staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

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

Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Postby johnny » Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:04 pm

marc108 wrote:this talk by Shaila Catherine has a lot of useful, non-standard information:
http://imsb.org/media/2001-07-05_Shaila ... ssness.mp3

as well as these 2 talks by Joseph Goldstein:
http://dharmaseed.org/teacher/96/?search=sloth


first link is corrupted, just shows up as a broken link image. second one is talks that are well over an hour. could you summarize?
The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only the electronic clocks but the wind-up kind too. The second hand on my watch would twitch once, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again.
There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling I had to believe whatever clocks said -and calendars.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Postby dharmagoat » Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:06 pm

At the moment there is a howling wind that is flapping the tarpaulin covering the caravan where I sit. Although very unsettling, it has served to keep me particularly awake during the previous two meditation sessions.

Another thing about drowsiness is that it tends to come on at certain times of the day. For me the most difficult time is early afternoon, and one solution is to avoid this time and cluster my sittings in the mornings and evenings when I am most alert.
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Postby johnny » Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:17 pm

dharmagoat wrote:At the moment there is a howling wind that is flapping the tarpaulin covering the caravan where I sit. Although very unsettling, it has served to keep me particularly awake during the previous two meditation sessions.

Another thing about drowsiness is that it tends to come on at certain times of the day. For me the most difficult time is early afternoon, and one solution is to avoid this time and cluster my sittings in the mornings and evenings when I am most alert.


new zeland! that explains the dharma goat thing lol! i just noticed that's where you live. i love goats and sheep, they are hilarious animals. my parents raised goats when i was young.

anyway, i sat in the forest with good results a few times. kind of a fine line between good concentration and utter distraction because i know that even though i do want too meditate, i don't actually want wasps and ticks crawling up my pants lol! i'm kind of liking this meditating on a cliff idea. still peaceful and no distraction, but a good motivation for staying awake! i just need too find a good cliff...
The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only the electronic clocks but the wind-up kind too. The second hand on my watch would twitch once, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again.
There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling I had to believe whatever clocks said -and calendars.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Postby marc108 » Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:26 pm

johnny wrote:
marc108 wrote:this talk by Shaila Catherine has a lot of useful, non-standard information:
http://imsb.org/media/2001-07-05_Shaila ... ssness.mp3

as well as these 2 talks by Joseph Goldstein:
http://dharmaseed.org/teacher/96/?search=sloth


first link is corrupted, just shows up as a broken link image. second one is talks that are well over an hour. could you summarize?


right click, save as the first link. i just double checked it, and it works for me. if not, it's the last talk here: http://imsb.org/teachings/audio.php

no I cant summarize. they are worth taking the time to listen to if you're having serious problems with sloth or torpor... the talk by Shaila Catherine is especially useful, very direct and concise.
"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."
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Postby johnny » Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:39 pm

marc108 wrote:
johnny wrote:
marc108 wrote:this talk by Shaila Catherine has a lot of useful, non-standard information:
http://imsb.org/media/2001-07-05_Shaila ... ssness.mp3

as well as these 2 talks by Joseph Goldstein:
http://dharmaseed.org/teacher/96/?search=sloth


first link is corrupted, just shows up as a broken link image. second one is talks that are well over an hour. could you summarize?


right click, save as the first link. i just double checked it, and it works for me. if not, it's the last talk here: http://imsb.org/teachings/audio.php

no I cant summarize. they are worth taking the time to listen to if you're having serious problems with sloth or torpor... the talk by Shaila Catherine is especially useful, very direct and concise.



argh. alright, you are right i will listen too them. i just like text over audio... thank you very much!
The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only the electronic clocks but the wind-up kind too. The second hand on my watch would twitch once, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again.
There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling I had to believe whatever clocks said -and calendars.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Postby James the Giant » Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:27 pm

I found that my sleepiness was just a phase. It attacked me for about 2 months, and I just battled through it using every method suggested, as you are trying. I mostly failed, and drowsed or nodded the whole two months. (I never tried the cliff though!)
But then, after about 2 months it lifted and went away.
It wasn't really anything I had done to make it go away, it just left by itself.
So you may find you are the same, persist, it may change.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Postby dharmagoat » Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:34 pm

johnny wrote:new zeland! that explains the dharma goat thing lol! i just noticed that's where you live. i love goats and sheep, they are hilarious animals. my parents raised goats when i was young.

