Are you unable to fall sleep easily at night? Are you often finding it difficult to wake up in the morning?
Chances are you answered ‘yes’ to at least one of these questions.
In today’s ‘busyness’ culture we are experiencing information overload and are confronted daily with countless tasks on our to-do lists both in our professional and personal lives. If you haven’t had a restful sleep, trying to remain focused during the day is downright challenging and physically draining on the body over time.
When you climb into bed at night and find your mind flooded with thoughts about what you have to do tomorrow or obsessing over what you should have or shouldn’t have done today, you are not alone. You may be tossing and turning and even feeling frustrated that you can’t just sleep already!
Instead of following the frustration, consider these tips and add this simple 5 minute meditation to your to-do list to help you switch off and gently guide you into a peaceful slumber.
Create a nighttime ritual:
- Make an effort to disengage from electronics at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. This includes TV, surfing the net, or texting and talking on the phone.
- While in bed, use this time to read or journal. Keeping a journal to record your thoughts or activities from the day is a great way to unwind, or simply write down one thing you are grateful for.
- If you are still worried about what you need to get done the following day, rather than reaching for your phone or computer, keep a pen and notepad by your bed and make a list as this will help to release your thoughts.
- While lying on your back take note of how your pyjamas or blankets feel on your body. If you need to make any adjustments to feel comfortable, do it now.
- Place your arms either beside your body with your palms facing up or make a diamond shape by touching your index fingers together and your thumbs then place your hands on your navel with your belly button in the centre of the diamond.
- Release your tongue from the tip of your palette and allow it to rest at the bottom of your mouth.
- Take a moment to scan your body silently or quietly asking your body to soften. Use your imagination – you can try communicating to one body part at a time beginning with the head and moving down through the shoulders, torso, arms, legs, to your feet and toes.
- Begin to bring awareness to your breath. Imagine your torso is made up of 3 sections where you will send your breath; your lower belly, your rib cage and your upper chest/neck.
- Instead of counting sheep, you’re going to count your breath. For a count of 3, inhale slowly to fill your lower belly for a count of (1), rib cage for (2) and upper chest for (3).
- Pause for a second, then exhale at the same pace to release the breath from the upper chest for a count of (3), rib cage for (2), and lower belly last for (1). Pause again for another second before beginning your next inhale.
- Repeat this process for a few minutes. There is no need to be meticulous in counting how many cycles you are completing but if it helps, there are approximately 10 cycles of breath (inhale + exhale) every 1.5 – 2 minutes when counting at this pace.
- As you become comfortable with this meditation you may want to try elongating the breath for a count of 4 or 5 or more. If you are visually oriented, with an increased count, you may want to imagine you are filling the spaces in the body in between the belly and the ribcage or expanding outwards to the side body as you inhale.
The mind will naturally want to start thinking and will try to pull you away from this practice so don’t beat yourself up if your mind can’t get past the count of 2 the first time. When this happens just start again and continue to count your breath. Over time you will be able to retrain your mind and your body will appreciate the benefits of lowered stress levels that come from deep relaxation.