staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

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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marc108
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Post by marc108 » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:09 pm

you may want to read up on REM cycles and how to use that timing to wake up. i have had a lot of issues with sleep and fatigue, and i found timing my sleep according to REM cycles to be extremely useful to the point where even with less sleep, if i wake up at the correct time, i feel much better during the day.

the idea is that the brain is 'primed' to wake up at certain stages of sleep, and naturally will wake up at the peak of REM sleep... if you wake up in a lower stage of sleep the brain and body are flooded with hormones that are involved in sleeping. using an alarm clock, or having disturbed sleep cycles can cause us to wake up in lower stages of sleep that the brain would not normally wake up during.

Image

it requires some experimentation to get the right timing down. personally, i shoot for the 7.5 mark. it takes me generally 20-30 minutes to fall asleep so i set my alarm for 8 hours from the moment i hit the bed. 30 mins to fall asleep, 7.5 hours to sleep.
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."

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johnny
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Post by johnny » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:21 pm

marc108 wrote:you may want to read up on REM cycles and how to use that timing to wake up. i have had a lot of issues with sleep and fatigue, and i found timing my sleep according to REM cycles to be extremely useful to the point where even with less sleep, if i wake up at the correct time, i feel much better during the day.

the idea is that the brain is 'primed' to wake up at certain stages of sleep, and naturally will wake up at the peak of REM sleep... if you wake up in a lower stage of sleep the brain and body are flooded with hormones that are involved in sleeping. using an alarm clock, or having disturbed sleep cycles can cause us to wake up in lower stages of sleep that the brain would not normally wake up during.

Image

it requires some experimentation to get the right timing down. personally, i shoot for the 7.5 mark. it takes me generally 20-30 minutes to fall asleep so i set my alarm for 8 hours from the moment i hit the bed. 30 mins to fall asleep, 7.5 hours to sleep.
good thoughts, i'll look into that, thanks. on that note, ever read "exploring the world of lucid dreaming" by stephen laberge and howard rheingold? freaking mind blowing stuff.
The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only the electronic clocks but the wind-up kind too. The second hand on my watch would twitch once, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again.
There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling I had to believe whatever clocks said -and calendars.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

danieLion
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Post by danieLion » Thu Jul 26, 2012 12:10 am

Hi Jhonny,
1) Have you actually tried just napping instead when you doze off?

2) Be careful with the sleep "science" stuff. It's all correlative data (as opposed to causal). Sleep amounts and "patterns" vary widely among individuals.

3) Before I gained some competency in the lying down posture for meditating (I have chronic back pain), there was one thing that worked for a while. I'd lie on my back but with my head propped up with some pillows and put my hands together mudra style on my chest or abdomen. I found my hands naturally fell one way when I started dozing. So, I'd light a candle and place it on my belly in the trajectory my hand would fall when I started falling asleep. Yes, I burned myself a few times at first, but it worked for a while.

Best,
Daniel

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johnny
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Post by johnny » Thu Jul 26, 2012 4:28 am

danieLion wrote:Hi Jhonny,
1) Have you actually tried just napping instead when you doze off?

2) Be careful with the sleep "science" stuff. It's all correlative data (as opposed to causal). Sleep amounts and "patterns" vary widely among individuals.

3) Before I gained some competency in the lying down posture for meditating (I have chronic back pain), there was one thing that worked for a while. I'd lie on my back but with my head propped up with some pillows and put my hands together mudra style on my chest or abdomen. I found my hands naturally fell one way when I started dozing. So, I'd light a candle and place it on my belly in the trajectory my hand would fall when I started falling asleep. Yes, I burned myself a few times at first, but it worked for a while.

Best,
Daniel
my man! that's the kind of non standard stuff i'm talking about!!! thanks. so what's the rest of the story? how did it turn out in particular? you burned yourself a few times and then your brain just realized it wasn't good too fall asleep and so you stayed awake after a while?
The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only the electronic clocks but the wind-up kind too. The second hand on my watch would twitch once, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again.
There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling I had to believe whatever clocks said -and calendars.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

danieLion
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Post by danieLion » Fri Jul 27, 2012 8:45 am

johnny wrote:
danieLion wrote:Hi Jhonny,
1) Have you actually tried just napping instead when you doze off?

