Starting to nod off during 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.

Starting to nod off during meditation

Postby Snufkin » Tue Jun 05, 2012 1:22 pm

Had this problem for a little while, it doesn't happen every time I meditate, but it's started to be more frequent. I'll be following my breath, and then next minute I feel like I'm almost being nudged backwards and I realise I had stopped following my breath and started to nod off to sleep. This happens even when I'm not very tired. I try to renew my focus on breathing and continue, but it often happens again. It seems to have only started to happen when I increased my meditation time to 30 minutes.

Nothing in MIPE seems to really address the issue properly. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Thank you.
Snufkin
 
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat May 12, 2012 11:53 am
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Starting to nod off during meditation

Postby bodom » Tue Jun 05, 2012 1:50 pm

Snufkin wrote:Nothing in MIPE seems to really address the issue properly.


Sure it does. See chapter 10:

Chapter 10

Problem 4

Drowsiness


...Drowsiness has certain definite characteristics. It does certain things to your thought process. Find out what. It has certain body feelings associated with it. Locate those.

This inquisitive awareness is the direct opposite of drowsiness, and will evaporate it. If it does not, then you should suspect a physical cause of your sleepiness...If you are very sleepy then take a deep breath and hold it as long as you can. Then breathe out slowly. Take another deep breath again, hold it as long as you can and breathe out slowly. Repeat this exercise until your body warms up and sleepiness fades away. Then return to your breath.


http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma4/mpe10.html

Does anyone have any suggestions?


If this doesn't do the trick get up and do 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
User avatar
bodom
 
Posts: 4578
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Starting to nod off during meditation

Postby Snufkin » Tue Jun 05, 2012 2:04 pm

Thanks for your reply, I did read that part, but I didn't find it to be very helpful, I've tried investigating it but it's over before I even realise it's happening, and the breathing technique works for a bit but then I seem to relapse.

I'll continue trying these techniques, as I don't have a lot of space to perform walking meditation, especially without disturbing others.
Snufkin
 
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat May 12, 2012 11:53 am
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Starting to nod off during meditation

Postby bodom » Tue Jun 05, 2012 2:12 pm

Snufkin wrote:Thanks for your reply, I did read that part, but I didn't find it to be very helpful, I've tried investigating it but it's over before I even realise it's happening, and the breathing technique works for a bit but then I seem to relapse.

I'll continue trying these techniques, as I don't have a lot of space to perform walking meditation, especially without disturbing others.


If you dont have much room for walking you can also do standing meditation or try a body sweeping exercise. Another option is sitting with your eyes open instead of closed. Best of luck to 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
User avatar
bodom
 
Posts: 4578
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Starting to nod off during meditation

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Tue Jun 05, 2012 2:36 pm

Snufkin wrote:Thanks for your reply, I did read that part, but I didn't find it to be very helpful, I've tried investigating it but it's over before I even realise it's happening, and the breathing technique works for a bit but then I seem to relapse.

I'll continue trying these techniques, as I don't have a lot of space to perform walking meditation, especially without disturbing others.

As Bodom said, standing meditation sometimes helps.

You might want to check what time of the day you're meditating; if it is too early or too late, you might be tired. Sometimes right in the middle of the day is best, or early afternoon. But obviously that isn't reasonable for some people.

Also, a more active approach, like body scanning, is also a good idea.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
User avatar
LonesomeYogurt
 
Posts: 900
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:24 pm
Location: America

Re: Starting to nod off during meditation

Postby Snufkin » Tue Jun 05, 2012 2:40 pm

I do tend to meditate around 11am - 1pm. So I can't see any reason for actually being worn out.
How would I go about body scanning? Thank you.
Snufkin
 
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat May 12, 2012 11:53 am
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Starting to nod off during meditation

Postby daverupa » Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:09 pm

Snufkin wrote:I do tend to meditate around 11am - 1pm. So I can't see any reason for actually being worn out.


