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mindful minute

We are freed and imprisoned by our thoughts

Tag Archives: sleep

Mark Fontaine


A weird dual form of waking consciousness has emerged in our modern world. Many of us struggle nightly with poor sleep and we become chronically tired. At the same time, the excessive stimulation the wired world drives us to feel wired ourselves.

 This is rapidly becoming the new normal. We see wired people everywhere– friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. Insomnia is becoming endemic.

 Many people with insomnia report feeling energized during the day. Yet, they also complain of exhaustion.

 Insomnia is associated with hyperarousal. Do you lead an excessive, turbo-charged life? Racing brain? Rapid heart rate? Feeling flushed or hot? The result is dysfunctional hormonal rhythms which serve to impair sleep and hide daytime sleepiness.

 Hyperarousal pulls us one direction and sleepiness and fatigue pull us in the other. We are stretched by equal forces and going nowhere. Depressing, isn’t it?  We are stuck.

 Modern life overwhelms us with information and entertainment options. It is easy to become addicted to activity and productivity. Walking fast? Talking fast? Speeding?

 We live in a world of neverending motion. Slowing and stopping is discouraged. Has your world world lost its sense of rhythm? The natural world is rhythmic, it is tempered by rest. Things come and they go. Seasons change. Tides rise and fall. The sun rises and sets.

 Have you forgotten how to rest? Have you lost your brakes?  The solution may not be a grand vacation and certainly not inebriation or tranquilizers. As ordinary or boring as it may seem, the prescription for managing the hyperarousal epidemic is learning and regularly practicing true rest.

 Slow down and then stop. Come to a complete stop. True rest is not simply the absence of activity. Cultive a state of serenity. Meditation? Yoga? Deep breathing exercises? Long slow walks in the woods?

 Slow the body and mind. Learn to modulate the velocity of your waking life. Build a bridge to quality sleep and dreams.

 In a world gone crazy with motion, seek to step out of the herd mentality. March to a different drum. Find peace in the rhythms of nature and rediscover your own true nature.



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Written by Mark Fontaine

Want a good night’s rest?

Do you have a nightly struggle to capture and control sleep? Has dozing off become a complicated process?  The problem is not sleep but seeing sleep as a mysterious biological process subject to disorders that require intervention. This promotes anxiety when sleep fails to arrive on time. We know how important sleep is and how bad a lack of sleep can make us feel, yet it is difficult to change our habits.

Insomnia is a manufactured problem. The journey back to the time before sleep was made problematic requires patience to trust ourselves.

The pressure to sleep often comes from worries about tasks to be completed the next day. There is no “do” in sleep. Your mind may insist you “do” sleep as though it were an action that can be done at will. This is simply not a physical reality.  Trust your own experience that sleep is simply an end of “doing”.  No skill or effort is involved.

One must see through the haze of constant thinking. We may create pressure to “achieve” sleep, yet the nature of rest has nothing to do with achievement.  Think beyond categorizing consciousness as awake or asleep, and trying to achieve one or the other.

Observe your attempts to obtain sleep.  Surrender to the fact that there is nothing to “capture and control.”  Take deep breaths in and out through your nose.  Focus on your breathing.  Count the number “one” with each inhalation and the number “two” with each exhalation.  Repeat this process over several minutes until relaxation sets in.  Clear your mind and only think of counting each inhalation and exhalation.  Acknowledge any thoughts that come to mind and then gently let them go and once again concentrate on your breathing.

Sleep is a natural part of the rhythm of consciousness.  Reflect upon your own notions about the experience of falling asleep.  One must allow efforts to sleep to subside.  Only then, the fight of trying to sleep looses its grip and is replaced with a willingness to let each moment flow naturally without interruption. 


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