Alternative Breathing Techniques for Better Sleep
The practice of Qigong is all about teaching you to become more aware of your mind and your body. Many of the meditative practices associated with Qigong also teach you how to shut off your mind, to distance yourself from any external stimuli and to focus instead on your inner energy. This is why it is often recommended as a sleep aid, something that will help you to drift off on a nighttime. This means that you don’t need to pump you body full of potentially addictive and harmful medications, you don’t need to lie awake counting sheep. Simply follow the techniques listed below and you can drift into a long and deep sleep, and one that will not leave you feeling groggy or hungover in the morning.
There are a few techniques that you can use to help you sleep and we have listed these below.
Created by Master Lin of the Spring Forest Qigong Centre, this is an exercise that can be used for general practice, but one that will also help to relax your mind and your body, thus preparing you for sleep. It is a three stage Qigong exercise:
- Moving of Yin and Yang: Your hands, facing your body, should move up and down as you envisage a column of energy in the centre of your torso and try to stimulate the movement of energy through this column.
- Breathing of the Universe: As your hands rest below your naval, open our your arms, breathing deep, before bringing them back into your body, at which point you can exhale.
- Joining of Yin and Yang: You imagine a ball of energy between the palms of your hands, and you move this around, moving your body along with your hands. The energy is renewed and joined, and the exercise is complete.
There are three steps to this technique:
- Lie flat on your back with your palms laying on top of each other and resting underneath your navel. Cross your feet, putting your left foot over your right, and press your tongue against the roof of your mouth. Open your eyes ever so slightly, not enough to see, but enough to let in light, and relax your body.
- Take several deep breaths before returning to normal breathing. Feel these breaths going in through your chest and expanding your stomach. Hold the breath for several seconds before releasing, trying to empty your lungs from the base to the top. Keep breathing in a similar manner.
- Discard stray thoughts and empty your mind completely. If it helps, you can tell yourself that you are carefree, you do not have a single worry in the world. You are happy. Content. And you are going to sleep.
It may be difficult to keep those stray thoughts away at first, but the trick is not to get frustrated and not to give up. As you start to unwind, you can close your eyes completely. But it’s best to let this happen naturally and not to force it. Before you know it, you will have fallen asleep.
This is a simpler technique, and one that requires less of a focus on form. Simply lie back as you would usually, close your eyes and keep your mind empty. Focus on the centre of your mind, between your eyes, as you relax. Whenever your mind is distracted, dismiss unwanted thoughts and bring your focus back to this point.
Again, do not let frustration take over. Do not let your thoughts run wild. Simply focus on your breath and the nothingness of your mind, and you will eventually fall asleep.
Learn More About Qigong
Qigong is not just about improving your sleep. It can be used to improve all areas of your life, including your physical and mental health, and it can even be used to help others. There are thousands of exercises, meditations and techniques associated with this practice, and while every master and every centre has their own way of doing things and puts their own spin on things, many of the fundamentals are the same.
One of the most respected Qigong masters is Master Chunyi Lin, who founded the Spring Forest Qigong Centre. This centre is based in the United States, but is has a number of home study courses, guides and more than all students can benefit from, even all the way down here in Australia.
So, if you want to learn more about Qigong, if you want to learn basic and advanced techniques to improve well being, techniques to help you and others heal, and a great deal more, pay a visit to the Spring Forest Qigong Centre.