Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Mindfulness, Meditation and Migraine #AditisPen

Strange title, you might think. But for someone who is writing this at 1 am and suffers from migraine attacks, who has adopted mindfulness in her daily life, and whose definition of meditation is 'to reach out, to reach within', these three Ms hold a lot of meaning.

Now, where do I start? I have always been a night owl. I remember as kids, my sister would flat out as soon as she hit the bed and I would stay up tossing and turning till an ungodly hour. Call me selfish, but sometimes I would really get desperate and wake her up. She would then stroke my hair or massage my head until one of us, usually her again, would drift off. At other times, a worried parent would come into our room and try to put me to sleep. Even as a teenager and well into my adult years, Mom would sit by the bed and narrate stories, this could be family gossip too; and Dad would help me meditate. His soothing voice would guide me to 'breathe in, and breathe out', 'to relax the toes, the tips of your fingers', and so on.

Safe to say, I've had a love hate relationship with sleep. Where once as a rebellious teenager I was quite proud of being able to stay up late, later as a responsible adult I tried everything I could to follow the age old wisdom of 'early to bed, and early to rise'. I am at a point in my life where I'm at peace with the fact that I am an Owl and not a Lark.

But due to my erratic sleeping patterns, migraine found a way into my life along the years. The usual triggers for me are lack of sleep, stress and anxiety, and a latest addition, the menstrual migraine.

Slowly and mindfully though, I have been able to find a way to manage through pain, and the episodes of blasting headaches have reduced considerably. This is an achievement for me, and the biggest contributor to this has been, having a night time ritual.


"
Mindfulness is the practice of accepting our lives exactly as they are without having to change anything. It is gratitude—not as an emotion to be manufactured, but as a basic acknowledgment that each moment of life is enough, no matter what our experience. Some moments are pleasant, some unpleasant. Some are painful, some are filled with joy. Through all of our moments, we have what we need. 

– Irene Kraegel

Life is in the moments, and for a few years now I have been practicing daily mindfulness, finding meaning in the everyday, the mundane, the ordinary and living with gratitude. But there were days when the day would own me, the million thoughts running in my head would knock me out. And just like that life, these moments, would pass by me.

But then I started the #100happydays challenge. Every night I put up a story on my Instagram, counting the blessings of the day. Why on Instagram, you ask? Just because it has become my most favourite platform, and because staying accountable not only helps me build social connections but also keeps me motivated.

Doing this every night helps me to go to bed with positivity, with a clear head and a happy heart.

Another growing practice, right before getting into bed with either a cup of tea or turmeric milk, is to run a warm bath, and let the day's stress wash away. The gorgeous melting shower cream from Feather & Down has become my lovely companion at night. In fact, all the products of theirs are blended with lavender and chamomile essential oils to create such a beautiful, relaxing fragrance that help me with my bedtime routine. As someone who is prone to migraine, strong smells don't go well with me. But I sprinkle generous amounts of their pillow spray on my side of the bed, and snuggle into my duvet as the sweet aroma wraps me in its dreamy arms.


One habit though, which I had listed as one of my non negotiables for this year, the worst enemy of sleep, this one habit that I've still not managed to quit - is switching off my phone, switching off from social media, when in bed. I am trying, really am, and bedtime meditation has helped a lot. I practice the 4-7-8 breathing meditation, where I lie on my back, close my eyes, inhale for a count of four - hold the breath for seven - and exhale for a count of eight. Sometimes this helps me sleep immediately, other times it gets difficult to shut my thoughts. But here's what I've learnt from experience, it is okay to let those thoughts come and go. Just be mindful of them come and go. It is okay to reach out to those thoughts and emotions, 'to reach out, to reach within'; to wade through the chaos of mind to find the quiet. 

So much said on the matters of sleep, mindfulness and meditation, my night time rituals, and how lack of sleep triggers my migraines, and yet why, you may wonder, am I still up? But didn't I already tell you, that I am an Owl and not a Lark. What matters is, I've been sleeping well, sleeping deep, with a grateful smile on my face.


What about you: Do you practice mindfulness and meditation to relieve stress or any chronic pains such as migraines? Any night time rituals that you practice?


(Featured in this post are products from Feather & Down that I received as a gift from the brand.)

