Mindfulness Monday: The Cognitive Shuffle

Posted on October 7, 2019 by Amy Tiffany

In part 4 of our “Mindfulness Monday” video series, Dr. Yael Rubin, PhD, LP, consultant at VITAL WorkLife, discusses the Cognitive Shuffle, a mindfulness exercise to help you fall asleep at night. The Cognitive Shuffle exercise started as a way to help people fall asleep because it mimics our brain when we are actually falling asleep. As we are getting into the space between being awake and falling asleep, we actually have a lot of thoughts, so it mirrors this process without overstimulating, which can help you get to sleep faster.

What is the Cognitive Shuffle?

The Cognitive Shuffle involves thinking of random items that are easy to visualize and non-threatening. Pick a word and gradually spell it out in your mind. For each letter of the word, think of other words that start with the same letter and visualize them. Repeat this for each letter in the word. In the video, Dr. Rubin shares a few examples of how this exercise would work in practice.

For example, you might start with the word “breath.”

B-words could be banana, bake, baby, bye, etc.

Then move on to R-words, relax, rain, radio, running, and so forth.

A couple tricks she notes is to make sure you don’t associate two of the words together. In other words, make sure back-to-back words aren’t too closely linked together. You want the words to be distinctly different, so your mind doesn’t travel down a train of thought or start on a story.

Take note if something is a little bit of a trigger word for making you not feel relaxed and move on, Dr. Rubin says.

Mindfulness and Meditation Apps

In the video, Dr. Rubin also shares there are many mindfulness apps out there that can be helpful, with not only the cognitive shuffle, but also to help deepen our practice and try new mindfulness and meditation exercises and techniques. Take a look at Healthline’s top 10 mindfulness apps of 2019 here.


Subscribe to our blog to receive daily or weekly updates from VITAL WorkLife. Part 5 of our “Mindfulness Monday” video series will be a mindfulness exercise with Dr. Yael Rubin.

We Can Help

VITAL WorkLife counselors are available to assist you in finding efficient ways to build mindfulness into your daily life. We can direct you to online resources, classes available in your own community and can also offer simple strategies and techniques to have a more mindful approach to your work and personal life. Additionally, download our article Mindfulness in Medicine: How Mindfulness Can Help Support Physician Well Being

  • Physician Well Being Resources Members: Contact us at 877.731.3949 or through your VITAL WorkLife App to access your resources today.
  • EAP Members: Contact us at 800.383.1908 or through your VITAL WorkLife App to access your resources today.
Interested in learning more about VITAL WorkLife solutions?  

You can contact us online to learn more about our solutions to support the well being of your employees.


Interested in learning more?

Contact Us


Tags in this post

All Entries

Get New Insights Delivered to Your Inbox