Putting a baby or a toddler to sleep for the night can be a challenging task. As babies, they may confuse night and day and sleep at the oddest hours. As toddlers, their own volition is blossoming, often not leaving much room for yours. Yet, as conscious parents, it is our responsibility to accompany our child to the oneiric realm with the utmost gentleness and care. It is more than just mere sleep, it is a soul voyage. This article takes for granted that you are a conscious parent, practicing one form or other of attachment parenting, including co-sleeping, and not implementing any of the cry-it-out sleeping techniques available to parents.
Nighttime represents the yin of our 24 hour day. Daylight is the yang counterpart. Nighttime is a time for physical restoration and replenishment. It is also a time for the deep and profound to come through, or – as many before me have stated – for the unconscious to penetrate into the conscious through dreams. Personally, though, I like to think that when we sleep – this is particularly true for uncontaminated young children – our soul leaves the realm of physicality, also known as maya, and roams free in ultimate reality where Essence is all there is. Uncontaminated children who are still rooted in their true spiritual essence experience this with great joy, for they reunite with the All That Is, something they still have memories of (unlike us parents), thus shedding the weight of the day’s stimuli and excess baggage. The nightmares, when not caused by trapped air, teething, and other evident physical discomforts, are the realization that they belong to the physical plane and cannot stay in the spiritual plane. Day after day, their egos slowly form, reminding them they are a unique individual and not an extension of their parents. Their minds create all sorts of mechanisms to make sense of this physical reality and all of its illusions. When the veils of maya are removed by the soul’s travel at nighttime they experience a true voyage home.
When singing, hushing, rocking, story telling, and other creatively wonderful tools fail you, you may wish to try a different method to put your baby to sleep: meditation. What better way to send your child off on this magical voyage of the soul but for you to start it off together with a sleepy-time-meditation? In my experience, this has proven to be successful every time, except when physical discomfort was overwhelming. You own observations as a conscious parent will help you discern the communications signals even when words are not yet spoken.
In the absence of physical discomfort, how to use meditation to put your baby to sleep at night? It is intended that you, the parent, should do the meditation, not the baby. There are two primary ways: walking meditation, if the baby is used to falling asleep while moving, or sitting meditation, if the baby is comfortable falling asleep lying down next to you or on top of you. While different, both meditations work, and follow similar guidelines. The most efficient way to implement either approach is – much like everything – presence and stillness. There cannot be judgments, expectations, and frustrations. Your love will go to your child but your attention will go deeply inwards, right into the place of your own Divine Essence, and from this corner of your being you will bridge the gap with your baby who is mostly there anyways.
Phase 1: Pre-bedroom ritual
It is fundamental to have a simple, low-key ritual that tells the baby from very early on, that it is time for night sleep, which is different from day naps. This can be a sentence, a short song, a funny face, which is repeated every night before turning in. In my case, my son and I walked through the house turning off each light switch and bidding every thing goodnight. This worked great but was a bit awkward when guests were in the house, sitting in complete darkness, until we had left the living area.
Phase 2: Pre-meditation ritual
This is the moment where the bottle of milk (or nursing) is offered, where the pillows and the lights in the bedroom are adjusted, where you – the parent – start becoming conscious of where you are and what you are doing.
Phase 3: Breathing
Whether you are walking or sitting or lying down, you bring your attention to your breath, slowly becoming more conscious of it. When you feel ready, you will slow and deepen your breath.
This phase can be over in 5 minutes, or it can take up to 20 minutes. It depends on your ability to go into the breath, to deepen the breath, and to flow with the breath.
Phase 4: Meditation
Finally, as you are deeply relaxed, you can bring in a mantra (like So Ham) or an affirmation (I am grateful) or a prayer (Thank you for the perfection of this moment). You can dive into your mantra, affirmation or prayer and fill every cell with it. Bring the mantra into your heart and shine it outwards visualizing a bubble of light enveloping you and the baby. This always works miracles with my son.
Phase 5: Peaceful sleep
Before you know it, you will become aware of another deep slow breathing, looking down you will notice that the little one has passed out, enveloped by a warm divine light and a loving mantra.
Can you think of a better way to go to sleep?
Annalisa lives in Florence, Italy, is the Education Coordinator at the Italian Centre for Conversations with God; a licensed Naturopath and Spiritual Counselor. She is trained in the CWG material, TCM, Spagyric Medicine, Psychosomatic Diagnosis, Mindfulness Meditation, and Reiki. She is writing her first book on applied spirituality and enjoys writing articles for the heart and soul. Connect with her on www.healing-consciousness.org.