Battling fatigue and drowsiness while sitting

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Battling fatigue and drowsiness while sitting

Postby bodom » Sat Aug 21, 2010 3:37 pm

I have been struggling with drowsiness and sleepiness while sitting. I find when I refine my point of focus to the nose tip as has been my main practice this increases the drowsiness. So, I have been experimenting with focusing on the diaphragm/abdomen area as this is a more course movement to focus on rather than the subtle feeling of breath at the nose tip. I find this helps until the breath calms and the feeling at the nose tip becomes more apparent than the diaphragm /abdomen area and which point the drowsiness begins to creep up again. I have been going back and forth between the abdomen and nose tip never being able to focus on one or the other and gain samadhi because of the drowsiness and going back and forth between the two points. I walk before sitting and then sit with eyes open to try to counter the hindrance. I also am up very early for work and work a physical job, have a young daughter to care for and a chronic liver problem which main symptom is fatigue. It is all adding up against me. HELP!

: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: Battling fatigue and drowsiness while sitting

Postby Reductor » Sat Aug 21, 2010 4:11 pm

That sounds like a real bugger.

I would suggest that you expand your object of focus beyond just the nose or just the diaphragm. Start with which ever position seems most invigorating and stay there until you've settled a little bit. Then follow the breath for a couple cycles and see what other signs of movement you find arising. As you find them, keep them in mind. By doing so you should effectively expand the scope of your awareness and offset drowsiness.

It has been my experience that sloth constricts the mind, and/or a mind which is purposefully confined (to a small object or slight sign) is very susceptible to sloth. Broaden your awareness as much as possible without letting it become directed outwardly, and you should see a marked improvement in sloth.


And what, bhikkus, is energy that is too slack? It is energy that is accompanied by lassitude, associated with lassitude. This is called energy that is to slack.
And what, bhikkhus, is energy that is to tense? It is energy that is accompanied by restlessness, associated with restlessness. This is called energy that is to tense.
And what, bkikkhus, is energy that is constricted internally? It is energy that is accompanied by sloth and torpor, associated with sloth and torpor. This is called energy that is constricted internally.


[SN 51.20, by Bodhi. A favorite of mine, along with SN 46.53. It might be good it you read them again]



Also, you have the power of attention, so use it by directing your attention away from physical signs of fatigue. If you are drawn to a physical sign of fatigue and subsequently allow your attention to settle there, then you will be tired. Drowsiness seems to begin at the body and work its way into the mind, which subsequently becomes sluggish. So, when your coming back to said sign again and again, then it might be fitting that you contemplate it and see just how substantial it really is. I think you'll find it is actually much shallower than you are first inclined to believe, and this knowledge should loosen its hold on you.

Those are my suggestions.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Battling fatigue and drowsiness while sitting

Postby Shonin » Sat Aug 21, 2010 5:43 pm

In my experience (and that of many others I think), there is absolutely no point battling. This is mind trying to fight against itself/ rejecting the actual circumstances of life. Instead, just notice that you are sleepy, notice that you are more distracted, notice even that you just nodded off for a moment there. Trying to 'fight it' just means DROWSINESS becomes DROWSINESS + BATTLING. Rejecting the actual circumstances of our life is adding suffering. When tired just be tired.
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Re: Battling fatigue and drowsiness while sitting

Postby dhamma_spoon » Sat Aug 21, 2010 6:19 pm

Shonin wrote:In my experience (and that of many others I think), there is absolutely no point battling. This is mind trying to fight against itself/ rejecting the actual circumstances of life. Instead, just notice that you are sleepy, notice that you are more distracted, notice even that you just nodded off for a moment there. Trying to 'fight it' just means DROWSINESS becomes DROWSINESS + BATTLING. Rejecting the actual circumstances of our life is adding suffering. When tired just be tired.


