a peek inside the fishbowl

10 Aug, 2009

Meditating on falling asleep

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

Sarah couldn’t fall asleep. It was past ten and she was practically wide awake. I’d been upstairs twice to talk to her but nothing was working.

She told me that when she can’t sleep she closes her eyes and pictures miles of blank paper and stacks of art supplies and then imagines herself drawing on the paper, and drawing and drawing and drawing.

I thought that was pretty good.

Me, I lie on my back in the most comfortable way I can; no hair in my face or twisted knickers. I breathe deeply in through my nose. I picture each breath as a healing breath, full of good things which nourish my mind and body, such as love, good fortune and good health. I picture my breath as something fresh and cool and crisp. Almost blue. There is power in its coolness.

Watching my breath is like watching a bucket of water douse a fire in slow motion.

Outgoing breath is the fire. I told Sarah that outgoing breath is releasing the bad stuff in my body. It is hot and steamy, sticky residue of mad or hurt feelings, bad luck, germs and illness. It contains sickness of the blood and heart and mind, and with every single breath there is a tiny bit less of it in my body. Every breath sends The Bad far far away bit by bit.

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

And then I fall asleep. It works every time.

When I am worrying about something I imagine myself with a mop or a vacuum in hand, and running the mop over my worries as if they were a stain on the floor. After a bit of scrubbing they start to disappear. It might sound corny but this has always worked for me.

What about you? Are you a good sleeper? Or a restless one? How do you get to sleep?

11 Responses to "Meditating on falling asleep"

1 | Sharon

August 10th, 2009 at 8:45 am


most times I can fall asleep with no problem. And I have for years. The exhaustion of being a mom just hit me and I would fall asleep. Now that the kids are much older I have on or two nights of sleeplessness a month. I think It has a lot to do with my cycle. Just before the end I have a very uneven sleep. I thinka nd worry about everything and hear every little creak in the house. Then I morning I am usually fine but come mid afternoon I need a nap.
NOthing I can do will aid me at this time I have tried it all to intense exercise during the day to mediation. NOTHING and I just have to go with it.

I have to admit I am a light sleeper when it comes to the kids. But when my hubby is late coming home…I never hear him. I wonder what that means? LMAO!

2 | Caroline

August 10th, 2009 at 9:10 am


If I have a bad worry in the middle of the night, I imagine putting it in a trunk in a corner of my brain closet and locking it up with an elaborate key. I am allowed to unlock it in the morning but it has to stay locked up until then!

3 | Judy

August 10th, 2009 at 9:23 am


I have always been a bad sleeper. Hard to fall asleep and up mulitple times in the night.

Different things work at different times to help me sleep. Sometimes yoga breathing, sometimes getting up and getting a glass of water, sometimes watching awful infomercials in the middle of the night.

According to my mom I have been like this since the day I was born. Hard to put to sleep, a bit fitful, and never a morning person. Even in the womb… no movement until late at night, all night and then nothing all morning and day.

I think sleep is one of those things we are just hard wired with.

4 | Soire

August 10th, 2009 at 9:59 am


I have a white noise machine and i alternate it between “ocean waves” and “tropical thunder” Takes a few deep breaths, and then boom. Sleep!

5 | Jane Corbett

August 10th, 2009 at 11:50 am


I rarely have trouble falling asleep but when I do I go through my childhood home in my memory. I lived in the same house until I was 19 and moved away to go to college. I love going through each room and remembering all the smallest details like the types of handles on the kitchen drawers, the pictures on the wall, the fabric of the curtains, etc. Things rarely changed at our house, and this is comforting to me. Sometimes I don’t even get past the kitchen and I am asleep!

6 | Trea

August 10th, 2009 at 6:58 pm


When I was little, my Oma would always tell me to close my eyes and picture it being dark. This sounds dorky, but … it actually works for me. No distractions, just … well, darkness.

7 | Nat

August 10th, 2009 at 7:09 pm


I have issues with sleep. Mainly I keep thinking that there is soooo much to do and very little time to do it in.

My meditation is more of a tightening and relaxing of various muscles groups, starting at my toes. And letting it go on the exhale.

She must be one tired camper today. Hope her mood wasn’t “too much.”

8 | lacoop

August 10th, 2009 at 7:38 pm


I used to be a great sleeper. Anywhere, anytime, on a rock, from a vine. (sorry, too much Dr Seuss). Then came work and kids. And then came 10 years of insomnia (especially the little kid years). I thought it would kill me. But it seems to be getting better, thank god. I am left with a great appreciation for the value of sleep, and a great sympathy for the sleep deprived people out there.

9 | Hellcat13

August 11th, 2009 at 7:24 am


I’m an insomniac. I cycle through periods where I sleep well and others where I don’t. I’m pretty much always awake during the full moon and during my period…luckily they coincide these days, so it’s only one 3- or 4-day stretch per month. During those times, though, I can sometimes end up sleeping only 1-2 hours a night. (This actually runs in my family – both my mother and my cousin sleep poorly during a full moon.)

I do have sleeping pills, but I only take them as a last resort, and then only half a pill. I don’t want to rely on them, and I know myself well enough by now to know when I’ve hit a wall and need that pill.

It always amuses me when people think they can solve my sleeping problems by advising me to breathe deeply or drink a glass of warm milk – I understand that it works for some people, but I’m 31 years old and have suffered from chronic insomnia since high school. I’ve worked with my doctor and tried everything (except those light therapy things – maybe someday!). Good intentions, though :)

10 | Shan

August 11th, 2009 at 4:34 pm


I count backwards from 999,999 I don’t usually get too far before I’m sleeping.

11 | Chantal

August 15th, 2009 at 12:14 pm


I am a good sleeper, fall asleep very quickly. My son has issues with falling asleep. He sees all bad things and gets scared. I may try your breathing out the bad stuff and see if it works for him.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark. We have two daughters: Emma (19) and Sarah (17). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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