20 Minutes of Meditation A Day
What if I told you that you all you needed to greatly improve your sleep was 20 minutes of free time?
It’s completely free, requires nothing extra, and can be yours for the rest of your life…
Okay, if you read the title, you already know where I’m going with this. And if you’re like I was before trying it, you probably are having some doubts as to whether you are a “meditation kind of person“. I’ve always believed that certain genres of music, some light reading, and late night head games (counting sheep and the like) could calm a normal person’s body down enough for them to drift off into sleep.
In my opinion, I am not “normal” when it comes to falling asleep. My brain always finds a way to distract itself from the purposeful distraction techniques I have used when trying to get to sleep.
(“One sheep, two sheep, three sheep, oh no, I forgot to pick up milk…”)
After trying many methods of “distracting my brain from distractions“, I decided it was time to look into meditation. After reading some articles and watching some videos I decided to give it a try…
It didn’t go so well the first few nights. I remember thinking, “who knew meditating could be so difficult”?
The ‘Relaxation Response’ Method
I later came across an article that mentioned Dr. Herbert Benson of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine and how he coined the term “relaxation response“. This caught my attention, so I decided to see what he had to say about meditation and sleep.
Dr. Herbert Benson describes the relaxation response as the opposite to the “fight or flight” reaction, or the “stress response”. Furthermore, he has proven through a number of tests over the years, that meditating and putting oneself into a state of stress-free relaxation is not only good for your sleep, but can also help resolve other stress related health problems such as…
- Hyper Tension
- Gastrointestinal Ailments
- and Insomnia
I am currently applying the Relaxation Response method to my daily routine (well… I try to).
It’s more like a skill than one would think. When I first started a few months ago, it was difficult to clear my mind for 10-20 minutes with no disruptions. I’m still no yogi, but the method has made me feel much less stressed throughout the day (on the mornings I remember to do it).
Taken directly from his book ‘The Relaxation Response’, here are Dr. Herbert Benson’s 7 Steps to the Relaxation Response technique for you to try for yourself!
1. Sit quietly in a comfortable position.
2. Close your eyes.
3. Deeply relax all your muscles, beginning at your feet and progressing up to your face. Keep them relaxed. (Relax your tongue—and thoughts will cease.)
4. Breathe through your nose. Become aware of your breathing. As you breathe out, say the word “one”* silently to yourself. For example, breathe in, and then out, and say “one”*, in and out, and repeat “one.”* Breathe easily and naturally.
5. Continue for 10 to 20 minutes. You may open your eyes to check the time, but do not use an alarm. When you finish, sit quietly for several minutes, at first with your eyes closed and later with your eyes opened. Do not stand up for a few minutes.
6. Do not worry about whether you are successful in achieving a deep level of relaxation. Maintain a passive attitude and permit relaxation to occur at its own pace.
When distracting thoughts occur, try to ignore them by not dwelling upon them and return to repeating “one.”*
7. With practice, the response should come with little effort. Practice the technique once or twice daily, but not within two hours after any meal, since the digestive processes seem to interfere with the elicitation of the Relaxation Response.