How to Lie Down and Begin to Relax Part 1: Winding Down

Have you ever tried to meditate before sleep only to find you still can’t drop off that easily?

This could well be because you haven’t given yourself a chance to wind down or may it is because there is something more major in your life that is out of balance.

Part 1 of How you can lie down and begin to relax is going to look at the things you can do before you even get into bed to help you wind down before sleep (and I’m not just talking about cleaning your teeth and then reading a trashy novel).

Settle conflicts

Let’s start with those you live with. If you have had an argument with a flatmate, spouse, partner, child, parent, grandmother or whoever, it is best to try and resolve the conflict before sleep.

Even if this resolution is as simple as acknowledging that there has been a problem; acknowledging your own fault with the problem; expressing how the other person has contributed and agreeing that you'll tackle it more in the morning: that can be enough!

Having some kind of agreed resolution before trying to get some sleep can greatly help alleviated a weight from your heart.

Really, I can't tell you how important this is! It is difficult to be mindful and sit quietly to meditate if, you have had a row with someone you live with (I'm talking from experience here - believe me!).

OK, it might be useful to take a breather to calm down - and I’ve done that – before trying to find a resolution. But trying to find one before sleep and a bit of meditation will greatly improve your chances of a good night’s rest.

Unresolved conflicts - empathising and filing for later

For unresolved conflicts say with someone you don't live with, like a work colleague or relation; try to put the issue to one side. Maybe make a mental note to yourself to try and resolve the issue at a later date.

It could also help to put yourself in their shoes: imagine how they feel. Empathy can be powerful stuff. Also, ask yourself what you’ve done in the situation; how did you add to the problem? This isn’t beating your self up but rather, countering the mind’s tendency to blame the other person which, it loves to from my experience – you did this, you did that... you also did... THAT as well.

Placing yourself in their shoes you might sigh and go “Oh yeah to be fair I did play my part.”

Letting a bit of that "conflict" go is important, then use mindfulness, come back to your breath or your body and, be with the physical sensation of either for a bit. Try not to chew over the problem; here is a mantra that might help:

Notice, take responsibility, let go

Try it and have a go (this is not a mantra, by the way, I’m just finishing off my point with: try it and have a go).

When all else fails, develop patience (or go have a cup of tea)

For someone you can't make peace with, well, this is a fascinating place to be in mindfulness wise.

I remember a girl who I liked, but, she didn't feel the same way; we had to go our separate ways. To be honest, in the situation, I had made a fool of myself. Also, I felt like I'd not really made peace with her properly. I did the best I could at the time but wanted to respect our agreement to part company.

This played on my mind at the time. So I just had to notice the frustrations, and over time, let them fade; it was a good exercise in developing patients. Oh and I did often have cups of tea and just concentrated on the pleasure of drinking tea to take my mind off things; check out this little exercise on the website Preparing and drinking a hot drink.

I'm guessing a lot of you will be amused at this Englishman's go for a cup of tea if all else fails approach, but actually little mental breaks in stressful periods are essential for letting your mind relax and settle out from any ongoing problems; oh and if the hot drink is before sleep may be a caffeine-free option such as coco would be better!

Managing Finances

This can be a major worry and major cause of not being able to get to sleep. It is a big topic, so I've written two blog pieces just on this:

Managing Money Mindfully and Living in Well-being

Managing Your Way Out of Debt Mindfully

Have a read: as it is blogged from the heart (as always)!

Wind down from technology

We live in a 24/7 instant society nowadays and that can prove distracting when we are trying to wind down, and prepare for sleep. Here is a great article I found on this: Three ways gadgets are keeping you awake.

Personally, I start to turn off technology around 9 pm. OK, I'm not super strict - and if I'm out with friends I'll leave my phone on - but on a normal night in most of my devices will be well turned off before 9.30 pm.

Yep: no phone, no laptop, no Kindle, no TV, no radio or anything; just silence. I then usually sit down to evening meditation and I've found this works well for winding down. 

If you do find you are sitting up late using technology and it is affecting your sleep, then, try a turn off technology early week. Set yourself a time, say 9 pm, and go round the house turning off technology; in the quiet that remains maybe try some meditation instead.

Let me know

Give this winding down of technology before sleep approach a week and see what effect it has on your sleep and well-being. Let me know the results if you like.

Well, above are a few good tips and plenty to be getting on with. In part 2 of this blog, How to Lie Down and Begin to Relax: Part 2 before sleeping, we’ll take a look at drifting off to sleep using mindfulness meditation techniques.

For your reference, here are the other blogs in the mindfulness of posture series:

1. How to Stand and Be More Present

2. How to Walk and Better Settle Thoughts

3. How to Sit and Start to Calm

4. How to Lie Down and Begin to Relax

 

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About Paul
Paul has been practising mindfulness since 1997, but still has a "beginner's mind" approach to meditation. He is the author of the eBook series The Silence Between the Noise and primary contributor to the Establish Mindfulness online meditation center.