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Mindful : August 2017
A month before this class started, my wife’s doctor listened to a brief description of my mood and behavior over recent days and, without pause, handed me his colleag ue’s business card. “Make an appointment,” he said. “She’s skilled at treating such problems.” In addition to those unnerving swells of anx- iety—or perhaps because of them—my problems included insomnia so enfeebling that I some- times had the sensation of peering through lay- ers of mosquito netting, as if my surroundings had been blurred with a Photoshop tool. In the end I forewent the inevitable prescrip- tion pad for MBSR, as an impressive body of research has demonstrated that mindfulness training can be a fast and efficient foil against sleeplessness. For example, University of Minne- sota clinicians showed the eight-week MBSR course to be as effective as drugs like Lunesta in improving the quality and duration of sleep for those suffering chronic insomnia. Total sleep time among study participants increased by some 30 minutes, they nodded off more quickly, and their “sleep efficiency” improved—i.e., they spent increasingly more time sawing wood than staring at the ceiling. Practicing sitting meditation and standing yoga, as well as examining how mindfulness can help us communicate with greater compassion and clarity. WEEK 06 And the Unrest Is History To my glee, I’ve had a similarly positive expe- rience: According to my fitness tracker (how- ever imprecise it may be), my average nightly deep sleep so far has increased by 24 minutes, compared with the six weeks immediately prior to the start of class. Even more impressive: my average nightly deep sleep this week is 74 min- utes greater than it was when my environment appeared scrubbed of its usual clarity. As a result, I no longer awake feeling as if I’d been riveted to the bed or gray matter has been leaching through my skull. My mood swings are far less frequent and decidedly less intense. My anxieties about my wife’s health have further receded. Some days, in fact, I have the welcome sensation of feeling entirely sound of mind and body. Sleep will do that, I suppose, although I attribute this shift in my well-being as much to assorted components of the MBSR practice, which now also includes principles of Nonvio- lent Communication, including interacting in ways that are free of judgment or interpretation. Suddenly, it feels as if I’m looking at the world through a wide-angle lens rather than through a constricting telephoto. August 2017 mindful 51