Sleepy meditation

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

Sleepy meditation

Postby Future Bhikkhu » Wed Jan 26, 2011 11:43 pm

Does anybody know the best way to stop yourself from drifting off in meditation. No matter what time of the day I do my meditation I always find myself dozing off to sleep. What is the best way to keep your self energetic during meditation?
The mind is everything; what you think you become.
-The Buddha
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Re: Sleepy meditation

Postby octathlon » Thu Jan 27, 2011 12:13 am

Walking meditation, also keeping your eyes open (hard to do though).
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Re: Sleepy meditation

Postby andre9999 » Thu Jan 27, 2011 12:18 am

I find that if I'm sleepy, my eyes close no matter what I try.

Exercise before meditation, sometimes a shower beforehand too. Sounds like you're just not getting enough sleep.
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Re: Sleepy meditation

Postby bodom » Thu Jan 27, 2011 12:48 am

octathlon wrote:Walking meditation, also keeping your eyes open (hard to do though).


Yes, lots of walking meditation!

: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: Sleepy meditation

Postby Future Bhikkhu » Thu Jan 27, 2011 1:06 am

Would it be detremental if my meditation was composed of only walking mediation instead of a variety of meditation?
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Re: Sleepy meditation

Postby bodom » Thu Jan 27, 2011 1:16 am

Future Bhikkhu wrote:Would it be detremental if my meditation was composed of only walking mediation instead of a variety of meditation?


I seen in your introduction you look up to Ajahn Brahm, so here are some words from him on walking meditation....

Walking Meditation Instruction

by Ajahn Brahmavamso

Walking meditation is beautiful, especially in the early morning. Often when one gets up early in the morning, in particular when you’re not used to getting up early, you’re quite tired and the mind isn’t bright. One of the advantages of walking meditation is that you can’t nod while you’re walking. You don’t snore either! You’re awake because you have to be. So if you’re tired, walking meditation is very good to do. It brings up some energy, and also you can get very peaceful.

Walking meditation was both praised and practiced by the Buddha. If you read the Suttas, (the teachings in the Pali Canon), you find that the Buddha would usually walk meditation in the early morning. He wouldn’t be sitting he’d be walking.

Many monks and nuns became enlightened on the walking meditation path. It’s a very effective way of developing both calm and insight (but not to the extent of Jhana). For some monks that I know in Thailand, their main practice is walking meditation. They do very little sitting. They do a lot of walking, and many get tremendously powerful insights while they’re walking.

Another benefit of walking meditation is that it is especially suitable for those who have physical discomfort in sitting for long periods. If you find it difficult to sit meditation because of pains in the body, walking meditation can be very effective.

So please don’t look at walking meditation as a “second class” meditation. If you want to spend most of your meditation time this way, please do so. But do it well, do it carefully. See if you can develop that happiness born of serenity as you’re walking backwards and forwards.

Setting Up Walking Meditation

Choose a clear, straight path between twenty and thirty paces long. This can be a corridor in a house, a path in the garden or just a track on the grass. Use whatever is available, even if it’s a bit less than twenty paces long. If it’s comfortable to do so, walk without shoes, enjoying the contact of your bare feet on the ground.

Stand at one end of your path. Compose the mind. Relax the body and begin walking. Begin walking back and forth at a pace that seems natural to you. While you are walking, place your hands comfortably in front of you, and rest your gaze on the ground about two meters in front of you. Be careful not to look around. If you’re doing walking meditation, it’s a waste of time to look over here and look over there, because that would just distract the attention from the feet, where it should be.

Attention on Each Step Rather than the Breath

In walking meditation, the attention eventually comes to rest on the foot rather than the breath [To begin] first reach the state of just walking, easily, in the here-and-now. When you feel that you have settled into the present moment, where business to do with the past and future is absent from the mind, then aim to develop silent walking in the present moment…Gradually let go of all thinking. Walk without commentary. Using skills of attention you’ve developed in sitting mediation, reach the stage of silent walking.