2) Be careful with the sleep "science" stuff. It's all correlative data (as opposed to causal). Sleep amounts and "patterns" vary widely among individuals.

3) Before I gained some competency in the lying down posture for meditating (I have chronic back pain), there was one thing that worked for a while. I'd lie on my back but with my head propped up with some pillows and put my hands together mudra style on my chest or abdomen. I found my hands naturally fell one way when I started dozing. So, I'd light a candle and place it on my belly in the trajectory my hand would fall when I started falling asleep. Yes, I burned myself a few times at first, but it worked for a while.

Best,
Daniel
my man! that's the kind of non standard stuff i'm talking about!!! thanks. so what's the rest of the story? how did it turn out in particular? you burned yourself a few times and then your brain just realized it wasn't good too fall asleep and so you stayed awake after a while?
It bought me time enough to get to know my habits better. I discovered there are warning signs (for me, they are mini-dreams my mind spins off into right before I fall sleep), and once my mind was trained enough to recognize them almost every time, I put a plan into place, and told myself: (1) you can get up and do something else (mindfully if possible, and preferably walking meditation or active Qigong); (2) you can rest; (3) you can stay here and try to fight it. I soon learned option (3) was rarely wise (there are some exceptions) and basically an unskillful way of doing (2).

Something else I used to do in a sitting posture: I'd situate a newly sharpened pencil or a semi-dull knife with the point under my chin and the eraser or handle on my chest (I guess you could duct-tape it there). When I doze off in this posture my chin drops down towards the base of my throat naturally. I knew I needed rest when I'd fall asleep resting my chin on the tip of a sharp point!

I also changed my attitude. I'm naturally the self-loathing "type." There are probably folks here who disagree, but I don't think the need for rest is necessarily sloth and torpor (thīna-middha.) I used knowledge of this as the basis to stop beating myself up about needing rest or falling asleep. Another thing related to this was rotating in non-sedentary forms of meditation and mindfulness practices as I began to realize I was adding to the amount of time I literally sat on my ass.

I don't use counting all the time (and never to directly prevent drowsiness), but sometimes when my mind seems extra unruly or distracted I use it to help me get my attention stable on the breath and then drop it. I've noticed, however, it has a fringe benefit in that it usually counteracts dozing off. That might have something to do with my "method" though. I start with the standard 1 to 10, 10 to 1 backwards pattern, but only do that once. The next round, I go by twos to twenty and backwards to two, and on the next round by threes to 30 and backwards to 3, etc..., up to 90 by nines and back to 9 if necessary (I skip to 50 by fives). I only count at the end of the out breath.

Reverend Sucitto stands on his head (or used to).

Best,
Daniel

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mikenz66
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Jul 27, 2012 8:48 am

marc108 wrote:this talk by Shaila Catherine has a lot of useful, non-standard information:
http://imsb.org/media/2001-07-05_Shaila ... ssness.mp3" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Thanks Marc. That's certainly a talk worth listening to closely.

If anyone has trouble accessing it via the above link it's at the bottom of this page: http://imsb.org/teachings/audio.php" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:anjali:
Mike

JustThis
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Post by JustThis » Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:46 am

