Troubles falling asleep

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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Troubles falling asleep

Post by Slava » Fri Apr 08, 2011 1:23 pm

Hello good people,

There is a bit of an issue and perhaps someone might have experienced the same thing or knows how to deal with it. Lately, when it is time to go to sleep, the mind automatically finds the breath and starts focusing on it. That creates a problem because after a while the mind gets energized and not interested in going into the sleeping stage (and when it finally does, the sleep in not as deep as usual). Trying to shift the mind to observing body sensation does not really work because after a short while the mind finds the breath again. Forcing the mind to think about something so that it doesn’t look at breath helps going to sleep much faster, however that is probably not a wise thing to do. Is there a better solution?

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Re: Troubles falling asleep

Post by Ben » Fri Apr 08, 2011 1:41 pm

You do realize you have posted in the meditation forum?
Bodhi = awakening.

Seriously, don't worry too much about attempting to maintain awareness into sleep.
Sayagi U Ba Khin, used to have a saying 'work while you work and play while you play' which is to mean that you meditate during periods set aside for formal meditation and engage in other activities (work. sleep, etc) when it is appropriate to engage in those activities. When you mature in your practice, you will naturally be able to extend meditative awareness into other areas of your life. And until then, don't sweat it.
kind regards

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Troubles falling asleep

Post by unspoken » Fri Apr 08, 2011 3:22 pm

Did not experienced it before. But if this makes you more and more tiring. Then it's a hindrance

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Re: Troubles falling asleep

Post by Alexei » Fri Apr 08, 2011 3:52 pm

Hello Slava,

The cause of the problem may be in tension, bodily or mental one. In this case body sweeping can be helpful:
  • Locate that part of the body in your awareness: where is it right now? Then notice: how does it feel there as you breathe in? How does it feel when you breathe out? Watch it for a couple of breaths, and notice if there's any sense of tension or tightness in that part of the body, either with the in-breath or with the out-breath. Is it tensing up as you breathe in? Are you holding onto the tension as you breathe out? Are you putting too much force on the out-breath?
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Re: Troubles falling asleep

Post by Slava » Fri Apr 08, 2011 5:38 pm

Ben wrote:You do realize you have posted in the meditation forum?
Bodhi = awakening.
Haha, that's a good one.

Yes, unspoken, you're right. That does bring tiredness which in my case transforms into sloth and torpor while meditating. Thanks Alexei, I will try that. If it doesn't work I will just follow Ben's advise.

Thank you!

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Re: Troubles falling asleep

Post by monkey_brain » Sat Apr 09, 2011 6:02 pm

In general, generating and exploring images is much more conducive to sleep than (verbal) thinking, provided the images are not heavily emotionally charged. One excercise is to picture a room in your house and then rearrange the furniture mentally, trying different arrangements and see how you like them.

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Re: Troubles falling asleep

Post by rowyourboat » Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:49 am

Sounds like you have a well developed Anapanasati. This is often the reason why the mind automatically goes to the breath. With that kind of practice it is likely your samadhi is also quite good. This samadhi suppresses the hindrances, including sleepiness, causing disturbed sleep at night. This is something commonly seen with well developed samadhi states, and possibly a well known problem in those traditions that develop jhana. The solution is 1) not to meditate at night, just before sleep 2) learn to bring samadhi 'down' ie bring the mind to it's original pre-meditative state at the end of each session, by conscious control (a little 'tidying up' task), before opening your eyes and getting up. This puts the 'samadhi states away' for later use. 3) exploring, discovering and using the path your mind takes to fall asleep, consciously.

With metta

With Metta

& Upekkha

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