Once the inner commentary has slowed to a bare trickle of inner speech, deliberately focus your attention on the feeling of movement in the feet and lower legs. Do so to the extent that you clearly notice every step on the path. Know every left step, know every right step – one after the other without missing one. Know every step as you turn around at the end of the path. The famous Chinese proverb of the “Journey of one thousand miles” is helpful here. Such a journey is in fact only one step long — that step which you are walking now. So, just be silently aware of this “one step” and let everything else go. When you have completed ten return trips up and down the path without missing one left step and without missing one right step, then you have fulfilled Stage Three of the walking meditation and may proceed to the next stage.

As the attention increases you notice every feeling of movement in the left step, from the very beginning when the left foot starts to move and lift up from the ground. Notice as it goes up, forward, down and then rests on the ground again, taking the weight of the body. Develop this continuous awareness of the left step and then similar smooth, unbroken awareness of the right step. Do this throughout every step to the end of the path. Then as you turn around notice every feeling in the turning-around movement, not missing a moment.

When you can walk for fifteen minutes or more comfortably sustaining the attention on every moment of walking, without a single break, then you have reached the Fourth Stage of walking meditation, full awareness of walking. At this point the process of walking so fully occupies the attention that the mind cannot be distracted. You know when this happens because the mind goes into a state of Samadhi (Sustained Attention) and becomes very peaceful.

Samadhi on the Walking Path

Even the sound of the birds disappears as your attention is fully taken up with the experience of walking. Your attention is easily concentrated on one thing, sustained on one thing, settled on one thing. You will find this a very pleasant experience indeed.

As your mindfulness increases, you get to know more and more of the sensations of walking. Then you find that walking does have this sense of beauty and peace to it. It becomes a “beautiful step”. And it can very easily absorb all your attention because you become fascinated and peaceful, just putting all your attention on walking. You can get a great deal of Samadhi through walking meditation in this way. That Samadhi is a sense of peacefulness, a sense of stillness, a sense of the mind just being very comfortable and very peaceful in it’s corner of the world.

I started my walking meditation when I first ordained as a monk in a temple in Thailand. I would choose a path, and quite naturally, without forcing it, I’d walk very slowly. (You don’t need to walk fast; you don’t need to walk slow; just do what feels comfortable). I used to get into beautiful Samadhi states during walking meditation. I recall once being disturbed because I’d been walking too long. I hadn’t noticed the time pass, and I was needed to go to a ceremony in this temple in Bangkok. One of the monks had been sent to go and get me.

And I recall this monk came up to me and said, “Brahmavamso, you’ve got to come to a Dana”. I was looking at a space about two meters in front. My arms were in front of me, and my hands folded. When I heard that, it was as if hearing it from a thousand miles away, because I was so absorbed into what I was doing. He repeated, “Brahmavamso, you have to come now”. It took me about one minute to actually lift my head from the ground and to turn it around to the side where this senior monk was trying to get my attention. And as I met his eyes, all I could say was “Pardon?” It took such a long time to get out of that Samadhi and actually do anything quickly. The mind was so cool and so peaceful and so still.

I hope you experience this peacefulness for yourselves when you try walking meditation. Many people I’ve taught walking meditation to for the first time have said: “Wow! This is amazing. This is beautiful”. Just slowing down, you get into peace. You’re getting into calm by just watching the sensations as you walk. So this is one other type of meditation that I am suggesting to you, giving to you to experiment with.

Excerpted from “Using Variety To ‘Freshen Up’ Our Meditation”

By Ajahn Brahmavamso


: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: Sleepy meditation

Postby Future Bhikkhu » Thu Jan 27, 2011 1:24 am

Thankyou Bodom,

It is very thoughtful of you to get Ajhan Brahm's advice. I will do this and maybe when I do sitting meditation I will have a cold shower before hand to wake me up.