Hi, Shonin and Bodom -

Maybe this sutta about the Buddha's advice to Ven. Moggallana how to deal with sleepiness is helpful.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

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Re: Battling fatigue and drowsiness while sitting

Postby acinteyyo » Sat Aug 21, 2010 6:21 pm

Hi bodom,

Just for info, which might help you. I had similar problems with drowsiness some time ago. I also focus on the breath at the nose tip, nostril or abdomen according to circumstances. I also tried to switch between these objects of concentration. I had a talk about the matter with a bhikkhu. Walking meditation is one thing you can do, when ever you become drowsy but it probably won't help you if you have a similar problem I had. In my case the venerable bhikkhu told me, that it could be a lack or disbalance of energy or effort (I don't know the exact english word but in pali it is viriya). He adviced me not to switch between objects of concentration when I become drowsy, because this will only reduce samadhi. He was right, I just "lost" or rather left the developed state of samadhi by changing the object of concentration, which was the reason why it seemed to be easier to focus on the new object. But it wasn't easier because I had overcome drowsiness, it was easier because there was just a smaller amount of energy/effort necessary for a lower degree of samadhi. The drowsiness ceased because I didn't had to continue applying energy/effort to a great extent. So in fact I started again from the beginning to develop samadhi by changing the object of concentration. After changing the object of concentration and some time I finally reached the same level of samadhi, where that very same right amount of energy/effort had to be applied and because of the fact that I still couldn't apply the right energy/effort I started to become drowsy again, now with the new object of concentration, still not able to get over the problem of drowsiness. He said I should develop more insight, so that I will be able to gain energy/effort out of wisdom when it is necessary to detect upcoming drowsiness in time with mindfulness as well as to apply the right amount of energy/effort to overcome drowsiness in order to develop deeper samadhi. The deeper the concentration the more subtle the breath is going to be, thus it is necessary to apply always the right amount of energy/effort to maintain the ability to focus on the breath, otherwise one will lose track and either start unnecessary thinking or is getting more and more drowsy. In both cases no deeper states of samadhi are possible which will also degrade the development of insight.

I for example asked myself why am I unable to apply more energy/effort and contemplated death, birth, ageing and so on to develope insight in order to become able to apply more or rather the right amount of energy/effort where necessary. Sometimes I still become drowsy during practice but these moments are rare now and when they arise I know what has to be done in order to overcome those moments.

I hope this may be helpful.
best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

:anjali:
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Re: Battling fatigue and drowsiness while sitting

Postby Goofaholix » Sat Aug 21, 2010 8:10 pm

bodom wrote:I have been struggling with drowsiness and sleepiness while sitting. I find when I refine my point of focus to the nose tip as has been my main practice this increases the drowsiness. So, I have been experimenting with focusing on the diaphragm/abdomen area as this is a more course movement to focus on rather than the subtle feeling of breath at the nose tip. I find this helps until the breath calms and the feeling at the nose tip becomes more apparent than the diaphragm /abdomen area and which point the drowsiness begins to creep up again. I have been going back and forth between the abdomen and nose tip never being able to focus on one or the other and gain samadhi because of the drowsiness and going back and forth between the two points. I walk before sitting and then sit with eyes open to try to counter the hindrance. I also am up very early for work and work a physical job, have a young daughter to care for and a chronic liver problem which main symptom is fatigue. It is all adding up against me. HELP!


By your description you are doing shamatha meditation, or if you are doing vipassana it has devolved into a shamatha attitude which is pretty common.

It's also pretty common to feel drowsiness when doing this style of meditation when the concentration exceeds the energy. No point struggling with it you'll just make it worse.

Best to sit with your eyes open with a much more spacious awareness, just feel how the body feels, feel how the mind feels, don't struggle. When you've had enough get up and do something else, no point to struggle on too much. Eventually you'll be able to go back to your normal practice but in the meantime treat it as a learning experience.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Battling fatigue and drowsiness while sitting

Postby bodom » Sun Aug 22, 2010 2:36 pm

Thanks to everyone for the help. Its a very frustrating situation and one I know will pass eventually. I guess im just struggling between finding a balance of acceptance of the "problem" and putting forth the necessary effort to overcome it. Im going to sit again shortly and will try to utilize everyone' s suggestions. Thanks again for everyone's help!