I like both goats and sheep too, they have a lot of personality.

In this part of New Zealand the sheep are confined to paddocks, whereas the goats are wild and wander freely in the forest. The goats put up with less nonsense.

If counting sheep puts one to sleep, maybe counting goats will have the opposite effect?
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Postby johnny » Tue Jul 24, 2012 9:42 pm

dharmagoat wrote:
johnny wrote:new zeland! that explains the dharma goat thing lol! i just noticed that's where you live. i love goats and sheep, they are hilarious animals. my parents raised goats when i was young.

I like both goats and sheep too, they have a lot of personality.

In this part of New Zealand the sheep are confined to paddocks, whereas the goats are wild and wander freely in the forest. The goats put up with less nonsense.

If counting sheep puts one to sleep, maybe counting goats will have the opposite effect?


lol, goats put up with no nonsense. that is awesome. you made my day.
The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only the electronic clocks but the wind-up kind too. The second hand on my watch would twitch once, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again.
There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling I had to believe whatever clocks said -and calendars.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Postby johnny » Tue Jul 24, 2012 9:43 pm

James the Giant wrote:I found that my sleepiness was just a phase. It attacked me for about 2 months, and I just battled through it using every method suggested, as you are trying. I mostly failed, and drowsed or nodded the whole two months. (I never tried the cliff though!)
But then, after about 2 months it lifted and went away.
It wasn't really anything I had done to make it go away, it just left by itself.
So you may find you are the same, persist, it may change.


which method that i'm doing? and my problem has been going on for three or four years now.
The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only the electronic clocks but the wind-up kind too. The second hand on my watch would twitch once, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again.
There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling I had to believe whatever clocks said -and calendars.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Postby johnny » Wed Jul 25, 2012 10:54 pm

bodom wrote:If nothing is working and you have exhausted all methods and you are still nodding then just go take a nap. Listen to your body. The more you fight the more tired you will be.

:anjali:


well sir, i slept until ten a.m. and then tried too go too sleep at 9 p.m. and fell asleep for about an hour and a half and then was wide awake since my body was not tired. just wanted a nap. so i remembered our discussion and meditated. no sloth and torpor at all. i hit that sleep wall i was theorizing about. i got near too but not quite into jhana. in fact the wall was so insurmountable that i even laid down too go too sleep and couldn't at all, and that NEVER happens too me. so i kept meditating. a couple of times i got distracted but in the end i meditated while laying in bed for over an hour! so i think you were quite right, i need more sleep lol! and i always get eight or so, so i guess my body just likes a lot of rest!
The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only the electronic clocks but the wind-up kind too. The second hand on my watch would twitch once, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again.
There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling I had to believe whatever clocks said -and calendars.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Postby marc108 » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:09 pm

you may want to read up on REM cycles and how to use that timing to wake up. i have had a lot of issues with sleep and fatigue, and i found timing my sleep according to REM cycles to be extremely useful to the point where even with less sleep, if i wake up at the correct time, i feel much better during the day.

the idea is that the brain is 'primed' to wake up at certain stages of sleep, and naturally will wake up at the peak of REM sleep... if you wake up in a lower stage of sleep the brain and body are flooded with hormones that are involved in sleeping. using an alarm clock, or having disturbed sleep cycles can cause us to wake up in lower stages of sleep that the brain would not normally wake up during.