:anjali:
The mind is everything; what you think you become.
-The Buddha
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Re: Sleepy meditation

Postby monkey_brain » Thu Jan 27, 2011 1:33 am

Future Bhikkhu wrote:Does anybody know the best way to stop yourself from drifting off in meditation. No matter what time of the day I do my meditation I always find myself dozing off to sleep. What is the best way to keep your self energetic during meditation?


It's likely that you are either chronically sleep-deprived, or even have a sleep disorder like OSA, which can completely fragment restorative sleep.

The three legs of the stool of bodily health are diet, excercise, and sleep. The first two get their due, but sleep is generally treated either as an affair of little importance, or as something that will take care of itself. That is just the foolishness of the age.

If you can doze during most anytime of the day, something is wrong, quite apart from meditation.
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Re: Sleepy meditation

Postby Future Bhikkhu » Thu Jan 27, 2011 1:42 am

It not that I feel sleepy as much as that my mind drifts off into a dreamy state. I am sorry that I gave the question the worng title. It does not concern my health, just the way my mind works in meditation. It is one of the hinderances of mediation that the Buddha described, not a health problem.

Thankyouu for your concern.

:anjali:
The mind is everything; what you think you become.
-The Buddha
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Re: Sleepy meditation

Postby Euclid » Thu Jan 27, 2011 2:09 am

Do walking meditation... with your eyes closed. :stirthepot:
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Re: Sleepy meditation

Postby Kim OHara » Thu Jan 27, 2011 4:01 am

bodom wrote:
Walking Meditation Instruction

by Ajahn Brahmavamso

Walking meditation is beautiful, especially in the early morning...


:anjali:

Excellent, Bodom!

Future Bhikku, if you are healthy and not sleep-deprived and still always drift off when you try to meditate, it is possible that some part of your mind has seized on 'sleepiness' as a way of getting out of meditating. Restlessness and delay ("I've got to get a higher cushion/close the window/turn up the heater/feed the cat ... before I can settle") are more common evasion tactics but sleepiness isn't unheard of.
Fortunately, walking meditation will stop it cold. :smile:
:meditate:
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Re: Sleepy meditation

Postby Future Bhikkhu » Thu Jan 27, 2011 4:03 am

Thankyou very much, you have been a great help.

With metta

:anjali:
The mind is everything; what you think you become.
-The Buddha
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Re: Sleepy meditation

Postby Strive » Thu Jan 27, 2011 7:45 pm

You could be eating to much during the day too. If you are then try to eat lighter meals or moderately and see how that helps out.
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Dhamma practised well brings happiness;
Truth is really the sweetest of tastes;
One living by wisdom they say lives best."--Bhikkhu Bodhi's Samyutta Nikaya, Sagathavagga verse 853
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Re: Sleepy meditation

Postby IanAnd » Thu Jan 27, 2011 8:46 pm

Future Bhikkhu wrote:Does anybody know the best way to stop yourself from drifting off in meditation. No matter what time of the day I do my meditation I always find myself dozing off to sleep. What is the best way to keep your self energetic during meditation?

It not that I feel sleepy as much as that my mind drifts off into a dreamy state.

There are several good suggestions given here which bounce around the edge of the main problem of sloth and torpor without pointing it out directly. You will do better to attack the problem head on.

The sloth and torpor hindrance is a common problem that gets in the way of many meditators. I have had to struggle with it also in the past. I no longer struggle with it now because I long ago discovered an effective antidote to it which I found, oddly enough, by a close reading of the suttas. The following sutta (DN 22 The Mahasatipatthana Sutta) was the one where I discovered the "hint" that cured the "sloth and torpor" hindrance.

Gotama Buddha wrote:'And how, monks, does a monk abide contemplating the body as body? Here a monk, having gone into the forest, or to the root of a tree or to an empty place, sits down cross-legged, holding his body erect, having established mindfulness before him. Mindfully he breaths in, mindfully he breaths out. Breathing in a long breath, he knows that he breathes in a long breath, and breathing out a long breath, he knows that he breathes out a long breath.

