Each and every one of us finds ourselves living in a world getting smaller and smaller, and the pace exceeding what any one of us can manage. For those of us who hope to survive, let alone thrive, one basic biological need finds itself well ahead of the pack in terms of importance. That need is sleep, and it’s not something we can ignore, replace or work around. The problem occurs when you can’t fall asleep. In this article, we will review the best deep sleep meditation styles that will help you sleep at night.
So What’s The Deal With Mindfulness
There are plenty of methods of improving sleep such as sleeping in the pitch black or even blocking out all blue light for at least two hours before going to sleep with specialized glasses. Alas, The Grand enchilada of optimizing sleep comes in the form of meditation. Mindfulness practice was once a niche hobby associated with the long-bearded, counterculture of the late 1960s. Over the past 30 years, research has validated much of the long-touted benefits meditation has on the human mind, and on sleep in general.
Like so many other methods that aim at increasing human optimization, meditation when it comes to sleep is no different. Considering there are an innumerable number of different methods streaming from every one of the world’s religions, a list of certain techniques have made their way to the forefront when it comes to augmenting sleep.
For many practitioners with enough experience under their belt, they can even achieve a state of deep sleep meditation where, while not technically asleep the body’s brainwaves entrain themselves to the delta band. The delta brain wave was traditionally solely associated with individuals asleep and unconscious. It wasn’t until the latter half of the 20th century when neuroscientists found that those exact same brain wave patterns were found among advanced meditators amidst there meditation session. Whether your aim is to achieve deep sleep meditation or use that as a doorway to a restful nights sleep there are methods that stand out.
One of the most effective meditation methods aimed at promoting deep sleep comes in the form of guided meditations.
Guided meditations are great for novice and intermediate practitioners. All they require is the ability to listen and let the words being spoken sink into the conscious mind. Guided meditation normally have a person, normally a teacher, gently and methodically guiding the practitioner through a series of mental exercises aimed at increasing steady, focus, relaxation, concentration, and insight. For the purpose of brevity today we’ll focus on the most effective guided meditation that facilitates deep sleep meditation.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)
“It is as simple as it sounds, as PMR consists entirely of focusing on a muscle group, tensing that muscle group, and then relaxing that muscle group. This process is repeated throughout the entire body so that one has tensed and relaxed their entire body by the end of a session.”
By going through the body in a piecemeal fashion you realize just how much-inbuilt stress you have been carrying around with you. You can think of PMR as a way of using your physiology to trick your psychological state into relaxing. The proper way to engage in PMR is by separating the parts of your body into small yet visceral pieces. Small enough to focus one appendage such as a hand or calf, but not large enough that you wind up tensing all parts of your body simultaneously. Practitioners tend to find themselves relaxed and exhausted after engaging in PMR. The technique also occupies the entire mind so there is no room for meandering thoughts that could or would normally keep you up.
Concentration practice involves picking an object of concentration and then continually bringing your attention back on that object whenever you notice your mind wandering. A nice facet of this technique is the fact that just about anything can be used as an object of contraction, the breath, a slogan, even a visualization.
When practicing Anapana (concentrating on the breath) “you will notice that other perceptions and sensations continue to appear: sounds, feelings in the body, emotions, etc. Simply notice these phenomena as they emerge in the field of awareness, and then return to the sensation of breathing. The attention is kept in the object of concentration (the breathing), while these other thoughts or sensations are there simply as “background noise.”
The longer you practice the more predominant your object of concentration becomes eventually taking the forefront off thing mind. With your mind no longer preoccupied with discursive thinking, the body naturally falls asleep. Furthermore, by practicing this technique you are in fact training yourself to learn how to let go of thoughts and refocus your attention on the present sensate experience of whatever it is your object of choice is.
Another subset of concentration practice takes the form of a Mantra. Mantra meditation is common to Hindu, Buddhist, Daoist, and Jain Contemplative traditions. Mantra meditation has a wide variety of facets and possible applications.
Russell Paul in his book The Yoga of Sound: Tapping the Hidden Power of Music and Chant defines mantra’s as a “sonic formulae that take us beyond, or through, the discursive faculties of the mind and connect our awareness directly and immediately to deep states of energy and consciousness,” A mantra can take the form of any word or phrase repeated over and over, but there are traditionally a list of iconic mantras believed to be imbued with an inherently sacred frequency to them.
The versatility of mantras allows the practitioner to utilize a mantra in almost all situations of life, including the induction of a deep sleep meditation. Mantras are usually repeated silently to oneself but can be practiced out loud, repeating the word verbally. Sometimes this practice is coupled with being aware of the breathing or coordinating with it. In other exercises, the mantra is actually whispered very lightly and softly, as an aid to concentration.
“As you repeat the mantra, it creates a mental vibration that allows the mind to experience deeper levels of awareness. As you meditate, the mantra becomes increasingly abstract and indistinct, until you’re finally led into the field of pure consciousness from which the vibration arose. Repetition of the mantra helps you disconnect from the thoughts filling your mind so that perhaps you may slip into the gap between thoughts.” (Deepak Chopra) This constant repetition occupies the mind and allows the body to genuinely rest,
For those interested in comprehensively undertaking Mantra mediation these techniques generally have three aspects to them.
- Meaning- A practitioner is expected to meditate on the meaning behind their unique mantra.
- Concentration- Independent of the unique mantra, repeating a phrase builds concentration helping a practitioner disengage from mental chatter.
- Vibration- Every mantra has a unique vibration correlating to specific effects on consciousness and physiology.
By incorporating all three aspects into your awareness, the mind has nothing left to do but let go of all extraneous thoughts and drift into unconsciousness.
The average American lives too fast paced of life to have time to spare. This list is for anyone who plans on making the most out of each day by getting the most out of each night.. Don’t believe me just because I say so. The proof is in the pudding all ready for you to enjoy.