Meditation, Tai-Chi, and Archery: the Best Long-Term Exercises for Sleep Regulation and Insomnia

Meditation, Tai-Chi, and Archery: the Best Long-Term Exercises for Sleep Regulation and Insomnia

One of the most effective ways to beat insomnia is through beating anxiety and stress. This is because anxiety, stress, and insomnia all reinforce each other. You can even throw depression into that sordid mix. They’re all interrelated. If you’re suffering from any one of these factors, you’re already at risk of also suffering from the others. However, this also means that treating anxiety and stress can actually improve your sleeping habits and even beat insomnia.

Don’t reach for the medicine cabinet just yet. There are a bunch of drug-free ways to deal with the anxiety and stress in your life that’s preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep.

Basic Meditation

Meditation is a proven method of relaxing both the mind and the body. In order to meditate, all you need is a safe space, proper breathing, a mental point of focus, and the ability to think of nothing else but the present moment. Anyone can do it. You can begin meditating to sleep by simply lying down on your bed and making yourself comfortable. You should be in a position that’ll allow you to breathe properly using your abdomen.

As you inhale slowly, visualize your throat opening up to receive the air and expand your lungs. Use your abdomen to push the air out of your nose and mouth the same way it came in – slowly but steadily. If it’s your first time meditating, you might have some trouble keeping a consistent rhythm – that’s okay. By actively breathing properly through your abdomen and doing it as consistently as possible, you’ll have a point on your body to focus on. If this is not enough to keep your thoughts from wandering about things in the past and the future, you can choose a mantra or a chant that you can repeat inside your head over and over – a mental point of focus that hooks you to the present moment. This can also be a peaceful image, place, or situation inside your mind that you can visit at will.

Keep breathing properly as you hold on to your focus and you will eventually enter a state of absolute calm. In this state, your mind and body can reach the zenith of relaxation, allowing you to set aside anxiety and stress to enter a state of deep sleep.

Maximize the sleep-inducing benefits of meditation by practicing it throughout the day. Just do it sitting down or standing up so you can avoid accidentally falling asleep. Do around 20 minutes of meditation whenever possible in the middle of your workday. This trains you in achieving the focused state that you need to build up in order to achieve absolute calm, focus, and relaxation – eventually making it easier to meditate to sleep during your actual bedtime.

Wu Style Tai-Chi

Tai-chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that uses slow and deliberate movements for training defensive maneuvers, controlling your ‘chi’ or internal energy, and increasing your overall longevity. There are different styles of doing tai-chi, and the style that’s closely tied to meditative thinking and moving is called Wu Tai-Chi.

Wu Style is characterized by really slow and small movements that can be accomplished even if you have limited space. Each movement targets different parts of your body. Through the opening and closing of your joints as they move, internal pressure is generated. Through the deep stretches demanded by certain movements, tension-holding areas across the neck, shoulders, back, and pelvis are relieved. Through dropped elbow stances and compressed stances, the internal organs receive waves of both low and high pressure, resulting in a healthy massage of your internal cavities. The overall result is a deep sense of calm that’s akin to doing proper meditation.

There’s even a study that not only links tai-chi to relaxation and sleep, but also to the reduction of inflammation in the body. It involves 123 older adults who are suffering from insomnia, randomized into 3 groups. While sleep seminars were proven to be ineffective at alleviating insomnia and inflammation, two other methods were found to be most effective: cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, and the long-term practice of tai-chi.

Archery

Archery is the ancient martial art that deals with properly and accurately wielding the bow and arrow. You need more than steady hands and a good eye to succeed at archery. Controlling the entire body is necessary to controlling the movement of your bow and how it moves the arrow. It starts with the proper posture. From there, you can better control the movement of your arms and hands. As you pick up an arrow, line it up with the bow, and pull on the bowstring, you need to breathe in and out properly and slowly. With only minimal movement from the rest of your body, your abdomen, or your center, should be in charge of regulating your breathing. Sounds familiar? That’s because archery is largely considered to be a form of meditation.

From achieving and actively maintaining the proper archery posture to releasing the bow as you’re breathing out, archery requires your mind and body to enter a state of calmness and intense focus. The more you practice archery, the easier it is for both your mind and body to re-enter this state – just like with basic meditation.

Which One is Best for You?

Whichever one is most convenient for you to try is the best anxiety-relieving exercise that you can do. Whether you prefer archery, Wu Style Tai-Chi, or basic meditation, you can achieve a deep sense of relaxation that will alleviate anxiety and act as a treatment against insomnia.

If you have the time and resources, you can even try doing all 3 exercises. In the same way that insomnia, stress, anxiety, and depression affect one another, so do archery, tai-chi, and meditation have interrelated methods and techniques.

The training in mental focus that you attain from any one of the 3 exercises can be used in the others. And the better you get at attaining this focus, the better you’ll be at willing your mind and body to enter a state of deep calmness.

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