If you are paying close attention to the instruction here, you will notice that Gotama gives a specific condition to set up before beginning to meditate. It has to do with setting up the mental condition of "mindfulness" or sati. In setting up or, as he puts it, "establishing mindfulness before him," the meditator creates a condition of heightened alertness that adds a natural internal energy to the practice of meditation which effectively blocks sleepiness, thus cutting off this hindrance at its root.

If you take a few extra moments before you begin your session to establish mindfulness, you shouldn't have a tendency to become sleepy during your sit. As well, you should expect to experience a much stronger meditation session. By stronger, I mean in terms of the strength of the level of concentration that becomes established during the sit. Once you are able to establish samadhi (concentration), this enables a clearer and more comprehensive investigation of phenomena during meditation.

Even if it takes five or ten minutes before beginning to meditate, the time spent setting up mindfulness will pay dividends far into the future of your practice, and each session will have its own profound meaning and personal significance for you.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV
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Re: Sleepy meditation

Postby starter » Thu Jan 27, 2011 10:28 pm

Hi friend,

You can drink a little tea or coffee before the meditation. I found doing some meditation during noon even for 20-30 minutes helps. There're quite some good advice given previously on the topic of sloth & torpor or sleepiness in this forum. Probably you've searched them already. Success!

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Re: Sleepy meditation

Postby Future Bhikkhu » Thu Jan 27, 2011 11:22 pm

Thankyou IanAnd,

I am sure that your advice will be of great help. You seem a very well practiced and knowledgeable person.

With metta

:anjali:
The mind is everything; what you think you become.
-The Buddha
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Re: Sleepy meditation

Postby IanAnd » Fri Jan 28, 2011 6:59 am

Future Bhikkhu wrote:Thankyou IanAnd,

I am sure that your advice will be of great help. You seem a very well practiced and knowledgeable person.

You are welcome.

For a more thorough treatment of this subject, take some time to carefully read through the following thread: The Practical Aspects of Establishing Mindfulness. You may find some additional helpful hints there.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV
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Re: Sleepy meditation

Postby monkey_brain » Sat Jan 29, 2011 2:49 am

Future Bhikkhu wrote:It not that I feel sleepy as much as that my mind drifts off into a dreamy state. I am sorry that I gave the question the worng title. It does not concern my health, just the way my mind works in meditation. It is one of the hinderances of mediation that the Buddha described, not a health problem.

Thankyouu for your concern.

:anjali:


And I don't wish to press the point either, but many people with sleep issues do not even know about them.

But the point is, it should be essentially impossible for a well rested person to become sleepy 2-4 hours after they rise in the morning. In the afternoon, of course, cortisol levels drop and napping is possible. The test would be to do something other than meditation a couple hours after rising, like sit in a quiet room on the couch for ten or fifteen minutes with no stimulation. If you get drowsy, that would tend to confirm sleep deprivation.

Forgive me, just indulging in my pet "issue". :namaste:
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Re: Sleepy meditation

Postby Future Bhikkhu » Sat Jan 29, 2011 9:29 pm

Dear IanAnd,

I have read the thread, 'The Practical Aspects of Establishing Mindfulnessand' and I found it very useful. It provided a different perspective on meditation and helped me in overcoming my difficulties. I now have a preperaion time in my meditation. I have also stop doing meditation in my bedroom and instead do it outside in the early hours of the morning when it's cold. You have been a great help.

By the way, have you written a book on meditation? If you havn't, start writing.. :)

With metta,

:anjali:
The mind is everything; what you think you become.
-The Buddha
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Re: Sleepy meditation

Postby IanAnd » Sun Jan 30, 2011 5:34 am

Future Bhikkhu wrote:By the way, have you written a book on meditation? If you havn't, start writing.. :)

If it's more reading you want, try some of the suggested reading options in the following post: Theravadin Resource Guide. It was reading, pondering, and contemplating these (along with a lot of meditation) that bought me the insight which allowed me to write that piece. Spending some time with these books is well worth the investment, and will keep you from wandering off the path.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV
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