A MEDITATION FOR SLEEPING.
If you have trouble falling asleep (or getting back to sleep in the middle of the night) because your brain has shifted into overdrive, this type of meditation, which I call “body work,” will help. The reason it works is because it helps you focus on something other than your (often) crazy thoughts. The more you can keep your focus on your body, the more you will relax and stop thinking, ruminating, remembering, planning, etc.
Begin by focusing all of your awareness on your scalp. Mentally trace the outlines of your scalp, and then unhurriedly cover every square inch of your scalp with your awareness, imagining that someone is massaging your scalp with a very, very soft brush. Notice the sensations you feel there, and then consciously relax your scalp with each of your next 3 or 4 exhales. As you exhale and relax your scalp, say silently to yourself, “Relax your scalp; relax your scalp.”
Then gently shift your focus to your forehead and do the same thing. Be very aware of every square centimeter of your forehead. Really feel your forehead and imagine that someone is gently drawing that super-soft brush back and forth across your forehead. Then begin to relax your forehead, tying the relaxation with a few exhales and silently saying, “Relax your forehead; relax your forehead.”
Continue to slowly work your way down your face: Do the complete exercise while focusing on your eyebrows, your closed eyes, your temples, your nose, your cheeks, your lips, your jaws and your ears. Imagine that the soft brush is smaller for places like your eyes and a bit larger for places like your forehead and cheeks.
Just like with regular sitting meditation, you are likely to lose your focus and get lost in thought (which is probably what is keeping you awake in the first place). When you realize that you’re busy with overdrive thinking rather than meditating, gently (WITHOUT judgement or analysis) bring your focus back to the place you left off and continue again with the exercise.
This meditation has served me well for many years, and I am usually asleep before I even get down to my nose. But you can keep working down your body if you need to, following the same pattern and consciously relaxing each body part as you go.