Message Boards Message Boards

Concentration

Need some more help... impassable sleepiness.

Toggle
Greetings everyone

Firstly, I'm not sure where to post this, sorry in advance if it's in the wrong place.

After some great advice from Florian and Daniel about helping me to achieve access concentration I've managed to advance, and on October 11th, I am pretty sure that I slipped into the 1st samatha Jhana for 10-15 seconds. Needless to say, I was very excited and overjoyed by this and the effects of giddiness and mild euphoria lasted for a few hours (interesting for the opera that I had to play that evening...).
I've not managed to slip back into the 1st Jhana, but knowing that I've been there is helpful in keeping the pressure down, I know it's just a matter of time until it arises again.
The problem is that I get infernally sleepy during my practice. I'm pretty sure that this happens after I achieve access concentration —┬ámy mind is relatively quiet, and my breath is strongly present. Then my head pressurizes or starts to spin with that feeling of drowsiness that is just impossible to resist. The next thing I know, I'm either falling forward, or calling myself back to the breath and noting "sleeping". It is very disheartening.
At the moment, my practice consists of 1 sitting of 45 min around 6AM (before my wife or daughter waken), 1 sitting of 45-60 minutes during the day, an occasional sitting of 30 min late afternoon, and a last sitting of 20-30 minutes before retiring in the evening. Almost all of my sittings are affected. The feeling also persists off the cushion for up to an hour afterwards.

Do I just need more sleep. Should I back off a bit? More sittings but for shorter periods? Help?!

Thanks.
David

RE: Need some more help... impassable sleepiness.
Answer
10/19/10 1:45 PM as a reply to David Findlay Glidden.
Hi David,

Sometimes sleepiness is simply a matter of needing more sleep. Only you can figure that one out by trial and error (ie: adjustments to your sleeping schedule, reflecting on how much sleep you usually need, etc). Speaking personally, meditating as much as I do, I only need 6 hours sleep and often do fine with as little as 5. (I likewise meditate during "off-duty" time, rising before my partner and child and sitting after bedtime so that adds up to less available hours for sleep). On the other hand, I've never been a very heavy sleeper.

However, sleepiness is also a hindrance we have to pass through from time to time. Noting it is very effective ("sleepiness" and whatever descriptor applies to how it feels physically). Remember to note your response if you are hating it or craving it (or both?). Practical approaches involve being steadfast in your resolve to complete the sitting, opening the eyes on the cushion and if that doesn't work, standing with eyes gently opened until it feels possible to sit again. Intense sleepiness can be very unpleasant and disappointing, but some acceptance goes a long way. Try to avoid concluding that your sleepiness is a "waste of time." It really is possible to be mindful of this state. No moment of mindfulness is wasted. Just as you have developed some faith because of your jhana experience, you can develop faith by persevering with the sleepiness.

Hang in there!

Regards,
Bruno

RE: Need some more help... impassable sleepiness.
Answer
10/20/10 3:23 AM as a reply to David Findlay Glidden.
and what about standing or walking meditation? emoticon

Your wive might think you're nuts, but I'm sure thats not completely new! :-)

Cheers,
Andy

RE: Need some more help... impassable sleepiness.
Answer
10/20/10 5:37 AM as a reply to David Findlay Glidden.
Hi David,

there are some good points made in this old thread. I particularly like Duncan's take on it:

Duncan Barford:
I've found it helpful simply to let sensations arise and note them, and if sometimes I fall asleep then so be it - that was my state of mind, and that's what happened. My attention was eroded by sleep. Big deal! I'm a human being! Occasionally, it's possible to sit through a sleepy spell, noting as much as possible, and then discover that the mind becomes alert again after a time. (Presumably because it has simply taken the sleep it needed, and now is more able to continue.) In these cases, techniques to counteract sleepiness might have actually prolonged it.

Refraining from aversion to sleepiness, I've found, letting it take its course (within reason) naturally builds an ability to cope with it over time. I find now that I'm able to remain alert in states of consciousness very close to sleep, sometimes to the point of even having dreams begin to arise without being dragged into them.

Having said that, though, I've recently been practising samatha more frequently, and have found Alan Wallace's advice useful on switching to more subtle objects or sensations when laxity sits in - as counterintuitive as this may seem!


Cheers,
Florian

RE: Need some more help... impassable sleepiness.
Answer
10/20/10 11:39 AM as a reply to David Findlay Glidden.
have a look at the following thread, entitled 'fighting the somnolence'.

RE: Need some more help... impassable sleepiness.
Answer
10/21/10 8:46 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
Firstly, a sincere thank you to all who responded — it is great to have found a community like this.

Florian, Tarin: I had already read these threads, thanks anyway for reminding me of them. I seem to be able to get past it if I note like a fiend, I'm getting used to noting like that anyway.
Interestingly, today I am quite restless on the cushion: my mind is everywhere at once, completely unfocused. Had a brief stint of sleepiness late this morning, but it yielded to my noting, and instead boredom and frustration set in. I suppose it is just par for the course, although my body/mind resistance is surprising and noting still occurs a bit too late for me at these early stages.

Bruno: I have always completed the sittings, but my resistance is strong: the question "Is this serving any purpose?" is a common one in moments like this. Thanks for your suggestions.

Andy: Yes, my wife has seen me do stranger things...

Anyways, I'll just keep at it.

Thanks again,
David

RE: Need some more help... impassable sleepiness.
Answer
10/21/10 10:45 AM as a reply to David Findlay Glidden.
David Findlay Glidden:
I have always completed the sittings, but my resistance is strong: the question "Is this serving any purpose?" is a common one in moments like this.


"Doubt, doubt"

RE: Need some more help... impassable sleepiness.
Answer
10/22/10 3:28 AM as a reply to boeuf f.
boeuf f:


"Doubt, doubt"


Yes, but this is fleeting, and I see it as my faith testing me and challenging me to keep my 5 spiritual faculties in balance.
Delusion?

RE: Need some more help... impassable sleepiness.
Answer
10/22/10 10:33 PM as a reply to David Findlay Glidden.
All I meant was: note it.