Photo by Dr. Kristin’s fitness RX
It’s no surprise that so many people have a hard time falling asleep—and getting quality rest once they do.
In today’s hustle-bustle society, many people rush from their beds out into their lives and get back home just in time to crash, before doing it all over again the next day. There aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish the things we need to get done, let alone getting around to the things we actually enjoy and want to be doing.
When we do finally have some time, we relax by watching TV or reading social media and Internet memes on our smartphones. These kinds of activities actually add more stimuli to an already overloaded lifestyle, making it nearly impossible for our racing minds to settle down.
To prepare yourself for restful sleep, here are three forms of meditations that can help calm the mind and get you into more of a relaxed state so you can get a good night’s rest.
Recapitulation, as taught by Deepak Chopra, is the act of reviewing your day from start to finish each evening just before falling asleep. This guided visualization can help you relax and even develop witnessing awareness—the fifth level of consciousness, known as Cosmic consciousness. It can also help cultivate lucid dreaming.
To do this, sit upright in your bed just before turning out the lights. Close your eyes and go back to the moment you woke earlier that morning. Review everything that you experienced from the time you woke up all the way to the present moment. Try to stay in a place of just observing your day rather than judging or evaluating your experiences. The recapitulation process should only take a minute or two. Don’t stop along the way and “hang out” in anything that happened along the way.
After doing this, if you need to relax a bit more, you can do some Yoga Nidra, or yogic sleep.
Yoga Nidra is a powerful technique where you learn to relax consciously. The word yoga means union and the word nidra means sleep. It’s referred to as the state of dynamic sleep, where one remains aware. In Yoga Nidra, you’re accessing the state between waking and dreaming where your brainwaves enter the alpha brainwave pattern (Yoga Nidra by Swami Satyananda Saraswati) and you experience a deep state of relaxation. Move away from external stimulus and go inward to achieve this deep relaxation.
The Yoga Nidra process is one that takes you through a sensory experience of relaxing your entire physical body one area at a time, while bringing awareness to sensation. The duration of Yoga Nidra can range anywhere from 10 minutes up to 90 minutes, depending on the amount of time you have and your preferred level of exploration.
Check out this Yoga Nidra script that you can record in your own voice on your smartphone or tablet and play back for yourself as you prepare for rest. This one is about 12 minutes long. If you prefer to use a pre-recorded audio, there is a CD you can purchase called Deep Relaxation – Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra that has a track for insomnia called Put Me to Sleep. There are also numerous free audios you can find online for Yoga Nidra.
If you’re still awake after doing this guided relaxation for the physical body, you can bring in mantra-based sleep meditation.
Om Agasthi Shahina (Ōm Ah-gah´-stee Shah-ee´-nah)
This mantra-based sleep meditation can be highly effective for those who have overactive minds and have difficulty falling asleep.
Repeat the mantra Om Agasthi Shahina— pronounced Ōm Ah-gah´-stee Shah-ee´-nah—silently to yourself. There is no need to synchronize the mantra with your breath; just breathe normally. If your mind drifts away to thoughts, bring your attention back to the repetition of the mantra. At some point, you’ll likely doze off into a restful slumber.
by: Tris Thorp, lead Master Educator at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing. Tris teaches weekly classes at the Chopra Center’s Perfect Health program, the advanced meditation group at Seduction of Silence, and in Chopra Center University’s Instructor Certification Programs. She is certified in Primordial Sound Meditation.