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On sleep and the value limiting sleep time

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On sleep and the value limiting sleep time
vipassana dreams sleep
Answer
6/10/11 2:26 PM
Hi all,

I'm doing a retreat at home. Living on my savings for now, I am able to get up whenever I want. One thing that doesn't get better in my self styled retreat is the wake up time. >_< *cough*

In between cooking, eating, dish washing, and otherwise allowing for time to digest food, and taking breaks so far I manage to put in 4-5 h in the day. Not great... but at least I don't have to fight sleepiness, which has always been a problem on Goenka retreats.

After three Goenkaji- style retreats where I continue to wonder what is the *practical* benefit of limiting sleep to 6h30 or less?

Is the goal to remain mindful as long as possible within a 24h period?

I've been wondering if the dream time can "undo" some of the mindfulness momentum?

I vaguely remember Goenkaji stating that one reacts in dreams, usually without equanimity. Perhaps even creating more sankharas/mental formations.

Any thoughts? Does it really matter when or how long you sleep in regard to vipassana practice?

RE: On sleep and the value limiting sleep time
Answer
6/10/11 5:12 PM as a reply to faB.
(1) I've tried both 6h30 in Goenka retreats and 8h at home. While there is something to be gained from investigating sleepiness, particularly when one is so sleepy that one can do this investigation while standing up, there is also great value in investigating everything else with a rested mind. I would suggest you get your normal amount of sleep.

(2) If you're doing a home retreat, you should be getting at least 10 hours meditation a day, but 14 is more like the normal amount, and some people even do 18. The best way to manage doing these many hours productively and without falling asleep is by doing walking meditation. 1h walking, 1h sitting.

If you're going for stream entry, read Tarin's guide (link).

RE: On sleep and the value limiting sleep time
Answer
6/10/11 5:24 PM as a reply to faB.
Fabrice D:
In between cooking, eating, dish washing, and otherwise allowing for time to digest food, and taking breaks so far I manage to put in 4-5 h in the day.

why are you not meditating while cooking, eating, dish washing, and otherwise allowing for time to digest food, and taking breaks? =). as the guide to stream entry says you should spend every waking moment meditating, regardless of what you're doing.

RE: On sleep and the value limiting sleep time
Answer
6/10/11 6:54 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Thank you.

I meant 4-5h of sitting time. (edit: I'm body scanning mostly when sitting and using noting in between sitting)

I've only recently read MCTB and the Sayadaw noting technique. It does sound great maintaining mindfulness at all times throughout the day. So if you count noting while cooking, dish washing etc then I guess I'm putting more hours. However I find that I just do it for short breaks, than at other times I find myself doubting the technique, wondering what is the point, wondering what good does it do to watch the foot lifting, or placing it down and so I might be doing it half heartedly at the moment. emoticon

I really get the idea of maintaining mindfulness at all times and this was something I didn't know and didn't understand even when Goenka mentions to keep attention on one sensation or another at all times. Without noting it just seemed impossible to keep my mind on the breath in between the sittings (on retreats).

I'm preparing for a retreat in September. Used to stop vipassana altogether outside of retreats. So I am going for stream entry, but not very confident yet. Just hoping that this time, preparing three months in advance, maintaining a daily practice, will bring better results. I'm still not sure whether I've experienced A&P as some of the descriptions in MCTB are very colorful. Perhaps it was just bliss from Jhana... on the 2nd and 3rd retreats I thought I was feeling metta from the teachers but now I am wondering. I guess I could post a separate thread to get some feedback.

I'm just not 100% convinced at the moment of the actual goal of noting. I see that during sitting it is vipassana in and of itself. But when standing, and going about daily activities that are more demanding than just walking, I'm wondering if it's possible to investigate really or if it is mostly an exercise in maintaining a continuity of mindfulness.

Can't really walk around inside and not really conducive outside with cars, etc. So I'm just sitting and *trying* to note and limit distractions during the day... though I still do some reading on the ipad. Hmmm >_<

RE: On sleep and the value limiting sleep time
Answer
6/11/11 5:04 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
why are you not meditating while cooking, eating, dish washing, and otherwise allowing for time to digest food, and taking breaks? =). as the guide to stream entry says you should spend every waking moment meditating, regardless of what you're doing.


