Sleep is the best meditation.
Meditation is all about the pursuit of nothingness. It’s like the ultimate rest. It’s better than the best sleep you’ve ever had. It’s a quieting of the mind. It sharpens everything, especially your appreciation of your surroundings. It keeps life fresh.
So many people try to rely on drugs to help them fall asleep, but in general, this is not a healthy practice except with perfectly natural and safe sleep aids, and even then you should be looking for root causes of insomnia and ways to cure the root of your problem.
When your body becomes dependent on a synthetic chemical to fall asleep, it can be extremely difficult to rest when you do not have access to the drug, as you can become not only physically dependent on the substance you are using, but psychologically dependent, which can be utterly devastating. Psychological dependence can even occur even from taking an otherwise perfectly safe and natural substance such as Melatonin (an over the counter sleep medication) on a regular basis.
Meditation For Sleep – A Serious Option
So what are the other options? I am going to introduce you here to meditation as a possible solution for your insomnia. This won’t work for everyone, because the range of insomnia conditions is wide, and some people undoubtedly do require the aid of a sleep aid or sleep medication to break the insomnia cycle.
Having said that, there are some meditative practices that you can perform on a regular basis which will allow you to fall asleep much faster than you currently do. Tossing and turning for hours can leave you feeling miserable and exhausted the next day and in general. Sometimes, your insomnia symptoms may indicate a more serious condition such as Sleep Apnea which can seriously damage your overall health.
Finding The Right Type Of Meditation For You
If you are looking to use meditation for insomnia, then you need to find the right techniques and stick with them. There are several methods of meditation which are good for different purposes, but the type you want to focus on for help with sleep issues is called Mindfulness. This type of meditation does not alter your breathing or thoughts too much, it simply allows you to properly examine them.
You enter a low-energy state where you observe your breathing patterns and thoughts so you are able to push negative ones away at night time. Negative thoughts (often arising from stress) are a key factor in keeping people awake during the night and meditation will allow you to delegate an appropriate time and place in your mind for these negative thoughts. In many ways, this actually treats the root cause of your insomnia. But what is meditation?
What Is Meditation?
I have personally practiced meditation for many years and I am perfectly confident in answering this key question. so here goes:
Meditation is the practice of gaining control over both your mind and body.
So how is this done? Generally through holding your body in a fixed position (this can be as easy as sitting and lying down and not moving, or harder, by holding a less natural position), and then controlling your thoughts. Breath control is also often a factor – but don’t worry – almost anyone can master the essential simple practices in time! I will have much, much more to say on this in subsequent articles.
Your First Exercise
This exercise is simple, easy and effective; it does not require any of the difficult positions we normally think of with yoga, and you can do it at home a s a sleep meditation or even in the office as a de-stressing and focus exercise. Do this each day for fifteen minutes (time yourself) before you sleep. Increase the period to 30 minutes over the coming weeks.
Posture (or Asana as Yoga Practitioners Call It)
Assume the position shown in the figure above and be sure to:
- Keep your back straight
- Keep your head level
- Keep your lower legs at 90 degrees to your thighs and your feet flat on the floor
- Place your hands gently on your knees
- Now close your eyes and relax without sagging.
Now hold this relaxed position diligently. Do not allow your back to sag or your head to nod. Your body will try to cheat you and create itchy feelings and all sorts of physical distractions – ignore them and stay still and calm. Be aware of your gentle, slow breath and relax.
Calm Your Mind
This bit is difficult! What you need to do first is to empty your mind. Think of nothing. What happens now is that your mind fights against you and keeps bringing thoughts of people, sounds and places to your mind’s eye. Suppress these thoughts ruthlessly and keep your mind empty. This may take many hours of practice, but don’t despair, – it is possible for anyone with practice.
My own way of achieving this is to imagine myself in the darkest possible room, sealed off from the world. Other methods involve the use of a mantra, which is essentially a meaningless constantly repeated tune or sequence of words. It’s simply not possible for thoughts to penetrate this if you do it well.
Focus Your Mind on One Thing
What is the thing that gives you the most comfort in life – the face of a loved one, or the sound of the sea? Let this image or sound rise in your mind as though from a deep black sea and hold it there. Until you have achieved the control and stability of mind and body, this will also be difficult, and the thing you are conjuring in your mind will tend to fade in and out – but persevere!
Success in this will create a deep dense of peace and relaxation that will carry through into your sleeping hours. I will recommend some aids and programs at the end of this article to help you.
Getting Serious About Meditation
As I said above, you may have trouble actually focusing during your meditation session if you have never used it at all before, but there are ways to deal with this. Listening to Sleep meditation audio can really keep you on the right track at night time.
You can listen to someone’s voice and they will calmly explain what you should be doing with your thoughts and breathing while laying down. Listening to a gentle voice can also help many people fall asleep at night- there are several different voices available if you find the right audio supplier.
Other Ways You Can Benefit From Meditation
There are also many other benefits of meditation that you will experience if you are using it for sleep. You will notice that you are able to deal with your negative thoughts and emotions on a daily basis much better than before. You will also be much more self-aware and will gain the ability to examine your own thoughts before you take any rash actions in life.
Meditation can really benefit those who have had issues with anger in the past. You can try relaxation meditation techniques to slow your heart rate and calm your breathing if you get angry too quickly. Calming down will allow you to reasonably think about your situation and not make any decisions you will later regret. These same relaxation techniques will benefit you when trying to fall asleep as well.
Coping With negative Thoughts
As you try to sleep, if something negative enters your mind, remember the peace of the meditation you have completed and bring that peacefulness back into your mind. Continue this process along with any other extra meditation research you have done until you reach a point of relaxation.
This takes less than ten minutes for some people and more than an hour for others. After you are calm and relaxed, lay down and focus on the positive thoughts that entered your mind.
Different Types Of Meditative Techniques
Meditation for Sleep and relaxation are commonly dealt with by using Mindfulness meditation, but there are plenty of other types that you can use as well. Take Kundalini for example, this is a type of meditation where you focus on the rising energy that is present your body, in every human.
With this technique, you focus on the energy centers all the way up to the top of your head and then ride the energy beyond. The idea of this meditation is to focus on the compassion and care that it takes to serve and heal others. Qi Gong is another type of meditation that is used to focus energy through your internal organs in a circular pattern.
This type of meditation uses breath to focus energy throughout your body and is great for aiding your body in healing processes. Keep in mind the overall benefits of meditation if you are looking to improve your quality of life the natural way.
A Word on Dreaming
Many people who pursue meditation do so as a component of their studies and practice of the mind for both spiritual and scientific reasons. Dreaming is a phenomenon linked intimately into both of these areas and as such it is worthy of study in its own right. We have begin a series of articles on dreaming that may interest you. Please visit us regularly and look for updates.