: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: Battling fatigue and drowsiness while sitting

Postby Goedert » Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:28 am

bodom wrote:Thanks to everyone for the help. Its a very frustrating situation and one I know will pass eventually. I guess im just struggling between finding a balance of acceptance of the "problem" and putting forth the necessary effort to overcome it. Im going to sit again shortly and will try to utilize everyone' s suggestions. Thanks again for everyone's help!

:anjali:


Hello bodom,

I came across a commentary on satipatthana sutta and find it usefull. Here is the quote:

3. Sloth and Torpor
Through wrong reflection on a state of boredom and the like, sloth and torpor come to be. Boredom is just dissatisfaction. Lassitude is bodily laziness. Languidity of body is the bending of the body torpidly in getting up and in similar actions. Lethargy after a meal is a dizziness or slight faint which is due to eating a principal meal. It is also called the discomfort which follows such a meal. The mind's sluggishness is the dullness of the mind. An abundance of wrong reflection on boredom and similar states of mind produces sloth and torpor. Therefore the Blessed One said that much wrong reflection on boredom, lassitude, languidity of body, lethargy after a meal, and the mind's sluggishness, is a condition for the production of fresh sloth and torpor and the increase and expansion of sloth and torpor already come into being.

Through right reflection in inceptive energy and similar states of mind is brought about the overthrow of sloth and torpor. Inceptive energy is the effort first set afoot. Exertion is more powerful than the inceptive energy because it leaves indolence behind. And because of its assailing further and further of the destructive condition, progressive endeavor is more powerful than exertion. By the exercise of right reflection intensely on this threefold strenuousness sloth and torpor are cast out. Therefore the Blessed One said that the condition for keeping out new sloth and torpor, and for casting out sloth and torpor that is old, is abundant right reflection on the element of inceptive energy, of exertion and of progressive endeavor.

There are six things which lead to the casting out of sloth and torpor: The seeing of the reason of sloth and torpor in the fact of eating too much or gluttony; the changing of the postures completely; reflection on the perception of light; staying in the open; sympathetic and helpful companionship of the good; and stimulating talk that assists in dispelling sloth an torpor.

There is the following explanation of these six things: The bhikkhu who has eaten gluttonously is assailed by sloth and torpor while doing his recluse duty of meditation in his day or night quarters as by a mighty elephant pressing down on him, but that one who practices moderation in food is not troubled thus with these hindrances. In one who thus sees the characteristic of sloth and torpor in gluttony there is the casting out of sloth and torpor.

Sloth and torpor disappear in him who changes over from the posture which induces sloth and torpor to another; in him who reflects on the brightness or the light of the moon, a lamp or a torch by night, and on the light or brightness of the sun by day; in him who lives in the open; in him who associates with sympathetic and helpful companions, like the Elder Maha Kassapa, who have dispelled sloth and torpor; and by stimulating talk connected with a strict recluse-regimen.

Therefore it is said: Six things lead to the casting out of sloth and torpor. The yogi understands thus: sloth and torpor cast out by these six things are stopped from arising forever in the future by the attainment of the path of arahantship.

The bhikkhu who has eaten gluttonously after the manner of the well-known types of Brahmanical gormandizers mentioned in ancient Indian books. There are five kinds of these greedy eaters: (1) He who eats until he has to be raised up by the hand from his seat. (2) He who lies rolling just where he has eaten and eats as long as he likes. (3) He who eats until he slips off his waist cloth. (4) He who fills himself with food in such a way that it seems as if a crow could peck at the food in him. (5) He who having filled his belly full and vomitted eats more food again, or he who eats until he vomits.

On the light or brightness of the sun by day: The meaning should be understood thus: Sloth and torpor vanish in him, too, who at night is reflecting on the image of the perception of the brightness of the sun he got by day.

