Shabad Kriya – Bedtime Meditation

Shabad Kriya – Bedtime Meditation

Many people have difficulty going to sleep even though they are tired. There are many reasons for insomnia. When the mind is too active, we have a hard time going to sleep or even if we do go to sleep, we are restless and do not sleep deeply. There are many theories and opinions about how much sleep a person needs and it certainly varies according to state of health, activity and circumstances. But most of us would agree that the deeper and more peaceful the sleep, the more rested we feel the next morning.

There are several things that we can do to promote deeper and more restful sleep.

Before going to bed, start to consciously slow yourself down. Stop heavy mental activity. Write down what you need to do the next day and leave the list in the other room. This allows you to clear your mind and let go of the days activities. If there is something on your mind that you have not been able to resolve, make a special list and consciously ask for the Guru/God to take care of it and work out a solution, so you don’t worry or feel like you have to keep thinking about it. Feel complete about the day. Acknowledge yourself for what you accomplished and lessons learned. Forgive yourself for anything that bothers you. No one’s perfect. And list five things you are grateful for. In other words, prepare yourself to devote the next hours to peaceful, un-preoccupied sleep. You not only deserve, you need to rest.

Eat your last meal at least 2 1/2 hours before you go to bed. When we eat just before going to bed our energy is tied up with digestion and it is hard to sleep deeply. Eat lightly for your evening meal. Definitely no animal protein, fried or heavy foods. Any dairy at night will make it more difficult to get up the next day. I used to have a small yogurt snack before going to bed. It was so painful to try to wake up in the am. When I eliminated the yogurt, it was like a weight was lifted off of me. I was so much clearer in the morning. Soups, salads, stemmed vegetables or other easily digested dishes are the best for the evening meal.

The two nostrils are associated with two very different energies. When we breathe through the right nostril, we are energized and stimulated. When we breathe through the left nostril, we relax and calm down. Our breath naturally changes dominant nostrils approximately every 2-1/2 hours. After eating our nostrils will change to the left to accommodate the energy needed to digest our food. That is one reason why we feel like sleeping after eating.

You can tell which nostril is your dominate one at any time simply by blocking off one, then the other. The dominant one is easy to breathe through and the less dominate one feels like it is blocked.

It is useful before going to bed to sit quietly, block off the right nostril and breath long and deeply through the left nostril. Slowing down the breath to 4 or less breaths per minute also facilitates sleep.

Lying on the left side facilitates digestion and opens the right nostril. If you do need to digest your food, lying on the left side with help. However, to get to sleep, lying on your right side with help open the left nostril. You can also close off the right nostril with the right thumb to open the left nostril.

In both exercises, mentally inhale SAT and exhale NAM. The mental focus on the mantra and the breath are very soothing.


 Yogi Bhajan taught the following meditation to practice before going to bed and to help people with sleep disorders like insomnia. If practiced on a regular basis, once a week or even every night, your sleep will be deep and relaxed. The control of the rhythm of the breath strengthens the nervous system and regenerates the nerves. After a few months, the rhythm of your breath will be subconsciously regulated and eventually you will internally chant the mantra while you are sleeping. You may wake up to the internal chant of the mantra and hear it in your daily activities. You will think better, work better, share better and love better. "There cannot be enough praise of the meditation’s effect on the personality. It gives the mind the power to stretch to infinity, promotes radiance, patience and practical universality." 

This is a good meditation to do to recover from fatigue caused by normal daily stress, travel and even jet lag.


Sit in Easy Pose with a straight spine. Hands are in the lap in Buddha Mudra: palms up, right hand resting on top of left. The thumbs touch and face forward.

The eyes focus at the tip of the nose with the eyes about 9/10th closed. There are several ways to facilitate looking at the tip of the nose. Bring your forefinger in front of your face and look at it. Keep looking at the forefinger and slowly bring the forefinger to the tip of the nose.

The eyes focused at the tip of the nose causes the optic nerves to cross at the third eye. Thus it is easier to bring your mental focus to the third eye while the eyes are directed at the tip of the nose. Both the pineal and the pituitary glands and the area between them are stimulated by this eye posture, which has the effect of breaking old habits and creating new ones.

