Five or so years ago, my mind was a zoo. My thoughts crossed over each other and jumped back and forth. Sometimes they were so loud I couldn’t actually hear people speak (true story). I was so distracted that I’d need to meditate before I could focus on regular aspects of my day. Yip, those were the days, distracted, unfocussed and tired. My head would hit the pillow and sleep would come quick. Fast forward to 2am and like clockwork, I was awake again. I learned to love my midnight awakenings, and inadvertently created a method of meditation for sleep.
I’ve dabbled with meditation since watching my mum do it when I was a child. Quality sleep I’ve also dabbled with, as it has come and gone over the years like an old friend. While I used to toss and turn, once I gained experience meditating, I used my wakeup call to do just that. Using the following Meditation for Sleep, I still wake up on occasion, but not as often. Mostly, as long as I’m not over tired or stressed, I sleep easy, through the night and wake refreshed.
Here’s what I learned in the midnight hour.
When we are undistracted and not receiving output from our environment, our thoughts come to the forefront of awareness.
- Do not fight or resist those thoughts, instead gently observe them from an objective point of view.
- Avoid analysing your thoughts, instead allow them to come and go with quiet curiosity.
A thought is the result of a neurological pathway in the brain. A dominant thought pattern is simply a larger highway of interconnected pathways. Simple observation can melt away your weaker thoughts leaving behind the strong ones. These are the thoughts that often drive us a little crazy in the night time and keep us awake. This is a great meditation for sleep.
When I was at the height of stress I was utterly exhausted.
I was in the midst of a legal battle that kept me going from morning til night. I made time to meditate during the day, but I would still wake up in the night worrying about the events of the day ahead.
My thoughts were a repetitive mixture of the negativity that was being launched at me and my wish for a positive outcome. My dominant emotion was hatred which was laced with sadness. As I woke in the night, I would observe these thoughts and emotions that felt like torture. I instinctively knew that there was vital information and power within this experience that I could use to navigate myself towards the outcome that I desired.
- You may discover that there is a dominant thought pattern, emotion (or both) that is clouding your mind.
- Often at night we become aware of uncomfortable processes that we are avoiding during the day. These could make us feel stressed out (too many things to do) or unhappy (negative emotions).
- It is this unpleasant stuff that wakes us up & stops us getting back to sleep (the calm, positive happy thoughts and emotions don’t typically keep us awake).
As you observe your thoughts, you may notice a theme. It may be about a person, an event, work or relationships. All the thoughts will cross back and forth and give rise to certain emotions. The busier your mind is, the more you can use slow deep breathing to stay centered and connected.
Notice your response to what’s going on in your head. You may feel yourself trying to come up with solutions, plots and plans for a positive outcome. You may also notice that you are pushing away the uncomfortable thoughts. Keep relaxing and allowing the natural thoughts to flow in and out of your mind.
Deep inside of me there was a well of calm confidence.
Calm and confidence exists within us all, sometimes it is simply covered up with other stuff. As I entered a state of calm, I watched the negative thoughts & felt the hateful emotions as if they weren’t mine. To be honest, they weren’t mine, they felt like missiles thrown at me from others. I would observe this in the night sometimes for 2 to 3 hours. It was tough, it was unpleasant, but there was no escaping it until sleep came so I continued. I was using a technique called the Presence Process which became my own personal Meditation for Sleep and it was working. In this technique we stay present with all the uncomfortable emotions inside of us without trying to change them.
This was a short sharp period of my life that not only interfered with my sleep but also my wellbeing. Here’s what happened as I observed the stark thoughts and feelings that arose in the middle of the night.
Are they Your Thoughts or the Thoughts of Others.
As I observed these thoughts and emotions I began to notice that I was gaining a very strong ‘knowing’ as to what I needed to do to find a positive solution. In the night, I would experience the residue of hatred coming towards me from others during the day. As I went into the feeling, I noticed that I had no desire to direct that back at them. It felt so foreign and unpleasant to me, all I wanted to do was remove these people from my life. It felt like they were trying to expose me for being incompetent and weak. As I explored that sensation, I felt no fear at being exposed because all I felt inside was a strength that they didn’t want to see. As they tried to expose me – they were in fact exposing themselves to me.
By morning, I would channel my pure intentions into proving that I was entitled to do what they were trying to stop me from doing. I would apply these very clear intentions towards achieving small positives for the day. As I achieved small steps that lead me to my goal, I would feel a weight lift from my shoulders and go to bed feeling a bit lighter. I was still stressed, angry, exhausted and waking in the night, but I was moving in a positive direction.
Eventually, a tipping point came
I was thinking less, achieving more and my desired outcome was getting closer. The more I could taste success, the less stressed I felt and the more I was able to stay asleep at night. The day that I achieved my goal, I went to bed and slept for two weeks. I had become unwell, sleep was patchy but I slept. It doesn’t often happen this way, in fact usually there is a slighter gradient of releasing stress from the mind and body which in turn releases stress from your day.
This Meditation for Sleep is a technique that you can use in the night, or even before you drift off, that can positively affect the way you approach the day to follow. In turn, the way you approach your day can have small positive effects on your sleep. Stick with it and life can change for the better.
This is a longer term method for improving your sleep. Get in touch if you need more help with stress relief or how to apply this technique.
If you want to blend your meditation into a yoga class, try one of our Restorative classes.
Read my bio