Meditation has been shown to improve sleep, as well as to lower blood pressure and stress. Try doing it in the early morning when your blood pressure and stress hormones are at the highest.

To do it, just sit in a quiet place, breathe in a relaxed way, and try to focus on one word or phrase over and over. This is called a “calming focus.” You can use a breath, a sound (“Om”), a short prayer, a positive word (such as “relax” or “peace”), or a phrase (“breathing in calm, breathing out tension”; “I am relaxed”). If you choose a sound, repeat it aloud or silently as you inhale or exhale. If you find your mind wandering, simply take a deep breath or say to yourself “thinking, thinking” and gently return your attention to your chosen focus. Start by doing it for just a few minutes; you can build up to 5 or 10 if you like.

Avoid meditating too close to bedtime so that doesn’t become confused with relaxing into sleep. In meditation, we’re practicing the opposite—falling more fully awake, which is one of the reasons why I do it in the morning. If you do wait until later in the day, make sure to leave at least an hour before bedtime.

Naomi Whittel

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