Is it okay to fall asleep while meditating?
For years, meditation has been used to bring a deep sense of calmness and self-awareness among many individuals across the globe. We currently live in a fast-paced world that wears us out and leaves us overly stressed. Meditation is a natural relaxation method that is quickly being embraced due to its wide array of health benefits. It not only helps us relax but also allows us to embrace a more positive perspective on life. Due to its calming nature, many new meditators often wonder: is it okay to fall asleep while meditating?
Falling asleep during meditation
The type of meditation you perform may play a big part in whether you’ll fall asleep during meditation. Other factors which could play a role include our unique physiological makeup and nervous system. However, if you’ve recently been starved of sleep, falling asleep in meditation wouldn’t be a surprising event – our bodies usually take in what they need during meditation. According to Lama Jampa Thaye, a renowned meditation teacher, meditation offers us a rejuvenating freshness that we lack. We focus more on the here and now. We allow the present to take center stage. Ultimately, our deepest and purest abilities come to light, helping us to deal with our diverse thoughts and emotions.
For individuals who’ve been experiencing periods of insomnia, falling asleep during meditation comes as a delightful welcome. If you’d enjoyed abundant rest during the previous night, your meditation experience ought to be one of heightened energy and wakefulness. But if that’s not happening, you needn’t be alarmed – your body’s response to meditation is usually a culmination of the thoughts, emotions and sensations that linger deep within. So if you find yourself falling asleep during meditation, don’t fight it. It is natural for beginners. Have patience and this tendency will pass over time.
How to avoid falling asleep in meditation
If you don’t desire to fall asleep during your meditations, here are a few tips:
- Ensure your eyes are open
Many meditation techniques require that you close your eyes. However, this is usually a definite precursor to sleep – most often than not, meditators who shut their eyes allow their imaginations to roam freely. This often gives way to dreaminess and sleep. Next time you meditate, try keeping your eyes open while softly gazing downward. This practice is popularly known as shamatha (Sanskrit for the development of peace) and helps meditators to stay awake. It also keeps you rooted in the present. Keeping the eyes open is probably the single best method of staying awake during meditation.
- Try out different types of meditation
Lying down meditation techniques make us overly relaxed, often to the point of falling asleep. Try out sitting or walking meditation instead. Walking is a perfect partner to sitting because as we walk, our minds become alert to the environment. The object of meditation shifts from your breathing technique to the movement of your feet and legs, or sound of your feet thudding on gravel or the sound of dry leaves crackling under your feet. Walking also boosts the blood flow around different parts of your body.
- Take a break
So you’ve been seated on your meditation cushion for a while but every time you commence, your drooping eyes fail you. One effective way to avoid falling asleep in meditation is to simply take a break from meditation. Remain in the meditating room for a while, stretch your body and breathe. If you feel parched, go grab a drink of water. Your concentration will definitely improve once you resume your meditation. It’s also important to set realistic timelines – you don’t want to meditate for a whole hour, especially if you’re just starting.
Here are some more tips that can help:
- Keep your lights on.
- Adjust your meditation times – mornings are best.
- Adjust your pose.
- Slightly raise your eye gaze.
- Subtly straighten your posture a bit.
Guided meditation is one of the most effective ways of meditating for beginners as well as experienced meditators. However, falling asleep during guided meditation is not unheard of, especially if you listen to the same speaker every single time. The best meditation app should offer you an assortment of audio recordings from a number of meditation teachers. The Mindworks Meditation App is one such application. It is rich in meditation resources such as Daily Guided Meditations and Mind Trainers. You can sometimes listen to guided meditations and sometimes go solo on your own. This variety will keep you focused throughout your meditation sessions.