Your description of what happens when it doesn't go right sounds very familiar. For years during retreats I struggled with sleepiness, I never knew when it was going to pop up. Usually after several days it would creep in, I tried numerous things with no success. Then I had a breakthrough. The day before I left for a 10 retreat I started to come down with a head cold, one day in I knew it was going to be a strong one. I was bummed, nothing like spending a retreat sniffling, sneezing and blowing your nose. But it did not go as I expected, in fact that retreat was a turning point in my practice, I learned something very valuable. During the sits my nose would run, not enough so that I would have to blow it but it was always wet. My wet nose became a strong meditation object to watch and watch it I did. All kinds of strong sensations became connected to the breath, my concentration deepened and my nemesis, sleepiness, never became a problem and hasn't been a problem since. I learned that meditation requires a combination of concentration and precision. Concentration came easy to me, I typically had little problem following the breath, it was the precision that I lacked. With my wet nose I was able to look closely at the sensations of the breath flowing through my nose, I learned to examine them in finer and finer detail, going into them deeper and deeper. Now, when I feel a little sleepiness starting to creep in I know that I am not looking closely enough at my meditation object, I haven't lost it, my attention is still on it, but I am not really in close contact with it. Your description of your practice seems rather generic, watching the breath come in and go out. I suggest that you try to tighten it up a bit, look closer at the sensations that you label as 'the breath', examine them in finer and finer detail, become interested in them. That's what worked for me.

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johnny
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Post by johnny » Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:41 am

danieLion wrote:
johnny wrote:
danieLion wrote:Hi Jhonny,
1) Have you actually tried just napping instead when you doze off?

2) Be careful with the sleep "science" stuff. It's all correlative data (as opposed to causal). Sleep amounts and "patterns" vary widely among individuals.

3) Before I gained some competency in the lying down posture for meditating (I have chronic back pain), there was one thing that worked for a while. I'd lie on my back but with my head propped up with some pillows and put my hands together mudra style on my chest or abdomen. I found my hands naturally fell one way when I started dozing. So, I'd light a candle and place it on my belly in the trajectory my hand would fall when I started falling asleep. Yes, I burned myself a few times at first, but it worked for a while.

Best,
Daniel
my man! that's the kind of non standard stuff i'm talking about!!! thanks. so what's the rest of the story? how did it turn out in particular? you burned yourself a few times and then your brain just realized it wasn't good too fall asleep and so you stayed awake after a while?
It bought me time enough to get to know my habits better. I discovered there are warning signs (for me, they are mini-dreams my mind spins off into right before I fall sleep), and once my mind was trained enough to recognize them almost every time, I put a plan into place, and told myself: (1) you can get up and do something else (mindfully if possible, and preferably walking meditation or active Qigong); (2) you can rest; (3) you can stay here and try to fight it. I soon learned option (3) was rarely wise (there are some exceptions) and basically an unskillful way of doing (2).

Something else I used to do in a sitting posture: I'd situate a newly sharpened pencil or a semi-dull knife with the point under my chin and the eraser or handle on my chest (I guess you could duct-tape it there). When I doze off in this posture my chin drops down towards the base of my throat naturally. I knew I needed rest when I'd fall asleep resting my chin on the tip of a sharp point!

I also changed my attitude. I'm naturally the self-loathing "type." There are probably folks here who disagree, but I don't think the need for rest is necessarily sloth and torpor (thīna-middha.) I used knowledge of this as the basis to stop beating myself up about needing rest or falling asleep. Another thing related to this was rotating in non-sedentary forms of meditation and mindfulness practices as I began to realize I was adding to the amount of time I literally sat on my ass.

I don't use counting all the time (and never to directly prevent drowsiness), but sometimes when my mind seems extra unruly or distracted I use it to help me get my attention stable on the breath and then drop it. I've noticed, however, it has a fringe benefit in that it usually counteracts dozing off. That might have something to do with my "method" though. I start with the standard 1 to 10, 10 to 1 backwards pattern, but only do that once. The next round, I go by twos to twenty and backwards to two, and on the next round by threes to 30 and backwards to 3, etc..., up to 90 by nines and back to 9 if necessary (I skip to 50 by fives). I only count at the end of the out breath.

Reverend Sucitto stands on his head (or used to).

