Ancient Oceans For Restful Sleep And Relaxation
There is something about going to the ocean that feels like coming home. I suppose in one way, we are. The ocean is Mother. The ocean is our first mother, for it was in the womb of her primordial depths that life was first born. In a briny sea we grew and developed, nourished by the saline stew of minerals suspended around us. Our bodies remember. The same salty water that crashes in immense waves on the rocks in front of us courses through our bodies in our blood, our sweat, our tears. The same way her rising and lowering tides caress our shores our bodies echo in our own rhythmic movement of respiration. We may be distant from her now, but Mother Ocean still cradles continents in her arms and, even landlocked, a distant primal whisper deep in my belly can always feel her presence, her pull…
can calm itself,
so can you.
—meditation, Nayyirah Waheed
Our internal tides shift and change, waves of emotion wash over us, and sometimes we just have to surrender to the cycles of something so much bigger than all of us. And, like the ocean, we are affected by the pull of the moon. I always know it’s nearly a full moon because I find myself wide awake in the middle of the night, writing posts like this one. You could put me in a window-less basement and my body would still feel the moon’s fullness. It’s at these moments that I turn to the ocean to soothe and relax so that I can return to restful sleep.
We are composed of a rich brine of minerals that keep things running smoothly. Unfortunately, this blend can often get out of balance. There are certain minerals that a good portion of us are deficient in - magnesium, iodine, selenium, etc. The good news is that we can turn to our beloved ancient oceans to provide for us. Below you'll find recipes for magnesium spray, balm, and bath salts filled with the nourishing calm of the sea, as well as an ocean-themed meditation to help relax into sleep.
Sea vegetables contain many vitamins and minerals, including high levels of healthy iodine, which is particularly helpful for brain function and thyroid health. This iodine binds to the same places that radioactive iodine binds to which means that eating seaweed or soaking in seaweed regularly keeps those places full of good iodine and radioactive iodine has nowhere to go. Seaweed can help balance our hormones, soften our skin, and provide us with all kinds of deeply nutritive salts and minerals. I love the taste of seaweed - mineral-y and rich, intensely oceanic. But not everyone enjoys the taste of the sea as much as I do, and for those people there are baths. If you take enough seaweed and boil it in water for some time and let that cool you’ll get a silky-soft liquid that feels absolutely amazing on your skin. It’s wonderful to brew this concoction and add it to your bathwater every now and then to re-charge the system and remind your body that you, too, are an ocean.
Magnesium is an important mineral for a lot of our body’s functions, and a deficiency can show up in a number of ways, from insomnia to anxiety to muscle tension and spasms. (If you are interested in learning more about magnesium deficiency, this is a great resource.) Magnesium can be taken orally, but it has a natural laxative effect that can be unpleasant for some people. The good news is that it can also be readily absorbed through the skin - Here is a great article about magnesium deficiency and the benefits of transdermal (skin) absorption. Basically, it is a wonderfully relaxing mineral that can help your body and mind let go. It can soothe symptoms of PMS (which are often related to a magnesium deficiency - that’s why we crave chocolate during this time of the month since chocolate is a decent source of magnesium), help with restless leg syndrome and insomnia, and calm symptoms of anxiety, along with many other benefits.
Some people find that transdermal applications of magnesium can cause tingling or itchiness. Most sources say that the itchiness will quickly lessen after a few applications. In the meantime, to avoid/lessen the itchiness it helps to spray the spray or rub the lotion onto parts of the body with more fatty tissue, such as your thighs. You can also leave the products on for 20 minutes for the magnesium to absorb, then wipe them clean with a towel or jump in a relaxing bath to wash the rest off. Try incorporating magnesium into your daily routine to get the most benefit.
This is not a sea vegetable nor related to oceans, but since this post is about insomnia and sleep it bears mentioning. Vetiver is the root of a grass native to India and its aroma is intoxicating - it’s a deep smell, as old as time itself it seems. Sweet, woody, slightly smoky, very earthy… it reminds us to stay grounded. It is a wonderful fragrance to calm the nerves and gently sedate and is gently cooling, perfect for bedtime.
The following recipes are some different ways to work the energy of ancient oceans into your care routines, especially as aids to help you relax and sleep. Below I have included a “recipe” for a guided meditation exercise that has been very helpful for me in controlling pain and surrendering to sleep.
In order to make the body butter, you’ll first need to make magnesium oil. This is not a true oil but a solution that has an oil-like texture and viscosity. It’s important to use distilled water to ensure the longevity of the blend. It can also be used on its own as a spray if you prefer the feeling of that to the body butter.
1/2 cup magnesium chloride flakes
1/2 cup distilled water
- Boil the distilled water.
- Place the magnesium chloride flakes in a heat-proof bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Stir well until dissolved, then let cool completely.
- Pour into a bottle or spray bottle. This mixture can be stored at room temperature for six months.
- To use, just spray onto your skin daily (in the evening/at bedtime is best.) 10 or so sprays is a good amount. Be sure to read the tips above to avoid tingling or stinging. You can also dilute this mixture with more water if you’re still experiencing discomfort after a week or so.
