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It's Not the Destination, It's the Journey- OCD & Insomnia

May 07, 2023

Hello. My name is Sherry, and I am a recovering OCD perfectionist with insomnia tendencies….

Self-discovery is a lifelong journey and even masters need masters to guide them (not that I’m a master!!)

Recently, I was working with my own coach and a valuable concept made itself known to me.

It’s not the destination, it’s the journey. We have all likely heard this common saying multiple times throughout our lives, yet somehow, I always forget this idea that is both so basic and so powerful.

Even Relaxation Exercises Can Be Stressful…

In my session I was speaking with my coach about our embodied breath practice. There are over 100 different breath and movement exercises, and I was struggling with what and how to work into my daily life.

As I sat there indulging in OCD, insomnia producing, stress (because I want to be the perfect student and a master of everything!) he said to me that it isn’t about the individual practices, there is nothing to master, it’s about being curious and feeling into the body (being fully aware) as I do the practices to see how they each affect me. I could practice any of them and get similar results as long as I am mindful.

That’s why I say it’s the journey, not the destination. It didn’t matter if I could do 108 breath practices perfectly and trying to do so was actually getting in the way of me being mindful, which is the entire reason for the practice!

How OCD Tendencies Feed Insomnia:

Insomnia and sleep disturbances tend to disproportionately affect type A, OCD people and we struggle with them because we so badly WANT to be good at sleeping! We create long complicated rituals that involve any and everything that we hear is “good for insomnia” and we navigate this laundry list of healthy “to dos” with rigid, military style precision, never asking ourselves how stressful it is to have so much we HAVE to do everyday and if this stress is actually fueling our sleep disturbances.

I, for one, tend to take on too much. If I plan well and don’t waste time, I can fit everything in! But what about non “healthful” things like making time to talk to my boyfriend, hug my cat and call my mother?

I remember I once did a breath meditation where we were all supposed to make a list of everything that we had been thinking/ worrying about during the meditation. The instructor gave examples such as a conflict at work or a friend or family member that you had a hard conversation with. I’m embarrassed to say that NOT ONE of my thoughts involved other people!!!

My entire inner dialog was about how I was going to fit all the breath work, meditation, exercise, food prep etc. etc. into my day so I could be optimally healthy and sleep!

The Gift of Micro Practices:

Does this sound restful, relaxing, or healthy to you? For all those over achievers out there, doing just 1 practice MINDFULLY, with complete focus, is more life giving than unmindfully rushing through seven.

Also, the practice doesn’t have to be long. If you can only sustain focus and detailed attention in a practice for 3 to 5 minutes, start there. It’s more effective than being unmindful for 20 because of some arbitrary number you heard. If you can’t focus for more than 5 minutes but don’t feel like this is enough, then practice for 5 minutes multiple times a day.

This concept doesn’t just apply to breathwork. We are all different. Where in YOUR life are you over striving, perfecting, or taking on too much? Are you so involved it trying to be the perfect parent that you forget to enjoy your kids? So, focused on trying to be “good” at a sport that you forget that you used to love doing it? So busy thinking about the next step in your career that you don’t realize how much you enjoy your current job?

We all have something. Finding where you are unmindfully out of balance and remembering to enjoy the journey could be an important step to reducing your stress, improving your sleep, and enjoying your life.



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