It’s common after a busy or stressful day to need a little bit of help to unwind. This exercise helps us transition into sleep and involves progressive muscle relaxation and a slowing of the breath. You may like to record yourself or someone else speaking these instructions for you to listen to as you drift off…
1. Lie down in your bed or in a comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed.
2. Adjust your pillows, covers or clothing until you feel really relaxed.
3. Close your eyes.
4. Take your attention to the point where your head meets the support underneath you and consciously release the weight of the head down.
5. As the head becomes heavy, allow all the muscles in your face to relax. Start at the forehead, relaxing the space between your eye brows, all the muscles around your eyes, the cheeks, jaw and mouth.
6. Let your tongue release from the roof of your mouth and unclench the jaw.
7. Move your attention to all the places your shoulders, neck and upper arms meet the support underneath you and allow those muscles to soften and relax.
8. Use the out breath to let go of any tightness or ‘holding on’ that you can feel in your muscles by imagining you are breathing out that tension.
9. Take the attention to the hands and fingers and let them go limp and heavy.
10. Move through this process of bringing awareness and then ‘breathing out’ tension to your chest, belly, hips, upper and then lower legs.
11. When the physical body is relaxed, focus your attention on your breath and start to silently count the number of beats of your inhale and your exhale.
12. Over the next few breaths, start to elongate your exhale until it is double the length of the inhale e.g. in for 3, out for 6 or in for 4, out for 8 etc.
13. Whenever the mind wanders off, notice it, relax the jaw and come back to your counting.
14. Continue for as long as you can, you may find you naturally drift off without even noticing you’d stopped the practice!