At the height of my sleeplessness, I dreaded going to bed. It took a while to get to this point, but after countless failed attempts to sleep, my mind became my enemy.
In the beginning I tried wearing myself out. When that didn't work I tried distracting myself with reading, writing in my journal and/or taking a bath.
I even tried distracting my mind by writing Arabic with my left hand. I figured the focus needed to write backwards in a different language with my left hand would cordon off the anxiety I felt.
Sometimes jumping through these hoops would work, other times it wouldn't. Sleep was my nemesis.
I have since used mindfulness meditation to create the space needed to fall asleep at night. The effectiveness of this practice has led me to reach out to others in the hope of sharing and learning more about it and other tools like it.
On Tuesday, I interviewed a Yoga Therapist who teaches out of Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.
Jillian Hunsager and I chatted about yoga and how much it has helped the Marines she teaches.
What was so interesting about interviewing Jillian was how familiar her descriptions of the problems her students faced were to my own.
Jillian described a instance were after a Marine Corp Ball, a bunch of the guys came back with her and her boyfriend to their house before going out. The topic of Yoga came up and Jillian ended up teaching the guys right there in the living room. Afterwards, the guys were so relaxed they decided to just chill instead of going to the bar.
Jillian shared some great advice and I told her about explaining mindfulness by comparing it to firing a weapon.
The interview was only lasted 25 minutes, but it strengthened my connection to all the SMBRs (service members) out there and the people who are trying to help us.
What I got from Jillian and what I encourage you to try to get from this weeks mind training is that you gotta work to change your head space.
Whether its mindfulness, yoga, rock climbing or art--making an attempt to create some space in your mind is worth the effort.
If you don't have access to a teacher or class, try this weeks meditation. It represents a way to identify and release the external influences that are contributing to the body's stress patterns.
Jillian gave one more piece of advice that I want to share: Yoga, like anything, requires practice. This advice extends to meditation.
When you listen to this meditation by Lisa Wimberger, think of each visualization as a practice.
As you practice you get better at holding the image in your mind.
As you get better at holding that image in your mind, the other crap that usually weasels its way in can't break through.
This post was guided by the 39th stanza of the Art of Peace, a book written by Morihei Ueshiba
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Thrive as a civilian.