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Friday, December 6,2013

Meditation and Sleep

By Cary Bayer  

Amiddle-aged man, to whom I taught Higher Self Healing Meditation, just told me about a recent experience he had with insomnia, and how meditation took care of it in a matter of just a few minutes. He had been tossing and turning for a couple of hours. Then, at about 2 in the morning, he decided to meditate as I had taught him to do as a way to treat his sleeplessness. The insomnia-busting success that my meditation students have enjoyed inspired me to write this column.

Most people who can’t fall asleep at night are usually mulling over situations in their minds things that didn’t get resolved during their day they’re usually work or personal matters. Meditators, because they de-stress twice a day for 20 minutes at a time, don’t usually suffer from sleeplessness too often. But sometimes eating sugar or consuming caffeine at night can keep them up at night. This was the case for my student, who had drank several refillable glasses of soda at dinner.

A whopping 100 million to 150 million Americans suffer from insomnia.

Nearly $76 billion is spent in treating sleeping problems, some $7 billion of which goes to sleeping pills alone. The side effects for such medications include:

* Burning or tingling in the hands, arms, feet, or legs * Changes in appetite * Constipation * Diarrhea * Difficulty keeping balance * Dizziness * Drowsiness * Dry mouth or throat * Gas * Headache * Heartburn * Stomach pain or tenderness * Uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body * Unusual dreams * Weakness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who first taught me how to teach meditation, knew he wasn’t in Kansas anymore-to say nothing of the Himalayas, for that matter-when Americans asked him early on in his teaching if the Transcendental Meditation technique could help them sleep at night. Maybe he knew that he was in Kansas, because he certainly wasn’t asked such questions in India.

Unlike medication, meditation can help treat sleeplessness with remarkable effectiveness. As someone who practiced Transcendental Meditation from the age of 17 until 2010 and who taught it for several decades until launching Higher Self Healing Meditation in 2010, I can speak from extensive personal experience, and from my experience with hundreds of students, that people with sleeping difficulties should seriously consider learning how to meditate.

Practiced twice a day in the morning and early evening for 20 minutes at a time, meditation serves as a preparation for activity, and gives the body more energy. But when sleeplessness keeps a person tossing and turning and counting more sheep than shepherds, meditation serves to put that person to sleep very shortly. Why do Transcendental Meditation and my Higher Self Healing Meditation help get a sleepless person to sleep-or back to sleep in the middle of the nightwithin 20 minutes when, during the day, it gives him more energy? The answer is that meditation gives the body what it most needs at the time. During the day the body needs energy; late at night when it needs to repair itself from the fatigue and stress of the day through sleep, the body needs to rest. Meditation is a natural method without side effects to give the body what it needs when it needs it.

Sleep, by giving the body eight hours of rest during the night, is Nature’s way of helping the body throw off fatigue and replenish itself for the following day. During the deepest point in a night’s sleep, the amount of oxygen consumed drops by some 8 percent, as measured by physiologists Drs. R.K. Wallace and Herbert Benson in 1972 in a study on Transcendental Meditation published in Scientific American. Interestingly, that same study found that the meditation method they studied enabled the body to require 16 percent less oxygen; in other words the body was gaining a level of rest that was twice as deep as the deepest point in a night’s sleep. Sleep is Nature’s gift that allows us to release the day’s fatigue; meditation is Nature’s gift that allows us to release much deeperrooted stresses and tensions.

Combining both these tools enables us to live a happier, more rested lifesleeping when we need to sleep, and being awake when we need to be awake.



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