End of Day Meditation Ritual

«In here, Mr Garibaldi, you can not hide from yourself. Everything out there has only one purpose, to distract us from ourselves, what is truly important. There are no distractions in here. We can learn much from silence.»
G’Kar to Garibaldi, in a prison cell, in Babylon 5: «Messages from Earth»

Given the fast-paced, attention economy distraction world we live in, it might pay to slow down at the end of the day. After all, you cannot be productive without good sleep.

Besides putting the smartphone way out of reach and using an old-fashioned alarm clock (also out of reach, so you have to leave the bed to turn it off), I can highly recommend an end-of-day meditation ritual. It is something that gives structure to the day. Ritual because consistency is key here. You are always establishing habits, either to do something or to do something else.

There are lots of different ways people meditate. What works for me is doing it always as last action before going to bed (okay, with some exceptions). It is a quiet time and I also wear earplugs to remove most of the environmental noise.

I start by putting out the lights, except for a single candle (lighting it with matches is kinda … nice). Then kneeling down and setting the meditation timer for 15 minutes (see this posting).

Fifteen minutes can be surprisingly long when you first do it, leading to repeated checks whether the time had stopped or you did not notice the alarm. But it is rather short if you use it to go through a couple of steps in your mind:

  1. What could have gone better? What can I improve?
  2. What are three things that I am grateful for today?
  3. Anything else on my mind?
  4. Mindfulness Phase: Just acknowledging thoughts without judgment, always putting the attention back to breathing.
  5. Once the vibration alarm goes off, stopping it by putting my hand on the watch (setting option that it will silence alarms) and end with a closing mantra.

Looking for ways to improve followed by a standard gratitude exercise puts things in perspective. And some things are neither good nor bad that are caught be phase 3. Anything that I cannot consciously notice, and address in phases 1 to 3, usually raises its head in phase 4. (I think, some things are really, really deeply buried.)

And while the main part is four, the mindfulness phase, it would not work unless I have gone through the first three steps. That is also the moment when I frequently grab the paper notepad and jot down some ideas.

A bit stereotypical, yep, but it works for me. The effect is that I go to bed with a clear, relaxed mind.

I can’t say that it works for everyone, especially not these steps, but it might be something worthwhile to try out. Perhaps experiment a bit. If you do, do it regularly for at least a week, better two It takes a while. But once you notice the benefits and it becomes a habit, you’re doing it even if you are extremely tired. Just make sure you remind yourself of it in the beginning, and that you can start it without effort.

Happy meditating.