The reason you forgot why you went to the kitchen…and what that has to do with sleep!
Do you ever walk to the kitchen and forget what you wanted? That’s how your mind works.
When I wrote my books on brain fitness, I learned that the cognitive cortex is entwined with your motor cortex. I realized that our thoughts are about doing, about action.
Here’s an example: Say you want a Band-Aid. You remember it’s in the kitchen, and mentally go there to get it. Then your body follows the mental movement—inner directions—and you end up in front of the fridge forgetting the item that called you.
This happens when you can’t sleep and your mind is racing.
You know how basketball players visualizing free-throw practice improves their shots? When your mind is thinking, your body, heart rate, and especially your eyes follow that internal GPS. Which (big duh!) keeps you awake.
If you consider all the places you’ll go, you’re really zooming around. From discussions, sorting things out, plans, people, background scenery, driving, therapy, work.
It’s not just where it’s also time: From things that happened long ago, to plans for tomorrow, to imagination of the future. You shift to when you’re doing all that thinking.
Your body responds to all of these mental journeys.
Return to mental rest
I teach my clients many ways to return to mental rest without strangling the mind. Here’s one of them that can help you slow your mind:
Bring your thoughts to just what happens in your room. Anytime you find yourself imagining, say, a conversation with your sister on the phone, come back to your four walls.
What’s there to think about? It could be the pictures on your walls, the feeling of yourself in your sheets, the air on your skin.
If your mind still wants to travel farther, maybe you can imagine a windfall of remodeling your bedroom. It’s in the future but grounded in your real experience.
Returning to your room is a gentler way of being in the meditative here-now. You’re helping the brain and body let go into moments of rest, and welcoming sleep.