Message Boards Message Boards

Miscellaneous

Sleep problems - practice related? [Eudoxos .] [MIGRATE]

Sleep problems - practice related? [Eudoxos .]


Eudoxos . - 2014-04-27 19:37:47 - Sleep problems - practice related?

Hi everybody,

I've been doing samatha-like practices daily since 1998 and switched over to vipassana in 2011 - I've done 8 retreats in the Chom Tong tradition, with extended fruitions (from 20 minutes to 1 hour) occuring at least since the 3rd retreat.

I observed that usually about 4 weeks after the retreat (fruitions), I have very sound sleep, there is little mental noise going on during the day, and lots of mindfulness. Then there is usually about 4 weeks transition period with mood swings, non-specific stress building up (clenched teeth after waking up), phases of big tiredness altering with energetic states and high concentration, and very bad sleep - in some cases only a few hours in the entire night, usually 6 hours sleep, then practice (for the lack of doing something better at 5am), then 2 more hours of sleep. It is only rarely that the mind wakes up with some thought I could not get rid of spinning, it is really much less specific "tension" somewhere. Then progressively the mind stabilizes in a relatively dull region, where the swings are not so radical, but the state is unpleasant and any depth of experience is absent. I practice usually between 30/30-50/50 (walking/sitting) daily.

I tried to see if this could be explainable by the mind cycling through the POI stages, but there is no clear match really (though the stages are very clearly present at retreats, and were even during retreats when I knew nothing about those stages).

I am not sure if all this is practice-related; before starting vipassana, I had a few years of serious depression due to being (not just spiritual) perfectionist (MCTB 244: "In fact, buying into a strong renunciation trip is well known for making people quite neurotic, and then the challenge is to see the true nature of the sensations that make up the renunciation-induced neuroses." -- perfect description of my vipassana basic course, which lifted the depression big time, though there is some proclivity to melancholy and being out of touch with feelings).

In any case, I welcome any recommendation about practices which could help this (I've done some metta practices and also some samatha jhanas with making wishes for good sleep, as funny as it sounds) and also some explanation about what might be going on. (My girlfriend is not very excited when I say after 3 months since the last retreat that I need to disappear again for 10 days as I don't feel well anymore; she said I had a 3-month period ;) ).

I think I am quite fine with non-meditation conditions generally considered to support sleep - no coffee after 5pm, some sport (yoga, jogging), no heavy food in the evening, no alcohol and such.

-------------------

tom moylan - 2014-04-28 07:57:00 - RE: Sleep problems - practice related?

Hi there,
I have experienced similar patterns but without the "fruitions".  Are you certain that you are haveing fruitions and not A&P experiences?  If you could describe your practice(s) and the buildup to the fruitions that might help someone give closer assistance.  Your descriptions of post-retreat sound like dark night nanas to me but you would know.

It sounds as though you are taking the basic steps for good sleep.  There are lots of techniques to help one get back into a good sleep cycle including, melatonin supplementation, getting electronics away from your sleep space, calming teas, calming pre-sleep rituals, excercise etc.

One thing I have noticed with myself is that at some times I don't really need the full 8 hours of sleep but have the "belief" that it is required.  Waking up with the overriding intention that "I have slept emough and feel fine", has helped me take the edge off of the "2nd arrow" effect of worrying about not having slept enough.

good luck.

tom

-------------------

Eudoxos . - 2014-04-28 12:09:47 - RE: Sleep problems - practice related?

Are you certain that you are haveing fruitions and not A&P experiences?

Yes, I am very certain there; they were extended (20-60 minutes), came after high equanimity after 9 or 10 days of 4am-10pm nonstop practice. The Ajahn Tong ? Chom Tong tradition is like Mahasi, the retreats are structured around going through the full cycle of the progress of insight, with 48 hours of nonstop practice at the end, after reaching equanimity; there are teachers who know their stuff and check with students every day individually; I had the nanas come clearly usually, even before knowing the theory about them. The fruitions (I guess that is contrary to A&P, which I never had as clear as MCTB describes, mostly did not even notice them) are extremely energizing, so I would sleep e.g. 5 hours the night after finishing (after not sleeping for 2 nights at all) and feeling very fresh. More details in this post: http://dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/3484318#_19_message_5460547 .

Your descriptions of post-retreat sound like dark night nanas to me but you would know.

I experience it as mindfulness dropping down (inevitably, since I practice 1-2 hours / day instead of 12 or more, though I try to be mindful in daily life as much as possible). I know MCTB suggests another cycle starts sooner or later, but I don't see that in my experience (or not clearly; I tend to melancholic moods anyways, so it might be hard to tell those apart in daily life). The teachers mostly said wisely to work with what I have, acknowledge more and middle way in every moment, but, heh, I guess as an aspect of self-love I can also try to change things (sleep) using some theoretical framework ;)

A friend of mine, Ayurveda fan, said Vata constitutions have sleep troubles and suggested some soft methods (diet, herbal teas, ...) but it all seems to have only limited functionality. I seem to be one of those persons who find it hard to relax in conventional ways (staring into the green, so to say). So I am really not sure the sleep issue is practice-related.

One thing I have noticed with myself is that at some times I don't really need the full 8 hours of sleep but have the "belief" that it is required. Waking up with the overriding intention that "I have slept emough and feel fine", has helped me take the edge off of the "2nd arrow" effect of worrying about not having slept enough.

Yep, good to mention that, sounds familiar; I've seen that already and try to be mindful about that, but it can only go to a certain degree.

Cheers!

-------------------

Adam Dietrich Ringle - 2014-04-28 18:49:21 - RE: Sleep problems - practice related?

Practice wise, I have had several periods where my sleep has been disrupted.

There have been times when my mind was so wired on "meditation" that I couldn't sleep, or that I felt compelled to keep meditating all night.

There have been many times where my sleep has been excessive 12+

Recently I have found that I don't sleep very deeply, and my body is racked with pain to the point that I am gasping. During such events I often wonder if I will die or not. I usually take an anti-anxiety medication and this helps quite a bit.