Calming phrases before evening meditation or sleep

December 9, 2011

Through most of my life I’ve used my thoughts to try to calm myself down before going to sleep at night, and before evening meditations. I thought I’d share some of those phrases here today.

Calming phrases in my teens

When I was in my teens and had too much energy to sleep, I’d lay in bed at night, unable to fall asleep, so I’d follow this pattern of thoughts:

Depending on how stressed or wound up I was, I might also tighten a muscle group, and then relax it. For instance, I might flex my foot to pull my toes towards my shin, and I’d do this as hard as possible for five seconds, then completely let go and say “relax.” Then I’d flex my foot the other way for five seconds, and then continue this process throughout all of my muscle groups. As I would learn later, there’s a little bit of yoga in this process.

I didn’t feel much mental pressure on myself those days, at least not until my parent’s separation and then graduation from high school, so that was enough to get very, very relaxed, and eventually I’d fall asleep.

Calming phrases in my 40s

A few years ago -- 2007 to be precise -- I came up with this phrase/poem/verse, which I repeated as often as necessary at night until I felt mentally relaxed:

There’s nothing to do,
there’s nowhere to be.
I don’t need anyone else,
and no one needs me.

After repeating that phrase several times, I’d typically follow it with other statements like these:

I didn’t have any statements I’d use consistently, I just said whatever felt appropriate that evening.

I found that saying things like this to myself before sleeping or before an evening meditation helped get me in the right frame of mind. I don’t like to jump right into meditation (or sleep) when I’m worked up about other things, so I’d use phrases like these to create a short "cooling off" period.

In my late-40s

These days the phrase/poem I use most often in the evening is quite a bit different, and I don’t know if most people will understand it:

I am the universe,
the universe is me.

There is no I,
there is no universe.

Just be.

I don’t want to explain this poem, other than to say that my former yoga instructor used the phrase “Just be” during our corpse pose meditation at the end of class, so in addition to the calming effects of those words, I like that sentence in there as a reminder of her and my former classmates. Also, when you say, “Just be,” it’s important to really put your heart into it and relax deeply.


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