January 17, 2011
6. I've returned to meditation and find it to be more helpful than ever.
Since meditation only came into play toward the end of the year, it’s a late bloomer in making 2010 my best year.
I'd tried meditation in the past but erratically and without much success until three years ago, when I was going through a particularly rough period. After running through a half dozen prescribed antianxiety and sleep meds, I stumbled across a meditation adaptation designed to deal with insomnia. (I described this in some detail in a posting on Dec. 11.)
Since then, I’ve used this form of meditation off and on whenever I had problems getting back to sleep, but in the past,I seldom meditated for more than 5 or 10 minutes. Now I’m in a very different pattern.
Thanks to the incontinence training I’ve just started, I now get up for a bathroom break only once a night, usually sometime between 4 and 5 a.m. In the past, I often had trouble getting back to sleep at that hour. I know from talking with other seniors that this is often their worst time slot in dealing with the insomnia that seems to come with aging (and often accompanies PD).
Now, after I get up for the bathroom break, I spend a few minutes doing the Kegel and other exercises recommended by my incontinence physical therapist and then sit on the straight-backed chair in my bedroom and start meditating. Though I sometimes have to deal with the new-ideas bombardment that I’ve attributed to 5-HTP, I let these ideas go and then get back to observing my breathing and using adaptations of the “secret handshake” (described in the Dec. 11 posting).
This meditation goes on for at least half an hour and sometimes for more than an hour. I’m very comfortable with this, since I’ve conned myself into believing that time spent meditating is just as good as time spent sleeping. And this may well be true.
When done meditating, I get back in bed and almost invariably fall asleep quickly, logging another couple of hours of sleep.
This meditation routine, combined with the mood-enhancing effect of 5-HTP, resulted in my experiencing the most mellow Christmas season I can remember. And I actually look forward to the 4 a.m. awakening and meditation.