When the sky darkens and the hustle and bustle of the city pace slows, my night ritual begins. It provides me with a grounded, calming feeling which helps prepare me for a good night's sleep. But these days my night ritual has changed a lot over the last few months.
I used to be so strict when it came to adhering to a routine. I guess I struggled with perfectionism (read about this in my Redefining What Perfect Means to You post). I wanted order and a list of things to tick off my to do list.
But nowadays, since I have started seeing things from a more mindful perspective, I have embraced the notion of impermanence.
For me, this means accepting that all things change with time, so we have to let go of trying to maintain control. Things are perfect when there is a gentle ebb and flow. So these days, my night ritual is no longer a highly structured routine. Instead, it gives me the freedom to act intuitively according to how I feel.
Here are some things you can do to create a mindful night ritual. Mix and match from the following list, add in some of your favourite things to do and make it your own!
I have mentioned this before on my About page, but I love tea. My favourite tea for getting me prepared for sleep is a blend of Peppermint and Camomile. The Camomile is so gentle and relaxing but the peppermint is refreshing and soothing for the stomach to aid digestion.
Light A Candle Or Use A Diffuser
I recently bought an aromatic diffuser and have been using it with a range of different oil blends. I find that the smell of lavender in my room relaxes me. Recently, I have been using Aesop's Catherine oil blend which is spicy, warm and comforting.
Try lighting a soy based scented candle at night too. I love BlackMILK's candles which have a wooden wick, which recreates the crackling sound of a fire.
Spend a few minutes in quite and stillness each night. Try being mindfully observant of your thoughts, emotions and the environment around you. You can do this even when you brush your teeth, put on your pyjamas or sip your tea. Or try closing your eyes, sit in a comfortable position and focus in on your breath just for a few moments. Notice how it relieves any anxiety by deepening your breath.
In my night ritual, I enjoy spending a few minutes with my eyes closed, listening without any judgement to my thoughts, asking myself how I am feeling right here, right now.
Meditation can be practiced in many different ways, so experiment with different styles to find something that resonates with you to bring a sense of calm to your night.
Relax by stretching and doing a few yoga poses such as child's pose, plow pose or shoulder stand which I have written about in my How To Hibernate post. Yoga helps bring fresh oxygen into our bodies and these poses, where the heart is lower than the head, are good for releasing stress and tension.
If you have the time, try a late night yin yoga class or a nidra (sleep) yoga class. These classes generally run for an hour so you can really dedicate this time to relaxing and stretching out your muscles and preparing for sleep.
When the nights are cold, I reach straight for my hot water bottle. I put it in my bed so it warms it up while I potter around the house doing other things. I find that the heat is so soothing that it can put me to sleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.
Wheat pillows are also great because you can add in a few drops of lavender oil to enhance relaxation.
Journalling is wonderful for the soul. Use it to empty out any busy and negative thoughts that you have running around in your mind or use it to simply reflect on your day. Use it to let go of any thoughts you are holding onto.
I also love including three things I am grateful in my journal entries - learn to notice the little things that may be so easy to miss during the busy-ness of your day. This is one of the simplest things you can do to create a huge positive perspective shift.
I dedicate about 20 minutes each night to reading. I accept that I am a terribly slow reader so I often sit with a book for a long time before I finish it. I am currently reading Quiet by Susan Cain - a interesting look at introversion in the modern world.
Disconnect from Technology
In truth, this is something that I definitely struggle with. I really enjoy being on my computer at night but I have decided to make a conscious effort to switch off my computer and my phone after 9.30pm. This means that I can spend time actually preparing for bed without any distractions.
Look After Your Skin
We can get dehydrated during the night as we lose moisture through sweat, so hydrate your skin with a rich moisturising serum, cream or oil. Find one that contains Vitamin E to help with skin repair. Sometimes, I go the extra step and do a light face mask too if I have the time.
I like to mix it my mindful night ritual, depending on my mood and what my body is telling me. But I find it works best if I keep things simple. I pick just a few things that I really want to do that night and savour the time I have before I sleep.