Feeling Depressed And Unbalanced? Try A Sleeping Ritual

Living in the Midwest at this time of the year I hear family, friends and students tell me that they feel sluggish, lethargic, a little depressed and even weepy for no apparent reason. I tell them, “Welcome to Kapha Season!”

According to Ayurveda — the 7,000 year-old system of mind, body, and spirit holistic health — if you’re anywhere in the world where winter is transitioning into spring, it’s Kapha (coff-uh) season. Kapha season starts out wet, damp and cold in March and ends up wet and warm in May and June. Since Ayurveda recognizes the deep connection we have with nature, we tend to reflect internally what's happening externally. Last week we had three full days of rain here, and on those three days of rain we saw many students weeping.

The beauty of Ayurveda is that it gives us the tools to not only recognize this imbalance before it takes control of our life, but it also gives us the tools to rebalance. One of the main factors for rebalancing is sleep. It's while you're sleeping that your body restores and renews. Sleeping has benefits that relate to increased memory and creativity, weight loss and decrease in the body’s inflammation, among many other mental, emotional and physical benefits.

But sometimes a Kapha imbalance can manifest by giving us too much sleep. We want to lie on the couch and take naps; we feel less motivated. The rebalance comes from getting a quality night’s sleep so that afternoon nap is no longer needed.

So how do we rebalance? By following this evening bedtime ritual, you'll find yourself having a full night’s sleep to rebalance, restore and rejuvenate your waking hours.

  • An hour before bedtime, soak in a warm, lavendar or vanilla-scented bath for 10 to 15 minutes. While soaking, dim the lights, light a candle and listen to soothing music.
  • After your bath, drink a warm cup of chamomile tea or warm milk with nutmeg and honey.
  • Disconnect from all stimulating activity, including television, computers and cell phones.
  • Incorporate something nourishing into your life at this time of the night. Try reading inspirational literature or poetry.
  • If your mind is active, “download” your thoughts before bed by journaling your concerns. Then close the journal and let the concern go.
  • Turn the lights out between 9:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. If your bedtime is much later than that now, begin moving your bedtime up by 30 minutes every week until you're in bed by 10:30 p.m.
  • When in bed, lie comfortably on your back and scan your body. Feel any left over tension that may still be left in the body or the mind. A, you exhale, visualize this tension leaving.
  • Slow the breath down and feel your breath begin to move into the belly. Allow your exhales to be longer than your inhales. Try slowly, easily and effortlessly inhaling to the count of four and exhaling to the count of six or eight. Follow the sound and the feeling of the gentle breath until you drift off to sleep.

Should you awaken during the night and have trouble going back to sleep, get out of bed take a few deep breaths and try reclining in a soft, comfortable chair with a blanket.

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