How to get a good night’s sleep: An ancient mariners guide to meditation

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"How can I get a good night's sleep?"

Tired? Want to get a decent night's sleep? You need to reconnect with your ancient water heritage, says ship builder and meditation instructor Derek Ellard.

SURVEYS REVEAL that up to half of Australians suffer from some kind of sleeplessness, which is costing the country $66 billion and killing more than 3,000 Australians every year. But there is a beacon of light on the horizon. There is always a solution.

So what can we hope to do? How can we get some sleep?

We can go to the beach, of course. We can be beside the seaside every night, close to water. It’s part of our ancient heritage we are drawn to water, we are intimately connected to the planet’s liquid soul. Our blood has the same percentage of salt as the sea. From wallowing in a scented bath, to splashing in the shallows, to wafting along a quiet river, or riding a Pacific breaker, we are at one with water in all its forms. Our bodies are nearly all water and our yearnings (no, not those yearnings) are inevitably connected to water. Who doesn’t want to holiday on a tropical island? Or cruise the seven seas in an elegant white ship?

The admen cleverly condition us with watery lures all the time, from “crystal waterfalls” to “pristine paradise” —  all those swaying palms, the white sand, the impossibly turquoise waters... When can we leave? I’m mentally packed already! Just spare me the whiny Hawaiian guitars.

Scientists will tell you the molecules of H20 are arranged in a four sided pyramid a tetrahedron. We can use that. Researchers tell us that water is programmable. We can use that too. Mystics will speak of the "River of Life", churches use Holy Water and I’ll tell you how to attune to the inner ocean, dispel the worries and get a good night’s sleep into the bargain.

I taught meditation for many years; I taught people from all walks of life saints, sinners, prisoners, developers, whores, builders and bankers. I even thought I’d have a go at lawyers, but that was a challenge beyond mere mortals. The jailbirds were, in some ways, the most receptive — they were a captive audience (groan!) and, incidentally, none of the lovely ladies of the night I taught ever paid in kind either, in case you were wondering. But spare a thought for those locked away where sorrow and sleeplessness is epidemic. Not for them a warm cuddle at night, so why not try to help them out? Indeed try to help them stay out! So, over many sessions, a special meditation exercise evolved and crystallised into something like this.

Get yourself to bed then, but first switch off all devices, all lights and anything which beeps or flashes, get comfortable and relax. Start by visualising a 3D triangle — a tetrahedron of light, like the water molecules, but large enough to lie in and strong enough to support your weight. Toughened glass mind camping, if you like — the new age hippy sci-fi version. When we try to relax, tensions and worries often intrude, so we’re off to the beach to chase them away and the triangle – the tetrahedron – is our magic carpet or portable tent.

Now, at this point, many of you are going to say: Whoah! I’m not reading any more of this crap! But hang on, particle physicists will attest to the odd behavior of photons under observation they change course, and many will readily acknowledge the convergence of esoteric knowledge and modern scientific thinking. Einstein kept a copy of H.P. Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine on his desk and Nikola Tesla stated that visualisation is one of mankind’s greatest tools.

So, just maybe, the ancient mariner is on to something read on, you have nothing to lose except sleep.

Lie on your back, legs uncrossed, and relax all of your muscles, one by one, head to toe as though you were melting into bed. Visualise the beach it’s perfect and it’s all yours. Warm sand, blue water, waving palms, gentle breeze — it’s your sanctuary, your holiday island (no bloody guitars, please). Now concentrate on the waves rolling in and breathe with them. Breathe in as the waves build up, pause a moment and breathe out as they recede. Now here’s the trick – it’s important to relax as you breathe out, paying particular attention to the neck and shoulders. Breathe at your own pace. Ocean breathe with the relaxing rhythm of the waves. Gently but firmly breathe away the sorrow, the worries, and the tensions. No place for them in your tropical paradise. Of course, they’ll keep coming back, these mischievous disturbers of your peace — but re-focus, re-align and relax them away. Be aware of body tension. What’s bugging you? Work, money, partner, relatives? Whatever it is, it’s likely you’ll feel it in tense neck muscles, tightening abdomen, hunched shoulders. So, back to the waves breathe away the sorrows, just as the receding waves wash the beach clean. Keep the flotsam and jetsam of everyday clutter off your beautiful beach.

Now, don’t push it too hard, the aim is relaxation and stillness. Try too hard and you’ll just create more tension, so forget about Trump’s latest tweet. Breathe until you’ve settled into an easy rhythm. Now you can begin to programme your life. What is bothering you? Politicians? Forgive them. Office bullies? Smile and forgive them. Wayward children? Smile, think of their good points and forgive them. State of the planet? Whoah the big one! Just try to live mindfully and relax, realise that you are but a grain of sand, yet paradoxically a vital cog in the planetary machine.

By breathing, relaxing, getting a good night’s sleep, being at peace with yourself, you are automatically a better person the next day. That, in itself, helps because now your 90 per cent water body is programmed to be healthier, more attractive and more forgiving and, let’s face it, these days every little bit helps. Treat this as a beginning, a step towards re-programming your future.

Now there are as many variations on this as there are swimmers in the sea of life, but the essence is simplicity. Breathe, relax, breathe shoulders, neck breathe, relax.

For myself, I sometimes sail a beautiful white schooner (well I would, I design yachts). I hear the waves playing around her elegant clipper bow, I feel the ship come alive as the South Pacific breeze fills her sails. I breathe as she gently rolls to each wave... I... yawn... rarely fail to get a good night’s sleep.

Of course, you have to avoid excess caffeine, too much alcohol, drugs. Yes, I know, a shame... but there you are.

Finally, as you are dropping off, you may want to turn over or sleep on your side.

Breathe and relax again, and visualize the crystal triangle around you. It’s your cocoon your inner space capsule.

Ocean breathing, sweet dreaming every night’s a free holiday.

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How to get a good night’s sleep: An ancient mariners guide to meditation

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