted attentiveness might be the key factor when it comes to the role played by mindfulness at a pathway to sleep. Specifically, with physical (and psychological) awareness comes three important outcomes that relate directly (or indirectly) to sleep quality. First, with mindfulness we are more likely to be aware of the areas of our physical body and biological functioning that need most attention. With mindfulness, we are listening to our body—and can more readily attend to the additional work that is needed.  If we are healthier and our bodies are “in tune”, then we are likely to have a better night of sleep.

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