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Sleep hindrance
Answer
10/14/12 4:34 PM
Does anyone have any insight on the hindrance of sleep or links to Useful discussion of it? Do you get past this hinderance or does it reoccur at various stages?  Ive seen advanced enough teachers bobing in sleepy meditation at times.
Most of the references to it that I've encounterd seem to suggest some form of fight with it, try and energise yourself somehow; get enough sleep;  may be your not used to being relaxed and alert and so practice will sort it; possibly unconscious material has surfaced and sleep is a form of suppression; what seems of value to me is to try and investigate it, become familiar with the nuances of it, notice my posture, notice how much attention is left, how much can i be aware of the drowsiness that is claiming me, do I remember the micro sleeps and dreams that occur. It also helps to remember that this is a phase that passes and not something to get too bothered about. 

Development of concentration seems so non linear. At times I have an easy access concentration and other time days go by where I struggle with sleep and can't keep my eyes open.  Other hindrances can become a focus for attention themselves but this hinderance removes attention itself...There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of useful material about this for some reason.  

These  2 links on this current site are the most interesting and useful I've come across. suggesting various ways of establishing mindfulness beforehand. Reading some Dharma books before sitting seems good.

meditationhttp://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/3073700?_19_redirect=%2Fweb%2Fguest%2Fdiscussion%2F-%2Fmessage_boards%2Fsearch%3F_19_redirect%3D%252Fweb%252Fguest%252Fdiscussion%26_19_breadcrumbsCategoryId%3D0%26_19_breadcrumbsMessageId%3D0%26_19_searchCategoryId%3D0%26_19_searchCategoryIds%3D0%26_19_threadId%3D0%26_19_keywords%3DHindrance%2Bdrowsiness%26_19_delta%3D20%26_19_advancedSearch%3Dfalse%26_19_andOperator%3Dtrue%26cur%3D2

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/1286373

I'm curious to know more about this phenomena. Whats happening in the body, whats happening in mind? It seems similar to driver fatigue or even narcolepsy. Given the amount of research done into these given the death toll due to drive fatigue, they still don't seem to have made much understanding of this or how to get past it. Asides from identifying some factors relating to it and suggesting people have enough sleep beforehand and stop if they need to, they don't seem to know why drowsiness can desend on people early on in a drive.

How much awareness can one have while this hindrance is present?
In the practice of wake induced lucid dreams one keeps awareness as sleep and dreams happen. There was a time when I used to be able to do this. this leval of subtle awareness would be interesting if it could apply to this hindrance. 

Grateful for any ideas or links
Regards

Patrick 

RE: Sleep hindrance
Answer
10/15/12 6:53 AM as a reply to patrick o connor.
Here are a few notes I've made
Balancing enlightenment factors & hindrances

Joy or rapture (pīti), Investigation (dhamma vicaya), Energy (viriya) = to be used when experiencing sloth & torpor (thīna-middha) to regain mindfulness

Mindfulness (sati) = the balancing factor

Relaxation (passaddhi), Concentration (samādhi), Equanimity (upekkha) = to be used when experiencing restlessness & worry (uddhacca-kukkucca) to regain mindfulness

from, 'The Attention Revolution' by B. Allan Wallace, on The 10 stages of Jhana in the Tibetan Shamata Yanika Tradition. its about concentration, but balancing excitation and laxity is relevant to all meditation. Quite a bit is mention about it in this book. Also look up the seven factors of enlightenment and the teachings on balancing those.


"the sequence of shamatha training begins with relaxation, then stabilising attention., and finally maintaining relaxation and stability while gradually increasing vividness… If you want to develop exceptional vividness, first develop relaxation, second develop stability, and finally increase vividness." pg.68.

1st stage: "directed attention... is simply being able to place your mind on your chosen object of meditation fro even a second or two. If you are directing your attention to a... complex visualization, this may take days or weeks...But if your chosen object is your breathing, you may achieve this stage on your first attempt.", pg.13.

2nd stage: "In the 2nd...stage, continuous attention, you experience occasional periods of continuity, but most of the time your mind is still caught up in wondering thoughts and sensory distractions." pg.30. "For most people.., the problem is...excitation." there are, "...three levels of excitation. The 1st is called coarse excitation, which we typically encounter during the initial stages of attention training. The 2nd two levels of excitation, medium excitation and subtle excitation, become apparent only during more advances stages of attention training." pg.29.
"...on the second stage, although you experience periods when your attention was continually engaged with the object for as long as a minute, most of the time you were still caught up in distractions." pg.43.

