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Thread: Sleep

  1. #1

    Sleep

    Hello friends,

    So, have any of you noticed a decreased need for sleep when sitting? When I was moving through the Jhanas during my Theravada time, it eventually got to be so that I only needed 2-3 hours of sleep on any given day. When I stopped doing that and began Shikantaza, though, I moved to a more "normal" sleep cycle. However, very slowly, I'm noticing that I have more energy with less sleep again.

    Just curious if any others have experienced similar phenomena. Or am I just abnormal (wouldn't surprise me in the least)?

    Metta and Gassho,

    Saijun

  2. #2

    Re: Sleep

    I consistently sleep 7-8 hrs but if less I seem to eventually make it up. Recently I've been sleeping in a bed with an open window at the head and the side. It feels like sleeping outdoors - with all the fresh air and visible sky. Very nice.

  3. #3

    Re: Sleep

    Hi,

    I have always felt, on long Zen Sesshin going to bed at 9 or 10, getting up at 3 or 4am, that Zazen has been a sleep substitute in part.

    Brain wave studies may show that Zazen may have some of the benefits of sleep, and may be a "sleep substitute" to some degree. Brain waves during Zazen are often in states otherwise found during sleep, or which are similar to brain waves in that peaceful place we encounter right before falling asleep while in bed ...

    http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=3457896

    Also ...

    During periods of relaxation, while still awake, our brain waves become slower, increase in amplitude and become more synchronous. These types of waves are called alpha waves. For example, such brain waves are often associated with states of relaxation and peacefulness during meditation and biofeedback. As we will see in future lessons, recent evidence indicates that activities that promote alpha wave activity, appear to have positive health benefits.

    The first stage of sleep is characterized by theta waves, which are even slower in frequency and greater in amplitude than alpha waves. The difference between relaxation and stage 1 sleep is gradual and subtle.
    http://web.mst.edu/~psyworld/sleep_stages.htm

    ALSO

    http://books.google.com/books?id=8ywrjD ... ep&f=false
    ... which is also another reason that we can easily slip over the line into ZZZZZZZZzzzzzz.

    Gassho, and Good Night, Jundo

  4. #4
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Sleep

    Slightly related, I was thinking the other night, as I was unsuccessfully falling asleep, that I've never read of any "meditative" practices for that period when one is in bed just before sleep. Sometimes, when I have trouble sleeping, I try and focus on my breathing, as I would when sitting (the type of sitting where one focuses on the breath). I was wondering if any Buddhist traditions had any kind of pre-sleep practice...

  5. #5
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Sleep

    Jundo wrote:
    Brain wave studies may show that Zazen may have some of the benefits of sleep, and may be a "sleep substitute" to some degree. Brain waves during Zazen are often in states otherwise found during sleep, or which are similar to brain waves in that peaceful place we encounter right before falling asleep while in bed ...
    I had heard the same from the late Reverend Kensho Furuya(Aikido Sensei and Zen Priest), who said that the time spent in Zazen meditation was equivalent to the same amount of time sleeping.

    Gassho,
    John

  6. #6
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Re: Sleep

    If zazen replaces sleep, maybe I'll start having fewer problems with my sleep patterns.

    It's not that I can't sleep (most of the time), but that it's nearly impossible for me to get up and get moving promptly in the morning. This applies no matter what time I go to bed or wake up. It just takes me too darn long, I'm slow and groggy for an inappropriate amount of time.

    That's lasted through any of various kinds of meds, no meds, vitamins/no vitamins, various states of health...does anyone think people can just be hard-wired like this, or is it all a matter of conditioning?

    Lately I've come to think that it's because of the brain overload problem I've described.

    In any case, I only sit for short periods for now, so I will probably have to become used to sitting longer to observe any effects. It would be interesting to see updates from everyone about this, if they notice effects on their sleep over time.

    Also, while alpha waves have a certain relaxing effect, I have also heard discussion of the effects of TV on the brain -- and it is said to induce alpha wave patterns. However, I'm sure there is a vast difference between TV's alpha waves and zazen alpha waves, it seems like common sense! One is not so relaxing, which you can notice over the long term. So something must be different about the alpha waves themselves, or the context maybe. In any case, I don't advise TV to substitute for zazen, or many other things in life either :mrgreen:

    Gassho
    Julia

  7. #7

    Re: Sleep

    Quote Originally Posted by murasaki
    If zazen replaces sleep, maybe I'll start having fewer problems with my sleep patterns.

    It's not that I can't sleep (most of the time), but that it's nearly impossible for me to get up and get moving promptly in the morning. This applies no matter what time I go to bed or wake up. It just takes me too darn long, I'm slow and groggy for an inappropriate amount of time.

