How to Stay Awake during Meditation

One of the challenges of mindfulness meditation is to stay awake. If you do fall asleep, don’t worry too much about it. Even the Dalai Lama falls asleep when meditating sometimes, so you’re following in the footsteps of a wise teacher! He also says, ‘Sleep is the best meditation,’ so it can’t be so bad.

Mindfulness is about being more awake and aware, rather than falling asleep. Take steps to see if you can stay awake as much as possible during meditation.

Here are five key tips to ensure that you’re more likely to stay awake in your mindfulness meditation practice:

  • Try mindful movement before your sitting practice. Or simply let your whole mindfulness practice be movement-based.

  • Experiment with meditating at different times of the day. Some people find it easier in the morning, others in the evening. Don’t meditate just after a heavy meal.

  • Adjust your posture. Try standing up and stretching and then sit down in a more upright posture than before. Try keeping your eyes half open while you meditate.

  • Make sure that the room’s not too hot and has plenty of fresh air.

  • Have a bedtime routine and sleep at roughly the same time every day. If you’re not getting enough sleep, no matter what you do, you’ll end up falling asleep in your meditation practice.

To help you find out any patterns in your sleepiness, try completing the following worksheet:

Monitoring Your Sleepiness
Day Time of Day for Meditation How Sleepy Did You Feel? (0 = Not Sleepy at All, 10 = Completely Asleep for Whole Meditation) Your Position for Meditation (Sitting Back on Sofa/Lying Down/Sitting Upright) If You Were Sleepy, What Do You Think Was a Cause? (For Example, Time, Type of Food Eaten, Amount of Physical Exercise Done)
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sunday

Review the worksheet at the end of the week to notice any patterns and adjust your mindfulness meditation routine so that you’re most likely to stay awake in your practice. For example, you may always fall asleep if you meditate as soon as you wake up, but if you have a shower and then meditate, you never fall asleep.

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