Sleeeepy

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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catmoon
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Sleeeepy

Postby catmoon » Wed Nov 11, 2009 6:31 am

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?

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Guy
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Re: Sleeeepy

Postby Guy » Wed Nov 11, 2009 6:57 am

Hi Catmoon,

What meditation object are you using? What kind of things are you doing when you are not meditating?

With Metta,

Guy
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Sleeeepy

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Nov 11, 2009 11:07 am

Sitting meditation should be preceded by walking meditation. If you have an hour for meditation, do at least 20 mins of walking meditation first. If you know that you are going to feel sleepy, then do 40 mins of walking, and sit for only 20 minutes.

The Benefits of Walking Meditation

A good sitting posture is also a great help to defeat sleepiness. Ajahn Chah recommended sitting on the edge of a deep well. :D At least, try to sit straight, without any support from a wall. Use a thick cusion if necessary, or a Zen kneeling stool.
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Re: Sleeeepy

Postby IanAnd » Wed Nov 11, 2009 10:28 pm

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?

Hi Sleeeepy,

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.

In peace,
Ian
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV

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Ben
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Re: Sleeeepy

Postby Ben » Thu Nov 12, 2009 2:32 am

Hi Catmoon
The above responses are excellent.
I just want to add a couple of pragmatic suggestions:
- Don't leave meditation to the last thing you do of an evening unless you are going to go to bed very early.
- Do get plenty of sleep so that if you are in the habit of rising early for meditation, you won't fall asleep on the cushion.
- Don't have a big meal before meditation
- And most importantly, if you still find you are falling asleep - persevere!
kind regards

Ben
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in mountain clefts and chasms,
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saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

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BlackBird
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Re: Sleeeepy

Postby BlackBird » Thu Nov 12, 2009 4:35 am

IanAnd wrote: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.


One disciple of Ajahn Mun used to sit at the edge of a cliff, which I guess takes the whole well trick a step further. That's not a recommendation however :lol:

Catmoon, this exposition might be handy:
The Five Mental Hindrances and their conquest - Ven. Nyanponika Mahathera

Six things are conducive to the abandonment of sloth and torpor:

Knowing that overeating is a cause of it;
Changing the bodily posture;
Thinking of the perception of light;
Staying in the open air;
Noble friendship;
Suitable conversation.

- http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... html#sloth

On the note of the perception of light, it's well noted in the scientific community that light has an impact upon the onset and maintenance of sleep. Have you got a lamp nearby?

Sometimes I use a lamp with a bendy neck that I can point towards my face. I find it easier to maintain a degree of awareness using this during sits which are later in the day, after a meal, and I imagine it would be useful early in the morning too.

metta
Jack
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'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta

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catmoon
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Re: Sleeeepy

Postby catmoon » Thu Nov 12, 2009 8:43 am

Lotsa good stuff here, thanks guys. Should keep me busy another while. :)

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catmoon
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Re: Sleeeepy

Postby catmoon » Thu Nov 12, 2009 8:48 am

Guy wrote:Hi Catmoon,

What meditation object are you using? What kind of things are you doing when you are not meditating?

With Metta,

Guy


The meditation object I use is the breath. When not meditating I'm likely in a coffee shop chatting or reading some Buddhist book. For physical activity I walk most places unless it's pouring rain, I get in a mile or two a day I think. Plus I mostly use the stairs to get up to the apartment, which is 4th floor.

I get dozy after meditation even if, like tonight, I have been drinking tea and coffee all day.

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Guy
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Re: Sleeeepy

Postby Guy » Thu Nov 12, 2009 9:49 am

Hi Catmoon,

I use the breath a lot, but sometimes I become complacent with it. In such cases I find that switching the meditation object temporarily can prevent drowsiness. Contemplation on impermanence of the body (ie. bodily death) is helpful to arouse energy and similarly contemplating how rare and precious human life is can help increase our sense of urgency. Personally I don't use these methods all the time but they are certainly powerful anti-dotes to sloth and torpor.

On the other hand, if you normally have a very active mind then I would not recommend contemplation of death. Instead it might be that by comparison to your mental activity outside of meditation that the mind finds simply watching the breath go in and out to be boring and so it switches off. If this is the case then just experiment with the meditation, try different things. See what happens when you take a deep breath and hold it for a long time (as taught by Ajahn Chah) and then go back to watching the natural flow of the breath. Try counting the backwards breath meditation (as taught by Ajahn Brahm) where you start counting from the out breath to the in breath instead of the in breath first then the out breath (the usual way). Another thing you can experiment with is being aware of the physical feeling of drowiness and seeing it as impermanent, watching it change and eventually disappear.

I hope this makes sense.

With Metta,

Guy
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm


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