Wake up refreshed with this easy meditation for sleep
Everyone needs their beauty sleep, though half of Britons say that stress prevents them from dropping off. But there’s no need to reach for sleeping pills, making the most of your mind can be the key to sleeping well and feeling on top of your game.
Meditation elicits the ‘relaxation response’ – a state of deep and natural relaxation first described in the 1970s by cardiologist and founder of Harvard’s Mind/Body Medical Institute, Dr. Herbert Benson. The relaxation response counteracts the physiological effects of stress by switching off the fight or flight response that’s stuck in a loop whenever we can’t unwind.Read more: Why sleep is a feminist issue
When trying this simple meditation, be kind and patient with yourself. Realise that one part of you, the mind, is busy and agitated. While there’s another part that’s tired and needs to sleep. In placing your patient attention on the part that longs to rest, there’s an increasing chance that the busy part will, with practice, calm of its own accord.
1. Get into the ZZZone
Dim the light or light a candle, get into bed and get comfy, lying on your back. If you can, avoid screen-time for at least an hour before bed to reduce that amount of stimulus your brain is trying to process.
2. Focus on your breath
Settling your mind as best you can, find the point in your body where you most feel your breath. Keep your attention there. Follow the rhythmic rise and fall of your breath, without trying to change it in any way. As you’re being aware of the breath, allow yourself to sink into the comfort of your bed with each exhalation.
3. Try counting
Some people find it easier to count their breath. Count “one” as you exhale. On the next out breath, count “two”. Start with counting to seven without interruption. If your mind wanders, calmly start again at one.
4. Relax by the sleepy fire
Keeping the eyes closed, imagine there are gently-glowing embers at your feet. As you inhale deeply and slowly, visualise a warming golden-orange light enter through your feet up through the legs, the torso and face to the crown of the head. On the exhalation, imagine that your muscles are relaxing and softening, and that the mind is gently becoming still. Repeat for as long as feels good.
5. Take in the good
Really enjoy feeling rested and softening into the vibration of peace within. Take in those good feelings, so that your brain will seek more of them in the future.
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