Magnesium Body Butter:
1/3 c. magnesium oil
1/2 c. coconut oil
2 Tbs (.65 oz) beeswax pastilles
2 capsules of vitamin E oil
20 drops of rose essential oil
13 drops vetiver essential oil
8 drops grapefruit essential oil
- Place the coconut oil and beeswax in a small pan and melt over low heat.
- Pour into a medium bowl and let cool at room temperature until slightly opaque, about 30 minutes.
- Start to whip with a hand blender. At this point, you should add the liquid from the Vitamin E capsules as well.
- Very slowly, add the magnesium oil and continue blending until well combined. You’re making an emulsion (like you do if you make homemade mayonnaise, etc.) so you want to be sure to add the magnesium oil very slowly in an even stream.
- Add the essential oils and keep blending until they are incorporated.
- Put the mixture in glass jars and store in the fridge, or at room temperature under 70F. This mixture should last several months.
- To use, take a small scoopful of the lotion and rub it into your skin.
Ancient Oceans Bath Salt:
1 cup magnesium chloride flakes
1 cup epsom salt
1 cup sea salt
1/2 cup seaweed flakes (I used dulse and wakame)
1/2 cup powdered seaweed (I used kelp)
20 drops vetiver essential oil
10 drops lavender essential oil
8 drops bergamot essential oil
- Just mix everything up in a big bowl, being sure to stir well so that the essential oils are fully distributed.
- This recipe can be used in a normal bath, or as a more-concentrated foot bath to help with bedtime relaxation, insomnia, or restless leg syndrome. To get the most benefit from the seaweed, try boiling 1/3 - 1/2 c. of the mixture in a small pot of water for about 45 minutes, then letting it cool to a comfortable temperature before adding to your bath water or foot bath. You can also just dissolve the blend directly in your bath water if you don’t have time to boil it first, you just won’t extract quite as much good stuff from the seaweed.
Ancient Oceans Sleep Hypnosis:
This is an exercise that I find particularly helpful in allowing me to relax and surrender. I also use self-hypnosis often to manage the pain that comes with chronic illness. It can take some practice to be able to take yourself very deep, but it’s a relaxing practice that is enjoyable to do and you will feel the benefits from it right away.
First, lay down somewhere comfortable where you won’t be interrupted. Know that you are fully in control of this exercise, and if you need to wake up for any reason you can do so easily. Take a few deep breaths and feel yourself sinking in to the softness beneath you. Let your eyelids start to feel heavy, then close them gently.
Starting at your feet, concentrate on how they feel then allow them to relax. Move up through your ankles, your calves and shins, your knees. At each step, pause for a few moments and allow that part of your body to relax. You might be surprised at how much tension you are carrying. Continue your progressive muscle relaxation up through your body, going slowly and spending as much time on each section as you need to.
Once you’ve relaxed your shoulders, neck, face (especially the areas around the eyes and temples), take another deep relaxing breath. Focus on your breath for a moment. Breathe in slowly through your nose, then exhale slowly through your mouth. As you breathe in, imagine you are inhaling a soothing white or silver light. With each inhale, picture it spreading further into your body… down into your finger tips and your toes. With each exhale, picture all of the tension you are holding onto being drawn out of your body and released into the air, then carried off by a gentle breeze. In with relaxation, out with tension. Feel the way the air feels entering your nose and filling your lungs. Feel the way it brushes your lips as you exhale.
Now, picture you are standing on a beach by the ocean. How does the sand feel beneath your feet? Is it damp and cold? Warm and dry? Soft or coarse? There is no wrong answer; this is your vision. Feel your toes touch the ground beneath them. Look around. What does the view look like? What colors do you see? What sounds do you hear? What does your body feel like here? Perhaps you can feel a soothing warm breeze, or the refreshing spray of salt water on your legs. Stay here for a moment, taking in the beauty of your vision. watch the rhythm of the waves - crashing far out but so calm by the time the gentle waters reach the shores.
Walk down to the edge of the water, then wade in so it just barely covers your feet. The feel of the water is incredibly soothing. It is just the right temperature and you can feel the tension draining out of your feet. Take another little step in further, so the water covers your ankles. You can feel the relaxation spread up through your joints and bones. Wade in further, slowly, until you are almost fully submerged. Then, dive all the way in.
This is your own meditation, so you get to choose your experience. In this undersea realm, you can breathe. The water feels a little heavy in your lungs, like the air in a steamroom or particularly humid climate. It feels gentle and soothing as you take deep breaths.Your lungs drink it up happily but it slows your breathing to match the rolling pattern of the waves above. Slow, slow, slow.
Now, imagine that you are walking into an undersea forest. Kelp fronds rise above you, illuminated by sunlight. What colors do you see? What undersea life catches your attention? By now, you will be deep enough in this guided meditation to take yourself on your own adventure. Notice the realms you explore and the beings you meet. Stay in the depths as long as you feel necessary. You may even fall asleep, and that is fine too.
When you are ready to re-surface, just swim slowly upwards. With each stroke, find yourself becoming more and more aware of your current surroundings. Feel the “air” getting lighter as you transition from the underwater depths to your own comfortable home. Once you break the surface of the water, the meditation has ended. You can now journal about your experience or allow yourself to drift gently off to sleep, where a world of water-filled dreams may await you.
Return to the Ocean.
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