Many people have difficulty falling asleep at night. Thinking and worrying about numerous topics (work, money, sick relatives, noisy neighbors, etc.) keep them tossing and turning long after they have turned off the lights. A few years ago, I was in this very situation. I had just started a new job that required me to learn a wide variety of new techniques and procedures. The job expectations and responsibilities were more than I anticipated and I regularly found myself still “working” long after I had left the office.
Bedtime was rough, work swam through my mind, harassing me at a time when I was trying to settle down. In addition, I faced the burden of having to get up earlier than ever before to get to work. This kept me worrying about my alarm not waking me up. Glancing at the clock throughout the night was torture, 30 minutes would pass and I didn’t feel any closer to falling asleep!
Not getting much sleep made it tough to focus at work and caffeinated beverages became my best friend. Coffee in the morning and at break, soda at lunch and sometimes another coffee in the late afternoon became my norm. While these drinks helped at work, they destroyed me at home. I would have a caffeine “crash” in the early evening and end up taking a nap on my couch. The nap made me feel better but it came at a cost, I wouldn’t be tired at bedtime. Thus, the restless night cycle continued!
Tired of being tired and having to rely on caffeine and sugar to keep me going, I wanted a change. I decided to limit my coffee and soda to help my body to rest naturally and not because of a “crash”. I also decided to try a lot of the sleep “tricks” out there. I drank warm tea before bed, read a book, or tried to clear my mind completely. None of these completely fixed my sleeplessness and brought new challenges to my night. The warm drink gave me added trips to the bathroom, books gave me new topics to race around my mind and trying to blank my mind, well I found that impossible, thinking about that “nothing” means that I was thinking about something and not nothing in the first place. See how dizzying my mind was!
Although my sleeplessness improved a bit as I got the hang of work, I would still have days or weeks where it was difficult to sleep. I began to consider medicinal sleeping pills. Citing a few potential side effects, a friend politely recommended yoga instead. He talked about the many benefits yoga can have. I agreed to give yoga a try.
Yoga was challenging for me but I did start to feel more flexible while playing basketball and less back pain after a few sessions, so I kept at it. During my fifth yoga class, the instructor gave a lesson on meditation and introduced Gauranga breathing. The process was fairly easy, take a breath in and while exhaling, slowly say Gauranga (Goooooooo-Raaaaaaaa-Annnnnnnnn-Gaaaaaaaa). After doing this a few times, I felt great, completely cooled down and relaxed.
So, impressed by its effects after class, I decided to try Gauranga breathing at night before sleep. It had the same effects, my body was more relaxed, my mind became free of all the clutter that was keeping me up at night and I was able to fall asleep quickly!
Amazed, I went back to my yoga instructor and asked why was Gauranga breathing different than the other meditation I had tried earlier? Her answer was the Gauranga is one of the Holy Names of the Supreme Person and by saying it, my mind was focusing on Supreme Person and therefore, I was experiencing true peace. She elaborated that we are all part and parcel of Supreme Person and loving remembrance of the Supreme Person is the path to actual happiness. And that an easy way to remember Supreme Person is by hearing and saying His Holy Names as they have a transcendental and purifying affect. I agreed with her that I had never felt so at peace as I did while doing Gauranga breathing, it was as if all my worries had just disappeared.
I continue to do this amazing breathing exercise before bed and use it to de-stress when the troubles of the world become overwhelming. Gauranga breathing just takes a few minutes but can have long lasting effects and I highly recommend it to everyone!