This Buddhist Technique Will Help You Fall Asleep in 2 Minutes

This Buddhist Technique Will Help You Fall Asleep in 2 Minutes

Honest advice from a recovering insomniac.

Larisa Andras


Aug 29 · 6 min read

Photo by Marco Xu on Unsplash

Sound machines, complete darkness in the room, not touching my phone two hours before going to bed, and earplugs. You name it, I’ve tried it. Nothing worked.

Before learning this technique, I used to sleep less than 5 hours per night. And this not only had me feeling tired, but it also annoyed the heck out of me. That’s because all I did was lay in bed until 3 in the morning, overthinking things. Ok, sometimes I would also stare at the person sleeping peacefully next to me.

It was probably a trace of love there, too. But most of the time it was pure jealousy and a strong desire to kick them out of bed. I didn’t.

Instead, I turned to my friends and family to ask them how they do it. How can they fall asleep as soon as they hit the pillow? It went something like this:

“Don’t think about anything. Just close your eyes and stop your thoughts”, they all said.

“Ok, I know that’s what I have to do but how do I do it, people?”, I asked my loved ones.

And “you just stop thinking” is all I got. Which is just as useless as that white noise machine I gave my ex-boyfriend.

Luckily, I accidentally found the solution to my problem during my first Vipassana meditation course. Those 10 days I spent in Barcelona have been difficult in every way, but looking back, it feels like I won the lottery.

Not only did I finally learned a meditation technique that works for me but I also learned how to fall asleep in less than two minutes.

Let me walk you through it.

How to Work with Sensations to Fall Asleep Faster

Most of the time, we can’t fall asleep because our minds are wandering. You start thinking about the past or the future and before you know it, it’s 2 in the morning and you have to get up in less than 5 hours.

One or two nights might not be a big deal. But if you do this regularly, Houston, you have a problem.

Before you go on spending a month’s rent on magic devices and all sorts of supplements, as I did, try this simple but effective technique.

What to do

Whenever you want to pay a visit to the land of dreams, start scanning your body from head to toe. Instead of stopping your mind from thinking, give it something specific to do. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. With your eyes closed, take a few breaths, and try to feel the air coming in and going out. Don’t label it in any way. Just observe the sensations around your nostrils and on the area above your upper lip.
  2. Then, move your attention from your breath to the top of your head, and observe any sensations that arise there. It can be anything — itching, pressure, numbness, pain, or tingling, to name a few.
  3. As soon as you feel anything at the top of your head, pick another patch on your scalp to examine.
  4. This way, progress down your entire body, one small patch at a time. From your scalp to your face (eyes, nose, cheekbones, etc.), and then down to your neck.
  5. Next, start with one arm, and observe the sensations in your shoulder, upper arm, elbow, lower arm, wrist, palm, and finally, your fingers. After you’re done with one arm, move on to the other one, and so on until you have scanned your entire body. Unless you fall asleep before you even get to your neck, like I do.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • At first, as you scan your body, you’ll come across many blind spots. When that happens, sit with those areas a moment, and then move on. You’re not doing anything wrong. Just keep practicing. The more you do it, the more subtle sensations you’ll feel.
  • But don’t make this your goal. If you start craving sensations and start looking for them on purpose, you’re doing the exact opposite of what the technique is all about. Relax, observe the sensations, and don’t label them.
  • Also, it’s ok if sometimes your mind goes somewhere else. It will happen a lot, especially in the beginning. Just bring your attention back to your body, and pick up where you left off.
  • Lastly, there’s no right speed so do it at your own pace. And try to follow the same order every time because it will be easier to remember, and there are fewer chances you’ll miss some areas.

Why it works

The main reason why practicing Vipassana meditation will help you fall asleep faster is because it brings you in the present moment.

If your body is tired, but your mind keeps on spinning, you’re going to stay awake for hours. However, if you focus on the sensations in your body, you can’t think of anything so you are fully aware.

Once you stop thinking, your mind sends a signal to your body that it’s time to sleep.

While you can have great results if you use this technique to fall asleep faster or to ground yourself when you’re feeling anxious, Vipassana meditation is much more than that.

S.N. Goenka, the teacher who helped spread this Vipassana meditation technique worldwide, claimed that this is the form of meditation taught by the Buddha himself. Although there are many different variations of the practice, this is the basis of Buddhism.

How to Learn More About Vipassana Meditation

For me, Vipassana meditation has been the most effective so far. I’ve been practicing it for more than 1.5 years and seen great results in all aspects of my life. But I agree with what S.N. Goenka said: you can only learn the technique if you take a 10-day course.

What I described above is the summary of the summary. Sure it will help you to fall asleep fast but that’s all it will do.

If you want to practice Vipassana meditation, you have to do more than that. It’s a long process, there are many steps to take, and you need someone to guide you through all of them. It requires a lot of work but it’s all worth it. I promise.

Since the first course I took back in February 2019, I took 3 more, all in different countries. And in 2021 I plan on taking a 20-day course.

However, you can only go for such a long course if you’ve been practicing for at least 2 years and have attended five 10-day courses, among other requirements.

It’s easy to sign up for the course but not so easy to complete it. Lots of people give up after a few days. You’re free to leave anytime you want after all.

But if you do decide to take the course, give your best and make the effort to stay until the end.

There are hundreds of locations worldwide and all the courses are bilingual. The original one is in English and it’s then translated to the local language.

The course lasts 10 days and there is a strict schedule you have to follow. You wake up at 4 a.m. every morning and need to be in bed by 9.30 p.m.

You also have to respect the Noble Silence for the duration of the course, which means you’re not allowed to talk to anyone, except for some private 5-minute conversations with the teacher. So no talkie-talkie and not much of walkie-walkie either.

You’ll spend most of your time in the meditation hall or in your room where, hint: you have to meditate. In total, you should be meditating around 11 hours every day. Here’s a look at the exact schedule.

If you did not close the tab after reading these last few sentences, here’s the official website. You can see the timetable of the courses for every center.

If you decide for one, make sure to mark in your calendar the date when they start accepting applications. From my experience, spots are filling up in less than 30 minutes.

Until then, you can read The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation as Taught by S. N. Goenka, by William Hart. The book is based on the course and it’s very straightforward.

Besides the insights into the practice of Vipassana meditation, it raises questions from everyday life and offers practical solutions.

However, you know how I’m going to end this text, don’t you? Here it goes:

You have to take a 10-day course if you want to learn how to practice Vipassana meditation.

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