या देवी सर्वभूतेषु निद्रारूपेण संस्थिता ।
नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमस्तस्यै नमोनमः ।।
Ya Devi Sarva Bhuteshu Nidra Roopen Samsithaha I
Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namah II
O Devi, you are omnipresent. You also exist in the act of sleep.
I bow to you, I bow to you, I bow to you. You are the one who is present in all living beings in the form of sleep (Nidra).
You can think of this as a sleep shloka:)
Why count sheep when one can recite these powerful lines?
For children and beginners, a simple recitation will do. 10-15 times but consciously, and one should feel lighter and more inclined towards sleep. For advanced seekers, mantra japa as below is recommended.
- Sit in a comfortable position. Ideally in Sukhasana or Vajrasana. Avoid sitting on a chair. Keep your back straight. If you find this difficult, try the Vajrasana posture since the back is naturally straight in this āsana. Your hands can be kept loosely on your thighs, palms facing down, or if you know how to do it, in jnana mudra. Close your eyes. Breathe normally.
- Turn your eyes slightly downward and close them gently. During mantra japa your eyes may move upward and downward naturally – don’t try to control this movement.
- Be aware of your natural breath flowing in and out. Breathe through your nose, keep your jaw muscles relaxed, so that your teeth are not clenched or tensed.
- Take a couple of minutes of deep, slow breathing to slow down your breath, and feel a sense of calm.
- Now start the japa. Feel the vibration of each component of the AUM mantra, and focus on the area between your eyebrows (Agya Chakra). Move your attention to the corresponding area of vibration, as the mantra progresses from the lower chest, to the throat, and finally, to the head.
- For beginners – 16 times is ideal. You can progress in the following sequence – 8 times in weeks 1 and 2, and 16 times in week 3.
- If counting mentally is tough, or disturbs your concentration or intonation, then do the math – you ideally do 4 japas a minute, so set your timer to four minutes for a 16-japa session.
- Once done with the number of tapas, continue to sit in the same āsana, with your eyes closed, and feel the silence for an equal number of minutes. For example, if your japa took 4 minutes, meditate in silence for an additional 4 minutes.
- Bring your hands together in anjali mudra, say a small prayer, and gently open your eyes.
Gentle breathing, without strain or effort. Take in deep slow inhalations, with an expanded chest, and deep slow exhalations as you continue with the japa, with your stomach moving towards your spine. Don’t try to prolong the japa (and the corresponding exhalation) in the beginning – let it flow with your natural breath. The emphasis is on the pronunciation and awareness, not on the length of the japa.