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  1. Well, isn’t it obvious? 

    Looking into Insomnia; from a psychosocial, scientific and artistic viewpoint  

    This series of articles “Looking into Insomnia” aims to look at insomnia from varying perspectives such as scientific, psychological and sociological, creative and artistic, humanistic, meditative and mindful point of view as well as humouristic and maybe even a theological and philosophical viewpoint. 

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    Ok, that’s a lot. What does it mean and why would it be of interest? 

    Well, it’s of interest to me for a couple of reasons. I am a certified practitioner of neurolinguistics, as well as a student of the psychology and sociology and my postgrad was is data-driven marketing and communication. Most import of all though, in building my credability with you is my lived experience. I have lived with insomnia for the best part of 42 years of my life (note I chose the wording “live with” and not “suffer from” this is an important point that I will come back to later on). As a practitioner and student of the arts and social sciences I have long been intrigued as to why professionals, scientist, and psychologists, experts in the field of insomnia chose to focus purely on one or two areas, usually their own areas of specialism and do not look at the wider picture, why do they not try and join the dots. Possibly because that’s what they have built their thesis, doctorate and career on and steering away from it seems counterproductive. Or simply it's because, like most of us, when you are so focused on one area you can't see the wood for the trees. 

    For years, I have seen connections and dots and wondered why others (namely those writing the books and the blogs) haven’t, why they haven’t joined them together. So, I want to know what's going on. I want to look at all the evidence and interrogate it. I want to pick up the rocks shine a torch under them and see what's going on. 

    What I would also like to do, through my training in data-driven and digital marketing and communications is to expand up on and explain how elements like social media are affecting us, subconsciously. How they are utilised, by marketers like me, to elicit a behaviour by influencing our emotions which affect our physiology, well-being and in our case our ability to sleep. 

    Why do neuroscientist not take into consideration the sociological aspects and vice verse, why do psychologists focus on psychoanalysis or cognitive behavioural therapy over drugs and physiologists focus on the physical whilst ignoring the psychological and physiological benefits of herbal medicines or mindfulness and meditation practices, and what about the creative art studies and artistic endeavours to express and explain the issues around insomnia. Yet advertisers utilise all of it when attacking our subconcious. Now I know those are sweeping statements and not all practitioners ignore the practices of other scientific or nonscientific practices. But a lot and in my experience (and I have done a lot of research in the those 42 years) most focus on their own area only, on their own area of specialism as if it is their chance to stake their claim on the discussion, make their mark and make a name for themselves in their chosen profession. And whilst there is nothing wrong with this per say, we all need to make a living, I would argue that perhaps it means we are missing some obvious answers. And no doubt so am I.

    So, over the course of the next few months I am planning (and all good plans etc etc) to write a series of articles looking at a psychosocial and neurolinguistics study of insomnia but with a consideration of the current hard science and social science viewpoints of insomnia from a neurological,  physiological and psychological perspective as well as bring in thoughts and considerations from NLP, sociology, as well as the arts and humanities and everything else I witter on about above. Trying to bring this all together to see how the world we live in is affecting our ability to sleep and what we can do about it. 

    This is all going to be in layman's non-academic language because, well quite frankly, I am a layman, a blog writer/marketing technologist and amateur social science researcher but not a real scientist or academic. 

    The reason I am doing all this study is that I love to learn but also I like to look at the world from as many different viewpoints as possible in order to see a deeper picture. This is, for me, the best way to apply critical thinking and in making sense of the world. 

    One of the complaints I read about the social science and hard science journals and academic books is that they do a great job of discussing world issues and theories between themselves between academic to academic, but do a not so good job of relaying this information back to the general public, out of their network of discussion.  I am not sure I am going to necessarily do a good job of it, that will be judged by the reader, but I will do my best.

    My plan is to look at studies or discussions in insomnia and break them down in order to understand them, question them and hopefully join up some of the dots between them.

    So, let us get started. 

     

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  2. “I have tried meditation and its just not for me, my brain doesn’t stop, and I just think too much.” Almost worn as a badge of pride as if to suggest that those who can meditate and clear their mind clearly are not people who think as much as the many people make this statement do. Many insomniacs, or others, will say that they just can't do it, every time they do they feel like they are doing it wrong. Or yet others just say they do not have time in their day.

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    Now that first paragraph sounds very judgy, and it is meant to. But trust me it only is because I was that guy. I have said those things and from time to time catch myself saying them to myself. 

    The other problem with meditation or mindfulness I see and feel is the industry that has grown up around it. The money that people like me are trying to make by writing books about it, developing training courses around it and so on. Mindfulness has become the fast food industry on the meditation and self-help movement. 

    It is very much the in thing to do, and celebrities line up to tell you that they do it and how wonderful it is. They pompously tell you how you should do it too so that you can gain enlightenment. To which you probably think ‘well fuck you, if I was a millionaire celebrity that didn’t have to get up at 6 am every day to get ready for work and had to work 60 hours a week just to make ends meet then yeah I could sit on my arse every day humming to myself for 2 hours.’ 

    It becomes yet another thing to do on the list of things we “should” do to keep ourselves healthy, and therefore it becomes something we rebel against. Something, that if we are not careful, becomes a chore. 

    And the problem is that this is not real life. We all know this, and even if we are the type of person who binges drinks in celebrity and reality culture (I definitely am not).   We know deep down that its “not real” its hyped up life made for the camera and so we distance ourselves from these thoughts as something out of reach. Even if it is on a subconscious level. 

    It's all a bit too spiritual, isn’t it?

    The other stereotype with mindfulness and meditation is that it is only for people who are in some way spiritual. That it is for monks and gurus. Associated with Buddhism, Islam and other religions. 

    This is a misconception that a lot of people have. They feel that they couldn’t look into meditation or mindfulness as it would lead them onto a spiritual or religious journey that they may not wish to go on. Indeed in some religions such as Christianity, the concept or thought of meditation or mindfulness is seen as something mystic even possibly dangerous. Something that could open your mind up to the abuse my demons, indeed if you delve off into hypnosis this can often be the claim, I know this as this is what I was told as I was brought up as a Christian. The point that Jesus did meditate, and it states this in the bible seems to go over their head. But religion aside, meditation does not have to be a spiritual process and the benefits will change your life.

    Both meditation and mindfulness, and yes they are different I will go into this at a later date, have amazing cognitivepsychological, neurological and even physiological benefits that sit outside anything that could be called spiritual or religious. Many non-religious people, even atheists, practice meditation or at the very least mindfulness for this very reason. 

    It is these areas of meditation and mindfulness leading to metacognitive awareness of our thoughts as and when they happen so that we can retrain and reprogram our thinking on an unconscious and subconscious level via conscious awareness using neuro-linguistic programming that is the core of what am outlining in this writing and the forthcoming books and blogs.

    My aim is to bring together these different schools of thought and teachings in order to help my fellow insomniacs to gain and benefit, as I have, with this knowledge. But it is also to reverse engineer it and distil it down into a process and toolkit that you can use daily if you wish or as and when you need it. Without you having to do the years of research and training that I have had to. 

    In conclusion

    If we can put aside our preconceptions about NLP, mindfulness, hypnosis and meditation. And if we can give ourselves the knowledge and benefit of taking some time out of our busy days to practice what we learn. Then even 10 minutes a day, which is my norm, can have vast and lasting effects. 

     

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