Here it may be helpful to state the eight ways of dealing with torpor taught by the Master to the Elder Maha Moggallana: (1) One should neglect to mind the thought which says that drowsiness is descending on one, or (2) one should reflect on the Dhamma, or (3) repeat or recite the Dhamma, or (4) pull both earlobes and rub or massage the limbs with the hands, or (5) getting up from the sitting position, apply water on and rub the eyes, and look into the distance, at the constellations in the starry sky, or (6) reflect on the thought of light, or (7) fix the thought on the ambulatory, aware of the ends of it with the controlling faculties of sense turned inwards and the mind kept in, or (8) sleep conscious of the time of waking and on awaking get up quickly thinking that one will not give oneself to the comforts of lying down, reclining and languor, when all other seven ways fail.


You can also try The Five Mental Hindrances and Their Conquest - Selected Texts from the Pali Canon and the Commentaries compiled and translated by Nyanaponika Thera. This is a good guide when we confront the hindrances.
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Re: Battling fatigue and drowsiness while sitting

Postby 5heaps » Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:20 am

bodom wrote:It is all adding up against me. HELP!

do a session of yoga before meditation, or at least a little bit of it

simply straightening your spine and then observing all of your physical parts and bringing attention to them, and then straightening them subtly whilst sitting down for meditation will induce lucidity in the mind (if youre still somewhat young).

another tactic is to use imagery to make your meditation object seem like the most amazing and interesting thing youve ever seen, since this is what it will turn into later (and even more). can use a character from a movie or book that you really like, or anything like that, for example even a landscape. its actually good to read about the good qualities born from the 1st jhana since reaching the 1st jhana is better than being a royal king or a moral spaceship officer.
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."
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Re: Battling fatigue and drowsiness while sitting

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:33 am

Keep it simple. "Sit" standing up. No reason you cannot do you meditation in a standing position. Sit with your eyes open in a brightly lit room. Sit on a ledge. If you fall asleep, you fall off the ledge. Always good for staying awake. And do lots and lots and lots of walking meditation, which is a practice that is neglected and even looked down upon. One can become remarkedly concentrated and mindful doing this and it has good carry-over in daily life.
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Re: Battling fatigue and drowsiness while sitting

Postby Annapurna » Mon Aug 23, 2010 6:42 am

bodom wrote:I have been struggling with drowsiness and sleepiness while sitting. I find when I refine my point of focus to the nose tip as has been my main practice this increases the drowsiness. So, I have been experimenting with focusing on the diaphragm/abdomen area as this is a more course movement to focus on rather than the subtle feeling of breath at the nose tip. I find this helps until the breath calms and the feeling at the nose tip becomes more apparent than the diaphragm /abdomen area and which point the drowsiness begins to creep up again. I have been going back and forth between the abdomen and nose tip never being able to focus on one or the other and gain samadhi because of the drowsiness and going back and forth between the two points. I walk before sitting and then sit with eyes open to try to counter the hindrance. I also am up very early for work and work a physical job, have a young daughter to care for and a chronic liver problem which main symptom is fatigue. It is all adding up against me. HELP!

:anjali:


Dear Bodom,

in another forum, a Chi Kung master replied to a similar question:

"If you fall asleep during meditation, sleep. Don't worry about it. It shows that your body is worn out and urgently needs the rest.
Your ability to meditate will return, as soon as the physical condition improves. The more rest the body gets, the sooner this will be."


It instantly clicked.

The Buddha also recommended to take good care of the body, so that the meditation is not distracted by physical complaints.

You have described your strenuous situation very well.

A young daughter, a physical job, a liver problem.

I don't know which type of liver problem, but fatigue is indeed "the pain of the liver".

So if I were you, I would not try to force anything. It NEVER works for me.

It will change. I wait.

