Having trouble falling asleep? Can't seem to turn your brain off before bedtime?
By following this simple breathing meditation of focusing your attention on your exhale breath and thereby consciously extending it, you can help to settle your mind and body into a more relaxed state. This will increase the likelihood that you will fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Next time you find yourself having trouble falling asleep, try this simple practice at bedtime or in the evening after a long day of work.
Rest, breathe, observe
Start by lying on your back with your feet up on the end of your bed or on a chair, with your knees bent. Rest, breath and observe yourself here for a few minutes.
Do a simple body scan from the feet to head. Give yourself full permission to completely relax your entire body. Gently pass your attention through each part of the body starting from the bottoms of your feet - moving from one side of the body to the other - or in whatever direction feels the most fluid to you. Follow this pattern until you reach the top of your head.
Come to observe your natural breathing
For 12 full breaths, observe your natural inhalation and exhalation as it comes. If your attention wanders in this time or you lose track, that’s ok, bring it right back and begin again from wherever you left off. Inhale free, exhale free for 12 full breaths.
Focus on the exhalation
Observe your exhalation as you gradually extend the length of each exhale with each breath. It may help you to count the length of each exhale to keep your focus. Continue gradually extending the exhale breath, to your comfortable maximum. If your mind wanders, gently guide it back.
Helpful tips along the way
If the mind is still feeling active after these 4 steps, try counting another set of 12 breaths.
If you are having trouble concentrating or relaxing, incorporate the simple movement of bringing your knees in towards your chest on the exhale, and bringing your knees away from you on the inhale for an additional 6 breaths.
Remember to be gentle with yourself. If this is the first time you are trying a breathing meditation, be patient and notice what thoughts and body sensations arise as you start to pay closer attention.