Image

it requires some experimentation to get the right timing down. personally, i shoot for the 7.5 mark. it takes me generally 20-30 minutes to fall asleep so i set my alarm for 8 hours from the moment i hit the bed. 30 mins to fall asleep, 7.5 hours to sleep.
"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."
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Postby johnny » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:21 pm

marc108 wrote:you may want to read up on REM cycles and how to use that timing to wake up. i have had a lot of issues with sleep and fatigue, and i found timing my sleep according to REM cycles to be extremely useful to the point where even with less sleep, if i wake up at the correct time, i feel much better during the day.

the idea is that the brain is 'primed' to wake up at certain stages of sleep, and naturally will wake up at the peak of REM sleep... if you wake up in a lower stage of sleep the brain and body are flooded with hormones that are involved in sleeping. using an alarm clock, or having disturbed sleep cycles can cause us to wake up in lower stages of sleep that the brain would not normally wake up during.

Image

it requires some experimentation to get the right timing down. personally, i shoot for the 7.5 mark. it takes me generally 20-30 minutes to fall asleep so i set my alarm for 8 hours from the moment i hit the bed. 30 mins to fall asleep, 7.5 hours to sleep.


good thoughts, i'll look into that, thanks. on that note, ever read "exploring the world of lucid dreaming" by stephen laberge and howard rheingold? freaking mind blowing stuff.
The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only the electronic clocks but the wind-up kind too. The second hand on my watch would twitch once, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again.
There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling I had to believe whatever clocks said -and calendars.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Postby danieLion » Thu Jul 26, 2012 12:10 am

Hi Jhonny,
1) Have you actually tried just napping instead when you doze off?

2) Be careful with the sleep "science" stuff. It's all correlative data (as opposed to causal). Sleep amounts and "patterns" vary widely among individuals.

3) Before I gained some competency in the lying down posture for meditating (I have chronic back pain), there was one thing that worked for a while. I'd lie on my back but with my head propped up with some pillows and put my hands together mudra style on my chest or abdomen. I found my hands naturally fell one way when I started dozing. So, I'd light a candle and place it on my belly in the trajectory my hand would fall when I started falling asleep. Yes, I burned myself a few times at first, but it worked for a while.

Best,
Daniel
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Postby johnny » Thu Jul 26, 2012 4:28 am

danieLion wrote:Hi Jhonny,
1) Have you actually tried just napping instead when you doze off?

2) Be careful with the sleep "science" stuff. It's all correlative data (as opposed to causal). Sleep amounts and "patterns" vary widely among individuals.

3) Before I gained some competency in the lying down posture for meditating (I have chronic back pain), there was one thing that worked for a while. I'd lie on my back but with my head propped up with some pillows and put my hands together mudra style on my chest or abdomen. I found my hands naturally fell one way when I started dozing. So, I'd light a candle and place it on my belly in the trajectory my hand would fall when I started falling asleep. Yes, I burned myself a few times at first, but it worked for a while.

Best,
Daniel


my man! that's the kind of non standard stuff i'm talking about!!! thanks. so what's the rest of the story? how did it turn out in particular? you burned yourself a few times and then your brain just realized it wasn't good too fall asleep and so you stayed awake after a while?
The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only the electronic clocks but the wind-up kind too. The second hand on my watch would twitch once, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again.
There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling I had to believe whatever clocks said -and calendars.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Postby danieLion » Fri Jul 27, 2012 8:45 am

johnny wrote:
danieLion wrote:Hi Jhonny,
1) Have you actually tried just napping instead when you doze off?

2) Be careful with the sleep "science" stuff. It's all correlative data (as opposed to causal). Sleep amounts and "patterns" vary widely among individuals.

3) Before I gained some competency in the lying down posture for meditating (I have chronic back pain), there was one thing that worked for a while. I'd lie on my back but with my head propped up with some pillows and put my hands together mudra style on my chest or abdomen. I found my hands naturally fell one way when I started dozing. So, I'd light a candle and place it on my belly in the trajectory my hand would fall when I started falling asleep. Yes, I burned myself a few times at first, but it worked for a while.