I hope this reply was helpful.
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Re: Battling fatigue and drowsiness while sitting

Postby Annapurna » Mon Aug 23, 2010 6:52 am

Oh, yes, and there is a good visualisation meditation that can help you:

"Light in, smoke out"

REMOVED DUE TO WRONG SCHOOL

Perhaps posters would like to remove their quotes as well...?
Last edited by Annapurna on Mon Aug 23, 2010 10:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Battling fatigue and drowsiness while sitting

Postby PeterB » Mon Aug 23, 2010 8:19 am

Annapurna wrote:Oh, yes, and there is a good visualisation meditation that can help you:

"Light in, smoke out"

You imagine (visualize) that you are inhaling white light, resembling all positive energies in the cosmos, healing, refreshing, harmonizing, into each cell of your body, each atom.
While exhaling, you imagine that the breath takes out with it all fatigue, all worries, all illness, all fear, and so forth, as smoke.

Once, while doing this, it suddenly occured to me that the smoke I saw before my inner eye suddenly changed it's color from dark smoke to a lighter and lighter color.

I felt very refreshed afterwards.

I close my eyes during this med and lie down.

As this is the Theravadin Meditation Forum perhaps a Theravadin source for this technique would be appropriate.
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Re: Battling fatigue and drowsiness while sitting

Postby Shonin » Mon Aug 23, 2010 8:26 am

When I feel drowsy sometimes I find it helps to drink tea or coffee. It isn't Theravadin tea or coffee.
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Re: Battling fatigue and drowsiness while sitting

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Aug 23, 2010 8:28 am

Shonin wrote:When I feel drowsy sometimes I find it helps to drink tea or coffee. It isn't Theravadin tea or coffee.
Let the coffee or tea sit out for a few hours, it should then qualify.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
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Re: Battling fatigue and drowsiness while sitting

Postby PeterB » Mon Aug 23, 2010 9:02 am

Shonin wrote:When I feel drowsy sometimes I find it helps to drink tea or coffee. It isn't Theravadin tea or coffee.

A non sequitur.
If someone posted on the tea and coffee section of a website and asked about tea and coffee would you answer in terms of waffles because the questioner might find them refreshing ?
Or would you have a an agenda that would see teaandcoffee forums as needing put straight and to recognise the need for a wider beverage debate ?

What would you see as the purpose of a Theravadin Meditation Forum on a Theravadin Website...something vaguely easternish ?
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Re: Battling fatigue and drowsiness while sitting

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Aug 23, 2010 9:22 am

Greetings Anna,

Annapurna wrote:Oh, yes, and there is a good visualisation meditation that can help you:

"Light in, smoke out"...

Worth clarifying in the context of this forum though that what you've said isn't a traditional Theravada meditation method.

Perception of light, yes... these other additions, no.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Battling fatigue and drowsiness while sitting

Postby Annapurna » Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:08 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Shonin wrote:When I feel drowsy sometimes I find it helps to drink tea or coffee. It isn't Theravadin tea or coffee.
Let the coffee or tea sit out for a few hours, it should then qualify.


:lol:
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Re: Battling fatigue and drowsiness while sitting

Postby m0rl0ck » Mon Aug 23, 2010 8:00 pm

I used to have this problem alot and i think what has been the most help to me is:

Making sure i get enough sleep, for me thats 7 hours minimum.

A short yoga routine before i sit. Seems to wake the body up and lends a feeling of general vitality.


EDIT: When theravadans do yoga it may also be called stretching.
"When you meditate, don't send your mind outside. Don't fasten onto any knowledge at all. Whatever knowledge you've gained from books or teachers, don't bring it in to complicate things. Cut away all preoccupations, and then as you meditate let all your knowledge come from what's going on in the mind. When the mind is quiet, you'll know it for yourself. But you have to keep meditating a lot. When the time comes for things to develop, they'll develop on their own. Whatever you know, have it come from your own mind.
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Re: Battling fatigue and drowsiness while sitting

Postby bodom » Tue Aug 24, 2010 1:08 am

I took a much needed nap earlier, had a shot of Therevadin tea (coffee), walked, and then sat with eyes open and actually had a decent sitting session without nodding out. The first in a long while!

I appreciate everyones input. Its really hard sometimes, practicing alone, and I value everyones suggestions. Thank you!

: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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