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Reverse Your Stress…Relax From the Top Down

While I still get insomnia, it doesn’t bother me much anymore. Except for the last few nights….

I traveled rocky sleepless roads filled with non-stop thoughts and stress. I had to continually ask my inner GPS to recalculate to the destination of relaxation.

It took a few detours, but I found a new Restful Insomnia route to the land of letting go. A different direction that may be helpful in your wakeful night hours.

What caused my sleepless rocky road? 

Bright lights, long nap, a little anxiety—various things caused my sleepless nights. While nothing was an urgent problem, my mind would persistently insist that doing something was more important than resting.I didn’t believe my mind, though. I stayed in bed, practicing my usual Restful Insomnia techniques—almost always the paths to calm.

But those nights, I was stuck in the spiral of problems, preoccupations, and plans. When I did wander down a drowsy path—into the jumble of weird pre-sleep associations—I’d realize “I’m falling asleep.”

A U-turn right back into thinking and wakefulness.

How to relax from the top down

So I tried something a little different. I rested from the top down.The traditional method many learn is to relax from the bottom up—tensing and releasing muscles the toes, calves, thighs, and on up to the head.

I’d never had much luck with that technique, and tensing muscles didn’t help me let go, it just made me more alert.

Why did I go in the opposite direction? Donna Eden and others familiar with acupuncture and acupressure say that when energy rises in your body, you become more wakeful. I decided to see whether having my energy—or relaxation—move down would lead to rest.

I started out by trying to relax the scalp, but there aren’t a lot of muscles to release there. Instead, I focused on:

… Letting go of my face around my cheeks and upper jaw… … Letting my eyes rest more towards “looking” at my navel… … Feeling gravity help my neck and tops of shoulders become heavy… … Softening behind heart, between my shoulder blades… … Gently opening my chest…

Yes, I got distracted by my to-do list. But I kept coming back to relaxing from the top-down and the distractions became less and less:

… Softening the intricate puzzle of organs in my gut… … Allowing the spine to sink into gravity… … Releasing tension in my pelvic area… … Imagining the femur (thigh) bones releasing away from the pelvis… … Loosening my knees and calves… … Releasing my feet and toes…

By now, my focus was in my body experience of rest, not on my thoughts.

After a few nights of practicing this top-down relaxation during difficult insomnia, I can unwind more quickly. It’s now the Restful Insomnia mode I use when I can’t sleep, allowing me again to rest at night.

Let me know if it works for you.

Enjoy your nights, Sondra

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