Insomnia hit me like a truck – more mentally and physically drained than I thought possible. And I’m not alone. More of us than ever before are finding it harder to switch off and get the rest we need, and it has a knock on effect on our general health, relationships, performance at work and our happiness.
(Writing this, I’m sat in a cafe where two ladies are talking across the aisle about how they aren’t sleeping very well…)
I’ve had a lot of requests for a technique to help with sleep lately – mostly, but not exclusively, from very pregnant students and Mums adjusting to life with new babies and (even more trying…!) freshly minted toddlers. I also slept soundly until my little one came along. There was nowhere I couldn’t drop off. Public transport, under a desk, on occasion a stable… It was my favourite superpower. Then the yoga baby came along. Suddenly, if you’re not struggling with a bladder the size of an espresso cup, you’re such an awkward shape that there’s no feasible way of getting comfortable and then there’s a tiny, adorable, exceedingly vulnerable person-let to watch out for. All night. Every night. (Does this read like there’s a lot of teething going on in my house…?)
Even when bubs is sleeping soundly, I often find myself awake just incase. A more traditional insomnia. I’m not sure why my body refuses to sleep because goodness knows I’m shattered, but I finally understand what it’s like when you’re lying there, body primed for a disaster that isn’t coming, mind repeatedly circling problems that will likely only ever exist in your imagination.
This meditation is a great starting point for those trying to get some more sleep, pregnant or not. All you need to do is find a copy of the wordless audio track (details below).
There’s something profoundly comforting about having sounds to follow when you’re lying in the dark. It’s somehow easier to let your mind go all the way to sleep – perhaps because you give up trying to. Even if the worst happens and you find yourself awake at the end, there’s a quality to the rest you’ll have given your body and mind that means you’re bound to feel more refreshed and less panicked about the fact that you’re not in full on slumber.
The technique’s full title is ‘Osho’s chakra sounds meditation’. And it’s not as New-Age far-out as it sounds!
Osho was a prominent, if controversial, modern mystic and spiritual teacher who passed on in 1990. His prolific teachings cover a myriad of topics but usually focus on full-force living, creativity, joy and love. I should probably note here that he didn’t prescribe this technique for sleep in particular, it’s just when I’ve found it most useful.
The full meditation takes an hour, but it’s split into 15 minute modules if that sounds like too much to deal with for starters. Keep your eyes closed for as long as you choose to participate.
- It opens with 3 repetitions of a 15 minute sequence. If you’re hoping to drop off lie down, ideally on your back with spine in line, but otherwise take a comfortable seat. Check in as you would before relaxing in a yoga class – deep breaths down towards the belly and checking muscles such as the jaw and hips are relaxed.
- There’s also the option to hum, chant or sing along or move if the feeling takes you, but obviously this might not help too much with insomnia.
- The track starts with a low tone for the root or Muladhara The sounds then lift in sequence through each of the 7 chakras. While each little piece of music plays you focus on the physical location of the chakra in the body and anything which might come up for you. Your focus is on the sound and the feeling. Perhaps you can feel the energy of the sound pulsing or vibrating in that area of your body, or even the innate vibration of the chakra as a centre of energy inside you.
- When the tone moves higher, you move onto the next chakra up until you reach the crown. Here the tones start to descend, and you move your attention back down through each chakra along with the sounds until a short period of silence indicates the end of the cycle. If you can, allow for a space between your thoughts.
- Don’t worry if your attention strays and you lose track of where you’re up to in the sequence. Just place your focus where you think it should be and then catch up when you either get to the top (the crown) or the bottom (the root, followed by a pause).
- After another 2 repetitions of this sequence, the final – and possibly the most intimidating – track plays. 15 minutes of silence. Be still, keep the eyes closed and try to become witness to the thoughts and feelings that arise without judgement. This is difficult, but it doesn’t matter what you experience at this stage in the meditation – just that you allow yourself the time and stillness to actually have an experience!
If you’re unsure the 7 most commonly referenced chakras are:
1. base chakra – the reproductive, lower pelvis
- sacral chakra – just below the navel
- solar plexus chakra – above the navel, below the breastbone
- heart chakra – the middle of the chest, at the level of the physical heart
- throat chakra – the middle of the throat
- third eye chakra – deep-set, between the eyebrows
7. crown chakra – top of the head
I got the tracks at https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/osho-chakra-sounds-meditation/id315292727 so I could put them on my phone on a sleeper timer but I’m sure you could also dig them up on YouTube…
Let me know what you think if you do give them a try!