Two Simple Practices to Help You Fall Asleep


You’re lying in bed, a bit frazzled after a hectic day and grateful that it’s over. But instead of slowing down and drifting off to sleep, your mind is resolutely picking up speed—chewing on that glitch in your Visa bill, reliving a dispute at work, planning next week’s menu and compiling the shopping list and how are you going to find time to get to the farmers' market and still get your kid to her softball game and the car needs to go to the shop or maybe it’s time to think about replacing it and—you’re off: rocketing away from sleep into full-blown, saucer-eyed wakefulness.

You could get up and heat a cup of milk, or make some chamomile tea, or draw yourself a warm bath. You could rummage around in your cupboard and find the valerian, or if you are in a homeopathic mood you could take a dose of Coffea, the standard remedy for an over-stressed mind. Or you could stay comfortably tucked in bed and resort to the yogic solution: use your mind to calm your mind.

The trick is to coax the mind out of the eyebrow center, where it lodges in the waking state, and entice it into the heart center—its home in the sleeping state. Make yourself comfortable, close your eyes, bring your attention to the heart, and think “one.” Bring your attention to your left shoulder and think “two”; left thigh, “three”; the navel center, “four”; the right thigh, “five”; the right shoulder, “six”; back to heart, “one”; and so on. . . 2 3 4 5 6, moving with relaxed attention at a comfortable pace. Let the mind busy itself moving in this pattern and it will soon tire and come to rest at the heart center, its sleeping abode.

As you begin to drift off, break the pattern by relaxing into your mantra or turning over—whatever it takes to disconnect from the practice before sinking into sleep.

High Anxiety?

Feeling too anxious to coax your mind into running the numbers? Preface the practice with Dr. Vasant Lad’s elegant little technique for calming anxiety.

Make a fist with your left hand, so that the fingers rest in the middle of the palm. Locate the point where the middle finger ends, in the “heart” of the palm. Then, with the thumb of your right hand, press firmly on this point in the center of your left hand. Press for one minute.

 —The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies 

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