I have come to learn that several of my friends consistently have difficulty falling asleep and feeling fully rested. They tell me that their problem is due to having a restless mind, and not a restless body. Whether the root cause is anxiety or simply having too much chatter in the head, the fact is that the mind is not at ease and must be calmed down in order to unwind for the night.

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When our minds are agitated or too alert at night against our wishes, our bodies tend to respond with a shallower breath, an increased heart rate, and possible tightness in the chest.

Light meditation and breathing exercises can help divert your attention away from the chatterbox upstairs and towards slowing down your breath and heart through focused intention.

To begin:

  • While in bed, close your eyes and breathe just through your nose.
  • Without attempting to regulate your breathing, place all your focus on the breath. Pay attention to the sensations on your nose hairs as the breath goes in and out of your nostrils. Just keep breathing with this focused attention for a few minutes.
  • Your mind will naturally wander. When it does, recognize without frustration that this is the nature of your mind. Simply let go of any thoughts that arise as quickly as possible and return to observing your breath. You will experience this back and forth battle between your intended action of observing your breath and your mind begging for you to pay attention to all of its random thoughts and commentary.

As you continue to refocus on your breath and are able to stay focused for longer, hold the intention in your mind to want to SLOW DOWN. As you breathe, gently and lovingly repeat the thought of “I want to SLOW DOWN,” and after a few moments you will notice that your breathing will begin to respond to your request. (While performing this process, the logical side of your brain may bombard you with doubtful thoughts such as “will this really work? Is it working now? How about now? Etc.” Having these thoughts mean that your mind chatter was able to interrupt your focus, so go back to your breath to quiet the mind once again).

  • Next, while in this state of undisturbed observations, continue breathing normally through you nose, but now shift your mental focus to your heart. Soon you should be able to sense or feel your heartbeat with just your mental attention. Notice if your heartbeat is fast or slow, and just continue to breathe and observe your heart.
  • Hold the intention that you want your heart to slow down and watch for it to respond to your focused thought.
  • If the chatter comes back at any point, either return to focusing on your breath or stay with your heartbeat.


You have just learned how to diffuse the hyperactivity of your mind and slow down its corresponding bodily reactions. You should feel more at ease and hopefully ready to sleep well!

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