catmoon wrote:Every time I sit, getting up is like trying to crawl out from under sedation, and the frequent result is an immediate nap. Is that normal? Expected?
I know from experience what you are talking about. I had the same problem until I discovered what the Buddha meant by his instruction about "establishing mindfulness" before you enter into meditation. (You will find these instructions in both of the Satipatthana Suttas
.) It is only normal or expected when one endeavors to meditate without having established enough sati
to endure the session itself.
What do I mean by sati
? That's the $64,000 dollar question that can be difficult to explain. Sati
is often translated as "mindfulness," and rightly so. But establishing sati
entails bringing energy (viriya
) into the mix, keeping the mind from becoming dull and listless, as is sometimes experienced in the practice of the jhanas
(absorption). This can be in the form of an "intensity of mental approach" which keeps the mind bright, alert, and focused on its object, establishing mindfulness on the object (such as the breath). Ideally, once you begin to practice in this manner, you will never go back to the way you had been doing it beforehand. Once you realize how useful sati
(the establishing of sati
) can be, it will be difficult to recall why you allowed yourself to ever do it any differently.
Bhikkhu Pesala's suggestion from Ajahn Chah regarding "sitting on the edge of a deep well" is an excellent example of what is mean by the establishment of sati
. If you let your mindfulness wander for even a moment, you might fall into the well. Best to establish it at the outset and take advantage of the intensity of alertness that it produces. If you practice this way, you should never feel sleeeepy after meditation again. It should be an invigorating experience, with the mind bright, sharp, malleable, and steady.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV