Welcome to this 5-minute sleep meditation, guided by Ross Edwards BSc DipBSoM. This post includes a free audio along with tips on how to get the most from it.
This is perfect for beginner meditators who’d like a taste of mindfulness meditation, and for experienced meditators, who can add it to the end of their day to supplement their existing habit.
In this meditation, we intentionally relax the body then bring attention to the feelings of relaxation that result from it. In this way, we begin to enter a sleep-ready state while also cultivating the essential skills of meditation.
If you want to jump straight in, the audio is below. You can do this lying down or sitting up, so long as your body is comfortable and you feel both alert and at ease. Scroll down past the audio for my tips on how to get the most from it.
5-Minute Sleep Meditation: Audio
5-Minute Sleep Meditation: Tips
Posture and Setup
You can do this 5-minute sleep meditation lying down or sitting up – it’s your choice, so long as you’re able to loosen your body and let it be supported by whatever is underneath.
Keep a symmetrical posture to help you remain awake and alert while tuning into the sensations of relaxation. I also suggest you remove external distractions to allow your body to relax.
It’s crucial you realise that the true goal of this 5-minute meditation is to attend to whatever comes up for you. This is meditation, not a mere sleeping exercise.
And you’ll find that in stopping, generating relaxation and paying close attention to it, you become absorbed in the feelings of sleep. These can be delicious, and the more closely you pay attention, the more delicious they are.
You’ll probably have emotions, thoughts and sensations in the body that have the opposite effect. The key is to let them come up while trying to hold your attention on the sensations of relaxation.
Meditation or Relaxation: The Key Differentiator
I’m always skeptical when I come across “sleep meditations”. Many of them seem more like relaxation exercises than real meditation. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with them per se, but simply that we shouldn’t call it meditation if all we’re doing is trying to cool off and bliss out.
As John Kabat-Zinn says, “Meditation is not relaxation spelled differently.” Relaxation certainly doesn’t guarantee you’re meditating; meditating doesn’t mean you feel relaxed.
So how do we do both at the same time? The key is the attention we have during this 5-minute sleep meditation. This is what makes this relaxation-based exercise into a legitimate meditation practice.
Shinzen Young has defined three skills we need to cultivate to say that we are meditating: concentration, sensory clarity, and equanimity. Here’s how we develop all three in this 5-minute sleep meditation.
- Concentration: we hold our attention on the sensations of relaxation and return it there when it wanders.
- Sensory Clarity: as we hold them, we detect their qualities, such as volume, location, intensity, movement, etc.
- Equanimity: we let everything come up, whether it feels relaxing or not.
So long as you’re cultivating these three skills, you’re meditating.
I suggest you practice this every day for a couple of weeks so you can start getting the hang of it. Once you do, you could use it to a way to tune into feelings of relaxation at any time during the day.
If you find this is interesting and productive for you, you can try my 25-minute body scan meditation for sleep. This will get you a taste of longer meditation sessions.
And if you’d like to go deeper with meditation, you’ll build a solid foundation in mindfulness meditation in my eight-week meditation course.
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