Last night, I needed to know how to meditate while my mind was racing. I kept tossing and turning. And tossing and turning. I couldn’t turn my thoughts off, between work and stress and general life despite REALLY wanting to go to bed. It was miserable.
Does this ever happen to you?
You look at the clock and see the precious minutes you have to sleep slowly fading away. However, you can’t turn on the light or get up and walk around because there’s someone next to you and you don’t want to wake them up, too. If you read my previous article, you know the tips to help you get a full night’s sleep. But sometimes there are things that keep us up and we need to try alternative measures to find sleep.
When this happens, you need to be still and turn your racing mind off. Learning how to meditate will help you accomplish this.
Why would you want to meditate anyways?
I know some of you are thinking you wouldn’t know how to meditate even if Buddha himself was there coaching you. We’ve all heard about the difficult practice of meditation, where you sit for hours without a thought and are still. If you’re like me, the idea of being able to turn you mind off for 1 minute seems challenging, let alone for extensive hour long periods!
Although that is a common form of meditation for some people, that is NOT the kind of meditation that I’m talking about. I’ve been a practicing yogi for upwards of 10 years and have learned the benefits of meditation to help you reduce stress, increase your happiness, and find inner peace. But we’re just trying to find a good night’s sleep, or at least a solid 6 hours before going back to reality. Learning how to meditate while our mind is racing will hopefully help us do that.
How do you meditate while your mind is racing?
Like I said, I’m laying in bed, tossing and turning, watching the clock, and trying not to wake up my other half. I can’t sit up and meditate like you see in the photos. And frankly, all I really care about right now is finding a way to will myself to sleep.
If you are like me, here is the way I found to meditate while my mind was racing.
1. Let the thoughts pour in for 1 whole minute.
Sometimes I think when we tell ourselves to stop thinking about things, our mind goes into hyper-drive and only thinks about those things. It makes me think of Jim Carey in the Grinch trying to quiet himself during an internal argument. It makes a person crazy.
So for 1 full minute, just let your mind think about everything. Run through your stress, and your day, and all of the possible scenarios you’re obsessing over. Then stop. You’re done thinking about it for the night.
2. Stop thinking and say thank you.
If we could all just say stop and our minds would listen, that would be AWESOME! But we can’t. We may say stop, but we’re going to continue obsessing over whatever it is we’re thinking about. So we need to stop the cycle.
Stop your thinking process and start saying thank you. Say thank you (Probably in your head, because you are sharing a bed with someone). You can say this like a prayer to God, or just say it into the universe if you’re not a religious person. Say thank you for everything you’re thinking about and all that you are grateful for. Do this for 1 whole minute and really mean it.
3. Turn your focus to your breathing.
We can't sit here talking and thinking forever, we have sleeping to do. After your two minutes are up, begin to focus on your breath. I find it easiest to lay on my back with my hands on my stomach. This way I can feel my breathing through my stomach with each inhale and exhale.
Lay here and take deep breaths. Inhale through the nose and exhale out the mouth. If a thought comes in, then simply say thank you and return to your breathing. Your mind should begin to quiet.
4. Start counting to 10 while still focusing on your breath.
Taking advice from Sesame Street, I like to count my sheep. But I don't actually visualize any sheep. I simply try counting to 10.
Turn your attention away from your breathing while still maintaining your deep breaths. Start to count to 10. If a thought comes into your mind, start over at 1. Just keep counting to 10.
I would hope that you won't remember anything after this step, as you should be sleeping soundly. In an ideal situation, your racing mind should quiet and you will be full comatose within five minutes of this mediation practice. But if your situation isn't ideal, you should hopefully be asleep within 10 minutes. And be sure to check out my article on tips to get a full night's sleep. If you practice these tips, you will hopefully have less trouble sleeping on a regular basis.