How can you secure by mental means a discharge of energy from your brain (thereby calming and slowing it down) to your body, via your vaso-motor nerves, in order to promote beneficial stimulation of circulation and efficient repair work during sleep?
The secret lies in the art of thinking of the various parts of your body without even a notion of movement creeping into your thoughts, awareness and consciousness of your different parts being your exclusive object.
Once again, you may accept or reject this theory, but a few simple experiments will clear your doubts.
Relax, flat on the back, with your arms by your sides, and when you have settled down, find out which of your hands is the warmer and more comfortable. If both are alike, choose at random; if not, choose the colder for your experiment. Keeping the arm and hand chosen completely relaxed, concentrate your mind on them, trying to feel them more, to be more keenly conscious of them, of the sensations you get in them, and particularly the sensation of warmth; that is all. After a few minutes, compare one hand with the other and draw your conclusions. Repeat the experiment with your feet, and with both sides of your face, to confirm your conclusions.
If you decide that thinking self-consciously of your body, in detail, before sleep, tends to discharge energy from your brain, calming and slowing it down in readiness for sleep, to stimulate vaso-motor activity and improve circulation, and to promote efficient repair work in your whole body, you must be prepared to apply the theory and put it into practice nightly, together with relaxation and the linking of your hands and feet.
If you do this faithfully, you will get more and better sleep, you will feel progressively refreshed on waking, and fitter and capable of doing more work during the day.
To obtain the best results, you are advised to follow the routine outlined below, for a week or ten days, and only after that to attempt the more advanced mental exercises advocated further on.
Empty your bowels and bladder.
Blow your nose, clear your throat, and, if circumstances warrant it, gargle.
Standing up, stretch the whole body to the fullest extent, and repeatedly expand and contract fully the chest, the region of the waist, and the abdominal wall.
Drink copiously of something warm, and place some warm drink in a thermos flask by your bedside.
Get into bed and make sure that your nightclothes are loose-fitting and your bed-clothes light, though warm.
To be done for a week or ten days, or until mastered.
(1) Lie flat on your back with your arms loose by your sides, and your feet apart. Make sure that you lie as comfortably as possible.
Concentrate for a few seconds on each part of the body in turn, with the sole object of obtaining complete relaxation. Work upwards and inwards, commencing with the limbs; the feet, ankles, calves, knees, thighs, hips, the fingers and hands, wrists, fore-arms, elbows, and upper arms, shoulders, shoulder-blades. Then concentrate on the abdominal wall, waist and chest, making sure that each expands fully, loosely and without effort, and relaxes completely after each breath, when there should be a slight natural pause. Then continue with the back of the waist and the back of the chest, making sure that they also expand fully and without effort: then concentrate on the relaxation of the whole of the spine, and lastly, the neck and the face.
Having done this, rest quietly for a minute or two and register carefully every change between your sense of comfort before and after relaxation. It is better to register any improvement with the emotion of pleasure than to make a mere mental note of it.
(2) When you have fully registered and memorized all changes, clasp your hands loosely over the solar plexus, and cross your feet. Rest quietly in this position, keenly observing every change in your sensations as it occurs in any part of the body. Take special note of changes in respiration freedom, fullness, and frequency, and in your sense of warmth. Observe also increases in muscular looseness and relaxation, and make sure that you give absolute freedom to any spontaneous change of activity that may develop, such as muscular twitches, deep sighs, the urge to yawn or stretch.
(3) When you have fully registered and memorized all spontaneous changes, concentrate for a few seconds on each part of the body in succession with the sole object of obtaining improved local circulation. Work downwards, and follow the course of your nervous system. Think of your brain, including its outer shell, and conceive it as loose, free, relaxed, open to circulation, and imagine blood circulating freely and abundantly through it, and flushing it, just as it flushes the cheeks of a blushing child. Pass on to your scalp, forehead, eyelids, ears, nose, jaw muscles, relaxed so that your teeth are not set, lips, and chin. Think of your tongue, loose and relaxed, of your mouth watering profusely and of swallowing.
Think of the base of your brain and circulation flushing it. Think down the whole of your spine as completely relaxed, working downwards. Then think of your neck muscles relaxed and flushed with circulation; your chest muscles (back, sides, and front) relaxed, flushed with circulation and expanding and collapsing freely; your waist (back, sides, and front) free and flushed with circulation; and the abdominal wall, heaving freely and warm.
Think of the whole inside of your trunk, also loose and relaxed, completely open to circulation and imagine blood flushing, warming, nourishing, and scavenging every organ.
Think of the arms in detail, completely relaxed with blood flowing through the shoulders, upper arms, elbows, fore-arms, wrists, palms, and backs of the hands, knuckles, finger-joints, roots of the nails, and finger-tips. And then pass on to the legs, relaxed and filled with blood from the hips, downwards to the thighs, knees, shins, calves, tendons of Achilles, ankles, heels, insteps, balls of the feet, toes, toe-tips, and soles of the feet.
When you have completed this mental exercise, you should again rest for a while, keenly observing and memorizing all additional improvements in your sensations of warmth, comfort, and well-being, indulging as much as possible in the emotion of pleasure at these improvements, bearing in mind that they are all reliable signs of improved function, and, therefore, indications that you have established within yourself sound conditions for the repair work of sleep, which you may now allow to take its natural course.
It frequently occurs with beginners, that they fall asleep before the three exercises just outlined are completed. This has been the case even when the subject had previously complained of acute insomnia. Usually, however, this difficulty is only a passing phase, and with practice it becomes quite easy to keep off unconsciousness until the exercises have been completed.
When you find it easy to complete the exercises without losing consciousness, you may, after completing them, adopt any position which you find most convenient for sleep, but making sure before you allow yourself to lose consciousness, that your body has remained completely relaxed although you have changed your position.
If, after doing your exercises, you have gone to sleep and are later awakened, and sleep does not return at once, wake yourself up completely, get out of bed, and religiously carry out the whole of the advice given above, including that under the heading " Routine." You may find it irksome to give time to this procedure, but the more acutely you suffer from insomnia, the more experience will convince you that it is worth while, not only because it helps you to find sleep, but because it gives you sleep of better quality.
During the early stages of your practice you may find it helpful to have a friend to read out to you the instructions given above, until you have completely memorized them and can carry them out unaided.