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Thread: I'm still falling asleep

  1. #1

    I'm still falling asleep

    I thought there was a thread on this somewhere in the Forum, but I can't find it.

    Actually, the problem of sleeping during sitting meditation led me to discover Treeleaf Zendo, but I can't remember how (though it was only recently ).

    I've only been able to sustain a daily sitting practice for about seven months now, after a few short-lived attempts over the previous 30 years. I found myself starting to fall asleep during sitting about three months ago. I thought it may have been to do with simple fatigue (the end of a busy school year - I'm a school administrator), but it's started again lately, even though I've been on holidays for about seven weeks.

    About 8 - 10 minutes into a sitting the eyes start to blink rapidly. I try to rest them for about a count of five slow breaths, which helps, but, soon after, I have to rest them again. Then I'm out to it after only 2-3 breaths.

    Mornings are not good for sitting for me, but whether I sit in the afternoon or evening the problem is the same.

    Can anyone advise?

    Gassho
    Adrian

  2. #2

    Re: I'm still falling asleep

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian
    I thought there was a thread on this somewhere in the Forum, but I can't find it.

    Actually, the problem of sleeping during sitting meditation led me to discover Treeleaf Zendo, but I can't remember how (though it was only recently ).

    I've only been able to sustain a daily sitting practice for about seven months now, after a few short-lived attempts over the previous 30 years. I found myself starting to fall asleep during sitting about three months ago. I thought it may have been to do with simple fatigue (the end of a busy school year - I'm a school administrator), but it's started again lately, even though I've been on holidays for about seven weeks.

    About 8 - 10 minutes into a sitting the eyes start to blink rapidly. I try to rest them for about a count of five slow breaths, which helps, but, soon after, I have to rest them again. Then I'm out to it after only 2-3 breaths.

    Mornings are not good for sitting for me, but whether I sit in the afternoon or evening the problem is the same.

    Can anyone advise?

    Gassho
    Adrian
    Hi Adrian,

    Here are a couple of threads on the subject, and some advice. After you have a look, we can discuss it here ...

    viewtopic.php?p=41974#p41974

    viewtopic.php?p=41954#p41954

    Here is some of that ...

    But on most days ... the advise is to get sleep sufficient to allow Zazen. It is best to sit in the mornings upon awakening, or at night just before bed. But you can pick another time when not so tired too. Then, take a bit of the sleepy zazen when it happens, if its too sleepy go get some sleep and sit on waking. If falling asleep during Zazen (although discouraged), just do that ... I promise not to beat you with my slipper (and hopefully it will not happen most days ... even Jundo falls asleep on the "sit-a-long" now and then, if you look closely! ) .

    If you sit Zazen and it is ZZZZzzzzz, just perfectly ZZZZzzzz!

    By the way, just adjusting the posture, opening the eyes a bit more and taking some breaths can help. I stretch my neck just a bit when tired during Zazen, and it seems to help ... as if a tiny string running from the top of my head to the ceiling were given a light tug. Or, one can return to following the breath for awhile. Monks in China and Japan have always had a close relationship to tea and caffeine (in moderation!). At more Sesshin I have attended in Japan or the West, tea and coffee (in moderation!) are always somewhere around.
    In Master Dogen's day, the monks actually used a piece of wood that they would prop their chin up on to keep from rolling forward if they fell asleep. That has since gone out of use.

    Gassho, J

  3. #3
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: I'm still falling asleep

    Just a mere thought...a cloud..a bit of nothing...

    You are falling asleep?

    Great! just read the the above threads.

    Come back. And so you will. Open, open to what is, for awakeness is beyond being asleep or not.

    Just be, slee@y or not. Don't judge what's happening. Just be, be.

    gassho


    Taigu ( very sleepy tonight...)

  4. #4

    Re: I'm still falling asleep

    Thank you Sensei Jundo and Sensei Taigu for your prompt and helpful responses.

    I've read the threads and managed to stay awake for 20 minutes this evening with just a tiny bit of hypnogogic visual stuff. It was a bit of a struggle. I did as you advised. Will see how it goes. I felt reasonably refreshed at the end of the session this time, not bleary as at other times after I've dropped off.

    Gassho
    Adrian

  5. #5

    Re: I'm still falling asleep

    Just be, slee@y or not. Don't judge what's happening. Just be, be.
    Good advice. sometimes there's just nothing you can do about it. Most of the time I think it's just our habit, unless you really are sleepy. I fought with sleep many times. Mostly during the afternoon. Try sitting in the morning before breakfast or just pay attention to how the sleep comes and goes. No need to worry about it.

    Gassho

  6. #6

    Re: I'm still falling asleep

    Quote Originally Posted by will
    Just be, slee@y or not. Don't judge what's happening. Just be, be.
    Good advice. sometimes there's just nothing you can do about it. Most of the time I think it's just our habit, unless you really are sleepy. I fought with sleep many times. Mostly during the afternoon. Try sitting in the morning before breakfast or just pay attention to how the sleep comes and goes. No need to worry about it.

    Gassho
    Good idea. I'll try that.
    Thank you.
    Gasho

  7. #7

    Re: I'm still falling asleep

    A month later and falling asleep is not really a problem now. I've stopped counting the breaths! I think I was counting myself to sleep.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Nov 2010
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    Re: I'm still falling asleep

    I've stopped counting the breaths! I think I was counting myself to sleep.
    Hi Adrian,

    Thanks for the update. Never thought about the possible connection before. Considering counting sheep is the age old remedy for sleeplessness I can see how this could happen!

    Gassho,
    John

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