meditation when sleepy

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
victor79
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Feb 11, 2009 8:56 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6

meditation when sleepy

Postby victor79 » Sat Mar 07, 2009 12:40 pm

hi everyone.

I am sleepy and my mind is agitated. When I try to meditate, I go into a semi-conscious state where my mind wanders off (you could say I'm half-asleep).
It's these times where I haven't had enough sleep that I need the benefits of meditation the most. However, when I'm so sleepy and agitated I cannot meditate! It's a vicious circle. It's at these times that I sometimes act mindlessly and this really impacts my life in a negative way. Any suggestions??

thanks

User avatar
Bhikkhu Pesala
Posts: 2101
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:17 pm

Re: meditation when sleepy

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Mar 07, 2009 1:39 pm

Always do some walking meditation before sitting, especially if you know you're feeling sleepy.

The Benefits of Walking Meditation

Both Venerable Moggallāna and Venerable Ānanda gained Arahantship on the back of doing walking practice for long periods — seven days and nights in the case of Venerable Moggallāna,¹ and the whole night in the case of Venerable Ānanda.²

¹ This is said in the Commentary to the Pacalāyamānasuttaṃ, which relates how the Buddha noticed in his divine eye that Moggallāna was nodding in meditation, and so came to where he was staying to teach him. No wonder he was sleepy, since he had been striving for seven days since his “Ehi bhikkhu” ordination to win the final goal, by practising walking meditation strenuously.

² This occurred on the eve of the First Buddhist Council to which Ānanda was invited, but since he was still a Stream-winner, he practised walking meditation the entire night and gained Arahantship at dawn, after going to take a short rest to balance his mental facilities.
AIM WebsitePāli FontsIn This Very LifeBuddhist ChroniclesSoftware (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

victor79
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Feb 11, 2009 8:56 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6

Re: meditation when sleepy

Postby victor79 » Sat Mar 07, 2009 4:36 pm

Makes sense, and the article is very useful. Thanks.

User avatar
genkaku
Posts: 416
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 11:14 pm
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1
Location: Northampton, Mass. U.S.A.
Contact:

Re: meditation when sleepy

Postby genkaku » Sat Mar 07, 2009 11:57 pm

Just my very small two cents:

Do it anyway. Even if you drop off to sleep completely, still there is something that happens when someone takes up a seated meditation pose... a sort of 'learning' that has nothing to do with words. I'm not advocating an inattentive meditation practice, but if you are tired, perhaps sleeping is not so bad.

User avatar
pink_trike
Posts: 1038
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 7:29 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1
Contact:

Re: meditation when sleepy

Postby pink_trike » Sun Mar 08, 2009 12:45 am

For meditating while sleepy, one of my teachers suggested regularly holding a full glass of water as a practice support - making this a part of practice for as long as sleepiness is a problem. :rofl:

Another teacher recommended a 10-20 minute nap before meditating. :zzz:

I've found both to be effective.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

User avatar
zavk
Posts: 1161
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 12:04 pm
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: meditation when sleepy

Postby zavk » Sun Mar 08, 2009 1:41 am

Hi Victor,

Always do some walking meditation before sitting, especially if you know you're feeling sleepy.


Do it anyway. Even if you drop off to sleep completely, still there is something that happens when someone takes up a seated meditation pose... a sort of 'learning' that has nothing to do with words. I'm not advocating an inattentive meditation practice, but if you are tired, perhaps sleeping is not so bad.


Another teacher recommended a 10-20 minute nap before meditating.


:twothumbsup: Yup, I have found all of these helpful.

Sleepiness is of course one of the five hindrances. Learning to recognise and understand its nature is part of the practice. But there are many ways to deal with it and sometimes, resting one's mind and body is the best way to go. Attempting to fight it with the sheer force of will would only exhaust the mind even more.

Metta,
zavk
With metta,
zavk

victor79
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Feb 11, 2009 8:56 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6

Re: meditation when sleepy

Postby victor79 » Sun Mar 08, 2009 3:59 pm

Thanks for all the replies. To sleep when tired is certainly a good idea, but if it's in the evening it messes up my normal sleeping pattern. Anyway, I tried holding a pen in the air (like the cup idea) and this worked. Each time I begun to drift off, I'd notice the pen starting to slip and I could then refocus.

What I found interesting is that I'm meant to be attentive during meditation. If I'm really so attentive, then I wouldn't fall asleep! But if I'm doing an activity which requires certain brain fuctions, I will not fall asleep even if I'm tired. Holding a pen in the air is one such activity! :)


Return to “Theravada Meditation”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Majestic-12 [Bot] and 5 guests