The Sudden Urge To Sleep When Meditating (How the mind creates distractions)
There are many ways the mind tries to distract you when you sit down to meditate and one of the most common phenomenons that happen usually in the beginning when someone is just starting out with meditation is the sudden urge to sleep.
There you are, making yourself comfortable where you sit and you close your eyes, … and then suddenly you start to feel very, very sleepy, and you just want to lie down to sleep right where you are. It’s sooo inviting and you just want to give into it because it feels so relaxing and wonderful.
This kind of sleep is a false sleep, and it’s not the same as “meditating” but the mind will convince you that it’s just the same.. It’s very clever 🙂
So the best thing to do is to sit down, and continue sitting and not follow the urge to lie down, however inviting and wonderful it appears to be. And it is, but it’s not the same as actual meditation.
So now when you have decided, “okay I’m going to sit for an hour now”, now other things come in to play:
Suddenly the elbow needs to be scratched, the leg needs to move, thoughts come in;
“I wonder if my spine is straight enough now”, “I wonder if my palms should be faced up or if I can have them down,.. it’s more comfortable that way, but I don’t know, I read that…”
Forget all about postures!
And don’t get into the battle of wills within that wants to scratch but is not going to let the urge “win”. When you think about it; who’s having this competition anyway?? Yes, the mind is battling with itself.
So, if your elbow needs to be scratched, scratch it, and then forget about it. No need to create any stories around it. Simply scratch and leave the subject altogether.
Continue sitting throughout the whole meditation. Some people become very sleepy and fall asleep anyway, and if so, accept it and know that it gets better with practice.
When we become aware of the minds ways it looses its power.
The mind usually justifies the sleeping with thoughts like “at least I relaxed, that’s what meditation is anyway”.
What happens in reality is that he mind escapes into sleep to block your inquiry, it knows that the more stillness there is, the more quiet you get, the clearer you will hear and see, and it doesn’t like that at all.
The mind would prefer to be entertained with different kinds of guided meditations, brainwave/brain sync meditations that alter the brainwaves and so on (everything but silence is good enough, as long as it distracts you) and this can be good in the beginning, this is usually how people get into meditation in the first place. (They want peace of mind).
I’ve done it all myself!
I have been meditating for many years and where I am today is very different from where I used to be.
Stillness has changed everything about it, and not a day goes by where I don’t sit in complete silence and stillness; no techniques, no steps that I follow, no music in the background.
Only pure divine stillness.
And usually my cat in the lap! He loves to meditate with me 🙂
He knows what we’re about to do and he jumps up, makes himself comfortable and within a very short time he’s off to wherever he goes when we meditate, it’s a very relaxed place anyway! (I swear, sometimes I think he’s even drooling..! lol!)
I don’t know if you have seen an animal get healing sometime? It’s the same kind of relaxed state he falls into. And there he lies on my lap the whole hour, in the same position.
So in the beginning there might be lots of guided meditations, brainwave technology and breathing techniques going on but one by one they will all fall away and then only stillness remains and the other stuff is not inviting at all anymore.
It will happen naturally with your spiritual development so if you enjoy guided meditations, by all means enjoy them, don’t force anything.
When the mind is not entertained with various techniques the mind will come in with all kinds of thoughts:
“I have to call her later, … wonder how he’s doing, .. I remember when .. , next time I see her I’ll…” and so on.
All kinds of thoughts that has to do with either past (memory) or future (imagination) and they’re all designed to get you distracted from the Now-moment.
It’s important to realize that you’re not that voice.
There’s something else there, noticing all this happening, – who is that? Inquire into that.
Simply recognize the voice and what’s happening, become aware of the awareness and let everything be as it is.
Thoughts are allowed to come and go, simply notice them.
Understand that all these things are normal reactions from the mind; the urge to sleep, the thoughts (that seems so important to follow), the need to scratch your body here and there and so on.
The mind creates the distractions, even physical manifestations as an attempt to prevent you from meditating!
The phone rings, someone enters the room even though you have said that you don’t want to be disturbed for the next hour. Things like that.
When we let those things happen without getting involved in them as in creating stories about them and so on the urge to sleep will fall away. (And you can turn off the phone during your meditation).
The light of awareness is enough for all these phenomenons to begin falling away because now that you see it, it’s not hidden anymore, so awareness is enough –
No force needed to change anything, it will all naturally vanish with the increased awareness of the ways of the mind.
That which is observing all this, that which is completely undisturbed by all this – tune into that and let the other stuff be.
What is that stillness that is already present and has always been right here?
Inquire into that.
This pic is from my walk yesterday. Spring is here soon and yesterday had a spring-feel to it, the sunshine, the warmer weather, happy birds singing,.. even the air smelled a bit like spring! A beautiful day:)
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