Janusz Welin has a series of meditations on sleep I discovered through the Brightmind app. I have only listened to a couple of them, but I found his ideas useful for falling asleep. I would find myself struggling to fall asleep, realize that my mind was racing and stressed, and try to change the focus of my attention in the ways he recommends. The problem, though, was that I could never remember the list of recommendations! I’d be trying to fall asleep, and scouring my mind trying to remember his fourth recommendation. Needless to say, this was counter-productive, but as luck would have it, I found that drawing a mnemonic helped immensely.
- Examine your relaxation, as though you are an alien preparing a report on the sensation.
- Slow your outbreath
- Lay perfectly still; move only with premeditation
- Think “I need rest,” rather than the anxiety-producing alternative “I need sleep”
Here’s the diagram I came up with:
My initial sketch: each item of the list above is shown with a different icon, independent from the others. The eye and the lungs are probably self-explanatory, but the others might warrant explanation. The rectangular thing is a stocks, inspired by the phrase “stock-still,” and the last icon is a smile. This was inspired by the fact that I would smile whenever I remember that recommendation: it’s a relief every time I realize I’m already doing the right thing (resting), and that I just need to be a little kinder to myself.
While I like these icons, they are still just a list of unrelated things crammed together. I united them into something more cohesive, and foundeach of the recommendations became easy to remember:
These abstract the stocks, and have iconic, not-very-integrated integrated lungs
Then I decided I should add a little perspective, which made the whole thing creepier:
Sorry, this one’s creepy
I decided the lungs weren’t very integrated with the rest of the thing. When I focus on my breath, I’m usually thinking about my nose, and the air flowing through it:
This one is still pretty creepy
I can’t commit to any of these, really, but I have managed to remember this list of things to try when I am struggling to sleep. Maybe one of them will stick with you in a helpful way (rather than haunting your dreams, which is another real possibility).
I have no regrets. Good luck sleeping!