A colleague just mentioned his sleepless night writing emails and pitch copy in his dreams. Can you relate to his turmoil? How often do nocturnal mental dances dominate your wee hours?
The insomniac swirl is torture. The event/problem/conversation/situation/etc that loops around and around, over and over again, incessantly triggering the same emotions, frustrations, fears, worries and so on. Round and around the creepy carousel that monkey mind pirouettes and twirls hauntingly replaying the same event with the same frenetic non-resolution repeatedly.
It’s insufferable and as the clock digits warn us the alarm blare is getting closer the more wired and panicky we become.
How do we escape these looping thoughts and emotions? Is there a way to self-regulate back to sleep and serenity?
Simple meditation is an excellent start point and I recommend trying the multitude of apps and available guided meditations online. I am a devout Calm subscriber and enjoy Joe Dispenza, Craig Beck and any of the Hay House meditations. Beyond this option there are 2 powerful methods which work for me and my clients when the anxiety feels insurmountable and meditation alone won’t soothe the swirls.
Firstly, the ‘Letting Go’ method pioneered by Dr David Hawkins back in the 70s. Secondly and alternatively or complementarily, Dr Rick Carson’s Gremlin Taming exercises. Try either of these the next time you’re feeling demented by your own thoughts.
Method 1: Letting Go
The principle of the Letting Go method is deliberately separating thought from emotion, zoning in on the emotion by fully observing it, detaching from negativity, attachments and resistance to ultimately free oneself from the uncomfortable emotion. It’s a pathway to surrender, and can mark the beginning of a transformative journey towards emotional liberation and spiritual growth.
Step 1: Embrace Understanding. Begin by immersing yourself in the concept of letting go. Allow the knowledge to seep into your consciousness. Recognize that surrendering emotional attachments, judgments, and resistance paves the way for inner peace and acceptance.
Step 2: Identify and Acknowledge. Take a reflective moment to identify the emotions and attachments you desire to release. Is it anger, fear, guilt, resentment, or attachments to specific outcomes or relationships? Acknowledge their presence within you without judgment, for this is the first step towards liberation.
Step 3: Embrace Full Experience. Wholeheartedly embrace the emotions that arise within you. Allow yourself to feel their intensity. Understand that emotions are transient and do not define your essence. By accepting and experiencing them fully, you open the door to letting go.
Step 4: Observe with Detachment. Take a step back and observe your emotions as if you are a witness separate from them. Understand that you are not the emotion itself but a conscious observer. This newfound perspective empowers you to detach and create a space for transformation.
Step 5: Release with Intent. Consciously choose to release the emotions you have acknowledged and observed. This act of surrender involves a willingness to let go and trust in a higher power or a greater sense of being. Use affirmations or intentions to support this process. For instance, you might say, “I release this anger and invite peace into my life.”
Step 6: Cultivate Mindfulness and Meditation. Embrace the practice of mindfulness and meditation to deepen your awareness of the present moment. By nurturing this state of mindfulness, you strengthen your ability to detach from attachments and cultivate the art of letting go.
Step 7: Shower Yourself with Compassion. Throughout this journey, remember to be kind and compassionate toward yourself. Letting go is a gradual process, and setbacks or resistance may arise. Shower yourself with love, understanding, and patience, for you deserve it.
Step 8: Seek Support, If Needed. Should you encounter difficulties along the way, do not hesitate to seek support. Reach out to therapists, counsellors, or spiritual mentors who can offer guidance and additional tools to aid you in your letting go practice.
Letting go is a beautiful and ongoing practice that requires dedication and perseverance. Be gentle with yourself, trusting that the process of surrender will grant you inner peace and newfound freedom. I absolutely recommend reading the full book too ‘Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender’.
Method 2: Taming Your Gremlin
Rick Carson calls that little pest triggering our monkey mind ‘the gremlin’. In his best-seller ‘Taming Your Gremlin’ he teaches us how to identify and manage that inner critic or negative voice in our minds.
Step 1: Recognise The Gremlin. The first step is to become aware of the gremlin’s presence. It’s the voice in your head that undermines your confidence, criticizes your actions, and generates self-doubt. By observing its patterns and identifying its negative messages, you can separate it from your true self.
Step 2: Create Distance. Understand that the gremlin is not your true identity but rather a construct of your mind. Visualize it as a separate entity, a mischievous creature sitting on your shoulder or whispering in your ear. This separation helps you detach from its influence and gain perspective.
Step 3: Talk to your Gremlin. Engage in a conversation with your gremlin. Instead of fighting or ignoring it, actively listen to its criticisms, doubts, and fears. Acknowledge its presence but question its validity. Ask yourself if these negative thoughts align with reality or if they are mere fabrications.
Step 4: Practice Curiosity & Acceptance. Approach your gremlin with curiosity, seeking to understand its underlying motives. Often, it originates from past experiences or internalized beliefs that no longer serve you. Cultivate self-acceptance and compassion, recognizing that everyone has an inner critic and that it doesn’t define your worth.
Step 5: Choose Empowering Thoughts. Challenge the gremlin’s negative messages by consciously choosing empowering thoughts. Replace self-defeating statements with positive affirmations and realistic perspectives. Gradually, shift your focus towards your strengths, achievements, and the possibilities that lie ahead.
Step 6: Take Action. Rather than succumbing to the gremlin’s paralyzing effect, take action despite its presence. Start small and gradually expand your comfort zone. By challenging your fears and proving the gremlin wrong through experience, you diminish its influence over time.
Step 7: Practice Mindfulness. Develop a mindfulness practice to cultivate present-moment awareness. Mindfulness helps you observe the gremlin’s chatter without getting entangled in its negative spiral. Through mindfulness, you can become an impartial observer of your thoughts and emotions, allowing them to arise and pass without attachment.
These processes may be practices you begin during those dark nights of the soul when the struggle to silence and soothe your mind feels most intense, but the true benefit is felt when embraced consistently in daily life. Both methods effectively bring more constant waves of serenity and compassion both to self and others. Wishing you peaceful slumbers and souls.