Trouble falling asleep? Try counting to yourself while you inhale, and then dwell on the word “relax” as you exhale. If that doesn’t work, do some “box breathing,” Dr. Mary Schultz, Ph.D., director of counseling at the SJC Long Island wellness center, said during a sleep meditation seminar last week.
Box breathing involves closing your eyes and imagining a box, then alternately inhaling for four seconds, holding your breath for four seconds, exhaling for four seconds and again stopping your breath for four seconds. The breathing represents the shape of the box and its four sides, and is designed to draw the mind away from all other thoughts, Schultz explained during the Zoom event last Thursday.
The exercise is part of a recipe for routinely getting quality sleep, a key component of good health.
“Everybody knows how important sleep is, and how it feels to not be getting enough sleep; whether you’re stressed, or pulling an all-nighter. But sleep is really important,” Dr. Schultz said.
“What I have observed is that … sometimes if you just adjust your sleep so that you are sleeping well, it has such an incredible impact on everything else, including anxiety and depression. It’s just such an important daily part of feeling, balance, and well being,” she added.
Increased focus, strengthened immune system, lower risk of heart disease and stroke, memory boost are among the many benefits of proper sleep, Dr. Schultz said.
“Trying to be mindful and trying to prepare yourself for whatever your sleep time is, to allow yourself to get in a calming, grounded place” is a key part of a good sleep routine, she said.
Dr. Mary Shultz hosts “Mindful Meditation” seminars every Monday during common hour. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to register and for more information.