falling asleep mindfully

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falling asleep mindfully

Postby Freawaru » Mon May 24, 2010 8:41 am

Hi All,

currently, I am working on keeping mindfulness during the states of entering sleep. Sometimes in the past years I have been able to recall some of the in-between wake and sleep - for example when something (or someone) woke me up again during that process. But I want to be able to know it directly and I got impatient waiting for it to happen on it's own.

The problem is that I cannot use the techniques I used for the wake and dream state. For wake I used absorption and for dream the lucid dream state. Neither works in this case as when I concentrate I won't fall asleep and the lucidity of lucid dream is not yet there during the process in question. I don't attempt to enter sleep via trance but just be able to directly observe the natural change of the mind. I also don't think that WILD (wake induced lucid dream) http://www.wikihow.com/Have-a-Wake-Indu ... ream-(WILD) is useful in my case as I fear that when I wake up in the middle of the night I probably have some problems entering sleep again.

But recently I noticed something: when I have a siesta after lunch and listen to music I can fall asleep when I am tired and relaxed enough. But because I keep concentrating on the music I stay aware and can observe - for some moments at least - the processes directly. Before I either wake up again or completely get absorbed into the process anyway.

So what I practice now is to use these times of siesta (whenever I can get them), put on the headphones and get into access concentration with the object music. I use the term access concentration in the sense Leigh Brasington defines it http://www.leighb.com/jhana2a.htm , namely that the object of concentration is stable on it's own but there are still not-related thoughts in the mind. Because I am tired and relaxed I can let go of those thoughts of the wake state and they change into the hypnogogic imagery and nonsense-thoughts of the falling asleep process.

Well, this kind of practice is slow because I need to be tired but it works nevertheless. I keep the state as long as possible - it is interesting because when I loose it into non-lucid absorption I am not aware of it. Well, when awareness is gone due to clinging obviously I cannot be aware of it, but even in retrospect it is not easy to say exactly "this was the moment I lost awareness". Also, staying aware does not include remembering what was going on - a bit like one is aware of all the traffic on a street while driving but in retrospect one (at least me) is not able to recall which cars were doing what during the whole time. So far the process itself seems similar to what one experiences during WILD: hypnogogic imagery and nonsense-thoughts arise and fall spontaneously, sometimes it is actually funny because they are so confused - a bit like when fast-forwarding advertisement spots on TV, they mix.

I try to keep this during the whole siesta, drifting between regaining access concentration with my object when I lost it due to absorption with the hypnogogic imagery and nonsense-thoughts, staying aware of the hypnogogic imagery and nonsense-thoughts, and absorption into the hypnogogic imagery and nonsense-thoughts. It is still difficult to keep balance and I still wait for my mind to "get it" and do it on it's own.

But the good thing is that afterwards I am refreshed like after a normal siesta.

Has anybody experience or theoretical knowledge of this kind of practice? I would like to compare notes and ask for tricks to speed it up. I use music as an object because I can get into access concentration with it comparably easy and fast and even when tired but of course for those those who are used to breath (or anything else) as an object of concentration it should work, too.

:zzz:
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Re: falling asleep mindfully

Postby Ben » Mon May 24, 2010 8:52 am

Hi Freewaru

I have the distinct memory of discussing this with you on another thread - months ago.
I've had the experience of mindfully going to sleep and meditating during sleep.
One of the instructions my teacher gives to students during a ten-day course is to try and maintain awareness while one is falling asleep. The post-retreat instructions also include maintaining awareness while falling asleep. Anyway, I'm sure you'll find our previous discussion if you search the Theravadin meditation forum.
kind regards

Ben
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Re: falling asleep mindfully

Postby Freawaru » Mon May 24, 2010 7:17 pm

Hi Ben,

Ben wrote:Hi Freewaru
I have the distinct memory of discussing this with you on another thread - months ago.


I am glad you recall it, too. But at that time we agreed that one can wait for it to happen on it's own and I changed my mind on this. Cause after that discussion I discovered my present technique.

I've had the experience of mindfully going to sleep and meditating during sleep.


What exactly do you mean by "meditating during sleep"? Do you recall the whole process of going to sleep? How did you keep awareness or was it stable on it's own?

One of the instructions my teacher gives to students during a ten-day course is to try and maintain awareness while one is falling asleep. The post-retreat instructions also include maintaining awareness while falling asleep.


Yes, I recall. But what are the instructions regarding the how? Do you (I mean Geonka students) also use access concentration (say, on breath) ? Or does it simply happen by itself when one tries to practice concentration while tired? What comes after the hypnogogics and nonsense thoughts? And how to keep awareness when the object is lost (one could, for example, switch to an inner object such as the mind itself generating music (from memory), analog to a counter nimitta. Or ...

Then I mainly wanted to know if entering sleep mindfully was a Theravada practice, now I am interested in the specifics.
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Re: falling asleep mindfully

Postby bodom » Mon May 24, 2010 7:26 pm

I find too much awareness will keep me awake when trying to fall asleep. I guess its the awakening factors at work. Mindfulness leads to investigation leads to effort and so on. Im trying to find a balance.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: falling asleep mindfully

Postby Freawaru » Tue May 25, 2010 7:18 am

Hi bodom,

thank you for your answer.

bodom wrote:I find too much awareness will keep me awake when trying to fall asleep.


Yes, I encountered this problem, too. It is the reason I do not want to practice at night any more. It just keeps me awake for hours and getting frustrated... after several nights like that I can't fall asleep at all and during the days I feel like some zombie.

I guess its the awakening factors at work.


So far I thought the "awakening factors" refer to that what leads to Awakening in the sense of Enlightenment. Shouldn't they actually be at work when one can enter sleep mindfully?

Mindfulness leads to investigation leads to effort and so on. Im trying to find a balance.


Me, too. It seems so much more difficult but somehow I feel sure that it is possible nevertheless.
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