    That's lasted through any of various kinds of meds, no meds, vitamins/no vitamins, various states of health...does anyone think people can just be hard-wired like this, or is it all a matter of conditioning?

    Lately I've come to think that it's because of the brain overload problem I've described.

    In any case, I only sit for short periods for now, so I will probably have to become used to sitting longer to observe any effects. It would be interesting to see updates from everyone about this, if they notice effects on their sleep over time.

    Also, while alpha waves have a certain relaxing effect, I have also heard discussion of the effects of TV on the brain -- and it is said to induce alpha wave patterns. However, I'm sure there is a vast difference between TV's alpha waves and zazen alpha waves, it seems like common sense! One is not so relaxing, which you can notice over the long term. So something must be different about the alpha waves themselves, or the context maybe. In any case, I don't advise TV to substitute for zazen, or many other things in life either :mrgreen:

    Gassho
    Julia
    I think it has a lot to do with age. When I was younger, I could never get up early. I remember when I first started a fulltime job after college, I would have trouble waking up to an alarm on full blast. Now I always seem to wake up before it goes off. Although I'm definitely still not a morning person

  8. #8

    Re: Sleep

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    I had heard the same from the late Reverend Kensho Furuya(Aikido Sensei and Zen Priest), who said that the time spent in Zazen meditation was equivalent to the same amount of time sleeping.

    Gassho,
    John
    Hmmm. Maybe replace an hour or two in my experience, not much more.

    However, there are reports from China in the "old days" (and even now) of monks meditating with just about 3 hours of sleep (or pulling an "all nighter" or two or more). In Dogen's day (sometimes still now), they used a special wooden support called a "Zenpan" to hold the chin up (true), and were actually just sleeping in the Lotus Posture (I have done that too, although it is discouraged these days most times).

    "Zenpan" description here:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=smNM4E ... en&f=false

    Here is one:



    It is possible that some Indian holy man has, as they sometime claim, been able to fully transcend the body's need for sleep ... but I have never seen any scientific confirmation of such claims. I believe that madness is a usual result of real sleep deprivation.

    I have posted this from time to time on Zazen and sleep (and becoming sleepy during Zazen) ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    The great teacher "Homeless Kodo" Sawaki Roshi said about sleep and Zazen ...

    Eat in order to do zazen, sleep in order to do zazen. This means that eating and sleeping are also part of zazen.


    In other words, we must be properly fed and rested (not too much, not too little ... ours is the Middle Way) in order to sustain our Practice properly. Get rest.

    Of course ... that is if we can. Sometimes, more easily said than done these days. If you do find yourself unavoidably tired (because of your 3 jobs), but also feel your Zazen unavoidable (which it should be most days), follow the words of Uchiyama Roshi ...

    Another time you might be tired. Then you have to remind yourself that you are practicing zazen right now, and it is not the time for sleeping. This is correcting your attitude, correcting your posture, really opening the eyes and returning to zazen. This is called “Awakening from dullness and fatigue.”
    That is for day to day practice. Find the time which suits you best, morning or evening maybe afternoon, and sit consistently then. Sit with a bit of sleepy Zazen when it happens. If too sleepy, and literally falling of the Zafu, go get some sleep.

    If in a Sesshin or other intense retreat, it may be a somewhat different story, and we may wish to push ourselves a bit harder (pushing hard with nothing to attain ... but non-attainng!), Remember the words and actions of Master Dogen's teacher, Master Nyojo (Ryujing)

    When staying at Tendo Monastery in China, while the old master Nyojo was abbot there, we sat zazen until about eleven o’clock at night and got up at about half-past two to sit zazen. The abbot sat with the assembly in the sodo, never taking even one night off.

    While sitting, many monks fell asleep. The abbot walked around hitting them with his fist or his slipper, scolding them and encouraging them to wake up. If they continued to sleep, he went to the shodo1, rang the bell, and called his attendants to light the candles. On the spur of the moment he would say such things as; “What is the use of sleeping? Why do you gather in a sodo [monk's hall]? Why did you become a monk and enter this monastery?”

    One time, his immediate attendant said, “The monks in the sodo are tired and sleepy. They may fall ill or lose their aspiration because of the long hours of sitting. Please shorten the time of zazen.”

    Angrily the abbot replied, “We must never do that. People without bodhi-mind who temporarily stay in the sodo would sleep even if we sat for only half an hour or less. Practitioners with bodhi-mind who aspire to practice are happier the longer they are able to sit and therefore, practice much harder. ”
    http://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/common_ ... 02-25.html
    In bed by 11, up for Zazen at 2:30! Rujing seems like a heck of a drill sargent at the Dharma boot camp!