3rd stage: "When you reach.., resurgent attention, during each practice session your attetnion is fixed most of the time upon your meditative object. By now, you will have increase the duration of each session beyond the initial 24mins to perhaps twice that." "When you reach teh 3rd stage, your attentional stability has increase so that most of the time you remain engaged with the object. Occasionally there are still lapses where you when you completely forget the object,.. The third stage is achieved only when your mind remains focuses on the object most of the time in virtually all your sessions. " pg.43. "...coarse excitation is the predominant problem during the third stage of attentional development." pg.47. "The further you progress in this practice, the subtler the breath becomes. At times it may become so subtle that you can't detect it at all. This challenges you to enhance the vividness of attention." pg.48.

4th stage: "called close attention… due to the power of enhanced mindfulness, you no longer completely forget your chosen object,.. your sessions may now last an hour or longer, your attention can not be involuntarily drawn entirely away from the object. You are now free of coarse excitation." pg.59. "While your attention is no longer prone to coarse excitation, it is still flawed by a medium degree of excitation and coarse laxity. When medium excitation occurs, you don't completely lose track of your object of attention, but involuntary thoughts occupy the centre of your attention and the meditative object is displaced to the periphery." pg.62.
(haven't developed the notes here, using quote, just paraphrases)
5th Medium and subtle excitation occur, subtle excitation are thoughts going on in the background also we have coarse laxity meaning you can't stay awake sometimes.

6th There is some satisfaction here without resistance: excitation is subtle, but it you don't use introspection (of laxity & excitation) it may quickly become coarse dragging u back to 4th or 5th lvl. Laxity becomes moderate, meaning the object just isn't clear if it isn't clear you try to hard or you concentration fades for lack of an object and you fall back into with and there is resistance i.e. some difficulty maintaining this pleasant ease.

I should note here that concentration is considered to be built upon relaxation; the foundations, stability;the wall & vividness the roof.

7th Excitation has gone but may return at a subtle lvl. Laxity is now subtle things start to get really good around here you can sit for 2 and half hours or more.

This is where you are in comparative terminology in my opinion after the fast flowing vibration push upwards lifting the body in the insight janas.

8th There is no excitation and laxity, maybe a bit at the start of the sit. any effort but the slightest here may ruin the relaxation, lose the stability and evaporate the vividness.

9th is access concentration and one can sit for at least 4hrs with pliancy & ease.

10th is jhana:

RE: Sleep hindrance
Answer
10/15/12 8:15 PM as a reply to patrick o connor.
patrick o connor:
Most of the references to it that I've encounterd seem to suggest some form of fight with it, try and energise yourself somehow


Yeah more effort is the party line, i pref what Alan Wallace says rather than Sayadaw U Pandita. But Both can be useful, you gotta work when to use what.

get enough sleep; may be your not used to being relaxed and alert and so practice will sort it; possibly unconscious material has surfaced and sleep is a form of suppression; what seems of value to me is to try and investigate it, become familiar with the nuances of it, notice my posture, notice how much attention is left, how much can i be aware of the drowsiness that is claiming me, do I remember the micro sleeps and dreams that occur. It also helps to remember that this is a phase that passes and not something to get too bothered about.


Awareness i.e. more Mindfulness can energise you, true but it seems to work better for more advance practitioners, walking is easier! Get enough sleep is good but don't get lazy, balance again, you have to work it out? If your asleep your not aware! so you can't be aware of micro sleeps, emoticon but i know what you mean. And, well sitting up all night in the Thai Tradition is a great Monthly/Fortnight challenge, it seems to stimulate effort, cause the way to increase effort is to make more effort, or just walk more.

Development of concentration seems so non linear. At times I have an easy access concentration and other time days go by where I struggle with sleep and can't keep my eyes open.  Other hindrances can become a focus for attention themselves but this hinderance removes attention itself...There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of useful material about this for some reason.
 

Indeed, to the first point. Regularity in the face of hinderances,.. all things past etc. When sleepy, walk, increase effort, when agitated, sit and w8 to become calm, watch the rising and falling. A smaller area of attention to increases concentration in the face of excitation, but don't over exert, you must stay relaxed while you increase the concentration. U pandita says concentration is increased from continued & maintained effort, not from pushing really hard, right now, to stop the thoughts; works until it makes you sleep from over effort.

How much awareness can one have while this hindrance is present?
In the practice of wake induced lucid dreams one keeps awareness as sleep and dreams happen. There was a time when I used to be able to do this. this leval of subtle awareness would be interesting if it could apply to this hindrance.


