My first and foremost reason is that I love sleep, I love deep rest, and I love the sense of ease and well-being that arises when we take the time to slow down and look after ourselves.
Without this essential reprieve of nourishing rest we can, and all too often do, send ourselves into a messy spin; berating and pushing ourselves to the extreme, sending a flood of really uncomfortable emotions and damaging chemicals raging through our bodies.
Thankfully however we also have the means to get out of this mess, though often our own resources are so diminished that we need others to show us how.
I really, really wanted to teach others how to get out of their own mess, to help people settle back into themselves and to feel comfortable in their own skin. For I knew all too well the opposite position to this and what it felt like to be steamrolled by anxiety and often pumped with adrenaline to keep me going.
Today however, most people who meet me comment on how calm I seem.
The thing that they probably don’t realise is that I have to work at it – I put a lot of my time and energy into resting because I believe that without that we end up running from Billy to Jack without ever really getting anywhere. And that’s frustrating. Really, crazy-making frustrating.
When we don’t give ourselves enough down-time our bodies produce adrenaline and cortisone; the adrenaline buzz that’s created then keeps us in a spin of ditheriness where we lack the clarity of mind that is needed to engage in decision making and goal orientated activities. This flood of adrenaline also causes the fight or flight stress response to be activated, which in turn causes the frontal brain (which is responsible for linear rational thinking) to shut down, so we lack clarity for a positive solution. In this state of ‘fight or flight’ our language centres also close down – making clear talking or rational explanation equally as impossible.
In this state we most often feel overwhelmed, alone and isolated and all too often we can turn inwards, berating ourselves for not getting it right or for being unable to find a clear solution.
If you’ve ever found yourself in the middle of an argument spluttering incoherently and spinning out, you’ll know the frustration of this and how it sends us circling around the same thoughts and emotional behaviours endlessly.
This chaotic state of mind and presence is really painful, and yet try as we might, it seems impossible to find a way out of. The only way out is to find ways to get to the core foundations of what is at the bottom of our distress.
Grounded in my many years of study of the body and mind it made sense to me that by first calming the physiological aspect of the fight or flight arousal, that we would have a very good chance of bringing ourselves back into a state of restful presence. This would then serve as a vital foundation to allow for ‘letting go’ and entering deep sleep.
Using the body to calm down is often much more effective than using the rational mind to calm down when the rational mind isn’t online to start with
Karen Boutelle, clinician
The racing mind and the insatiable ‘push’ to get things done is often felt as a pit in the base of the belly, or the constant and uncomfortable tightness in our shoulders and lower back. All these things take us away from ourselves, and enter us into states of anxiety and hopelessness.
I know these states. I’ve lived through them. I also know how to come out the other side.
I really wanted to help others, like me, who find themselves in those impossible places to come back ‘on-line’ and find their place of ease, so that their rest comes more easily and more often.
By the time I reached the phase of sleepless nights I already had in excess of twenty years of experience in Yoga and Meditation, and as a Craniosacral Therapist I knew the value of putting myself in the hands of a trained therapist. And yet it was still difficult at times to calm the tumultuous storm that was erupting in my life.
Holding firm to my Yoga practice and the other practices that I teach on my courses served to steady me during those nights and thankfully I did recover my normal sleeping patterns in a relatively short time.
The practices that I teach relax the body, but they also have a profound effect on how our brain responds to stress and in turn they teach us how we can change the way our minds work. Through these practices we can then hold the tools required to avoid overload and to calm the nervous system, in the process finding our way back to deep, nourishing rest.
I came across this video today while writing this blog and thought it might help to provide a clearer understanding about what happens when our brains go ‘off-line’ due to stress. Here Karen Boutelle, lecturer for Landmark College, takes a little while to get into the explanation of it all, however the core of her explanation into the brain’s functioning will help you understand why the practices that I teach are so necessary. This is particularly true of the rewiring of the brain and our responses to life experiences that threaten us in some way, keeping that keep us in a constant state of alert.
If you feel the time has come to step out of the usual reactions that lead to stress and restless nights I would love to see you at one of my workshops , classes or better still, coming along to my Deep Sleep Clinic for a one-to-one consultation.
I would be very happy to see you there and help find you the best solution to your restless nights.