    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! ops: ) .

    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.

    Master Keizan wrote (in his Zazen Yojinki about the year 1400) ...

    Although we shouldn’t be too anxious about bodily comforts, inadequate clothing, food and sleep are known as the "three insufficiencies" and will cause our practice to suffer. ...

    ... If dullness or sleepiness overcome your sitting, move to the body and open the eyes wider, or place attention above the hairline or between your eyebrows. If you are still not fresh, rub the eyes or the body. If that still doesn’t wake you, stand up and walk, always clockwise. Once you’ve gone about a hundred steps you probably won’t be sleepy any longer. The way to walk is to take a half step with each breath. Walk without walking, silent and unmoving.

    If you still don’t feel fresh after doing kinhin, wash your eyes and forehead with cold water. Or chant the Three Pure Precepts of the Bodhisattvas. Do something; don’t just fall asleep. You should be aware of the Great Matter of birth and death and the swiftness of impermanence. What are you doing sleeping when your eye of the Way is still clouded? If dullness and sinking arise repeatedly you should chant, "Habituality is deeply rooted and so I am wrapped in dullness. When will dullness disperse? May the compassion of the Buddhas and Ancestors lift this darkness and misery."
    A bit of Kinhin, for a few minutes, can be good when very tired.

    There was a master who sat with a heavy object on his head, which would fall with a crash whenever he started to doze ... and another who kept jabbing himself with a needle ... but I don't recommend that! :shock:

    Also, brain wave studies have shown that Zazen may have some of the benefits of sleep, and may be a "sleep substitute" to some degree. Brain waves during Zazen are often in state otherwise found during sleep, or which are similar to brain waves in that peaceful place we encounter right before falling asleep while in bed ...

    http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=3457896

    ... which is also another reason that we can easily slip over the line into ZZZZZZZZzzzzzz.

    Gassho, and Good Night, Jundo

  9. #9
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
    Join Date
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    Re: Sleep

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    I had heard the same from the late Reverend Kensho Furuya(Aikido Sensei and Zen Priest), who said that the time spent in Zazen meditation was equivalent to the same amount of time sleeping.

    Gassho,
    John
    Hmmm. Maybe replace an hour or two in my experience, not much more.

    However, there are reports from China in the "old days" of monks meditating with just about 3 hours of sleep (or pulling an "all nighter" or two or more). In Dogen's day (sometimes still now), they used a special wooden support called a "Zenpan" to hold the chin up (true), and were actually just sleeping in the Lotus Posture (I have done that too, although it is discouraged these days most times).

    "Zenpan" description here:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=smNM4E ... en&f=false

    Here is one:



    It is possible that some Indian holy man has, as they sometime claim, been able to fully transcend the body's need for sleep ... but I have never seen any scientific confirmation of such claims. I believe the madness is a usual result of real sleep deprivation.

    I have posted this from time to time on Zazen and sleep (and becoming sleepy during Zazen) ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    The great teacher "Homeless Kodo" Sawaki Roshi said about sleep and Zazen ...

    Eat in order to do zazen, sleep in order to do zazen. This means that eating and sleeping are also part of zazen.


    In other words, we must be properly fed and rested (not too much, not too little ... ours is the Middle Way) in order to sustain our Practice properly. Get rest.

    Of course ... that is if we can. Sometimes, more easily said than done these days. If you do find yourself unavoidably tired (because of your 3 jobs), but also feel your Zazen unavoidable (which it should be most days), follow the words of Uchiyama Roshi ...

    Another time you might be tired. Then you have to remind yourself that you are practicing zazen right now, and it is not the time for sleeping. This is correcting your attitude, correcting your posture, really opening the eyes and returning to zazen. This is called “Awakening from dullness and fatigue.”
    That is for day to day practice. Find the time which suits you best, morning or evening maybe afternoon, and sit consistently then. Sit with a bit of sleepy Zazen when it happens. If too sleepy, and literally falling of the Zafu, go get some sleep.

    If in a Sesshin or other intense retreat, it may be a somewhat different story, and we may wish to push ourselves a bit harder (pushing hard with nothing to attain ... but non-attainng!), Remember the words and actions of Master Dogen's teacher, Master Nyojo (Ryujing)

    When staying at Tendo Monastery in China, while the old master Nyojo was abbot there, we sat zazen until about eleven o’clock at night and got up at about half-past two to sit zazen. The abbot sat with the assembly in the sodo, never taking even one night off.

    While sitting, many monks fell asleep. The abbot walked around hitting them with his fist or his slipper, scolding them and encouraging them to wake up. If they continued to sleep, he went to the shodo1, rang the bell, and called his attendants to light the candles. On the spur of the moment he would say such things as; “What is the use of sleeping? Why do you gather in a sodo [monk's hall]? Why did you become a monk and enter this monastery?”

