It feels like with every passing year, the holiday craziness creeps up a little faster. While I love the true spirit of the holidays — time with family, generosity, celebration — I do find that the stress of keeping up with everything makes for some sleepless nights.
Apparently I’m not alone. Many people say that they have trouble calming their minds at night as the year dips into winter and the holiday festivities begin. Some people even resort to sleeping pills to get through until the New Year.
Fortunately, I have found that meditation works so much better than sleeping pills — and there are no troublesome side effects to worry about. The following meditation techniques are favorites of mine, and they work wonders to help me slip gently into sleep at night.
For both of these techniques, start by getting comfortable in your bed. Lie on your back with your arms resting lightly at your sides.
Inch-by-inch relaxation technique
In this meditation, you will slowly bring your awareness from your toes all the way up to the top of your head.
Focus first on your toes. Relax all the muscles there and let all the tension leave your toes.
Now bring your attention to the tops of your feet and your arches. Relax all the muscles there and let all the tension go.
Move your attention to your ankles, and let all of the tension go from your ankles.
Continue this all the way up your body, through your legs, hips, torso, arms, shoulders, neck, face and head. Inch by inch, relax all your muscles.
You will probably notice that you were holding tension in certain muscles without even realizing it.
This meditation technique gives your overstimulated mind something to focus on other than your to-do list, and the active relaxation signals your body that it’s time to rest.
I always start with this meditation when sleep is eluding me. Most often, I drift off to sleep before my awareness reaches the top of my head. When that doesn’t happen, though, I move straight into this second technique…
In this meditation, you will bring your attention to the 7 chakra points on your body. If you are unfamiliar with these energy centers, you can read more about them in this Chakra Guide.
Bring your awareness to the base of your spine. Imagine there is a red gem resting there, and it begins to spin clockwise. As it spins, the glow from the gem gets brighter and clearer, until it is absolutely radiant with red light.
Next, bring your awareness to the space in your lower abdomen. Imagine there is an orange gem resting there, and it begins to spin clockwise. Visualize that as it spins clockwise, the glow gets brighter and clearer until it is radiant with orange light.
Continue this exercise through the other five chakras:
Yellow behind your belly button
Green in the center of your chest
Blue in your throat
Deep indigo in your third-eye center, between your eyebrows
Violet or white (whatever feels natural to you) on the top of your head
With this meditation, you not only get the benefit of focusing your wandering mind on a simple task, but you may also find that your body and mind feel more balanced when you wake up in the morning. That is because this exercise helps clear energetic debris from your chakras.
Meditation before medication
Sleeping pills have so many unfortunate side effects. Before you pop that pill to get some rest during the holiday rush, try these two meditation techniques. The benefits go beyond getting restful sleep — meditation has been shown to improve the quality of your life.