Meditation is increasingly popular in this day and age. The market is saturated with apps and books and blogs with guided meditations for focus, for calm, for good sleep, for clarity. It is something I have ‘dabbled’ with but sometimes struggle to connect with. Guided meditations can be hugely helpful but if it’s something you’re listening to then there’s the possibility that the speaker’s voice might put you off or it might go at a pace that feels wrong for you. The only mediation I have found alway, always works for me is actually one I grew up with, before I even knew what meditation was.
When I was little and couldn’t sleep because of bad dreams, or the fear of bad dreams, my parents would sit by my bed, brushing the hair gently from my face, and in slow, soft voices talk me through a meditation that would help me relax and dream good dreams. I still use it to this day. And it helps, almost always without fail.
There were two variations and I’m going to share one with you now. It is intended to be carried out slowly, whilst you are lying down, somewhere quiet and either dimly lit or dark. If you can get someone to read the meditation to you, or record yourself saying it and then playing back, this is best as then you can close your eyes and focus on carrying out each stage and feeling the sensations. Alternatively, you can read it through a few times in your head until you feel confident you’ve got the gist, and then play it back to yourself in your mind. I hope it helps you, or a loved one, sleep.
Imagine you are lying on the soft sand of a sun warmed beach.
You can feel the sand shifting gently beneath you, shaping itself to perfectly support you.
You feel it’s warmth radiating against your skin, drawing the tension from your limbs.
Your toes are just touching the edge of a rock pool, and the heated water laps ever so gently at your feet.
You scrunch up your toes, contracting all the little muscles as tightly as you can, and then release them, allowing all the tension to flow out and relaxing entirely.
You squeeze the muscles in your legs, tensing them as though supporting a great weight, then allow the muscles to relax and feel them become heavy, sinking a little further into the sand.
Next, you clench all the muscles that make up your core, drawing in your bottom and stomach, as if compressed between two panels of glass, before releasing and feeling the pressure lift away from you.
Your attention shifts to your upper body and arms, which you draw in tightly, pulling all the muscles and sinews close together, clenching your fists, raising your shoulders, pinching your shoulder blades together and contracting your arms. Slowly, you allow the tension to drain away, releasing from your shoulders, down through your arms, and eventually to the tips of your fingers. Your upper body now rests with sleepy, relaxed heaviness into the sand.
Finally, you scrunch up your face, pursing your lips, wrinkling your nose, pulling your eyebrows into a frown, before releasing every muscle in your face, allowing your jaw to fully relax and your brow to smooth, all the cares of the day smoothed away with it.
You rest in the moment and pay attention to the pleasing sensation of lying in the warmth and softness of the day, and the relaxation of surrendering all the tension that had built up in you.
You notice the heat of the sand below and the sun above you. A gentle breeze caresses your skin. Any thoughts passing through your mind do just that: they pass on. You acknowledge their existence but don’t dwell on them. They float through and by you and you slowly drift into sleep.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health then please don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to someone. You are not alone and help is available. By opening up and starting the conversation we can move forward together and look to a mentally healthy future. Below are links to a range of fantastic organisations that can provide information, advice and services.
The Samaritans – http://www.samaritans.org
Mind – http://www.mind.org.uk
Young Minds – http://www.youngminds.org.uk
Papyrus (prevention of young suicide) – https://www.papyrus-uk.org
Time to Change – http://www.time-to-change.org.uk
Rethink Mental Illness – http://www.rethink.org
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – https://www.afsp.org
Please do not struggle alone.