Inhale 4 equal parts through the nose, i.e. the inhale is divided into 4 sniffs. Mentally vibrate SA – TA – NA – MA with the four parts of the inhale breath.

Hold the breath and mentally repeat 4 repetitions of SA – TA – NA  – MA. This will be 16 counts


Then exhale in 2 equal strokes, mentally projecting WAHE – GURU

WAHE GURU means ecstasy. WAHE GURU is the result of integrating SAT NAM into the psyche. When we experience the Truth, we feel ecstasy.

Continue for 11, 15, 22, 31 or even 62 minutes. This meditation will often put you to sleep before you complete the allotted time.

This meditation was originally taught by Yogi Bhajan April 1, 1974.

Meditation excerpted from the book "Relax and Renew" by Guru Rattana Ph.D. and Ann Marie Maxwell

8 Responses to “Shabad Kriya – Bedtime Meditation”

  1. mrsikhnet says:

    You don't have to do this meditation at night either. Actually myself and Guruka Singh practice this meditation every morning. This is one of my old time favorite breath meditations.

    The past month or so I have been practicing this meditation again after a long time, and it's great to do it again. Here is my little side story of how I got back into it.

    Last month I was in Canada for two weeks of Sikh youth camps; and at one point I was getting sick. I didn't want to spend my time sick in a cabin since I had come so far to be there at the camp. I went to the evening Gurdwara at the camp and just bowed my head to Siri Guru Granth Sahib and prayed. I prayed that if I am supposed to serve at this camp, please take away my ailments and heal me. I then sat down with the sangat and after a few minutes of listening to Kirtan I all of a sudden decided that I needed to do this meditation (Shabad Kriya). I don't know why…but I just closed my eyes…sat up straight and started. I didn't move most of the Gurdwara. After about 20 minutes or so I broke into a sweat (this meditation doesn't normally make you sweat). I kept doing it for however long it was. By the end of Gurdwara my sweat had broken and I just knew that whatever sickness I had was gone. I thanked the Guru and smiled to myself.
    It was one of those cool experiences of the Guru taking care of me. Ever since then I have been back on practicing this meditation in the morning.

  2. Namjeev Kaur says:

    That's a great story. I love experiencing the power of meditation and healing the body, mind and spirit. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Martha says:

    This information is very important to me. Could you please send this information to me to my email address.
    Thank you very much.
    Love and blesssings:)

  4. Gurumustuk Singh ji, This is a wonderful post and a very kind sharing. Your personal touch is priceless. Thank you and thank you God for delivering this to us all. Wahe Guru and God bless you all, Mataji

  5. sohan says:

    You have touched on few things about why people can not sleep. I feel that I should post my personal experience. It is not my intention to find faults in your post.

    The breathing is every thing in living. If we go with the body flow then things work out fine. The problem comes when we try to alter the body flow.
    When we eat the breath should be from the left not right. After we finish eating then breath from the right. Right breathing produce heat, it helps to digest the food.

    When we go to bed we should lie on bed on our back. We should become aware of which side we are breathing. Put your hands on your stomach and do the slow breathing felling the hands going up and down. Do it for about 5-10 min. Then bend your legs to get your knees up. Take left foot and place it on the right leg just above the knee. Start to massage your foot and go all the way up to your groan. Do the same with the other leg. It may take 2-5 min per leg. Then stay on your back and feel which side the breath is coming. If you need to turn to one side or the other. If you are breathing from the left then turn to right. Always turn to the opposite side of breathing. If we turn to the same side we are breathing from the breathing will change to the other side. That’s why we keep going against the body flow and cant sleep.

  6. daljeet says:

    Sat Nam,
    My dad has just started practising kundalini – he was on anti-depressants for 8 years and recently came off them. thank you very much for posting this, i have sent him the link so he can do it and start sleeping well!
    I usually sleep very well, but recently (probably due to hormone fluctuations) I've been waking up throughout the night and sweating alot. do you have any tips? maybe one of the yogi teas or chinese herbs for the liver?
    daljeet x

  7. preet says:

    thanks for sharing great article and you story Gurumustuk Singh ji. i have hard time going to sleep. always. definately going to try this out today. thank you.