Have you been trying to meditate at night but are not sure where to start? Or perhaps you are trying to use meditation before bed so you can develop a consistent meditation routine? Our minds tend to be most active right before we fall asleep. Full of questions and events from the day and other random thoughts that seem to come from nowhere.
It is almost like you are yelling at your mind “Just let me sleeeeep!” You know? This is why meditating at night can be so incredibly useful. Meditation will help you conquer your active mind when you are trying to sleep. Meditating is also easiest to do right before bed if you are short on time. This way, you will meditate consistently every night!
Meditation has been shown to positively influence your brain chemistry by managing what is called your sympathetic nervous system. This nervous system controls your response when you are in high-stress situations like an oncoming deadline or your parents-in-law coming for dinner. Being able to consistently meditate at night will help you fight away fatigue and insomnia that you may be experiencing. By intentionally managing your thoughts and actively practicing mindfulness through meditation we will relax your sympathetic nervous system which will also allow you to react to stressful situations calmly. It is mainly important to stay consistent in your practice to achieve the desired results.
Why Meditate at Night?
Meditation practice is generally utilized during the first moments of your morning when you are waking up or the final moments of your day before you go to sleep. Of course, you can meditate any time during the day but it is difficult to find time throughout the day during our hectic day-to-day lifestyles.
This is why a lot of people like to meditate at night. Mornings can be rushed for some people so the next best time when everything seems to be calming down is right before bed. Also, you can practice this meditation in any position. You can meditate sitting on the ground, on a meditation cushion, seiza bench, or even lying down on your bed! This makes it easy to maintain consistency in your meditation practice.
You can also check out our Useful Meditation Gear if you are trying to build your own personalized meditation space.
Consistency is probably the most important but most difficult value to maintain in your meditation practice. The reason it is so important to meditate every night is that it is similar to working out. Your brain is a muscle and the home of your mind and meditation works this muscle to fine-tune and exercise your mind.
Well, if you were to go to the gym once a month to build your physical muscles would you expect extravagant results? Probably not. So remember – consistency is key! You can check out our Beginner’s Meditation Handbook for some tips on beginning in meditation and tricks to keep your mindset on meditating consistently every night.
The Science of Meditation
“[Mindfulness]: Awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally …in the service of understanding and wisdom.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
Science has termed this meditation therapy as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction or MBSR. To define mindfulness, I would say that to be mindful is to be present and aware of the delight that is this moment. For example, if you are keeping an empty mind and you are only aware of your breath in this present moment, then you are being mindful.
MBSR is a meditation therapy that was originally designed to help alleviate and remove stress. Since then it has also been shown to treat patients suffering from depression, anxiety, chronic pain, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, skin and immune disorders.
I have sat next to a friend in an ashram in Rishikesh, India and she told me how her father cured himself of Krohn’s disease through meditation and yoga and a healthy diet. It was incredible to me…my father has Krohn’s and is slowly dying in America from Folger’s coffee and sausage English muffins.
This stuff works, but you have to be willing to listen.
Ok…let’s get back to the founders and science of the modern medicinal aspect of meditation. Jon Kabat-Zinn developed the MBSR program back in 1979. Jon Kabat-Zinn is deeply involved in the esoteric, and I daresay, superfluous evolution of the science of meditation and how the mind of a practitioner would be affected.
He is also affiliated with Paul Ekman – the scientist who met a monk – who could have been destined as a modern Nieschze. A pessimist; turned optimist, after meeting with the Dalai Lama.
Jon is also affiliated with Matthieu Ricard, a molecular biologist who turned monk after visiting Dharamsala, India. Matthieu is known for his intricate perspective on spirituality that was bourne from a life of Science. He is blessed with the path of discerning what happens in the brain when people have been meditating for long periods of time with incredible levels of motivation and intensity.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program
The MBSR program was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn for chronically ill patients that were not responding well to traditional medicinal treatments. He recruited people of this category into his free 8-week program of mindfulness-based stress reduction. These programs have free distance learning options available if you can’t amend your schedule to be physically present for the period of time requested.
How Meditation Affects Your Brain
The practice of mindfulness has been shown to affect the hippocampus, a curved formation in your brain that is responsible for forming new memories, learning, and emotions. For example, if you hear a song that reminds you of a past lover, you may become sad. Or, if you smell the fresh baked cookies and you suddenly are longing for the taste of Momma’s fresh baked goods… this is the hippocampus that affects and creates these connections.
Studies have also shown to increase the grey matter of your brain, which is incredible to me. Grey matter in your brain directly affects your sensory perception (sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing) and your muscular control. In today’s era, there is a growing amount of literature that supports the concept of our neural systems to be modifiable. It is understood that these systems in our brain can undergo structural change as a result of training.
What Meditation Should I Practice At Night?
If you have done any research or practiced meditation of any amount then you have probably found that there is a myriad of different meditation practices to indulge in. Do you practice pure mindfulness? Or concentration meditation to build on your ability to focus on any given task for longer periods of time? Maybe you are interested in mantras and affirmations? Or even experiencing premonitions and astrally projecting?
