If you're stressed or have trouble sleeping, try listening to meditation podcasts. 

I don’t particularly have trouble sleeping most nights, but it can be tough to get my mind to stop working after a particularly stressful day. My mind usually goes into an endless replay over the day’s events, and linger on the ones that upset me the most. This is bad because it just makes me feel worse about them when I add my own anguished mental commentary to the soundtrack.

Usually, when I have a night like that I end up sleeping really poorly. Sometimes I get up a few times in the middle of the night and end up with just a few hours of actual sleep. Sometimes I fall asleep to nightmares which completely exhaust me.

So for the past two nights I’ve been trying out something new. Meditating before bed. Actually it’s more like meditating in bed, because I’m actually lying in bed, ready to sleep when I meditate. The only thing different is that I’ve got my headphones on and plugged into my iPod.

Anyway, I’m a pretty poor meditator on my own eventhough I’ve listened to plenty of meditation podcasts on-and-off for about a year now. I still need that soothing voice guiding me what to do. So I subscribe to and listen to a number of free meditation podcasts out there.

They have pretty broad topics – and can range from preparing yourself mentally before an exam to calming obsessive thoughts (good for me). If you’re stressed out and want to feel better, I recommend checking them out. It’s a much healthier option than popping some pills.

You don’t need to own an iPod to listen to these podcasts. They’re free to listen to on your computer. All you need is iTunes, which is a free download. From the iTunes store, you can browse and listen to thousands of free podcasts.

Here are a few good meditation podcasts I’ve liked:

  • Meditation Oasis (bonus: this speaker has a very soothing and calming voice. Podcasts are easy to follow and great for beginners)
  • Meditation Station (very effective and straight to the point. Nice range of podcasts for common stresses and situations)
  • The Meditation Podcast (also good, but has very long intros. What I do is change the settings in iTunes so that the “Start Time” is after the intros)

So far, my pre-bedtime meditation sessions have been good. I woke up feeling more rested than usual, but a strange side effect is that it gives me some weird dreams. They’re not bad dreams, just weird. I just wake up kind of scratching my head a little. As long as they don’t wear me out the way some nightmares do, I don’t really mind this side effect. Maybe my brain is sorting out some “messes” during my sleep and rewiring my circuitry or something. God knows I need my brain cleaned out and sorted.

Another side effect is that I’ve been remembering some really old events from 10 to 15 years ago lately. Just flashes and glimpses of both insignificant and significant things that happened to me. At odd moments, things that I haven’t thought of in years and years keep crashing back to me in startling detail.

So in conclusion, if you’re stressed out or just have trouble sleeping, try meditation podcasts.