3 Ways To Meditate Towards A Good Night’s Sleep
A decade ago, yoga was the new thing. It transformed from being this exotic practice associated with mystics and gurus into being a mainstream fitness staple. Of course, lots of teachers still included the more spiritual side in their classes with chanting and chakra work, but for the most part, yoga was a very accessible way of keeping in shape.
Hot on the heels of yoga, pilates became the next go-to activity for mental and physical health. Seen by many as slightly more dynamic, it helped those who suffered from specific injuries and for whom yoga wasn’t an option.
Still, although both of these practices incorporated elements of relaxation, the bodywork often overshadowed the mental practice. Neither of them were solely focused on calming the mind; something that became increasingly important in a faster, busier, more stressful society.
Just like yoga some years before, meditation was met with a bit of hesitation at first. Wasn’t it just for hippies and hermits?
Fortunately, the scientific benefits of meditation soon silenced the skeptics. Before long, everyone wanted a piece of it – from big-shot corporations introducing it into the workplace to the military using it as a training tool.
Why? Because meditation is good for you. And for the world in general. It makes us happier, healthier, more creative, more productive and more tolerant people.
Oh, and it even helps us to sleep better!
That should be reason enough to practice meditation. Because if you’re the type who can’t get more than 4 hours of sleep a night, or who lies awake ’til the wee hours with thoughts churning around your mind, meditation could be the key to relief. And if you start sleeping better, you’ll notice some huge benefits in your daily life; namely around your mood, your relationships, your health and even your career.
On the other hand, being sleep-deprived can make you irritable, lethargic, more prone to sickness and less inclined to do a great job at whatever it is you do.
That’s why it pays to get a good night’s sleep. And, no matter what time of day you decide to do it, meditation is a sure-fire way to get it.
How To Start
Most people already know that meditation comes with some great benefits. But they tried it, found it impossible, and promptly gave up. Other people have never tried it; they don’t even know where to begin!
If you fit into either of those categories, this post is for you. I’ll be sharing some easy meditation techniques to help you get the better sleep you deserve.
1. Start Small
If you sit down to meditate for the first time, and resolve to do it for half an hour like your friend Mike does every morning, chances are you’ll quit. Meditation is hard. It requires a lot of patience, and concentration, and that half hour that can pass so quickly when you’re watching blooper videos on YouTube can seem like an eternity when you’ve nothing to listen to but your own mind.
After all, most of us have never sat still with our own thoughts before...and the experience can be both incredibly rewarding and maddeningly frustrating! So start with a manageable length of time, say 5 minutes. Do this every day and, once you feel comfortable, you can increase it to 10.
Then 15. Then 20. In fact, 20 minutes of meditation a day can make a massive difference in your life. And before you say you don’t have time, you do. Just cut down your Netflix binging a little. Or get up earlier. You can make this work.
2. Start With A Guide
You might have the best intentions to do this by yourself. If all those yogis in your local park can do it without prompting, so can you! But since the practice can be so challenging, especially for beginners, I’d always recommend starting with a guided meditation.
The cues tell you simple things, like to focus on your breath, or to become aware of sounds...things you could just tell yourself, right? Perhaps. But usually the mind will jump to planning tonight’s dinner, or remembering that silly argument you had with your co-worker, or wondering who would play you in the movie of your life.
Of course, with practice, the space between these jumbled thoughts becomes bigger and bigger until your mind is actually calm. And when thoughts do arise, you’re able to notice them without getting entangled in the stories they lead to.
But in the beginning, it’s a lot harder to ‘calm’ the mind. Because of course, any efforts to do so just result in frustration, judgement and a lot more thinking! That’s why a guided meditation is so helpful. Even if you find yourself swept up in thoughts, the soft cues bring you back to the present moment.
And after some time, you’ll be able to continue with self-guided meditation; to bring yourself back.
3. Mix It Up
I usually meditate at the same time every day – as soon as I wake up. The routine of it always makes it a little easier to settle down and for me, it’s a great way to energise myself for the day. If I’m having trouble sleeping, or if I feel especially wound up one day, I’ll do a meditation that evening, too.
Still, although I’m rigid enough with my meditation schedule, I mix other elements up. Most mornings I do a sitting meditation. Other mornings, when I’m finding it hard to concentrate or am feeling overly tired, I’ll do a standing or walking meditation instead. I like to do a lying-down meditation in the evenings to help my body and mind relax...and often find a guided, “tense and release” exercise great for doing so.
So don’t be bound by the idea that you can only meditate in one posture, for a certain amount of time! You can bring moments of meditation into your daily life, too – at your desk in work, waiting for the traffic lights to change, or in line at the supermarket. The result? You’ll find yourself becoming calmer during the day, and especially at night when you need to settle down.
Those niggling worries which formerly had you tossing and turning will start to melt away and you’ll start to get one, then two, then three nights of untroubled sleep. Bliss.
Sweet dreams…Meditation really can help you sleep more soundly at night; not to mention making you a brighter, healthier and happier person come morning. So try out the tips above, become a meditator (gasp!) and see how sweet those dreams can become.