Best,
Daniel

thank you! again, this is exactly the kind of stuff i want too hear. non standard, different and edgy enough that there will be an immediate difference, and the added bonus of fulfilling the necessity of not being too crazy too actually try! and i think your counting method is very intelligent as well. one can count mindlessly with practice if it's only 1-10 or 10-1, but your complicated formula would be hard too "get used too" enough too doze easily.
The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only the electronic clocks but the wind-up kind too. The second hand on my watch would twitch once, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again.
There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling I had to believe whatever clocks said -and calendars.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

monkey_brain
Posts: 43
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Post by monkey_brain » Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:19 am

johnny wrote: lol! that's the one thing from the "nodding" sutta that i have not tried! but even when i have awoken from a good solid nights rest and become totally awake for the day and then i sit, i can still fall asleep, easy.
Nonstimulating or sedentary activities don't cause sleepiness, they *unmask* it. If you can fall asleep easily in midmorning or early evening, the two times when alertness peaks naturally, this is a strong indication of a sleep debt. Sleep debt in the presence of what should be adequate sleep amounts indicates a possible sleep pathology.

danieLion
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Post by danieLion » Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:36 am

You're welcome, Johnny.
Kind wishes,
Daniel

danieLion
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Post by danieLion » Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:49 am

monkey_brain wrote:Sleep debt in the presence of what should be adequate sleep amounts indicates a possible sleep pathology.
Hi monkey_brain,
"Sleep debt" implies there's an ideal amount/type of sleep; and associating sleep problems with pathology is really pushing it.
Best,
Daniel

danieLion
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Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 4:49 am

Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Post by danieLion » Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:07 pm

Permission to Sleep While You Meditate
Excellent Q & A reply here:

Stream: http://dharmaseed.org/talks/audio_player/96/1456.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Download: http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/96/talk/1456/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Starting at 49:00 and ending at 54:10
One of the most startling things--discoveries--I made about tiredness in practice is that a good part of it came from my attachment to being wakeful.
Best,
Daniel

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Richard Paul Johnson
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Post by Richard Paul Johnson » Fri Aug 03, 2012 5:38 pm

There is a book called "Living, Dreaming, Dying: wisdom of Tibetan psychology" by Rob Nairn, its an extremely good introduction to dream yoga, i practiced it and regularly experienced lucid dreaming. I feel like Theravada has something to learn from this kindof dream yoga.

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Kim OHara
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Post by Kim OHara » Sat Aug 04, 2012 2:51 am

danieLion wrote:
monkey_brain wrote:Sleep debt in the presence of what should be adequate sleep amounts indicates a possible sleep pathology.
Hi monkey_brain,
"Sleep debt" implies there's an ideal amount/type of sleep; and associating sleep problems with pathology is really pushing it.
Best,
Daniel
Can I take the middle way here?
Johnny has mentioned sleeping 8 - 8.5 hrs/night and still being sleepy or able to sleep very easily.
'Sleep debt' is simply not having had 'enough' sleep according to one's personal needs. Some people are fine with 5, others (I know some in my own family) accumulate a genuine sleep debt if they don't average 9 - 9.5.
So it's perfectly possible the OP does have a sleep debt but no 'sleep pathology', even if he is really sleeping well for those 8 8.5 hours.
It is also possible (but less likely, IMO) that there is some interruption to Johnny's sleep without which 8.5 would be enough. It might be environmental (nearby factory starting up at 4 a.m.?) or a health issue.
The simplest thing to do is probably just sleep longer each night and see what happens.

:namaste:
Kim

monkey_brain
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Re: staying awake during meditation, non standard ideas welcome.

Post by monkey_brain » Sat Aug 04, 2012 5:12 am

danieLion wrote:
monkey_brain wrote:Sleep debt in the presence of what should be adequate sleep amounts indicates a possible sleep pathology.
Hi monkey_brain,
"Sleep debt" implies there's an ideal amount/type of sleep; and associating sleep problems with pathology is really pushing it.
Best,
Daniel
It implies individual needs. And by pathology here, I simply mean a sleep problem. Like Obstructive Apnea, or Periodic Limb Movements. Something of that sort, which can cause many, many (unremembered) arousals and keep someone from progressing into the restorative deep stages of sleep.

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