Deep jhana is like going to sleep while staying awake, someone said? I like this idea, there seems to be some truth to it. Not really connected to sleepy problems; directly. Look relaxation, then stability, then vividness is the key, doesn't matter whether it's momentary or fixed (lol; fixed isn't actually fixed until jhana) concentration. Fuck, dream Yoga is cool, but are you doing Vipassana Shamatha or Dream Yoga. I like some ideas a friend shared; with some consciousness dreaming exercises, i.e. asking your self if your dreaming during the day and maintaining consciousness/mindfulness through out the day. Probably works better with a Dzogchen approach which is sort of built out of a fixation with out an object base. Alan Wallaces Companion Book to 'the attention revolution' goes into this some more, 'Stilling the Mind; Dudjom Lingepa'.

this leval of subtle awareness would be interesting if it could apply to this hindrance
cross technique problem here, can't be bothered explaining, read those two book and the study some Vipassana Stuff. Either be aware and mindful and practice complementary fixation practices with dream yoga conscious dreaming exercises or mindful and investigative of phenomena. You awaken intensity doing Vipassana so best to really push it otherwise you get stuck in it. Lol loud, as this is really good advice for me. Now in practice, the dark-night is like a hound at my legs scratching at me with the sensations of existence, when not occupied in a concentrated manner. So called Dzogchen practice is probably merely fixation with out an object. 'Stilling the Mind' Clarifies this point.

There u go Patrick, Rambled on quite bit for you,may it be of help, Neem.

RE: Sleep hindrance
Answer
10/17/12 10:53 AM as a reply to patrick o connor.
Thanks for taking the time to respond in detail Neem
Interesting stuff. I'd like to read wallaces material on Shamatha. I heard him speak on buddhist geeks. I'd say I'm between the 2nd and 3rd stage at the moment. "being able to sit for 4.5 hours" with ease for Access concentraion! Yikes. Back in my Goenka vipassanna days there were some sits put together that lasted this long. Not likely to be able to spare this much time at present, and would probably struggle with such a long sit. In MBCT the description of Access concentration seems easier. I think he suggest if you can hold fairly steady awarness for a minute thats a good start..
Regarding dream yoga, I discussed with a teacher recently about the Tibetan teacher I had seen who's body was bobbing in sleep for most of the hour sit. She said she wonders was he sleeping or aware.. If I get the chance I will ask him.
This is like a practice of lucid dreaming where your body will fall asleep but you remain aware. As I get more involved again with meditation I find myself naturally watching the stages of sleep that I can be aware of at night.
I've been told in the Mahamudra Varjayana teachings there are specific visulisations used to work with condition of drowsiness. However these are only given out within the lineage or something like that.
As I say I am curious about what is happening in the body and mind as sleep claims me despite my intentions otherwise. I have gotten some good suggestions from here that help me beyond this, but not all the time. I suppose like a scientist observing a Phenomenon. You say Relax, stabilise, energise. Oftentimes relaxation brings sleep. I wonder is it just practice to get used to not associating the two together. I don't think its as straightforward and linear as that though. Perhas it continues to arrise at intervals along our practice path...
Thanks for your feedback. I may read walaces book somestage. He seems fairly dedicated tho, suggesting conditions where people could dedicated themseles full time to studying/practicing shamatha. Fantastic, but not an easy option for most.

RE: Sleep hindrance
Answer
10/18/12 8:02 AM as a reply to patrick o connor.
Indeed, for full time practice. Yes the definition of Access Concentration, within the dry insight schools is often compared to that of general mindfulness within the above Maps, i.e not losing awareness of the object in the face of thoughts and other perceptions.


'Dream Yoga' and The Cycle of Day and Night', By Namkhai Norbu. He has online initiations/ introductions to primordial awareness and after that one is permitted to get access to some of the secret books. Unlike with a lot of Tantra, he doesn't require commitments to the practice after empowerments. He has a lot of practices available. In those books he really advocates for continual mindfulness during the day and especially during the period one goes to sleep. It seems likely that that some of those exercises that conscious dreamers perform whether psychological or astral in orientation would help a lot, that my feeling. It was a close friend who mentioned the idea. Here was the book he recommended after researching the topic, it might be availbe as a free .pdf.
Cheery'O. Neem

Michael Raduga
I (1st)
School of Out-of-Body Travel A Practical Guidebook
First Edition
www.obe4u.com