23 comments:

  1. I try to work on incorporating mindfulness in my daily routine. It helps to keep me calm but there is often a day in between where the thoughts build up in the mind leaving me exhausted. I have always been an early sleeper. I am a morning lark but my husband is an owl. I have seen his inability to sleep early. Sleeping early for him means hitting the bed at 12'o' clock. I hope your bouts of migraine further reduce with the pratice of mindfulness and meditation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup, sleeping early for me is midnight too. And I agree sometimes the thoughts run your mind rather than you being mindful of them, this is where daily habit of listing down what I am grateful for, each night helps me.
      Just two days after writing this post I had a migraine attack and I managed through it only through meditation and breathing exercises! Yay!

      Delete
  2. Oh.. this must be tough. As someone who zonks off as soon as the head touches the pillow, I don't know how you handle it. It sounds tough.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I so envy people who just put out as soon as they hit the bed. My night time ritual of mindfulness, a warm bath and bed time meditation has really helped.

      Delete
  3. Sorry to hear about the migraine, Aditi! Good to see you have a night time ritual. I guess staying up late is sometimes unavoidable. And enough sleep is the foundation for wellbeing.

    My favorite night time ritual is listing all the things I am grateful for as I get into bed, after brushing my teeth. :-) I rarely suffer from migraines, but the smell of burning can quickly trigger a headache.

    Love the title of your post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I think sleeping well is what matters. I've come to terms with the fact that I am a night owl. Yeah, strong smells, like burning or incense or fragrances can trigger a headache.

      Delete
  4. Sleep is often an enemy of mine too! I always try to be a Lark as my whole family are early risers, but I just don't think it is "me"! I have been instead trying to embrace my "Owl" side and work later into the evening when I feel most awake! I definitely need to get into a better sleep routine though, I wish I had a bath so that I could sit and relax in there like you do, a shower isn't quite the same!

    Abbey x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheers to embracing our 'Owl' side! A warm bath surely does wonders, but I think a shower is helpful too. On most days I take a quick shower because I don't always have the luxury of time. The science behind a warm bath is it increases your body temperature which is essential to calm your mind and helps you sleep more peacefully.

      Delete
  5. This was really interesting! Insomnia has always been a struggle of mine too, even as a kid but thankfully I've never suffered any negative symptoms from it. I have never suffered from migraines but my mum does quite badly to I'll be sure to tell her about this

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How do you deal with your insomnia? Follow any night time rituals?

      Delete
  6. This was such an insightful post! I have never experienced migraines and I’m so thankful for that, I can’t imagine!

    Jessica & James | www.foodandbaker.co.uk / www.foodandbakertravels.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  7. I do yoga daily and through that, it’s really helped me with mindfulness and being more present in the moment and stopping my thoughts wondering to future events and anxieties. I’d love to delve even deeper into mindfulness though!

    Jenny
    http://www.jennyinneverland.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's lovely. Yes, Yoga does help. I used to do yoga daily but haven't been regular for sometime. It is a good way to start the day and sets the tone for a mindful living throughout the day.

      Delete
  8. I am a lot like your sister. I rarely have trouble falling asleep unless I have something worrying on my mind and then the headache, I'm not sure I can call it a migraine, comes and stays for a day or two. My son, though, has a problem with sleep. Ever since he was a baby he rarely spelt through the night. Even now at 11 he wakes up at least once, and often comes to my room. I think I should introduce him to bedtime meditation.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am a night owl too but I don have a problem with it. I rarely have trouble sleeping unless I sleep in the noon.


    Gayathri @ Elgee Writes

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sorry to hear about your migraine. I was not aware that it can kick because of periods. Take care. I think yoga helps. My mother in law says so. Yoga cured it for her. I read before going to sleep, watch Netflix, and on good days, I practice with Calm. It's a great meditation app.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Migraines can be hell. glad your episodes have now reduced. A nighttime ritual is important. For me, it is reading.

    Damyanti

    ReplyDelete
  12. While mindfulness, meditation are a state of mind, and will have to be practiced throughout the day to keep calm in any situation, drinking two glasses of lukewarm drinking water, one in the morning after getting up from sleep, and the other before going to bed at night helps me a lot.....and lots of physical exercises including some sport on a daily basis ensures a good night's sleep......listening to music helps me to keep calm and refreshing throughout the day, even if I am in the most stressed out situations many times.

    ReplyDelete