These are all possibilities – It just depends on where you want to go. Naturally, mindfulness is the easiest place to start because you are simply being aware of your breath. This is essentially Anapanasanti which translates to “mindfulness of breathing”.
So! Let’s break down how to do each practice:
Mindfulness is the awareness of the present moment. In mindfulness meditation, we are just sitting or lying still, in a comfortable position. Then, just allow your mind to be. Present and Now. If other thoughts arise, this is ok. Allow them. Observe them as if from a distance. As if you are someone else watching – or reading – your mind. This level of perspective is called the Observer. To be the Observer is to see your Self from an objective perspective and without judgment.
To practice this, simply sit or lie in a comfortable position. And just be. It is important to always come back to this, no matter how often repeated. It is easy to be distracted. But just sit or lie in a comfortable position. And be.
Observe your thoughts as just that… thoughts. Not your thoughts. But just thoughts. Thoughts are happening and you are there, observing them. This is mindfulness.
This video is a pleasant demonstration that will guide you through your first mindfulness meditation:
Concentration meditation is designed to increase your concentration and also your focus. Essentially, concentration is the ability to focus your mental energy.
To practice this form of meditation you can return to the practice of your breath. Simply close your eyes a d breathe in … then … breathe out. To increase the efforts of your concentration, I would ask you to focus your attention on the area below the nostrils and above the upper lip. Focus your attention on this area below the nostrils and above the upper lip and notice how the breath feels as it runs over and over this area.
There is also Trataka meditation which is an open-eyed meditation practice built around concentration and focus. Some meditation teachers warn that the eyes being open can be distracting towards the mind. But other teachers preach that open eye meditation allows you to enter into the state of samadhi, or bliss, without becoming lost in it.
To practice Trataka, you will still want to sit or lie in a comfortable position. Then, with your eyes open, you will focus your eyes on a specific area for as long as possible without blinking. It seems to be most common to use the flame of a candle as the point of concentration.
Mantras and Affirmations
Affirmations and mantras, I believe, are very powerful. A mantra is similar to an affirmation. A mantra is defined as repeating a word or sound to aid in concentration during meditation. An affirmation is defined as the act of stating something as a fact.
So, a mantra is not exactly an affirmation but you can use an affirmation as your mantra. For example, you may write or speak the affirmation “I am very wealthy.” And although this is not a mantra, it becomes a mantra when you repeat it and meditate on it.
For myself, mantras and affirmations relate most to me in regards to the Law of Attraction. The Law of Attraction essentially states that you will attract into your life what you think about…whether you want it or not. Furthermore, Abraham-Hicks’ 17-second rule revolves around utilizing the Law of Attraction. The rule states that after concentrating on a singular thought for 17 seconds it will begin to enact the universal gears of Life in motion to manufacture whatever reality you are projecting.
It all sounds crazy to just read and try to understand but once you practice you will begin to see results. Results will lead to a deeper belief. If it doesn’t work then you either quit or didn’t believe it was going to work in the first place. But if that was the case – why are you here?
So, meditate. You practice mantra meditation the same as the other practices – sit or lie comfortably and then focus on your breath. The only difference is you will now chant the chosen mantra/affirmation while you are meditating. You may do this silently or audibly.
Premonitions and Astral Projection
For this practice, I would say – there is no way to truly teach it. You can not teach someone how to receive a divine Universal message that was specifically sent to them. If they are meant to receive it, they will. No amount of teaching will change this.
It is a complicated thing…to have a premonition. When you speak of it to others, you speak of it as if it were real – and so you use words to identify and relay what you saw. And so it sounds oh so very real – like as if you were there. Why? Because when a seer explains to you a vision you see it as if it’s real in your mind’s eye.
So, naturally, the student of meditation becomes frustrated when what they see in their meditation practice is not the same as what they hear about others experiencing in their practices. But, and I would almost say obviously, what you hear is much different than what you see – that is why they are two entirely different senses.
So – if you are new to meditation I would not start here. This level of meditation requires you to be at a mental state where you can sit in meditation for long periods and often. There is a certain level of ‘letting go’ that needs to happen for this practice to become beneficial or even relevant to you.
If you follow the practice of meditation by beginning with mindfulness, concentration, mantras, and affirmations then you will build yourself a strong foundation for diving into the rabbit hole that I’m barely uncovering right now.
Now that I’ve filled your head with the best ways to meditate at night..go and empty it! Meditate and allow your thoughts to arise and dissipate, naturally. Remember – a good meditation cushion and a designated space for meditation will help immensely with your consistency. Ultimately, you will want to choose a meditation practice that resonates with you and then practice this meditation at night. Every night!
As we work together towards enlightenment it is always welcomed and encouraged to share your experiences and exchange ideas with the community in the comments below! Thank you for reading and meditate well, my friends.