    One time, his immediate attendant said, “The monks in the sodo are tired and sleepy. They may fall ill or lose their aspiration because of the long hours of sitting. Please shorten the time of zazen.”

    Angrily the abbot replied, “We must never do that. People without bodhi-mind who temporarily stay in the sodo would sleep even if we sat for only half an hour or less. Practitioners with bodhi-mind who aspire to practice are happier the longer they are able to sit and therefore, practice much harder. ”
    http://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/common_ ... 02-25.html
    In bed by 11, up for Zazen at 2:30! Rujing seems like a heck of a drill sargent at the Dharma boot camp!

    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! ops: ) .

    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.

    Master Keizan wrote (in his Zazen Yojinki about the year 1400) ...

    Although we shouldn’t be too anxious about bodily comforts, inadequate clothing, food and sleep are known as the "three insufficiencies" and will cause our practice to suffer. ...

    ... If dullness or sleepiness overcome your sitting, move to the body and open the eyes wider, or place attention above the hairline or between your eyebrows. If you are still not fresh, rub the eyes or the body. If that still doesn’t wake you, stand up and walk, always clockwise. Once you’ve gone about a hundred steps you probably won’t be sleepy any longer. The way to walk is to take a half step with each breath. Walk without walking, silent and unmoving.

    If you still don’t feel fresh after doing kinhin, wash your eyes and forehead with cold water. Or chant the Three Pure Precepts of the Bodhisattvas. Do something; don’t just fall asleep. You should be aware of the Great Matter of birth and death and the swiftness of impermanence. What are you doing sleeping when your eye of the Way is still clouded? If dullness and sinking arise repeatedly you should chant, "Habituality is deeply rooted and so I am wrapped in dullness. When will dullness disperse? May the compassion of the Buddhas and Ancestors lift this darkness and misery."
    A bit of Kinhin, for a few minutes, can be good when very tired.

    There was a master who sat with a heavy object on his head, which would fall with a crash whenever he started to doze ... and another who kept jabbing himself with a needle ... but I don't recommend that! :shock:

    Also, brain wave studies have shown that Zazen may have some of the benefits of sleep, and may be a "sleep substitute" to some degree. Brain waves during Zazen are often in state otherwise found during sleep, or which are similar to brain waves in that peaceful place we encounter right before falling asleep while in bed ...

    http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=3457896

    ... which is also another reason that we can easily slip over the line into ZZZZZZZZzzzzzz.

    Gassho, and Good Night, Jundo
    Thank you Jundo Sensei this was a very enriching post!! _/_

  10. #10

  11. #11
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Sleep

    Quote Originally Posted by murasaki
    If zazen replaces sleep, maybe I'll start having fewer problems with my sleep patterns.

    It's not that I can't sleep (most of the time), but that it's nearly impossible for me to get up and get moving promptly in the morning. This applies no matter what time I go to bed or wake up. It just takes me too darn long, I'm slow and groggy for an inappropriate amount of time.

    That's lasted through any of various kinds of meds, no meds, vitamins/no vitamins, various states of health...does anyone think people can just be hard-wired like this, or is it all a matter of conditioning?

    Lately I've come to think that it's because of the brain overload problem I've described.

    In any case, I only sit for short periods for now, so I will probably have to become used to sitting longer to observe any effects. It would be interesting to see updates from everyone about this, if they notice effects on their sleep over time.

    Also, while alpha waves have a certain relaxing effect, I have also heard discussion of the effects of TV on the brain -- and it is said to induce alpha wave patterns. However, I'm sure there is a vast difference between TV's alpha waves and zazen alpha waves, it seems like common sense! One is not so relaxing, which you can notice over the long term. So something must be different about the alpha waves themselves, or the context maybe. In any case, I don't advise TV to substitute for zazen, or many other things in life either :mrgreen:

    Gassho
    Julia
    It's an ADHD thing - I have the same problem.

    Chet

  12. #12
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Re: Sleep

    Sleep to me is very important in the way that in the past I had a very severe insomnia problem. Since then I learned to control it and be very mindful of my sleeping habits and schedule.

    While on zazen and I am too sleepy, I just switch to a little more uncomfortable position and that seems to help.

    At any rate, I think we should do our best to stay awake while meditating.

    What I find fascinating is that zazen can replace some sleep hours.I shall research on this.

  13. #13

    Re: Sleep

    I haven't noticed any difference... but... sleep is irregular with a baby and a toddler who has entered night-terror phase, so unpredictable is the name of the game when it comes to sleep for me right now anyway

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