As I've said before, I use music to help me sleep - not any music but minimal ambient, repeating patterns, monotonous drones, that kind of thing. It's like white noise, background sounds to kill the silence.
It's not that the music lulls you to sleep but that it's actually a distraction. The noise fills the emptiness and gives the mind something to focus on, thus preventing the subconscious voice from taking over. It is the subconscious voice, chattering about anything and everything, that stops you from sleeping.
The more I read up on T'ai Chi the more I like the ideas behind it. It is full body meditation and I think that's why the Qigong breathing exercise added to the end of my normal session worked so well. 1
At first glance, meditation seems to be concerned with just silencing the mind, whereas T'ai Chi teaches us to occupy the mind so how can it be "full body" meditation?
When you consider it further, meditation is actually using the distraction method - usually by focusing on your breath. By always returning to breath you are filling your mind with the thought, feeling and sensation of that regular pattern. You are trying to use this focus to deny the subconscious voice your attention.
T'ai Chi is the ultimate distraction. It's not just about breathing (although that is a part of it) but also filling your mind with a mental image of your actions and not trying to empty it. You load your thoughts with how your body feels, how it moves and flows, where it ends and where the world beyond begins.
The greater the distraction the harder for the subconscious voice to push through, hence why some recite a mantra to aid their meditation - it is an extra layer to occupy the mind and prevent rogue thoughts from manifesting.
A literal translation of mantra would be "instrument of thought" but it has also been interpreted as "by the repetition of which the mind becomes free of external experiences" - a distraction!
It is this oneness of mind and body that attracts me so deeply.
- In fact, last night I did a full 10 minute session as a replacement for my seated meditation. ↩