How to Sleep in Zen Relaxation
After a hard day or when you need just few minutes of relaxing nap, sleeping is a struggle for some people. By introducing zen practices into your sleep regime you can become relaxed more generally and rest more peacefully each night. From keeping your bedroom zen to introducing a zen practice to your daily life, you can find ways to make going to sleep easier, and the sleep you do have more restful.
Relaxing Before Bed
Focus on contracting and relaxing each muscle.One way to do this is through progressive muscle relaxation. In order to do this, you focus on a muscle and contract it for about 5 seconds and then allow it to relax for 10 seconds. While there is no one right sequence of muscles, most either go from head to toe or vice versa.
Notice your thoughts and let them go.Avoid rehashing the day or going over some problem. This will distract you from your purpose. Slowly let you mind wind down. Don't encourage any ruminative patterns, but consciously let them go.Here are some ways to help you let go of your thoughts:
- Don't be drawn in to a conversation with ruminative thoughts.
- Reassure yourself that the thoughts will go away.
- Practice mindfulness.
Let yourself fall asleep.Once you've achieved physical and mental relaxation, allow yourself to fall asleep. This means surrendering to your relaxation. In some forms, this means opening oneself up to the divine. In others, it simply means letting yourself go.
- Part of this is removing distractions. Make sure your phone is on silent or off and that other electronics are removed from around your bed.
Meditating During Sleep
Learn to lucid dream.To maintain zen relaxation within sleep, you'll need some level of awareness. Lucid dreams are a way to do this. Lucid dreams typically mean inducing awareness in your sleep while dreaming. There are different methods to achieving lucid dreams, including telling yourself to dream something in particular, prepping your mind for lucid dreaming by reading about others' experiences, and doing reality checks (or doing some kind of gesture repeatedly throughout the day to show that your awake). The reality check may then show up in your dream and allow you to dream lucidly.
- It's worth noting that people who meditate and practice mindfulness are more likely to have lucid dreams.
Work on visualization skills in dreams.This means working on the vividness of your dreams. Part of that is working on remembering your dreams to begin with. With daily meditation and mindfulness practice, you should start remembering your dreams more. Write down the dreams you remember when you wake up. Write down all the details you can remember. With time, this should improve your dream recall.
- You'll want to practice visualization when awake. This means closing your eyes and picturing different objects. If you visualize an apple, for instance, you'll start with a basic image. Then you'll ask yourself, "What color is it?" Notice what your brain does to the image. Does it change from red to a different color? Does the shading become more nuanced? Then work on manipulating the apple. Imagine it being sliced, and reforming, changing shape and color. With time the visualization will become easier and more vivid.
Don't read too much into potentially transcendental dreams.While having such dreams during lucid dreaming (or regular dreaming), can be quite a powerful experience, it is important to realize that random synapse firings still affect dreams, and that regular life can get mixed up in dreams as well. Instead, focus on experiencing, recalling, and allowing the dream to be, rather than trying to force a meaning on it.
Maintaining Daily Zen Practice
Practice zen meditation regularly.This can help to make you more relaxed during the day and more ready to go to sleep at night. Try introducing meditation slowly by doing short stints of meditation. You can use guided meditation, if you’re afraid of setting out on your own. Or you can find a community that practices zen meditation.
Focus on your breath.Zen practice often focuses on the breath. It will help you become more relaxed during your day and before you sleep. Breathing deeply is a natural way to you’re your body if you feel anxious or agitated.
Be aware in the moment.This awareness of what is going on in the moment can help reduce stress. If you are fully engaged in your experience as it is happening—paying attention to your breath, the senses, your body’s experience—it can be difficult to worry about anything else. It is important to do this practice without judgment. It may even be a tool you use in combination with the other methods in this article to enhance those experiences.
Listening to Guided Sleep Meditation
Select a sleep meditation that’s right for you.This may take time as the options are many. Select a meditation that suits your going to sleep ritual. If you tend to fall asleep very quickly, you may want to select a shorter track. If you’re an insomniac, you may want a longer one that focuses on muscle or breathing relaxation.
- Do what feels right. If you are more comfortable with a certain type of voice (smooth or whispery; deeper or higher-pitched), use a meditation that with that type of voice.
Avoid technical disruptions.Technical disruptions interrupt pre-sleep meditation and relaxation. They can also interrupt your sleep after your sleep meditation has allowed you to drift off. The light from devices can also disrupt your sleep, so make sure the brightness is turned all the way down.
Lay down.Make sure you’re comfortable. In yoga, sleeping on the left side for about half the night is considered ideal. The rest of the time should be other positions, such as on your back, on your stomach, or on your right side. Doing so promotes full-body health.
Turn on the meditation.This can often be uncomfortable for those who haven’t tried meditation before, as you don’t know what to expect, and may not like what you find. If you’re already laying down to sleep, try giving the track a few minutes before giving up on it. You may well be asleep before you change your mind.
- If you’re worried about what may be on the meditation, try listening to your sleep meditation earlier in the day so you know what to expect. This allows you the freedom to change the meditation before you’re trying to go to sleep.
Listen to relaxing sleep music.There are quite a few options for music that are supposed to help with sleep. Some are called “zen” music, and often include relaxing tones and rhythms.Listening to music can improve sleep quality.
Get a indoor water fountain.A fountain can produce a gentle sound that your mind can focus on as you drift off.Not only is the sound of water a natural way to calm yourself, the sound can also mask more disruptive sounds that would disturb zen relaxation.
Use a white noise track.If you can’t have a fountain in your room, or you simply like other sounds than water, you can download all kinds of white noise apps. Nature sounds such as the ocean or a garden can soothe you back to sleep. Even whale sounds are available to help you sleep. To sleep in zen relaxation, you might need a sound that helps you drift off.
Making Your Bedroom Zen
Don’t keep any work-related materials in your room.Your bedroom should be a place for sleep, not work. If you have a limited space (or live in a studio apartment), try to create a barrier between where you sleep and where you work. This will help your mind associate your room with rest.
Make sure bedroom walls are pale and simple.Bright colors or busy patterns in a bedroom can disrupt sleep. Pale pink or pale blue can be good choices. This will help give you a calming feeling when you enter the room.
Keep the room uncluttered.Clutter can disrupt the good energy in the room, and make the space feel less serene. A simple décor with few disruptive elements is best. Avoid the accumulation of items unnecessary for sleep.
Video: 8 HOURS of Relaxing Music - Meditation, Sleep, Spa, Study, Zen
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