Are you meditating after a meal? That can be a huge drowsiness-cause. What about sugary morning drinks? Such a drop in blood sugar might also contribute, if applicable. Also, see if boredom precedes the drowsiness...
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
User avatar
daverupa
 
Posts: 4061
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: Starting to nod off during meditation

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:12 pm

Snufkin wrote: Does anyone have any suggestions?
Meditate with your eyes wide open; meditate standing; do walking meditation; take a nap.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19169
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Paradise

Re: Starting to nod off during meditation

Postby marc108 » Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:49 pm

It's normal to start to get a little drowsy as the mind becomes still, relaxing into the first half an hour or so of meditation is very similar to the process of going to sleep. Bhante G's suggestion, as posted above, to hold the breath works well for me. You can just stand up and continue practice as well. Keeping the lights on is usefull. I find that if I begin to practice Satipatthana on the drowsy state, concentrate on it and deconstruct it, it will usually lift as long as I'm not severely physically tired. When you're trying with intensity to catch and understand that hindrance, energy is aroused into investigation and you become very interested, which generally lifts the drowsiness. Directions for body scanning can be found in Ajahn Sucittos meditation manual in the hinderances section, under lethargy:
http://forestsanghapublications.org/vie ... 12&ref=vec
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."
User avatar
marc108
 
Posts: 464
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:10 pm

Re: Starting to nod off during meditation

Postby befriend » Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:28 pm

put your hands over your head.
befriend
 
Posts: 787
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:39 am

Re: Starting to nod off during meditation

Postby Snufkin » Tue Jun 05, 2012 10:03 pm

daverupa wrote:
Snufkin wrote:I do tend to meditate around 11am - 1pm. So I can't see any reason for actually being worn out.


Are you meditating after a meal? That can be a huge drowsiness-cause. What about sugary morning drinks? Such a drop in blood sugar might also contribute, if applicable. Also, see if boredom precedes the drowsiness...


I do tend to have breakfast sometime before hand, but just a couple of slices of toast, would this really have much effect?

marc108 wrote:It's normal to start to get a little drowsy as the mind becomes still, relaxing into the first half an hour or so of meditation is very similar to the process of going to sleep. Bhante G's suggestion, as posted above, to hold the breath works well for me. You can just stand up and continue practice as well. Keeping the lights on is usefull. I find that if I begin to practice Satipatthana on the drowsy state, concentrate on it and deconstruct it, it will usually lift as long as I'm not severely physically tired. When you're trying with intensity to catch and understand that hindrance, energy is aroused into investigation and you become very interested, which generally lifts the drowsiness. Directions for body scanning can be found in Ajahn Sucittos meditation manual in the hinderances section, under lethargy:
http://forestsanghapublications.org/vie ... 12&ref=vec


I'll definitely take a read and try this out, and also continue with the breath holding.

Thanks for the responses everyone.
Snufkin
 
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat May 12, 2012 11:53 am
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Starting to nod off during meditation

Postby Nyana » Tue Jun 05, 2012 11:14 pm

Snufkin wrote:Had this problem for a little while, it doesn't happen every time I meditate, but it's started to be more frequent. I'll be following my breath, and then next minute I feel like I'm almost being nudged backwards and I realise I had stopped following my breath and started to nod off to sleep. This happens even when I'm not very tired. I try to renew my focus on breathing and continue, but it often happens again. It seems to have only started to happen when I increased my meditation time to 30 minutes.

Nothing in MIPE seems to really address the issue properly. Does anyone have any suggestions?

It can be helpful to intentionally notice the mind's clarity at the beginning of a sitting period and then remaining attentive to sustaining that clarity. It can also be helpful in this regard to keep sitting periods short, and take a short break between sits.

The suttas offer a number of antidotes such as attending to a perception of light, or engaging in walking meditation, or reciting suttas (either silently or out loud), etc. For example, see AN 7.58.
Nyana
 
Posts: 2229
Joined: Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:56 am

Re: Starting to nod off during meditation

Postby daverupa » Wed Jun 06, 2012 12:26 am

Ñāṇa wrote:take a short break between sits


Am I correct to find that descriptions in the Suttas suggest "walking up and down" (imo, more appropriately "a period of sampajañña") interspersed throughout ānāpānasati? Perhaps only during the day, while longer periods bracketed the middle watch of the night...?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
User avatar
daverupa
 
Posts: 4061
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: Starting to nod off during meditation

Postby Ben » Wed Jun 06, 2012 12:30 am

Greetings Snufkin,

The vast majority of experienced meditation practitioners are not only familiar, but intimately familiar with the hindrances and their own battles to overcome them. They are hindrances because they are difficult, but not impossible to overcome. And in one respect, they are an indication of some progress.