Thanks again. I guess I wasn't counting off the cushion time as serious meditation. I was eating asap when getting up to avoid shifting myself later in the night, so my first sitting meditation was late in the morning but you've helped me realize I can apply extra effort noting during meal times and that counts as meditation too. So I do in fact meditate not too long after getting up, yay emoticon

Meals and showering can easily add up to one hour of serious effort that I can track easily. Those times, I can "just do it" (tm) and leave the doubt for later.

RE: On sleep and the value limiting sleep time
Answer
6/11/11 5:11 AM as a reply to faB.
Hmm, I personally wouldn't bother doing a retreat for anything less than 10h of formal meditation. I, at least, seem to require more than 4-5 hours in order to bring about the qualitative shift (around the third or fourth day) which is so impressive about retreats. I usually do 14 hours a day, leaving 2 hours for eating and bathing, and 8 hours for sleep.

The point of practicing all the time, as far as I see it, is to bring about this shift when the mind becomes ultra-powerful.

Also walking doesn't require a large room, if you have enough space for 5-10 baby steps, then that is enough. Two advantages of walking meditation are: (1) it practices mindfulness on a busier activity, and (2) if you go back and forth on a straight line, you get these moments when you have to turn around, which are great to reset mindfulness and not get lost in distractions.

Again, I strongly recommend to read Tarin's guide for stream entry (linked in my first thread).

RE: On sleep and the value limiting sleep time
Answer
6/14/11 3:38 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
"Adults Need At Least 8 Hours Of Sleep Every Night" is an anti-scientific myth spread by drug companies so they can sell sleeping pills. What does the actual science say, when you exclude the studies funded by Big Pharma? It says that people generally do fine with anywhere from 6-8 hours a night as long as they're going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, including weekends and holidays, and not napping more than 30 minutes at a time during the day. Actually, many people do great with 5 hours a night and no naps, especially if they have a lot of exposure to sunlight.

If you're feeling unusually tired throughout the day with 6 and a half hours a night, it's not likely to be true sleep deprivation, unless your sleep is unfulfilling due to sleep apnea, depression, or inappropriate substance use. A far more likely cause is dysregulation of the sleep cycle. This could be caused by changing your routine suddenly, not having a routine, not maintaining the routine on weekends, or getting insufficient bright light exposure in the morning and early afternoon. Bright light does not mean "turn on more lamps." It means sunlight, or a light therapy device.

Behavioral interventions (such as keeping a consistent time of waking, and limiting sleep-interfering activities at night like drinking caffeine, exercising, or worrying) take a few days to show benefits, but those benefits are considerable. Why? Because when you cultivate healthy sleep-related behaviors, the body's internal clock is properly synchronized with your daily schedule and with the sun's rising in the morning and setting in the evening. You really, really want a synchronized body clock. If the clock isn't synchronized, you feel jet-lagged. Even if you haven't actually traveled across time zones.

So for your walking meditations at night, don't work up a sweat. During the morning and mid-day, spend as much time outside as possible.

Give these techniques about 4 days. If you're still tired, add 30 more minutes at night and wait another few days.

Summary: The issue of whether or not you have to "limit" yourself to 6h30min a night is a red herring. Pick a time at night to sleep, and pick another time 7 to 8-and-a-half hours later to wake up. (This is assuming it takes you 30 minutes before you fall asleep, which means you'll get 6h30min to 8h a night.) Stick to that schedule. You don't ~have~ to be sleepy when you aren't actually deprived of a reasonable amount of sleep.

As far as benefits to feeling sleepy when you meditate, or risks of dreaming on retreat... I'm just not seeing them. It's true that you can attenuate the costs of sleepy meditation by noting out loud to keep yourself awake, but why should you have to deal with an impaired attention span in the first place, rather than optimizing your attention span? Everybody knows that the more concentrated you are, the better your progress. Find the Middle Way between oversleeping yourself into dullness and undersleeping yourself into fogginess. Shoot for mental clarity, and don't assume that you already know the best way to get it. There's no need to make the dark night any more confusing and difficult.