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Meditating When Going to Sleep

Posted: Thu May 10, 2018 8:44 pm
by Nothing
Is it good practice to meditate when you're in bed about to go to sleep? Probably a really daft question but I've never considered it before. I mean, just lying there, eyes closed and focusing on the breath.

Re: Meditating When Going to Sleep

Posted: Thu May 10, 2018 9:20 pm
by Sam Vara
There are, I think, better times and places and postures, as the relaxation normally sends one off to sleep. But as an addition to a sitting practice, why not? There are certainly worse things that you could be doing!

Rather than meditation in the normal sense of the term, it might be a good time to take stock of the day, and prepare yourself for sleep. How has the day been, in terms of practice? A few years ago on retreat, the monk giving meditation instruction claimed that the last thoughts one had on falling asleep influenced the first thoughts one had on awakening. He encouraged us to cultivate thoughts of loving kindness, clarity, and other beneficial states as we lay in bed. The idea was that these thoughts would be the first to greet us when we awoke. It worked quite well.

Re: Meditating When Going to Sleep

Posted: Thu May 10, 2018 9:48 pm
by paul
The practice is profitable if you try to locate the mind’s midpoint between the sleeping and waking states, which requires discipline not to fall into the sleeping state. The reason the monastic eating schedule is arranged with the main meal before midday is so that the dawn and dusk times are free from digestive responsibility, leaving bodily energy free to circulate in the mind at the optimum meditation times when due to circadian rhythm, the mind is naturally moving into the sleeping state (dusk), and out of it (dawn) and samadhi states are easier to access at those times when the mind has access to both the subconscious and conscious levels.
According to the Satipatthana sutta there are four postures, going, standing, sitting and lying, and in the case of ageing when the body is painful, lying becomes more utilised as a posture.

Re: Meditating When Going to Sleep

Posted: Thu May 10, 2018 11:08 pm
by BasementBuddhist
I meditate as I am falling asleep, so I can speak to this. I hesitated for the longest time because I was worried that if I meditated as I was about to fall asleep, I would get sleepy when practicing normal, regular, sitting or walking meditation. That didn't happen, so no worries there (at least for me). The benefits, in my experience, are pretty much these: falling asleep much easier and staying focused on the Buddhist way when waking up.

Instead of my mind racing to and fro, it just stays put, and because I am usually worn out at the end of the day, the brain/body takes advantage of the quiet mind and falls right to sleep. It has become a lot easier to go to bed at night. On the second point, I used to be really grumpy in the mornings, and honestly quite rude to people around me. It used to take me several hours before the brain would kick in to gear and go "oh, yeah, buddhism and meditation. We've got to be mindful and focus." Since I started meditating before going to bed, I am a lot more pleasant to be around, because I wake up with Buddha on the brain. Still remembering the focus on the breath from before I went to sleep. With Buddhism in mind, there is much less to no delay in picking up the practice in the morning, and I am much more polite to be around. That is probably the main benefit, it is like you fall asleep with the practice of Buddhism, and wake right up with it too.

I can't think of a better way to start the day. :tongue:

I'd say there are lots of benefits, and only a few potential minor drawbacks. Go for it.

Re: Meditating When Going to Sleep

Posted: Fri May 11, 2018 1:41 am
by LG2V
Sure, go for it. It helps to practice in the lying posture. I've been doing it on and off for years and it hasn't adversely affected my sitting meditation.

Re: Meditating When Going to Sleep

Posted: Fri May 11, 2018 2:29 am
by 2600htz
Hello:

Its paradoxical that the Buddha awoke during the night :).


Regards.

Re: Meditating When Going to Sleep

Posted: Fri May 11, 2018 3:32 am
by justindesilva
Nothing wrote:
Thu May 10, 2018 8:44 pm
Is it good practice to meditate when you're in bed about to go to sleep? Probably a really daft question but I've never considered it before. I mean, just lying there, eyes closed and focusing on the breath.
While this posting is appreciated I wish to add that I personally do metta meditation (maithri bavana) which has comforted me in my past with an uninterrupted sleep. From what I have read the bhavanga citta ( subconscious mind) awakes during our sleep. Metta bhavana not only makes one sleep well but also helps into good mental and physical health.

Re: Meditating When Going to Sleep

Posted: Fri May 11, 2018 7:58 am
by Nothing
Thank you all for the replies.

My main reason for asking was to find out if it would help me fall asleep. I see now though, that there might be issues with

1. Falling asleep whilst meditating might make me prone to falling asleep when meditating during the day

The other side is

2. Not falling asleep when meditating during the day might train me to not fall asleep when I meditate whilst trying to go to sleep

Re: Meditating When Going to Sleep

Posted: Fri May 11, 2018 8:12 am
by Sam Vara
Nothing wrote:
Fri May 11, 2018 7:58 am
Thank you all for the replies.

My main reason for asking was to find out if it would help me fall asleep. I see now though, that there might be issues with

1. Falling asleep whilst meditating might make me prone to falling asleep when meditating during the day

The other side is

2. Not falling asleep when meditating during the day might train me to not fall asleep when I meditate whilst trying to go to sleep
I think you will be OK with both these issues, if my experience is anything to go by. Other things being equal, a relaxed body and calm mind while lying down sends me off to sleep, and it doesn't affect the sitting meditations. There are specific meditations based around relaxing the body (not Buddhist ones) that you could find on the internet that might help if you have difficulty in getting to sleep.

Re: Meditating When Going to Sleep

Posted: Fri May 11, 2018 6:21 pm
by Dhammarakkhito
i didn't realize this was the discovering theravāda section, which requires post approval. if someone would merge my former answer into this one or just delete it whatever,

"But if by doing this you don't shake off your drowsiness, then — reclining on your right side — take up the lion's posture, one foot placed on top of the other, mindful, alert, with your mind set on getting up. As soon as you wake up, get up quickly, with the thought, 'I won't stay indulging in the pleasure of lying down, the pleasure of reclining, the pleasure of drowsiness.' That is how you should train yourself.

"Furthermore, Moggallana, should you train yourself: 'I will not visit families with my pride[3] lifted high.' That is how you should train yourself. Among families there are many jobs that have to be done, so that people don't pay attention to a visiting monk. If a monk visits them with his trunk lifted high, the thought will occur to him, 'Now who, I wonder, has caused a split between me and this family? The people seem to have no liking for me.' Getting nothing, he becomes abashed. Abashed, he becomes restless. Restless, he becomes unrestrained. Unrestrained, his mind is far from concentration.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

"Always, always, he sleeps in ease: the brahman totally [extinguished], who doesn't adhere to sensual pleasures, who's without acquisitions & cooled. Having cut all ties & subdued fear in the heart, calmed, he sleeps in ease, having reached peace of awareness."
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

sleep is one of those things that you have to do to live, not to be delighted in (i'm very guilty of doing this btw), so definitely! meditate when going to sleep, so that when you wake up you won't get too behind in your practice