Ah, sleep. My body gets this weird tingly sensation right before I fall asleep. It’s one of my favorite feelings in the world because I know I’m about to get some z’s. Unfortunately, though, I would wager that all of us have had at least one, long sleepless night. You know, the kind where you fall asleep about 40 minutes before you have to get up.
There are many reasons for insomnia (so please don’t ignore professional help). Personally, I’ve experienced post-traumatic stress, hormonal fluctuations and physical pain as reasons for long days turned into even longer nights. As a breastfeeding mama, I’ve chosen not to take medications—which often leaves you to fend for yourself. So what’s a tired yogi to do? Here’s my tried-and-true meditation technique that helps me fall asleep almost every time.
Step 1. I don’t think it’s coincidental that this is a chakra mediation. Begin at your feet, visualizing a rich red light extending from your toes up your legs. Trace your body slowly and feel relaxation filling up your body along with the color. Pause at your tailbone and feel your red glow brighter, bringing you into deeper connection with your body.
Step 2. Because our chakras need different things at different times, make sure to linger on any color, sensation or location that feels right to you. When ready to move on, continue to feel red at the base of your spine, but move up a couple inches and visualize orange. Picture this orange burst radiating two to three inches below your naval—and imagine accompanying comfort and warmth.
Step 3. Trace up to your naval and picture yellow like the sun filling up your entire center. Feel this “sunlight” bring happiness to your core.
Step 4. From your bright, yellow center move up to your heart. Let yourself envision earthy greens softening and easing this area. Feel this release on your back below your shoulder blades too.
Step 5. Your throat chakra includes your shoulders and ears, so envision its correlating deep blue surround any area that suits. Feel your calm, blue “water” wash away any tension or stress.
Step 6. I usually never get this far in the meditation because I’ve already fallen asleep, but your third eye center is important during sleep meditations. Because an imbalance in your lower chakras leads to blockages in these “higher” chakras, almost all of us have out-of-whack third eye centers—and your third eye is directly connected to sleep. So, if you’ve made it this far consider pausing here before moving on. Visualize indigo radiating about a finger width above your eyebrows in the center of your forehead all around your head to the base of your skull. Sometimes, the base of my skull needs more attention and purple “light” than my “third eye.” Interestingly, this chakra’s color combines the red and blue from your previous meditations—highlighting the integration and synergy of your entire meditation and body.
Step 7. The last of your major chakras, which is Sanskrit for wheel—think wheel of energy—is your crown chakra. I like to keep in mind the halos depicted in religious images. All around the very top of your head and on the “crown” of your head picture a white light that’s so warm it glows golden like a candle flame. Feel this divine energy across the entire top of your head—instilling healing peace and inner stillness. Also feel your connection to your deeper purpose and being. A lot of sleeplessness in our go-go-go society is because we can’t get out of our heads and into our bodies and true selves, so as you scan your body throughout this entire meditation really try to feel the sensations and experiences that arise. Don’t judge yourself if you can’t move past your thoughts, but do be open to new responses.
Step 8. If you’re still awake after scanning and illuminating your entire body with this meditation, continue the meditation all over again. This time, really delve you’re your problem areas and be patient before moving up to the next step. Many times I’ve been too close to morning to achieve a full nights rest yet still get up feeling rejuvenated because of this chakra work.
Sleepless nights can lead to many realizations, not the least of which is that we need mental and emotional rest as much as physical. If this meditation seems “out there” to you, I encourage you to be open to new possibilities and experiences. I’ve had some really penetrating personal insights arise during meditation and the beauty of it is that no one knows what goes on inside of you but you. Sure this is why we often feel isolated and alone, but it also gives us the privacy to explore. Sometimes just thinking of your unsettled evenings as peaceful time to yourself is all it takes to put a positive spin on the situation—and have it lead to actual shut eye. So give my meditation a shot and see if it works for you. May smiles awake you when you rise.