I hope the following publication will be of interest, if not help, to you.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el026.html
kind regards,

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global Relief

Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15936
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Starting to nod off during meditation

Postby monkey_brain » Wed Jun 06, 2012 4:22 am

Just a hopeful note from my own (still immature) practice. Sleepiness/drowsiness was the most common issue in the first 4-6 months of my sitting practice. Now, 18 months into it, it is an extremely uncommon guest. Nor did I really do or change anything that might have been a "solution" to it. It just gradually went away on its own. Since then, there have been other "problems" that came for awhile, and then took themselves off. Not to play down any of the good advice already given, but also I think sometimes problems just take care of themselves if you give them some time.

Wishing you the best,
Paul J.
monkey_brain
 
Posts: 43
Joined: Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:53 am

Re: Starting to nod off during meditation

Postby Nyana » Wed Jun 06, 2012 6:15 am

daverupa wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:take a short break between sits


Am I correct to find that descriptions in the Suttas suggest "walking up and down" (imo, more appropriately "a period of sampajañña") interspersed throughout ānāpānasati? Perhaps only during the day, while longer periods bracketed the middle watch of the night...?

Can you elaborate?
Nyana
 
Posts: 2229
Joined: Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:56 am

Re: Starting to nod off during meditation

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jun 06, 2012 6:25 am

Perhaps Dave is referring to passages like:
Vigilance

"As soon, brahman, as a monk is moderate in eating, the Tathagata disciplines him further, saying: 'Come you, monk, dwell intent on vigilance; during the day while pacing up and down, while sitting down, cleanse the mind of obstructive mental states; during the middle watch of the night, lie down on the right side in the lion posture, foot resting on foot, mindful, clearly conscious, reflecting on the thought of getting up again; during the last watch of the night, when you have arisen, while pacing up and down, while sitting down, cleanse the mind of obstructive mental states.'

Mindfulness and clear consciousness

"As soon, brahman, as a monk is intent on vigilance, the Tathagata disciplines him further, saying: 'Come you, monk, be possessed of mindfulness and clear consciousness, acting with clear consciousness whether you are approaching or departing, acting with clear consciousness whether you are looking ahead or looking round, acting with clear consciousness whether you are bending in or stretching out [the arms], acting with clear consciousness whether you are carrying the outer cloak, the bowl or robe, acting with clear consciousness whether you are eating, drinking, munching, savoring, acting with clear consciousness whether you are obeying the calls of nature, acting with clear consciousness whether you are walking, standing, sitting, asleep, awake, talking or being silent.'

Sounds very much like the usual instructions on a modern retreat...

:anjali:
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10112
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Starting to nod off during meditation

Postby daverupa » Wed Jun 06, 2012 11:52 am

mikenz66 wrote:Perhaps Dave is referring to passages like:


Precisely so! :anjali:

So, if this structure is also what guides ones solitary practice, that kusala structure is then by definition beneficial to this or that extent in the elimination of such things as drowsiness, and other impediments (the main capitulation to the householder is the necessity of more sleep). But I wanted to verify whether it was attested as such.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
User avatar
daverupa
 
Posts: 4061
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: Starting to nod off during meditation

Postby Nyana » Wed Jun 06, 2012 1:36 pm

daverupa wrote:Am I correct to find that descriptions in the Suttas suggest "walking up and down" (imo, more appropriately "a period of sampajañña") interspersed throughout ānāpānasati? Perhaps only during the day, while longer periods bracketed the middle watch of the night...?


daverupa wrote:So, if this structure is also what guides ones solitary practice, that kusala structure is then by definition beneficial to this or that extent in the elimination of such things as drowsiness, and other impediments (the main capitulation to the householder is the necessity of more sleep). But I wanted to verify whether it was attested as such.

I don't recall ever coming across any explicit instructions in the suttas or commentaries outlining a schedule or regimen for alternating between sitting and walking meditation, etc., but it's easy enough to construct such a schedule from what's given in the suttas, and I think it's quite possible that this was how the early monastics spent much of their day in seclusion.
Nyana
 
Posts: 2229
Joined: Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:56 am

Re: Starting to nod off during meditation

Postby FrancesB » Wed Jun 06, 2012 6:44 pm

I am just reading a book of Ani Tenzin Palmo's talks. She suggests several things: eyes open, be in a cool environment, avoid heavy meals before meditation, placing a small dish of cold water on top of your head and finally she tells about a friend who meditated sitting on the edge of a deep well and never had drowsiness problems!
Those last two are completely new to me, and I suspect that I would then become distracted rather than drowsy!
FrancesB
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue May 29, 2012 5:41 am

Next

Return to Theravada Meditation

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Crazy cloud, Sati1 and 2 guests