I always think the next day begins the night before. How important it is to have a good night’s sleep. And the deeper the sleep the more refreshed we feel. Sometimes we can wake up early feeling particularly bright. A sure sign that our sleep has been peaceful. How then to prepare for sleep?
The best practice is to stop all activity at least half an hour before we intend to go to bed.
First let us put the day to rest. Sitting quietly, allow the events of the day to come to mind. It’s best to do it systematically say from morn till night. As those things arise that we don’t feel too good about, put it right inwardly. Apologise where we feel we have harmed and forgive where we feel we have been harmed. When things arise that please us, where we feel we have acted wholesomely, rejoice in it and determine to develop the underlying attitude even more. When others have been generous towards us, thank them.
As you pass each event, put it away. File away the document, unless you wish to act upon it such as apologise to or thank someone. Make a note if so.
Then let the general outlay of the morrow come to mind. No need to be too specific. And consider briefly what your attitude and actions will be, for instance, the attitude and manner with which to go to work. Then leave that ‘on the back burner’ for tomorrow.
You may even think of writing it out as a dairy. It works even if you never read what you have written. This sort of end of day reflection brings peace to the heart and matures our wisdom.
Once we have cleared the day and set ourselves at ease for the morrow, we could do a little sitting, but at this time of night there is all the possibility of falling asleep. The evening sitting is best done before dinner. If you do wish to sit, make it short and beware of the first signs of sleepiness. There is also metta which is more a pro-active practice and therefore easier to stay awake. Or listen to some music. Plain chant or Buddhist chanting is the best because it comes out of silence and equanimity. It isn’t ‘emotional’. Any music that promotes calmness will do.
The overall objective is to rest all excitements and tribulations by stilling the body, quietening the mind and calming the heart.