This fall, my daughter and I engaged in a meditation experiment. This experiment was part of a class assignment that I could design for myself or include others in the design. My daughter agreed to participate and we began to design a 4 week meditation plan to see if meditation could help our sleep. I read articles learning about other experiments of meditation and sleep. Most of the things I read said that even a small amount of meditation everyday positively effects the quality of sleep. As we thought about how to design and daily questionnaire to chart our sleep, we began to ask other questions. Would we see that over time, we would feel drawn to the practice or less resistant to adding one more thing to our day? Would this help us become more aware of our breath during the day allowing that breath awareness to reduce anxiety and stress? Would the meditation practice positively affect how we felt about our day meaning would our attitude change towards the experiences we had during the day? Would there be immediate benefits to the practice?
To see the questionnaire we designed and our first week, click the last two posts this month….April 2019.
During the second week of our practice, we meditated for 4 days. I found great comfort in Sharon Salzberg’s idea that I can trust that I am continually planting seeds in my meditation practice. Sometimes I don’t see the immediate benefits, but the hope is that some seeds will take root, grow, and bloom.
Our second week results revealed that we felt more drawn to the practice. We experienced less resistance to adding the practice at the end of a long day!! We checked in with our breath during the day slightly more than we did the previous week and we continued to experience immediate relief after the practice. After two weeks, I reviewed the data collected on sleep and I felt frustrated. I realized that the days that we meditated, we did not sleep as well, but the days we did not meditate, we slept great!
Here is the interesting part that I noted in my results: I am finding that our sleep is not better during the days that we practice, but the few days that we do not practice that follow several days of practice we sleep great! Is there a cumulative effect?
I also wondered if practicing before bed negatively impacted our sleep. For this experiment, we stuck with our evening practice. It is very difficult to find a time to practice with a busy junior high student!
Week 2: 4 days of practice: (scale of 1 being negative experience and 10 being the most positive)
|How was your day||6.5||6.5|
|Do you feel drawn to the practice||6.25||6.75|
|Did you check in with your breath today||1.75||3.5|
|How do you feel now||7.25||6|
|How do you feel after the practice||8.25||7.25|
|Sleep after Meditation||7||7.25|
|Sleep without Meditation||7.67||8.6|