Best,
Daniel


my man! that's the kind of non standard stuff i'm talking about!!! thanks. so what's the rest of the story? how did it turn out in particular? you burned yourself a few times and then your brain just realized it wasn't good too fall asleep and so you stayed awake after a while?

It bought me time enough to get to know my habits better. I discovered there are warning signs (for me, they are mini-dreams my mind spins off into right before I fall sleep), and once my mind was trained enough to recognize them almost every time, I put a plan into place, and told myself: (1) you can get up and do something else (mindfully if possible, and preferably walking meditation or active Qigong); (2) you can rest; (3) you can stay here and try to fight it. I soon learned option (3) was rarely wise (there are some exceptions) and basically an unskillful way of doing (2).

Something else I used to do in a sitting posture: I'd situate a newly sharpened pencil or a semi-dull knife with the point under my chin and the eraser or handle on my chest (I guess you could duct-tape it there). When I doze off in this posture my chin drops down towards the base of my throat naturally. I knew I needed rest when I'd fall asleep resting my chin on the tip of a sharp point!

I also changed my attitude. I'm naturally the self-loathing "type." There are probably folks here who disagree, but I don't think the need for rest is necessarily sloth and torpor (thīna-middha.) I used knowledge of this as the basis to stop beating myself up about needing rest or falling asleep. Another thing related to this was rotating in non-sedentary forms of meditation and mindfulness practices as I began to realize I was adding to the amount of time I literally sat on my ass.

I don't use counting all the time (and never to directly prevent drowsiness), but sometimes when my mind seems extra unruly or distracted I use it to help me get my attention stable on the breath and then drop it. I've noticed, however, it has a fringe benefit in that it usually counteracts dozing off. That might have something to do with my "method" though. I start with the standard 1 to 10, 10 to 1 backwards pattern, but only do that once. The next round, I go by twos to twenty and backwards to two, and on the next round by threes to 30 and backwards to 3, etc..., up to 90 by nines and back to 9 if necessary (I skip to 50 by fives). I only count at the end of the out breath.

Reverend Sucitto stands on his head (or used to).

Best,
Daniel
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jul 27, 2012 8:48 am

marc108 wrote:this talk by Shaila Catherine has a lot of useful, non-standard information:
http://imsb.org/media/2001-07-05_Shaila ... ssness.mp3

Thanks Marc. That's certainly a talk worth listening to closely.

If anyone has trouble accessing it via the above link it's at the bottom of this page: http://imsb.org/teachings/audio.php

:anjali:
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Postby JustThis » Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:46 am

Your description of what happens when it doesn't go right sounds very familiar. For years during retreats I struggled with sleepiness, I never knew when it was going to pop up. Usually after several days it would creep in, I tried numerous things with no success. Then I had a breakthrough. The day before I left for a 10 retreat I started to come down with a head cold, one day in I knew it was going to be a strong one. I was bummed, nothing like spending a retreat sniffling, sneezing and blowing your nose. But it did not go as I expected, in fact that retreat was a turning point in my practice, I learned something very valuable. During the sits my nose would run, not enough so that I would have to blow it but it was always wet. My wet nose became a strong meditation object to watch and watch it I did. All kinds of strong sensations became connected to the breath, my concentration deepened and my nemesis, sleepiness, never became a problem and hasn't been a problem since. I learned that meditation requires a combination of concentration and precision. Concentration came easy to me, I typically had little problem following the breath, it was the precision that I lacked. With my wet nose I was able to look closely at the sensations of the breath flowing through my nose, I learned to examine them in finer and finer detail, going into them deeper and deeper. Now, when I feel a little sleepiness starting to creep in I know that I am not looking closely enough at my meditation object, I haven't lost it, my attention is still on it, but I am not really in close contact with it. Your description of your practice seems rather generic, watching the breath come in and go out. I suggest that you try to tighten it up a bit, look closer at the sensations that you label as 'the breath', examine them in finer and finer detail, become interested in them. That's what worked for me.
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Postby johnny » Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:41 am

danieLion wrote:
johnny wrote:
danieLion wrote:Hi Jhonny,
1) Have you actually tried just napping instead when you doze off?

