insomnia

How It Happened

I volunteer in state politics. It was the night that insurrectionists stormed the Capitol in D.C. I have friends that I love and care for that work there and the fear hit my system really hard. I was doing a solitary retreat and a cleansing new years’s juice fast, which makes you particularly open, feeling and vulnerable to, well, everything. I made the mistake of doing some pretty powerful yogic exercises with breath retention too, that, in retrospect, I should not have been fasting while performing them, a lesson now learned.

That night, with the confluence of everything, I had a full on panic attack. I could not sleep, and it got so bad that my nerves just gave out, shaking, overcome by fear. I could feel this odd overheating going up the spine to my head, pretty classic Kundalini syndrome or what Tibetans call a wind imbalance or Tsog Lung. This struggle went on for 3 nights. I finally broke down and took one exceedingly strong sleeping pill, for one night, that acts also as an anti-convulsant called Clonazepam, that cut the momentum of the fear and got me to sleep. However, I wanted to fix this and come back into balance by myself. I’m happy to say, I found a full cure, and was sleeping soundly by night 4, naturally, with no sleeping pills!

If you ever have your practice go wrong, anxiety or insomnia, or life and fear just hits an overwhelm, I wanted to offer what helped me get through it and come back into balance. I took 5 full days and I limited my work time to do an immersive, home self care intensive to recover. I’m happy to say that I came out better then ever, calm, healed and sleeping soundly.

The Natural Cure

I am not a doctor and cannot offer medical advice. Please do see a doctor, teacher or acupuncturist for professional advice if needed, but here is what helped me:

  1. I called my meditation teachers who know me- and they gave me some personal meditation instructions that I was so grateful for, and told me to discontinue all breath-work and yoga practice for some time.
  2. I went in for a full checkup with blood-work to my medical doctor, got acupuncture and a Ku-nye warm oil massage with a Tibetan Doctor.
  3. I took a relaxing Epsom salt bath twice a day with lavender essential oils in it and then rubbed rose body oil or sesame oil all over head to toe! I dried off and kept my body really warm, extra clothes and blankets, and a fire.
  4. I stopped the juice fast and ate heavy, oily, grounding, deeply nutritive foods- organic bone marrow broth, steamed vegetables with butter.
  5. The Chinese doctor had me take a safe, herbal formula called “Jitters Away”* along with goat’s milk colostrum to mend the nerves. *take with supervision
  6. At night before bed, I took some vitamins and amino acids including: 5htp, Magnesium, Inositol, L-Theanine and Gaba. *Dosages should be taken under the guidance of a functional medicine practitioner.
  7. I rubbed a small amount high quality CBD salve with arnica onto my arm, on the soft spot where the arm bends.
  8. I had this happen on retreat a few years back, so reread the VERY BEST INSOMNIA BOOK, and followed the author’s advice that puts you back on track for sound sleep. In sum, you do a mantra before bed that says: “I’m a good sleeper, my body knows how to sleep.” You can rub you feet together and rub your belly to bring the “energy” down.
  9. I stopped all caffeinated coffee, went to decaf and calming teas like chamomile with natural, non-stimulating sugars like monkfruit or coconut. Before bed, warm milk with Ashwagandha.
  10. I worked out on a elliptical gently each morning and /or went for long gentle walks in the sun, and did some very gentle stretching, sun salutations and hatha yoga.
  11. I listened to calming music and kept my space clean, and fresh. I lit candles and incense at night, with some simple formless meditation.
  12. I shut down ALL social media, and turned off the news for a few days; what wonders that does to heal the nerves!

 

candles

What I Learned

Well, I recall a few years ago the same thing happen to me while I was practicing these intense yogas on retreat. It took me eight months to fully recover and it was hard fought. I wanted to see if the same problem would recur and sure enough it did. I was consulting with the Tibetan medical doctor and he told me that we all have a certain elemental propensity, what they call the humors. Some people have: wind, phlegm or bile imbalances or propensities. People that have a lot of thoughts and ideas and are emotionally sensitive, tend toward having a wind imbalance. It means that your life force energy can quickly move upwards, to the head, and so when you do certain yogic practices this can definitely exacerbate this and cause an imbalance.

I almost think nowadays that the spiritual path is body based and it’s a process of getting to be in touch with yourself physically and emotionally, to notice how you’re doing. We use the analogy of the mastery of being able to “ride the horse” of your life force, rather than have it trample over you. If we’ve taken on too much, heartbreak and stress buildup and can cause insomnia and anxiety or other health problems, like heart disease and ulcers. It’s your body and mind’s way of loudly telling you that you have to go into self-care and give it more support.

Nowadays, with media and 24/7 global television, we can feel everything that’s happening in the world. We all know it’s been a very difficult past few years. Those of us who care and are sensitive can be really affected by these things, so we have to protect our energy and be mindful of how much news we take in, and how much time we spend on social media. We can’t help the world if we are overcome by fear and anxiety.

Self-care, a feeling of inner love, warmth and well-being is the basis with which we can live a full and meaningful life. I realize that if I can take care of myself, support myself, and be in mind/body/spirit balance, that warmth can extend to others. I learned a lot from this process and it developed more of an awareness of how to ground and stay in tune throughout the day. I’m also grateful to know that if anything does happen, any type of trauma, loss or overwhelm, I have this immersive self-care method to calm down and reconnect to myself as an ultimate protection. Try some of these lifestyle changes, and you might find that you are free from anxiety and can sleep very deeply, waking ready for each day!

Wellness wishes to everyone, and if you’d like any more details about what methods I used to heal, please contact me anytime.

Dawn Boiani-Sandberg

https://www.boulderreiki.com

 

Photo by Taryn Elliott from Pexels
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