How to deal with sleepiness while meditating

How-to-deal-with-sleepiness-while-meditating

Sleepiness is something we all have experienced during mindfulness and meditation practice because it is the process of balancing between concentration and relaxation. However, this balance isn’t easy to develop and maintain because usually we lack enough awareness and go off  balance many times. If we concentrate too much and we forget to relax, we may have frustration and a lot of wandering thoughts while meditating. On the other hand, if we relax too much and forget to concentrate, we may feel sleepy and eventually fall asleep. Here are some tips to overcome sleepiness when meditating.

First, proper body preparation, We will definitely fall asleep with a lot of food in our stomach. If we meditate right after a meal, it’s easier to have sleepiness as well. So, make sure that we don’t eat too much, chew our food well and have a little walk after a meal so that our stomach has enough time to work with the food. Not having enough sleep or having a very long and tiring day also causes the mind to feel sleepy.

Second, a proper sitting posture.The best posture to maintain balance and stay awake is when our back is straight.Many people feel sleepy because they lean their backs against the chair or a wall especially if their head is touching the wall. That feels too comfy. When we lie down completely on the floor, it’s very easy to fall asleep within a few minutes as well. So, make a proper sitting posture.

Third, a proper way to close the eyes. For many people, when they close their eyes their mind falls asleep immediately. It’s like the eyes telling the body, ‘hey! It’s time to go to sleep’. A way to overcome this is to half close our eyes. Open the eyes, slide down the eyelids and feel the eyelashes touching each other. Leave a small gap between the eyelids that still allows some light to enter the eyes. Don’t close them completely and tightly. The incoming light still tells the body, well this is not the sleeping time yet.

Fourth, use a meditation technique. Some people don’t use any technique at all when they meditate. While that seems fine with normal body conditions, it’s going to be hard to stay awake or maintain the balance in other circumstances mentioned earlier. 

If we are too tired, taking some more deep breaths will help a lot. Using a bright and shining image as a visualization object also increases the amount of concentration and  develops balance.

Fifth, overcome the sleepy habit. If sleepy mind has become a part of your meditation routine, it’s time to reset it. How? Whenever you feel sleepy, open your eyes and restart again. The sooner you are aware of sleepiness, the easier we can reset our subconscious mind. Doing this in a few times will correct the habit of falling asleep almost immediately when meditating.

Six, when nothing works … just sleep. Having a little nap before a meditation session will be the best remedy for the sleepiness. It means that we have slept already before each session so the body does not need more sleep. For many people, it’s also advisable not to be forceful on the mind as well. So, when the mind is sleepy let it sleep and when the mind is fresh the mind will be ready for an easy meditation session.

See from the list and pick what fits your issue. Good luck and happy meditating!

LP John a.k.a Monk John, who once a pianist, a photographer, and a computer programmer, has become a Theravada Buddhist Monk for 12 years after finished his PhD in Telematics. With the knowledge from his tech background, he has pioneered in developing the biggest free online self-development and meditation platform that has users from over 200 countries and territories. He travels the world and gives his insights on mindfulness, meditation and Buddhist philosophy for detoxing, balancing and enriching life of the modern world to individuals, NGOs, government agencies, universities, and companies (such as Google, Orange, Ogilvy, Teamwork, etc.) in 65 countries.

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