2) Be careful with the sleep "science" stuff. It's all correlative data (as opposed to causal). Sleep amounts and "patterns" vary widely among individuals.

3) Before I gained some competency in the lying down posture for meditating (I have chronic back pain), there was one thing that worked for a while. I'd lie on my back but with my head propped up with some pillows and put my hands together mudra style on my chest or abdomen. I found my hands naturally fell one way when I started dozing. So, I'd light a candle and place it on my belly in the trajectory my hand would fall when I started falling asleep. Yes, I burned myself a few times at first, but it worked for a while.

Best,
Daniel


my man! that's the kind of non standard stuff i'm talking about!!! thanks. so what's the rest of the story? how did it turn out in particular? you burned yourself a few times and then your brain just realized it wasn't good too fall asleep and so you stayed awake after a while?

It bought me time enough to get to know my habits better. I discovered there are warning signs (for me, they are mini-dreams my mind spins off into right before I fall sleep), and once my mind was trained enough to recognize them almost every time, I put a plan into place, and told myself: (1) you can get up and do something else (mindfully if possible, and preferably walking meditation or active Qigong); (2) you can rest; (3) you can stay here and try to fight it. I soon learned option (3) was rarely wise (there are some exceptions) and basically an unskillful way of doing (2).

Something else I used to do in a sitting posture: I'd situate a newly sharpened pencil or a semi-dull knife with the point under my chin and the eraser or handle on my chest (I guess you could duct-tape it there). When I doze off in this posture my chin drops down towards the base of my throat naturally. I knew I needed rest when I'd fall asleep resting my chin on the tip of a sharp point!

I also changed my attitude. I'm naturally the self-loathing "type." There are probably folks here who disagree, but I don't think the need for rest is necessarily sloth and torpor (thīna-middha.) I used knowledge of this as the basis to stop beating myself up about needing rest or falling asleep. Another thing related to this was rotating in non-sedentary forms of meditation and mindfulness practices as I began to realize I was adding to the amount of time I literally sat on my ass.

I don't use counting all the time (and never to directly prevent drowsiness), but sometimes when my mind seems extra unruly or distracted I use it to help me get my attention stable on the breath and then drop it. I've noticed, however, it has a fringe benefit in that it usually counteracts dozing off. That might have something to do with my "method" though. I start with the standard 1 to 10, 10 to 1 backwards pattern, but only do that once. The next round, I go by twos to twenty and backwards to two, and on the next round by threes to 30 and backwards to 3, etc..., up to 90 by nines and back to 9 if necessary (I skip to 50 by fives). I only count at the end of the out breath.

Reverend Sucitto stands on his head (or used to).

Best,
Daniel



thank you! again, this is exactly the kind of stuff i want too hear. non standard, different and edgy enough that there will be an immediate difference, and the added bonus of fulfilling the necessity of not being too crazy too actually try! and i think your counting method is very intelligent as well. one can count mindlessly with practice if it's only 1-10 or 10-1, but your complicated formula would be hard too "get used too" enough too doze easily.
The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only the electronic clocks but the wind-up kind too. The second hand on my watch would twitch once, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again.
There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling I had to believe whatever clocks said -and calendars.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Postby monkey_brain » Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:19 am

johnny wrote:lol! that's the one thing from the "nodding" sutta that i have not tried! but even when i have awoken from a good solid nights rest and become totally awake for the day and then i sit, i can still fall asleep, easy.


Nonstimulating or sedentary activities don't cause sleepiness, they *unmask* it. If you can fall asleep easily in midmorning or early evening, the two times when alertness peaks naturally, this is a strong indication of a sleep debt. Sleep debt in the presence of what should be adequate sleep amounts indicates a possible sleep pathology.
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Postby danieLion » Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:36 am

You're welcome, Johnny.
Kind wishes,
Daniel
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