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Steps for a deep relaxing sleep

Posted Jul 12 2010 10:03am
“To sleep well one must learn how to sleep”
Firstly – why not lie down and simply ‘pass out’?

After any stimulus, work, travel or even just reading a book prior to sleep the mind and body is tense with knots – the brain is a muscle as well so any built up stress, thoughts, or unexpressed emotions, will be knotted and wanting to release. Setting yourself up for a quality restful sleep with awareness placed onto your body and minds need to relax, is the most important step for true rejuvenation. A deep sleep will then come, with a relaxation and internal awareness that has been brought upon by you in a matter of a few minutes, rather than instinctually worked out for hours within an erratic and disturbed slumber.

“The quality of sleep is much more important than its quantity.”
Such a simple guide yet so few take the time to prepare themselves for sleep. Not having access to proper guidelines of easing yourself into sleep is most likely the largest reason for this, so from my experiences learning from illumined masters and the many ashrams attended these words will be a gateway to a deeper, more restful, and potentially enlightening sleep.
Once practiced and introduced into a nightly routine you can come to a deeper understanding about yourself and cultivate your nights as a personal growth rather than a passing of time. There are many people whose nights are more tiring than their days, for reasons which often elude them; they should become conscious of these reasons so that their will can begin to act on them and remove their effects, these activities which in such cases are nearly always useless and even harmful. The hours that are wasted in doing nothing good or useful are the most tiring.
A Healthy light drink before bed
Set yourself up for a nightly routine of showering, and dressing in loose fitting fresh clothes. Prior to going to bed it is a good rule to drink something, a cup of milk, or a fresh fruit or vegetable juice. Light food brings a quiet sleep. Find this balance and don’t overdo it, copious food or much snacking will give you a dense, heavy and dulling sleep – even where you can become agitated and disturbed by erratic dreams.
Physically prepare yourself
If you are physically tired, it is better not to go to sleep immediately, otherwise you’ll fall into an ‘incoscient’ or also known as a mindless state. First stretch out on the bed, relax, stretch out your tense muscles and focus on loosening tense nerves throughout the body.
If you’ve just finished reading a book or watched a film that has brought on some excitement take the same approach and give yourself sometime to become aware of the sleep you’re about to have, your body, mind and position that you’ve chosen to lay in.
Prepare your mind
“The dreams of childhood are the realities of mature age”
An amazing insight I have found to incorporate. I read this in Auroville - Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry. The important step here is to visualize a perfect reality for you prior to sleep, tell yourself a magnificent story devoid of any horror in it, nothing but pure beauty. Top athletes and executives utilize this on a daily basis… now incorporate it nightly. What you perceive you can achieve, visualization equals manifestation, this visualization prior to sleep is the key for a successful, positive and balanced life.

Bring awareness to your body, mind and emotions
In traditional yogic methodology what I’m about to explain is called Yoga Nidra, an activity that illumined individuals throughout the East have employed to provide peace of mind and mindful sleep for thousands of years.
Slowly bring awareness to your breath, keeping your breathing pattern normal simply focus on the cool air flowing in and warm air being exhaled – continue this for a few minutes until a sense of calm and relaxation enters you.
Next, scan your body from toes to tip of the head very slowly, telling yourself to relax each body part… ie. Relax your toes, relax your ankle, relax your calf, relax your knee, relax your thigh, and so on until you reach your face – relax your neck, relax your chin, relax your cheeks, relax your nose, relax your eyes.
Repeat this three times, each at an even slower inner dialogue at the same time focusing on your breath, finally relaxing your skin and whole body in unison. Become like a rag, completely let go of any tension.
Bring awareness now to your mind, by this time you will be entering a deep relaxed state.
The most important thing of all is to make the mind clear, to quieten the emotions and calm the effervescence of desires and the preoccupations which accompany them. The way to do this is to simply reflect… allow anything to enter your mind but do not hold onto it, by reflecting it will move on until the next enters, until you are left with clarity and peace of mind. Do not concentrate on any idea or try to solve a problem, or mull on impressions, sensations or emotions you had during the day… it will all drop off quietly. You become indeed like a rag.

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